Unlike social media, email isn’t a rented platform. Your email list belongs to you and lets you connect with consumers without any third parties.
So in this guide, you’ll learn how to build a high-converting email list. You’ll learn what opt-in emails are, why they matter, and the best strategies for growing your audience.
What is an Opt-in Email List?
An opt-in email list is a list of subscribers who provide their contact information willingly.
They’re fully aware they’re part of your list and understand they’ll receive newsletters, promotions, and other forms of communication via email. So your list is opt-in if everyone on it permitted you to add them.
Why Do They Matter?
Strict laws surround businesses contacting consumers directly.
Outside of independent platforms like LinkedIn and Instagram, you can’t contact consumers without their permission (except for commercial targets, who can receive cold contact following certain guidelines).
Opt-in email marketing ensures everyone on your list wants to be there and remove any risk of violating spam laws.
Preserving Brand Image: Opt-in lists also help create a consumer-friendly brand image. By making it easy to subscribe and unsubscribe, people know you put their convenience before your own marketing gains.
Building an Engaged Email List: Email lists requiring consent only include people who want more information about your products or services. The result is an ever-increasing supply of middle and low-funnel leads.
Best Strategies for Growing Your Email List
Next, we’ll share the best strategies for growing your opt-in email list quickly and ethically.
1. Use Live Chat For Lead Generation
Live chat is a messaging software letting site visitors chat with company reps instantly (whether they’re human or AI). These chat windows pop up in the bottom corner of most websites, inviting customers to get in touch.
Besides assisting customers, live chat is also a great tool for building your email list. Here’s how to use it best:
Use Return Contact Forms
If human agents aren’t available, give visitors a contact form so your business can get back to them. Once they submit their email address, send them a confirmation message.
In the below example, Zendesk asks chat users to submit their email before talking to sales:
But just because someone gave you their email doesn’t mean they want sales information. Under the contact form, you’ll need a checkbox asking if they want marketing communications from you too.
Ask Visitors Directly
You don’t need to wait for customers to use live chat to prompt them to use it. Instead, ask users if they’d like to join your list when they’re doing something that suggests they want more info.
For instance, you could ask people browsing your deals section if they’d like new sale notifications via email. Or you could ask blog readers to subscribe to your featured content newsletter.
Train Representatives to Ask for Emails
Agents should ask new contacts if they want to join your list before they end live chats. Each chat is a chance to encourage someone who’s already interested in your brand to stay in touch.
To get the best results, agents should prompt people to join your list for a reason related to their conversation. For example, a customer talking to your sales team might be interested in getting updates about new products.
2. Opt-In Email: Run Facebook Lead Ads to Optimize Mobile Experience
If you’re not making an effort to reach users via mobile, you’re missing out on a major opportunity.
That’s because 59% of all worldwide online traffic was generated through mobile devices, up from 55% in the previous year (52% in the United States).
And when it comes to emails, 56.8% of email marketers reported an increase in mobile opens in 2021.
But you know what no one wants to do on a mobile device? Fill out a form.
Enter Facebook Lead Ads.
Email opt-in’s aren’t exclusive to your website, by incorporating ways for prospects to sign up for your list in different corners of the web, you’ll increase the eyes – and numbers – on your offer.
And these ads, in particular, are ideal for mobile users, and businesses with the objective of growing their email lists.
They work like this:
When someone clicks on a lead ad, a form opens with their information automatically pre-populated from their Facebook profile. By eliminating a good portion of the work usually required with opt-in forms, more users will be inclined to submit theirs.
No fields to fill and no hoops to jump through. Instead, all it takes is two taps for a user to submit their information.
The form and fields are customizable based on your business goals. For email opt-in, you can add messages that promote your weekly newsletter, etc., so users know exactly what they’re signing up for.
In this case, it’s also best to ask simply for users names and emails. That way, all they have to do is click a button without filling out additional fields.
Then, using integrations with an email software (most, like MailChimp, offer lead gen form integration), the new contact will automatically be added to your email list.
Pretty cool, right?
It is. And if you’ve run any Facebook ads in the past, you’ll find the process very similar.
To make them as effective as possible, keep the following in mind:
- Target each led ad to a specific subset of your target market; that way, you can still segment your list based on as few form fields as possible
- Create new lookalike audiences based on actual customers, instead of prospects for the
- Adding a context card is optional, but recommended. This is the step between someone seeing your lead ad, and the actual form. Be as concise as possible here: explain who you are, what you’re offering, and why the user should take you up on it
- Experiment with carousel ads – ads that users can swipe through multiple pages. These lend themselves particularly well to lead gen ads
- Make sure you have a striking image to pair with your ad copy. Remember, you want users to take immediate action, so you want your ads to be as eye-catching and persuasive as possible
3. Opt-In Email: Multi-Step Forms
I know, this one seems a little counterintuitive. After all, the fewer steps a user goes through, the better, right?
When it comes to opt-in email forms, not necessarily.
A multi-step form is a longer form that’s broken into shorter, simpler steps. Traditionally, opt-in email forms follow a two-step opt-in, which requires users to confirm their subscription before joining a list.
It’s based on a psychological trick called the Zeigarnik effect, which says that humans are primed to finish an action we start.
But conversely, these forms can also trigger what we call “Goldilocks Syndrome:” if a form is too long, a prospect may not take the time to complete it. Too short, and you won’t gather enough information to properly segment.
A multi-step form meets the two phenomena in the middle. By leading with a carousel of simple, unobtrusive questions, users are more likely to continuously click through rather than get stuck when presented with an overly long opt-in form.
For marketers, this allows you to collect more detailed information because it does so in short segments. That also means more time on page, more leads, and more insights.
And in a user’s eyes, it could remove any potential barriers that come with submitting a form, because it doesn’t have to look much like a form at all.
For this method to be effective, remember to start simple. If possible, begin with an easy yes or no question, like this example from Instapage:
Then, proceed to more detail. Multi-step forms generally have three or more steps, so don’t rush the process.
For the record, the example above has a conversion rate of 89.9%!
You can design these as you would regular pop-ups, with a few fields on each page. But for best results, I’d recommend a platform like Leadformly.
Take a look at this example:
By asking simple questions in a well-designed, interactive format, they coax users through to the end before they even realize it.
Again, there’s a little bit of psychology at play here. The questions above are essentially what would be found in a traditional form, but they’re separated into different segments and presented in a multiple-choice fashion.
It’s a matter of removing perceived barriers. To do that for your own clients, focus on the following:
- What user information is most important to you?
- Can you phrase it in question or multiple choice form?
A platform like Leadformly can help transform your answers into an engaging, multi-step form that integrates with most major CRMs and email software.
Single Opt-in vs. Double Opt-in Forms
The main upside of single opt-in forms is that it’s a one-step process. The simpler the signup process, the more emails you’ll get overall.
But the downside is that those emails aren’t necessarily valuable. There’ll be a lot of fake or throwaway emails people use to get content locked behind an email list sign-up.
You can’t tell if the emails you receive are real, and your automation will add them to your list and send them content regardless. And whenever one of your emails bounces off a fake address, it hurts your reputation with email service providers—reducing your deliverability.
Keeping deliverability high is a major reason many companies use double opt-in forms. Users can’t fake their email address when they have to verify it to get your content.
Double opt-in forms also make your email list more valuable overall. People must be genuinely interested in your content to take the extra step to join your email list.
However, there will be people who want your content but don’t want to take the extra step to join (they’re lazy, forget, etc.). Brands must decide if that increase in list quality is worth the decrease in inbound leads based on their priorities.
Opt-In Email Marketing Best Practices
Once you’ve got subscribers, here’s how to make the most of them:
Ask for Customer Feedback: Occasionally send survey emails asking subscribers what they think of your content. For best results, offer incentives for completing surveys (discounts, free shipping, etc.).
Let Subscribers Customize Their Subscription: Someone who subscribes to your email for blog content doesn’t necessarily care about product launches. Provide a way for customers to pick what types of content they want.
Improve Your CTAs: Your calls-to-action (CTAs) should always be specific and actionable. Avoid generic CTAs like “learn more,” opting for focused ones like “download now.”
Evoke Emotions – FOMO and Urgency: Emails should always carry a specific emotion to get the best response. You could, for example, add a countdown timer to a Black Friday email to encourage customers to act quickly.
Personalize: Personalization is creating or editing email content based on the receiver’s data. Examples include adding names to emails, sending birthday discounts, and tailoring content to their buying stage. Personalized campaigns get you more sales, less unsubscribes, and higher conversion rates.
Make Unsubscribing Easy: Provide a quick and easy way to unsubscribe within each email (it should only take a few seconds). Easy unsubscribes keep you from violating spam laws and stop customers from blocking you.
Segment Your Lists: Segmenting your email list means breaking it down into smaller groups. This ensures you only send content to customers that’s directly relevant to their interests.
Stay on Brand: Your email’s content should always have the same design and tone (outside special occasions). You wouldn’t send a flashy, funny email one day and a sterile, serious email the next. You can’t build a coherent identity without consistent branding.
Create a Welcome Series: A welcome series is a collection of emails sent to new subscribers over time. They’re great for welcoming subscribers to your brand, building a connection, and ultimately moving them towards a specific outcome.
Run A/B Tests: A/B testing involves sending out two versions of an email with a single change and comparing the results. Once you know what works best, send the winning email to your whole audience or keep testing. A/B tests keep your quality control high and maximize the value you provide to your list.
Wrapping Up Opt-In Email Strategies
Email continues to be one of the most effective marketing tactics for businesses.
But for it to work, you have to have a quality list of voluntary subscribers.
Start building that list with these three strategies today.