21 different types of opt ins: which should you choose? - Kathleen Celmins
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21 different types of opt ins: which should you choose?

An opt-in goes by many names in the digital marketing world. Some people call them lead magnets while other people call them content upgrades. Over here, we call them opt-ins, because they’re defined by what you want users to do — opt into your mailing list — in order to download something valuable. But whatever you want to call them, there’s no denying how vital they are to growing your mailing list and ultimately, your business.

It’s not enough to ask people to subscribe to your newsletter anymore. Your audience wants something of value in return. Opt-ins are synonymous with SPAM — they’ve got a bad reputation over the years. So you need to come up with something so awesome, that people won’t think twice about giving you their email address for that opt-in.

We wrote about how to grow your email list once you have traffic, and one of those suggestions was to create more opt-ins. That led us to this post, where we’re brainstorming the different kinds of opt-ins you can create to bring in more subscribers.

So, what kinds of amazing things should you create for your opt-ins? There are so many possibilities — here are 21(!!!) to try, including the two we think move the needle the most.

1. A PDF of a post

This is a great way to repurpose your existing content into an opt-in. The work is already done for you (pretty much) all you need to do is convert the blog post into downloadable PDF and add a bit of fancy formatting and design if you’re feeling up to it.

But why does this work if it’s already something that your audience has access to, without needing to opt in? Because they can download and keep it on their own personal computer. This means that they can do whatever they like with it — like print it off and make notes on it. This is a super simple and effective way to create an opt-in.

2. An Ebook

eBooks are like the holy grail of opt-ins. They provide a lot of valuable information and content to your target audience so the majority of them will opt in and exchange their email address in order to get their hands on your eBook. Pack it with useful information and resources and make sure that it answers some of their burning questions. That way you can tease them with the opt-in by saying “Have you ever wanted to know the answer to X” in your CTA. If your eBook is relevant then you’ll be inundated with email list subscribers through your opt-in.

3. A checklist

Raise your hand if you’re a sucker for a checklist!

I know I am. There’s just something about a checklist that gives you confidence in the fact you haven’t missed anything and it helps you to feel organized. Obviously, there’s no “one-size-fits-all” for checklists, you’ll need to create something that will be valuable and useful to your target audience in order to encourage them to opt in. Checklists don’t need to be pages long, there could be as little as 10 items on your checklist.

The point is, you’ve done all the thinking and hard work for your audience and that’s what makes it so appealing. They don’t need to think, they can just tick things off!

4. A cheat sheet

This is perfect if you have a course or are teaching something to your audience. Here’s an example:

You might be a social media expert and you write a blog post about how to up your game on Twitter. Great! But how can you make an opt-in out of this? A cheat sheet! Simple, concise, no fuss instructions that your audience can opt in for. Used correctly, cheat sheets hold so much value and people will practically be lining up to opt-in for this!

5. A template

Are you starting to see a pattern with all these opt-ins? Cheat sheets, eBooks, checklists… What do they all have in common? They’re convenient for your audience. They could have read your blog post and created their own cheat sheet or checklist from it. They could have even Googled to discover some information that’s in your eBook but no! You handed it to them on a silver platter. It was all too easy for them to say “YES!” and opt-in. We don’t like to admit it, but everyone has a lazy side. If someone has done something awesome for you, are you really going to turn it down and go do it yourself? I don’t think so!

Templates are another done-for-you opt-in that you can provide your audience to get the best conversions. It doesn’t even need to be a Word document template — those are so old school. Think outside the box! What can you do with a spreadsheet or PowerPoint or a visual graphics template that your audience is going to find super valuable and jump at the chance to get their hands on?

6. A “swipe file”

Another awesome opt-in — the swipe file. Swipe files can be used for so many things but their primary use is for storing content. You could use a swipe file to store a bundle of tested and proven advertising and sales letters to provide as an opt-in for your audience. Keeping a swipe file is a common practice used by advertising copywriters and creative directors as a reference of ideas for projects, so if this is your niche, you should definitely jump on this opt-in.  Used correctly, swipe file opt-ins are going to get you some of the best conversions.

7. A toolkit

This is another great opt-in that is adaptable to your audience’s needs. You can literally put anything you want into a toolkit opt-in. It could be a bunch of informational PDFs, virtual tools, resources, you name it — just bundle it together into a toolkit that’s relevant and useful to your audience.

8. A calendar

Not everyone has impeccable organizational skills. Calendars are really valuable to those who struggle to organize their time. Your calendar doesn’t even need to be scheduled or formatted, it could simply be a month by month calendar with your company’s branding on it. Your loyal following will love this and you’ll see some of the best conversions rolling in! I seriously don’t know where I’d be without a calendar!

9. A planner

Similar to the calendar idea — sometimes it’s best to leave these blank after all everyone’s schedules are individual and hectic! Hence, why we all need a good planner! Offer something extra in your planner to encourage people to opt in like an accounting section or if you have product release dates, you can slip those in there too!

10. A worksheet

Worksheets are a great opt-in if you’re teaching your audience. Sometimes people need to work through things by themselves to find out the answer. For example, a health or diet coach might offer a meal planning worksheet to their audience. So you pick so many options for column A than column B and column C to create your own personalized healthy meal plan.  Hey-presto!

11. A workbook

A workbook is similar to a worksheet — but you already know that! It’s enticing as an opt-in because a book suggests that it’s going to be more dense and valuable than a single sheet. You can get some of the best conversions from workbook opt-ins if you spend the time to research and make sure they’re going to be of value to your audience.

12. A calculator

I’m not talking 1+1=2 calculator! A calculator could be anything you dream up! You can create an online calculator or a spreadsheet one that your audience can download and use again. As an opt-in, calculators are fantastic and create some of the best conversions! Why? Because calculators give answers! So ask yourself “What answers are my audience looking for?” and then give it to them in the form of an opt-in!

13. A spreadsheet

Spreadsheets serve many purposes. You can use them for their formula functionalities and create a calculator as I mentioned above. You can also use them to create graphs and much, much more. But at the most basic level, spreadsheets are used for data input, output, and storage. How could you use this tool to create a valuable opt-in? There are so many amazing possibilities!

14. A tutorial

Video tutorials make great opt-ins with some of the best conversion rates you’ll ever see. They show your audience they there’s someone behind your brand who want to help them and show them how to achieve their goals. You could make a tutorial for anything — as long as it’s relevant and valuable to your audience.

15. A report

If you have conducted an amazing piece of research to help yourself or your business, you can share this with your audience as an opt-in. Maybe you studied engagement levels across different social media platforms to figure out which platforms users are more active. That could be super valuable to your audience, so share it as an opt-in!

16. A printable

Some people like a good old fashioned printable. You could go creative with a relaxation coloring printable or serious and sophisticated with a printable phone call log sheet. Everyone’s audience is different and so needs something different but sometimes, we all just want to stop looking at a computer screen and go back to a traditional piece of paper and a pen — amiright?

17. A free course

Free courses make for some of the best converting opt-ins around. To your audience, you’re in a leadership position. They look up to you for knowledge and guidance. So when you offer then this knowledge for FREE they’re going to be sure to opt-in. There are many ways you can deliver a free course, but I’d recommend an email course. That way, there’s no if, buts or coconuts, they have to give you their email address and opt-in to get this awesome free course.

18. A mind map

Mind maps are great… if you know where to start. The thing that all these opt-ins have in common is that you’re giving away a starting point, right? A kind of framework to help guide your audience towards their own realization and knowledge. Something as simple as the outline for a mind map with some words and phrases to get the ball rolling can be super helpful.

19. Access to your resource library

Chances are — you already have a resources page or some kind of archive full of super cool and helpful material. Why not turn this existing resource into an opt-in? If you don’t already have a resources page, I recommend you make one, STAT!

20. A quiz

Use a form builder like Paperform to create quizzes. Quizzes should be relevant to your brand and should have an email capture. The possibilities with quizzes are endless! Quizzes give answers, so put yourself in your audience’s shoes and think about what they most need answers to right now. What kind of quiz is going to get them to opt-in, no questions asked?

21. A free training

How cool would it be to create something that makes people WANT to check their emails to see if you’re in their inbox? Well, you absolutely can! The answer is free training. Free knowledge. Who doesn’t want that? This can be live training or on demand — whatever suits you best. But whichever route you chose to take for your free training, it should always end in a call to action.

In Summary

Admittedly these last two options both require A LOT more work than simply publishing an ebook or making a PDF out of a blog post, but then again, in our experience (and our clients’ experiences too!) putting the extra work into a relevant quiz or a free web-based training will result in significantly more email sign-ups.

One client has seen hundreds of email sign-ups (and thousands of dollars!) on a quiz that led his attendees through a variety of different affiliate offers.

What kind of quiz can you create?

What kind of webinar training will resonate with your audience?

Start at the end of this list and work your way up.

And please, let me know what converts!

Case study:

How we earned $100,000 in a year on a digital product

Get the three things that made the most difference when we marketed a digital course and it earned $100,000 in just 12 months.

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