It’s frustrating that one of the most important blog success elements is so often ignored.
I’m talking about the email opt-in for getting blog updates or an offer. I think deep down most people feel “icky” about asking for a person’s email address. They put it off until the last minute, then throw something up there as an afterthought.
I’m not going to go into all of the reasons why you should have an email opt-in. I’ve already written a novel’s worth of posts on the topic . What I will tackle is how to give that lonely and forlorn email opt-in form a makeover.
I get super-specific on this in my blog reviews but here are 7 tips that you can use now:
Your email opt-in should a be a self-contained eye-catching gem sitting in your sidebar or your blog header. The title, description, email entry fields, and overall color scheme should fit together and look cohesive.
Sloppy opt-in boxes get ignored. Take a look at your opt-in form, if something feels "off" then spend some time (or money) revising it. Check to see if your theme has a standard widget for email opt-in forms. If so, use it as the basis for your design.
2. Location Matters
The top of your blog and sidebar are the waterfront property locations on your blog. Anything you put there will get attention, so place your email opt-in here for the best results.
Putting your email opt-in below the fold, the point where the reader can't see it without scrolling, will kill your sign-ups. If you can’t get the opt-in into the 1st position then shoe-horn it in at the 2nd position.
3. Show and Tell
Every test I’ve conducted proves that showing a graphic representation of what the subscriber will get once they opt-in boosts results. Just make this one happen. Unless you are a graphics designer, I would budget $50 to hire someone for quick newsletter graphics. I've use Elance with good results and Fiverr works in a pinch, but remember that you get what you pay for.
4. Tell ‘Em What They’ll Get
People are stingy with their email addresses. Most of us get way too many newsletters and other email stuff and would love to cut down. Convincing anyone to accept another email requires more than the standard “sign up for my newsletter”. You will need to aggressively persuade visitors why your offer is worth their time and attention. The more time you spend on this, the better your results will be.
5. Keep It Short Stupid
I haven’t seen a long email opt-in form in a long time but if you were tempted - don’t do it. The maximum number of email fields you can get away with is two (i.e. first name, and email address). The more fields you add the fewer subscribers you will get.
A good rule of thumb is to only ask for what you will immediately use. In most cases, all you will need and consistently use is an email address.
6. A Ninja Trick
I’ve seen great success putting an email sign-up offer at the bottom of my posts. This position allows the visitor to read a post before they are asked to subscribe. This works particularly well for simple “blog update via RSS/Email” opt-in forms.
Check out this video where I described how this ninja trick almost doubled my subscriptions.
7. Name It
Nothing screams “ignore me” like a generic, unnamed, email newsletter.
Two years ago, I offered an email course on how to write unique and irresistible blog posts. Initially I called it an 6-Part Email course. Snore. My momma wouldn’t even subscribe. I changed the name to the Spectacular Post Course and subscriptions took off. The moral of the story? Name your stuff. Make it sexy and interesting to your readers and they will check it out.
Do me a favor and take one action from this post. Too many bloggers are "tip collectors." They believe reading about a new technique is just as good as implementing a new technique.
Your email opt-in is just one rung on your blogging success ladder, and you need to make sure that you've successfully done what you can to improve. If you are stuck and want me to take a look at your blog then consider getting a Spectacular Blog Review.
Talk to me in the comments below about the action you plan to take.