By Mary McNeil
Most websites conform to the traditional ‘brochure’ style where you present your services and yourself to potential new clients, as well as asking them to sign up and give you their contact details.
* Information capture as a sole purpose
If you’re serious about growing your mailing list, though, there’s a route you can take which involves turning your home page into what is known as an opt-in or squeeze page. The one and only purpose of an opt-in page is to get visitors to sign up. Its job is to squeeze contact details out of your website visitors!
Websites with an opt-in page as the home page appear to the visitor as a one-page site. There are no links to other pages, nothing to browse, and nothing for the visitor to do but sign up. Of course, you have to offer a reasonably generous reward for them to do so, and present it with a degree of compelling urgency. As a technique for growing your mailing list, though, it really works and it sure gets you focused!
* The opt-in page strategy
The question of whether an opt-in page is suitable for your particular website depends on how far you’re prepared to go down the route of growing your mailing list, of staying in regular contact with your subscribers and of using your list as the source of pretty much every single one of your future clients. It’s a widely-used strategy that’s been proven to work over and over again, so definitely worth considering.
Oddly enough, given the website-based material that I usually write, this opt-in page strategy is in many ways more reliant on email. It only requires that you have one page on your website… an opt-in page with the sole function of creating and growing a mailing list for your business. Once you have the contact details of your potential new clients, you can correspond with them via email – they don’t necessarily ever need to go back to your website again!
Of course, you can have a traditional-style website which you direct people to only after they have signed up on your opt-in page. In reality, this is more often how website owners use the strategy.
* So what makes a good opt-in page?
Actually the elements that make up a good opt-in page are much the same as the ones that should be present on any effective home page…
- Write the content to and about your reader, not about yourself. When your target market visitor lands on your opt-in page, make sure they know this is THE website for them. How? Empathise with their problems and grab their attention with a blockbusting headline.
- Let them know you have the solutions to their problems. Tease their interest. Offer them a form of these solutions for free. Your free offer needs to be relevant and enticing enough for them to want to get hold of it straight away. Don’t be afraid to give away some good information… when they see what you’re giving away for free, it increases their interest in what the paid-for information or service might include.
- Sign-up box and call to action. Make these big, bold and utterly unambiguous.
* Keep testing and measuring your conversion rate
You may have come across some much lengthier opt-in pages that include many more elements than I’ve listed here. While these longer versions may work for others, I’ve always found that the clean, clear and concise versions produce the best results for me.
It’s very easy to measure the effectiveness of an opt-in page – the number of sign-ups as a percentage of the number of visitors to the page is your conversion rate. So why not experiment with your very own opt-in page and see what works best for you?