What is an opt-in?

So you're sat scrolling through the internet trying to learn about how you can grow your mailing list and you keep coming across articles saying create an opt-in.

But what actually is an opt-in and does it work for social entrepreneurs?

What is an opt-in? For social entrepreneurs

Essentially, an opt-in is something you give away for free in exchange for someone’s email address.

You might have seen them when you’ve visited a website and there’s been a pop-up saying “sign up here for our newsletter”.

If you have a website they’re a great way to build your email list and grow a community of engaged subscribers who are interested to find out more and potentially buy from you.

If you’re a service-based social enterprise (rather than one that sells physical products) it can be confusing about what would be suitable, engaging and relevant to your brand. But even many product based social entrepreneurs and ethical business owners I work with don’t have an opt-in available and it’s a huge missed opportunity to get visitors on your mailing list so you can convert them to customers later on.

Notably, your opt-in incentive should:

  • Offer specific benefits to a target audience

  • Relate to the reason people are visiting your site (what are they likely to be looking for?)

  • Give visitors a reason to look forward to your e-mails or keep returning to your site

Here are 5 simple ideas you could consider as an opt-in:

  1. Voucher code or discount on their first purchase. This is particularly attractive for online retailers who are selling products as it encourages people to think about purchasing with you.

  2. A free gift, resource or e-book. Do you have something of value (to them) that is relatively cost-free for you to give away? Something digital is ideal but in certain situations it might also be possible to post things to subscribers.

  3. Take a survey and get a copy of the results. This can be doubly-useful if you want to do market research or learn something new about visitors to your website or potential customers.

  4. Free course, virtual summit or video series which maybe informs or educates about your businesses focus. One of the most common barriers I hear social entrepreneurs say is ‘people just know enough about the challenge / problem we’re tackling – there’s a huge education piece which we need to do”. Well here’s your opportunity package it in to a free mini-training, virtual summit or videos series (you send out via email) and get their email addresses in return.

  5. The classic “Sign up to our Newsletter” opt-in. Just remember don’t offer this if you’re not willing, or able to, commit to producing and sharing a newsletter.

Finally, remember the purpose of an opt-in is to offer loads of value and get an email address in exchange so that you can then warm them up via a welcome email sequence. So don’t forget to actually set this part up as well using a programme such as MailChimp, LeadPages, Convertkit* or Click Funnels. 

*Please note this is an affiliate link and will be rewarded if you use this affiliate link to join Convertkit.