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6 Secrets to Designing an Effective Website Opt-in Form

The one asset that
is considered to be the gold in your online
business is your email list.  I constantly tell
my clients that their #1 goal at events and
primary call to action in their online marketing
strategies should be to asking people to join
their list. 

The best way to
get people on your list is to create an
effective opt-in form on your website.  An
opt-in form is a sign up form on a website that
asks for key pieces of info, like email address
and name, for example, in return for sending the
visitor something of value, like a free report
or ezine subscription.

What are the criteria that need to be considered
in the design of this form?

1.  Page Placement.  On what page of your
website should your opt-in form be placed?
That’s easy — every single page of your site.
Most people erroneously believe that every
visitor will come to their website through their
home page.  Nothing could be further from the
truth. Because every page of your website is a
possible landing page, ensure that someone can
opt into your list from whichever page they are
taken to within your website. In fact, about 60%
of my traffic comes to my site through one of
the articles I have written, and so I have my
primary call to action — an opt-in box for my
ezine — visible on every page of my site.

You can even add
this strategy to the checkout process when
someone makes a purchase from you.  Add a check
box to join your list to the checkout page of
your shopping cart, ask the purchaser to opt-in
to your list via the thank you page your
purchaser is sent to after purchase, or include
the request in the email autoresponder follow up
that the purchaser is sent post-purchase.

Another place to insert your opt-in form is at
the end of any articles you have on your site or
your blog.  Create some short (1-2 sentence)
sales copy that ties your content in with an
offer to opt into your list. If the visitor
liked what he read, you’ll catch him at just the
right moment to want to opt-in to your email

2.  Location on Page.  Marketing wisdom
says that the best location for an opt-in form
is the upper right corner of a page.  Regardless
if it’s on the right or the left, the opt-in box
definitely needs to be “above the fold”, to use
an old newspaper term, i.e. in the top of the
page that’s immediately visible on the screen so
that the visitor will not have to scroll down to
see the opt-in form.

For maximum
impact, the opt-in form needs to stand out and
be noticed.  Putting the opt-in form into a box
with a bold outline or eye-catching color will
help, as will creating a graphic icon that the
visitor will immediately see, like an image of
your ezine or your special report or bonus
ebook.  In order for your visitors to take
action, your opt-in form needs to be the first
element on your page that attracts their

3.  Type of form.  There are two basic
types of forms you can use for your opt-in
form:  an inline form and a popup form.  The
inline form is the traditional form you see on
many websites that request the visitor to fill
in his email address and name, for example.  The
pop-up form, or pop-over form (which is
unblockable by pop-up blockers), is disliked by
many people.  However, from my experience, the
pop-over form (one that slides onto the page
from the top or side of a page or one that jumps
into a page and bounces a bit (also know as a
hover ad) is very effective, provided it is used

Your best strategy
is to use a combination of the two forms.  Make
sure that your inline opt-in form in present on
every page of your site, and use the pop-over
form selectively throughout your site only on
certain pages.  Don’t ever use the pop-over form
by itself, as having that repeatedly appear in
front of your visitor is a sure way to annoy him
and cause him to immediately leave your site.

4.  Opt-in Benefits.  Why would someone
want to part with his name and email address for
you?  Your visitor is seeking the WIIFM (What’s
In It For Me) factor.  There has to be a very
compelling reason for your visitor to part with
his name and email address these days.  One way
to get that information from your visitor is by
offering a free email newsletter, but even today
that’s not usually enough.  In order to get a
visitor’s attention today, you have to up the
ante and offer a free report, ebook, audio or
video, or ecourse that helps the visitor solve
one of the pressing problems that led him to
your site.

In order to build that trust and confidence and
further bolster your opt-in success, let your
visitor know your privacy policy, or how the
email address will be used; set expectations for
how often and on what occasions he will receive
emails from you; and what happens next in the
signup process.

5.  Information to collect.  How much
information is a visitor willing to give you?
For many years simply an email address was
considered adequate, but with the advent of
broadcast services that have well-developed
features that let you personalize email
broadcasts, you may want to request additional
info.  At a minimum, get the first name and the
email address of your visitor. If direct mail
marketing or telemarketing is a part of your
future business marketing strategy, you may want
to collect mailing address, city, state, zip,
and phone number as well.  However, if you make
that information mandatory, you may lose many
opt-in opportunities.  If you want to collect
this extended information, put asterisks on your
opt-in form to denote which fields are mandatory
(like name and email address) and which are
optional.  You’ll be surprised at how many
people will give you their mailing address just
because you asked for it.

6.  Post-form process.  Create an online
video or one-page tutorial with screen captures
to walk your subscriber through the next desired
steps in the opt-in process. Most visitors don’t
want to think, so if you can take them by the
hand and show them step-by-step how to get on
your list, they will happily follow along and do
as you ask.  This is especially helpful for
newbies who may not have experience in joining

With an effective opt-in form and opt-in
process, you can exponentially increase the size
of your lists in a very short time. Then, you
have a ready and willing list of potential
clients to whom you can begin to market your
expertise, products, and services.

About the Author Donna Gunter

Best-selling author Donna Gunter works with successful business owners who are experts in their fields and established in their industry and are seeking a way to stand out from their competitors. Using her Ideal Clients on Autopilot System©, she helps them determine the exact strategies to generate more qualified leads and better-paying clients with automated systems. This proven system makes all their marketing easier and more effective and they find themselves positioned as the only choice for their clients.

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