Woman signing piece of paper

It’s done! The email opt-in freebie that you’ve worked so hard to create is complete.  And it’s amazing.  Now you just need to find some creative ways to get email sign ups.

Just like when you write a blog post, making your email opt-in freebie is only half of the job.

Visitors to your website don’t just sign up for your opt-in freebie.  No matter how amazing it is.  Remember the myth if you build it, they will come.  This is the same concept.  They need encouragement.  And lots of it.

After creating your opt-in freebie, it’s time to figure out creative ways to encourage email sign ups on your website.  The truth is that no matter how amazing your opt-in freebie is, it won’t matter if no one is signing up for it.

And it’s pretty hard to get someone to sign up for an email list these days.  Think about it, how many have you joined recently?

But, email is still an important part of marketing for most businesses.  The current average email open rate is 32% across all industries.  Considering the chances of someone actually seeing your social media post, that is huge.

Email also continues to be one of the most personal ways to communicate. You can stay in touch with your biggest supporters, make exclusive sales pitches and send out content that gets actually read. 

I find my email subscribers tend to send more direct traffic to my products and blog posts than any other marketing strategy that I use.

Although no one seems sure how many times a visitor needs to see your offer to be convinced to sign up, I know it’s more than one.  Marketers used to follow the rule of 7

But nowadays, with social media, there is a new belief that you need to reach customers continuously.   All the time – in different locations around the web.

Colorful cactus with the text overlay "Creative Ways to Encourage Email Sign Ups for your Business"

To do this with your email opt-in freebie, you need to place your sign up in different locations on your website and around the Internet.

No longer can you place a single announcement for your opt-in freebie at the top of your website and call it a day.  Visitors need to see your offer integrated throughout their web browsing experience.

I recently created an amazing free printable generic kids birthday set for my shop’s opt-in freebie.  I placed the sign up box in an announcement above as well as in a box right below.


I doubted it was the opt-in since my customers had been asking me to create something like this for months.

So, I tried again.  I added a pop-up and placed it in an ad on the right hand corner.  In addition, I made an amazing landing page for signing up.

Success!  Suddenly, my email sign ups increased.  A lot.  It was all about placing my offer strategically where my visitors would see it and interact with it.

Drop the Secret

One of the issues I find business owners have with their mailing lists is that they’re almost embarrassed by them.  I’m not exactly sure why.  You should be proud of your opt-in freebie and want to share it with your visitors.

For some reason, though, some business owners like to hide their opt-in freebie offer.  Almost as if they don’t want any one signing up.

Make sure your mailing list isn’t a secret.  Place the sign up boxes in prime real estate on your website and make sure they’re easy for visitors to find.  You don’t want your visitors to have to look to hard to hand over their email address.

Life’s Easier with a Landing Page

Have you ever gone to sign up for someone’s email list and been redirected to a fancy web page with a nicely designed sign up box?

This page is called a landing page and it’s the answer to all email sign up needs.

Setting up sign up boxes can be complicated and look a little repetitive. The landing page creates one location that you can send visitors too.  It’s more shareable and can be used to link an ad, social media post, blog post and lots of other things to this one page.

The other advantage of creating a landing page is that you can market it directly to potential sign ups.  Create an ad for the page on Pinterest or Facebook and people can click directly to it.  Or share the page on social media to encourage your followers join.  

Your landing page becomes the place where you can send anyone interested in signing up.  You can check out the one for my shop here.  I’ve kept it pretty simple, but it’s really effective.

As much as I love landing pages, they do take some time to set up.  I recommend starting with a landing page template to make your life easier. You can find my favorite landing page templates here.  Choose the one you like and create it to match the look and feel of your website.

If you want something even more unique, you could hire someone to design it for you (or design it yourself if you know html code).

You also need to connect your current email list database service (such as MailChimp or Constant Contact) with your landing page.  This can be tricky if you aren’t an html coding expert. 

If you’re willing to invest in setting up your mailing list sign up correctly, it’s an area I recommend investing in.  The result will be a professional looking page that’s more likely to encourage email sign ups.

Creative Places for your Opt-In Freebie Sign Up

So, where do you place your opt-in freebie to encourage visitors to sign up?  The answer isn’t everywhere.  You don’t want to inundate visitors with your offer so they run away.

Choose the places you put your email sign up box strategically.  And make sure you choose more than one location for the best success.

Above the Fold

A key aspect of web design is to keep the elements – such as your sign up box – above the fold.  These three little words found their start in newspaper printing when you wanted the important, eye catching headlines to be printed on the top half of the page.

Today, we apply it to a web page.  When figuring out where to place your email sign up box, always make sure one of them is above the fold.

Now, I got lucky in my current web theme and they designed it with a sign up box on the first half of the webpage.  If your theme doesn’t offer such an easy solution, shop around for a web theme that does or ask a designer to custom build one into the design.

Another solution is to insert the sign up in the header of the web page so it appears at the very top.  This a great way to make sure that visitors don’t miss it.

Love for Pop-Ups

Not everyone has a love affair for pop-ups.  And I get it.  Who wants something popping up on your screen right when you’re trying to read a blog post?

But pop-ups are a very effective tool when it comes to email sign ups.  High performing pop-ups have a 9.28% conversion rate.  Not something you want to miss out on!

You can add a pop up plug in to your WordPress blog easily.  Choose the one that best fits your opt-in freebie.

In the Slider

If your website has a slider – one of those rotating bars at the top announcing your blog and shop’s current happenings – it’s the perfect place to add information about your opt-in freebie.

Create a slide including an enticing photo, announcement text and link to your landing page.  You’re sure to encourage some visitors to click through.

And since sliders usually appear above the fold on websites, it can also count as your above the fold placement.

Create your own Ad

There is an ongoing debate about whether shop blogs should run advertisements for other products on their websites.  Although this debate will probably continue to be discussed, there’s no disagreement that you shouldn’t run advertisements for your own products and offerings.

Make an ad announcing your new opt-in freebie.  Place it in the side bar, header or footer.  When visitors click on your ad, they will arrive at your landing page and can easily sign up.  You can see an example of this on my shop’s website here.

Run a Contest

When I was first starting to grow my email list, I relied heavily on contests.  A fellow blogger loved putting them together for all of the party goods artists.  I have to say they were quite effective and a great way to start building my email list.

Although contests might look like a good way to jumpstart your list, make sure that you’re participating in ones with your target audience.  Otherwise, you could end up with a lot of people who just unsubscribe once the contest is over or who really don’t care about your business.

When I participated in contests, the ones I joined included people who make many different elements for celebrations. The people signing up were all potential customers who loved to celebrate.  I had very few unsubscribes after the contest and many ended up becoming customers.

Before investing in running a contest, just be sure that the contest reaches your target audience.  It won’t be worth your investment otherwise.

Colorful macarons with the text overlay "Creative ways to encourage email sign ups"

Leverage Social Media

Social media is a great place to find people who are interested in signing up for your email list.  If they’ve decided to join your social media community, they are already interested in the products your shop has to offer.

When presented with the right opt-in freebie, you can get a lot of these followers to make a deeper connection with your shop and sign up for your list.

Start by adding a web link to your landing page in your social media bio.  Then, add posts announcing your opt-in freebie to your social media schedule on a rotating basis.  These announcements should encourage click throughs to your opt-in.

Another option to finding more email sign ups on social media is to run ads.  I only recommend this if you have a good understanding of how these ads work.  Many have been successful in building their lists from scratch with social media ads.

Make a Pin

As we all know by now, Pinterest is a powerful tool to grow your business.  This is no different when it comes to sharing your opt-in freebie with the world.

Create a pin for your opt-in freebie.  Link the pin to your landing page.  Share it on your pin boards, group boards and tribes.  This is a great way to let others know about your amazing offer.

Classic Sign Up Boxes

Even though I’m trying to give you some creative ideas to encourage email sign ups, not all ideas have to be out of this world.  Sometimes sticking with the original that’s been proven to work is enough.

Add classic sign up boxes to your blog posts. You can use the form plugin for your email list database service.  Set these boxes to appear throughout your posts.  They are great reminder about the opt-in freebie that you offer.

Another great thing about blog post sign up boxes is that you can set them up to offer freebies themed to specific blog posts.  These are called content upgrades.  Many shops have seen an increase in email list sign ups when the opt-in offer enhances the content of the blog post the visitor is reading.

Testing 1-2-3

Not all sign up methods work for all websites.  This is why you should have your sign up requests in multiple locations.

But before getting too attached to the sign up box location, make sure you test different placements out.  Perhaps include it in the slider one week and see if you get any sign ups.  Or use the pop-up and see if that works.

Don’t just assume because another website has the sign up box in certain locations that it will work for you.  Test a couple different places out and see which ones convert or result in the most sign ups.

Encourage Clicks

As you know, if you have an Etsy shop signing up for your mailing list can be tricky.  There are a lot of rules.

But that doesn’t make it impossible.  So, no you can’t just take your customers email addresses and add them to a mailing list without their consent (this is against the law and can result in many upset customers).

You can, however, encourage them to click over to your offer’s landing page.

I include my mailing list sign up link in the following locations in my Etsy shop:

  • Etsy Announcement section
  • Listing (the top and/or bottom will work)
  • Confirmation shipping email
  • FAQs under “Looking for a Coupon?”
  • Graphic in Etsy Listing

The best part about encouraging links from your Etsy shop is that you’re asking people who are already interested in your product.  These aren’t cold leads.  So, ask and ask often.  You might be surprised how many people are interested in joining.

Make it Shareable

Although a sign up box isn’t something that you can share with others, your landing page is.  Increase the liklihood that your visitors will share your landing page by creating a captivating pin image that encourages viewers to click over.  Find out more about making your pin here.

Also, make sure your feature photo for the page is interesting and relatable.  This photo will show up when you share your link on Facebook, so you want to make sure it’s something that interests others enough to click over.

Facebook Groups

Depending on the Facebook Groups that you’ve joined, many have days where you can share freebies or even encourage other members to sign up for your list.

Participate in these days. It’s a great way to develop relationships with the other members of your Facebook Group and support each other.  You might even end up with some new interested customers.

Stack of pretty invitations

How do I know if my Opt-in is Working?

After your email sign up boxes have been up for a month, check to see if they’re working.  You will need to check your email opt-in rate.  This is the percentage of site visitors that you’re trying to convert.

A typical opt-in rate is between 1% to 5%.  The number will vary based on the quality of traffic that visits your site. 

If you have a lot of cold traffic – visitors who are stopping by for the very first time – you will have a smaller conversation rate.  Many visitors need to have multiple interactions between you and your business before they’re willing to sign up to receive email.

So, what if I’m not getting this conversion rate?

Been there.  Especially when I offered only a savings coupon.  My visitors and shoppers didn’t seem to care about saving money since many of them weren’t ready to make a purchase yet.  They really wanted free printables to use at their event.  Buying would come later.  

Sometimes opt-ins don’t work the way we hope.  And you will go through a number of opt-ins over time.  That’s okay.

If your opt-in rate is low, think about different ways that you can improve it.  Place more email sign up boxes on your website so more visitors see them.  Improve your landing page.  Add other incentives to your freebie for signing up.  Maybe even share your offer more frequently on social media.

Also take the time to make sure your opt-in is designed to woo your target audience. You can find more information about ways to create a freebie opt-in to explode your list here.

If you decide your opt-in freebie is really not working, though, than move on.  Start afresh and use these opt-in guidelines to help.  Or you can purchase our opt-in creation package for creative business owners here.

What if I have an Etsy shop?  Can I still have a mailing list sign up?

This is one of the downsides about Etsy.  Etsy isn’t designed to place an opt-in box directly in your Etsy shop.  (Although I’ve heard you can add it to Pattern – one of the advantages of having your own website).

In order to build a mailing list with an Etsy shop, you will need a landing page to direct visitors to.  Try adding the link to the landing page in one of the locations mentioned above.

Check out some other ideas for growing your mailing list with an Etsy shop here.

Final Thoughts…

Although creating the perfect opt-in freebie is a great first step to growing your mailing list, sadly it isn’t enough.  You need to find creative ways to encourage email sign ups or your mailing list just won’t grow.

Through some experimenting, place your email sign up box in different places on your website.  Create a compelling landing page to encourage email sign ups.  Market your opt-in freebie through your social media and other places you connect with your audience.

And make fixes if necessary as you go along.  If you find your opt-in conversion rate is low, then make some changes.   Too many businesses stick with using the same sign up methods that aren’t working and end up with no results for their hard work.

Time to get your opt-in freebie out there.  Here’s to lots of email sign ups in your future.

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