Case Study: Increasing Email Opt-In

I’ve been experimenting with various ways to increase email opt-ins here at ibraininc.com and I thought I would share some of my findings with you.

Why Experiment?

People are suffering from information overload and just because you add an email opt-in to your sidebar does not mean you are going to get people to join your list, you need to stand out.

New techniques are becoming available to get your opt-in message in front of people in a more effective manner.  If you have a valuable “thing” to swap in exchange for an email address be it an ebook, video or other valuable resource, you are going to be able to increase opt-ins and get your marketing message out.

Level playing field

I created a level playing field on my site, I’ve gone pretty minimal and removed all sidebars and opt-in forms to give my experiments the best chance of success. All opt-ins will come from the specific experiment. not my standard sidebar

I ran one test at a time in isolation to make sure I was testing just that technique. I  also created separate email lists per experiment so I could measure effectiveness.

I also ran each experiment for only one week to judge effectiveness and to give myself objective results.  The email ,list with the most sign ups after one week equals the most effective technique.

Here are the various methods I tested:

Home Page Gateways

If you have not heard of a home page gateway, can I direct you to mixergy.com, I’ll wait here while you check out their home page gateway.

I setup a home page gateway on my own site using the plugin Welcome Gate, I’m sending you over to a marketers site, but he is one of the good guys so don’t worry.

Here is a screen grab of the welcome gate I setup.

Click For Full Size Image


You can use text or videos in your welcome gate (see video opt in plugins below).  It works by storing a cookie on your browser, if the cookie is not present you are prompted to opt in before you are shown the home page.

You can add various options including a “skip this” step so people do not have to opt in.

My results were mixed, I got some opt ins, but it was not my most effective test, added to this I don’t like this technique so I’m loathe to put my site visitors through this experience.  I would love to hear comments below from people using the technique who have had great results.

Popup Plugins

I first started using popups about 18 months ago with great results.  I setup a free video download popup in exchange for an email address.

I was using the Popup Domaination plugin, software I no longer recommend so no link.  They are an internet marketing company not a software development company.  Their plugin broke after a WordPress update, their reply, update to the latest version (at a cost) to get the plugin to work – shocking support

I moved over to Pippity ( so incensed was I that they would not support their software).  I’m glad I did, it is an excellent popup plugin.  It has split testing and great metrics to judge how effective your popups are.

If you have a high value freebie such as an e-book or video download to offer popups are a great tool.

My results are more to do with my technical audience not being too happy with popups (I think) and I was seeing 3-4% opt in on my popups, okay but not great.

Site Top Drop Down

You’ve probably seen these before, a drop down banner at the top of the screen appears after a few seconds and grabs your attention.

Here is a screen grab of a test I was using to send people to my WordPress technical support page

Click for full sized image

I’ve used  Hello Bar in conjunction with this plugin http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/hellobar/

Hello bar is free for a small number of impressions, you then need to move over to the premium version.   The free impression level is not enough to give this system a test you only get 100 clicks.

Hello bar works by taking people through to a sub page with an offer or opt in. box  I was seeing 0.33% click through, very very poor, hello bar does not work for my audience.

Video Opt In

This is a new one for me, if you go to this post, you can see the video optin in action. What Is WordPress Multisite

I’m using a brilliant (but premium plugin) called Lead Player.  This is made by the same people who created the Welcome Gate plugin above.

It allows you to provide people with great free content but insert an optin for them to get the video goodies.  I have a lot of video tutorials and some high traffic pages that match that content.  I’ve put these video there and I’m seeing great results.

Using Leadplayer I can set the opt in to appear at the start, after a set amount of time or at the end of the video

It also has a call to action function to send people to a specific page too.  I’m using the call to action to send people to my services page.

It integrates with all the main email providers and Google analytics, so I can see exactly how effective the plugin is.

The results have blown me away.  I’m seeing 20% opt in rate.  This is the current leader of my tests.

By adding real value through videos people are happy to opt in.

Free membership Site

This is my current experiment.  I have a large number of video tutorials. I’ve put them in a membership site that is free to join.

Using the new membership site features of Premise I’ve built out a members only section of my site.  Premise integrated with my email provider so all people who sign up are added automatically to my list.

Go to https://ibraininc.com/members

I’ll write up a review of Premise soon, but in brief I’m liking the new membership site features.

I’m still mid experiment, but the massive value provided along with the free sign-up nature is working well.  but my gut feeling is that video opt-in in combination with a membership site may be the way forward

Wrap Up

All of these techniques have improved signup rates, but the final two are showing great results for me.  Be warned email op in techiques will always drop once people get tired of them

If you would like to see a live demo on how to setup these  various options, I’m more than happy to run a webinar, let me know in the comments if that is of interest.

Image by aisforangie

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