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5 Opt-in Ideas to Triple Your Email List in 2021

opt in

So we all know we need to build our email lists, but a lame little pop-up that says ‘Hey subscribe for weekly updates!’ just doesn’t cut the mustard anymore. Most of the visitors to your site will just ignore it, or worse – be super annoyed. What you really need is an opt-in – but not just any opt-in…

It can be damn tricky to work out what kind of offer gets your ideal customer to hand over their email address, but one thing is for sure:

It has to be a really, REALLY good one – otherwise, it’s not worth the risk.

This is the seduction phase of the relationship. You’re essentially wooing them, and you definitely don’t want them to regret drunkenly giving you their number at a bar one night because now you keep texting them ‘Hey, wanna hang out? Look at this thing I made!’ at 2am.

So what should a good opt-in do?

A good opt-in covers the following:

  • Gives a quick win to a known issue that your target audience struggles with.  The term quick win is super important – don’t be giving away your thesis here. It needs to be short, sharp, to the point and effective.
  • Introduce your potential customer to your content, brand and offer.  Make sure your opt-in is intentional – how does it fit into the bigger picture of your business? There’s no point in offering a 20-minute workout opt-in when you sell business coaching. They need to be related.
  • It’s part of a bigger nurturing strategy.  The opt-in offer should be an enticing quick win – but you should follow it up with helpful content and regular check-ins.

Here are five proven strategies we’ve used ourselves to increase those email subs:

Proven Strategy #1:  A free mini-course

Who this is good for:

If you are an ecourse provider, creating a free lesson, masterclass, or membership level is an excellent way to get people invested in your brand and offer. You can show them what it’s like to work with you and give them a sneak peek of your awesome offer!

How we’ve done it:

We do this with our Brand Boost Mini-Course.


You’ll need some content that kind of kick starts your followers thinking about the Pain Point your offer addresses.  For example, if you are a health coach who helps women with hormones, you could have a free membership masterclass on how food affects your hormones.  It doesn’t directly address HOW to fix the issue (your 6-week course does that) but it brings awareness to the issue and provides some reasons WHY people are struggling with the issue…so your potential student feels heard and also (more importantly) that you might be the answer to her problems.

Your opt-in would then be something like: “Get access to the free mini class on XYZ”, they would fill out the opt-in form and within your site or via CRM, free membership access would be given.  You would then follow up with a nurture sequence including a welcome email with logins.

Tools needed:

  • You’ll need a membership plugin or platform that can facilitate a free membership level.  We use and LOVE AccessAlly for that reason.  Other possibilities are MemberPress and Thinkific.
  • An email CRM where you can send automated emails (we use and love Ontraport).
  • A piece of content to entice people into the free membership level, landing page, thank you page and this content set up in your membership portal.

Why this is great:

  • Getting people into your membership portal is a proven way to get them more interested in your offer.  They become familiar with your educational style and this leads to a really good quality lead for your paid offers. It also gives them ownership over your content. Once they’re in, they’ll want more.

Proven Strategy #2:  Quizzes

Who this is good for:

Pretty much everyone!  Quizzes are a great way to learn more about your audience through segmenting and giving your potential customers an interactive experience. They’re also a fun, easy win because everyone likes to think they’re special snowflakes – quizzes offer a subtle stroke of the ego. Quizzes appeal to our human desire to share everything about our lives on a social platform and to highlight and glorify our weaknesses and strengths.

How we’ve done it:

We have had great success with our Brand Archetype Quiz and the Brand Vibe Quiz.


The point of a quiz is to get your visitor to undertake a series of short and relevant questions, resulting in an outcome that pertains to an area of how you can help through your products or services (or in some cases – identifying who you can’t help).

Tools needed:

Some kind of quiz software.  We use TryInteract as we get really neat and detailed reporting and it integrates with our CRM, Ontraport.

Some of our clients use the AccessAlly quiz option, and others use Thrive Quiz, which is a more basic option.

Why this is great:  

  • It’s a great way to elevate your message and position yourself as a thought leader, and it will also give you an insight into your students’ personalities so that you can teach them better.

Proven Strategy #3:  The Challenge

Who this is good for:

Everyone! Create a cool challenge to get people interested in your brand. If you’re a dietician, create a meal plan challenge, if you’re a life coach, create a happiness challenge. Anything that will poke that precious pain point for your potential audience.

How we’ve done it:

We have a mini-course that started its life as a challenge. We repurposed it when we changed up our email strategy. Hot tip – you can do this too! Content created is never content wasted – there are so many different ways to use useful content.


Pimp that challenge!

And make sure you get people to sign up for it so you can capture that precious email address. Even if you’re running the challenge on Facebook or Instagram, just bang together a welcome email with all the details of the challenge and make people sign up to it to get the information on the challenge. Don’t just give away the goodies!

Give at least two weeks’ notice

People like to prepare for these things.

Be present for the challenge

It’s kind of a dick move to rile everyone up for a challenge and then be like ‘Have fun k thnx bai!’. You should also participate in the challenge to remind people that it’s happening.

Invite people to chat about it

When it’s over, take the time to think about what worked, what didn’t, and how you could tweak it for next time.

Re-target participants

People who took your challenge are warm leads who’ll make good prospects for purchasing your product or service. They know and trust you now, so they’re more likely to throw some $$$ in your direction.

Tools needed:

Choose your format – email, Facebook, or Instagram works well. Instagram stories are great because you can re-share when people mention you in their stories. Less work for you!

But you’ll definitely need your chosen email marketing platform to do follow-up emails.

Why this is great:

For that sweet, sweet engagement. Holding the attention of potential customers is getting harder and harder but when you provide value in the form of a challenge and provide support alongside that challenge, that’s where the engagement gold is.

Proven Strategy #4: The Evergreen Webinar

Who this is good for:

Remember when Mark Wahlberg was Marky Mark? That’s what emails are to webinars. Static emails were great back in the day but it’s time to pack away those stonewash baggy jeans, put on a shirt, tuck those undies well below your waistline, and innovate. With webinars. It’s all about the online makeover. You with me?


Figure out why you’re doing your webinar

This is a mistake that so many business owners make. Do you want your audience to join your email list? Tag a friend in the comments? Give you lots of money? Pick the one thing you want them to do and make that the focus of your webinar. Otherwise, everyone gets confused. Hot tip: If you’re wanting to turn your webinar into an evergreen opt-in as we’re suggesting, aim to get people to sign up and direct them to the top of your funnel. It will be the gift that keeps on giving. Like Netflix or a giant tub of jelly beans.

Figure out who your target audience is

Is it people who have no idea who you are? Re-targeted people who have lightly engaged with you in the past but haven’t stuck around? People who have already bought from you and you’re trying to make them buy again? Writing and recording your webinar will be so much easier when you determine who you’re talking to; otherwise, you might as well be one of those weird people on the street trying to recruit people into a cult no one has ever heard of.

Set the date and time and pimp it!

Give people at least a week’s notice and then start sharing the webinar everywhere. On Facebook, Instagram, your email list, your website. Hot tip: Offer a few different timings and allow people to book which timing they like that way you can capture people across all different time zones.

Test everything

Set up a private webinar for one friend and ask them to check everything. Can they see you? Can they hear you? Is there porn visible on your open laptop in the background? Check everything, because webinar audiences will see things you didn’t know were there.

Double-check your script

Don’t mention anything specific in your webinar like Christmas or football games. Remember, you want people to think this is live, and that illusion will be shattered if they’re watching it in June.


Make sure your lighting is good, you’re recording in a quiet, softly furnished area and your face and outfit look presentable. You don’t need to be Cindy Crawford-level hot but make sure you don’t have crumbs on your face or a nipple popping out of your top. It’s happened before. For real.

Set it up as evergreen

The idea here is to make it available for a limited time and then release it again. If people can watch it any old time, they won’t do it. Use timed CTAs to create a sense of urgency.

Tools needed:

There are so many different webinar marketing tools out there – we use Zoom but there’s also EverWebinar, Webinarjam… choose one that looks like you can figure out how to use it!

Why this is great:

Webinars work. Albeit not as effectively as they once did, but there’s still some glorious engagement and customer reaping to be had from this (frankly under-used) marketing tool. Get in quick before everyone starts saying ‘Webinars? Oh my god, that’s so retro!’

Proven Strategy #5:  The Quick PDF download

Who this is good for:

Everyone loves a top 15 pieces of advice article and these can be GOLD for getting people on your mailing list. Top 15 Tips for Losing Weight, Top 15 Tips for Doubling Your Business Revenue, Top 15 Tips for Getting Every Job You Apply For.

You totally wish all those articles actually exist, don’t you? That’s what the purpose of this challenge is for you to write the type of memo that makes people go ‘Oh! I’m definitely signing up for that!’ 

How we’ve done it:

We have a Sales Page Secrets eBook – you can grab it here.


Pick your topic.

You could start with a poll on Facebook or jump on Pinterest and see what posts are performing amongst the Pinterest crowd.

Workshop your heading.

Try putting the number at the start, the number at the end, try making the statement positive, try making it negative. Come up with 10 different headings and ask a few friends or a private Facebook business group which ones they’re most likely to click on and go with that one.

Get writing!

Make sure you provide a lot of value in each point and try to teach your audience something they didn’t already know. This is your chance to hook a warm customer, so pull out all the stops -but don’t forget to leave them wanting more.

Make it pretty.

Either pop it in Canva and do it yourself or hire a graphic designer. The more polished it looks, the more seriously people will take it.

Pimp it!

Put your opt-in on Facebook, Instagram, your blog, your website. Also, don’t be afraid to tell people about it. If you see someone asking a question that your PDF answers, send them the link!

Keep it up-to-date.

Update it every few months with new information and resend it to the people who already have it. It’s a great excuse to get back in touch with them and remind them of that awesome value you provided to them.

Tools needed:

Just a graphic designer to turn your work into something super schmick looking that people will want to download. Or use Canva if you’ve got a decent design eye.

Why this is great: 

By giving your customers something of value and something they get a lot out of you’re basically buying their loyalty.

Our tip?

If this is your first opt-in, or you are new to business, go with the PDF.  It’s a high-converting, quick win that consistently outperforms other opt-in offers.  Make sure you keep your PDF short (no need to create a whole ebook – a cheatsheet or short guide is what you need) but also make sure it’s beautiful. You want people to really think it was worth giving up their precious email address for. If that all seems a bit complicated for you we can help!

If you reckon you can give it a crack on your own, keep reading.

Your Next Step:  Write your Nurture Sequence

An opt-in is the first step – now you need to take care of your lead.

Have you ever heard the saying ‘You’ve got to warm up the oven before you go sticking the turkey in?’. The same thing applies to business. A nurture sequence is basically a series of emails designed to warm someone up before you ask them for money.

The Who:

Yourself! Or a virtual assistant if you happen to have one who is good with words.

The What:

This is a curated list of actions that will help you put together your nurture sequence so you aren’t sitting there banging your head on the desk wailing ‘WHAT IS WORDS???”

The When:

A couple of hours or a day – depending on how good you are at spinning at a yarn.

The Where:


The Why:

It’s getting harder and harder to get people to open their wallets these days (grubby old misers!) and people need to see a thing around 10 times before they’ll consider buying it. A nurture sequence is a perfect excuse to keep showing your product or expertise to a curated audience until they buy your product. And you don’t have to spend heaps of money on eye-ball only ads.

The How: 

Email 1

Welcome and opt-in delivery. This email delivers the thing you promised (like a PDF, downloadable, or video tutorial) and welcomes the newbie to your email list. Make this email friendly, not too pushy, and super casual. Like you’re saying ‘Hey dude, cool sneakers.’

Email 2

Address a pain point. In this email, you’ll fix a problem your audience has. It’s as simple as stating the problem – ‘Do you struggle with your energy levels?’ – and then fixing that problem – ‘Here are my top three tips for sending your energy levels through the roof. Boom. Done.

Email 3

Testimonials. In this email, you’ll provide proof that what you’re selling works. Photos and quotes from satisfied customers will help with this. Hot tip: Graphs work SUPER well. If you can show your data in graph form (like a graph showing the productivity of a person who did your energy boosting course) that’s gold when it comes to sales.

Email 4

Be available. In this email, you’ll offer help. You might get them to join your free Facebook group or tell them about a Facebook live you’re doing soon when you’ll be available to answer questions. Hot tip: don’t pitch in this email, just listen and be available. This builds trust in your audience.

Email 5

Strong pitch. In this email, it’s time to pitch your product. Up until this point, you’ve been pretty subtle with soft pitches and easy lead-ins but now is the time to nab them. You’ve been useful and supportive so they should be ripe for the picking.

Email 6

Re-capture their attention. If you think your audience has gone soft on you, re-engage them with something powerful. An additional downloadable, a free tutorial, 101 tips on something they’re interested in.

Email 7

Pitch again. Show them your product again, remind them how clever and excellent you are, and showcase how your product can change their life.

So you can spend a couple of days doing this yourself…

Or if you’d rather outsource the problem – we can take care of it for you! We have a Minimum Viable Sales Funnel package available where we basically just do it all for you. Perfect if you’re not a fan of writing or if you’re just too damn busy.

opt in sales funnel



Opt In Ideas To Mega Boost Your Email List

Take all the guesswork out of planning your next email list builder with this definitive list of opt in ideas. No matter what kind of content you do, what your niche is or your preferred method of delivery, your perfect opt in is on this list. Guaranteed.

opt-in ideas

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