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How to Quadruple Your Email Opt In Rate

written by Guest Blogger on April 15, 2012

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If you’ve been doing email marketing for over a week, you’ve probably heard all about split testing: why you should, easy split tests you can implement today, split testing your web forms and calls to action, and so on.

If people liked email as much as they like cats, “test it!” would be our “I can has cheezburger?” (It practically is around AWeber.)

You’d think there’s no way we wouldn’t be testing everything possible around here, right?

Wrong.

I just got done running a test and it reminded me why we go back to this topic over and over.

If you’d like to build your list over 321% faster, take a couple minutes to read this post.

The Sad Story of a Neglected Landing Page

Thanks to loyal readers like you who read, comment and tell other people about the email marketing tips here (thanks!), this blog and its readership have grown steadily over the past 6 years.

We’ve done a number of things over the years to make it grow faster. One important thing that has made it easier to build our blog newsletter is our subscribe page, which we link up in our emails and also push people to from the signup form in the blog’s sidebar.

Below is a screenshot of what this page used to look like, before our test.

As you can see, it’s not amazing, but it’s an OK page. It encourages people to subscribe and gives them an idea of what they’ll get for doing so.

It meets the basic requirements of a subscribe page.

Which is probably why the page hadn’t been updated since 2008.

Holy Hypocrisy, Batman!

It was pretty embarrassing to realize how old that page was, especially when we talk about how big a deal testing is.

Clearly it was time for some changes – or at least, to test them.

We looked at our subscribe page and a bunch of other ones to see what changes might be worth testing.

One style that made a lot of sense to us was the “X Reasons to Subscribe” format that we found on a number of websites. (Career Realism and The 4 Hour Work Week are good examples; for a bunch more, just Google “reasons to subscribe” and you’ll have a ton to work with.)

So we created a version of our subscribe page that followed this format, and added a few wrinkles of our own that we thought might improve the opt-in rate.

The New Version: 7 Reasons to Subscribe

Here’s the page we created for the test.

This version is a complete change from what was there, so we were pretty confident that we’d get a large, statistically significant change fast… for better or worse.

Results: 321% Increase in Confirmed Opt-Ins

We ran the split test via Visual Website Optimizer, which is an easy-to-use website testing tool.

In less than a week, the outcome was clear: the new “7 Reasons to Subscribe” page was outperforming the old version by over 321%.

So that page, which had just been plugging along, is now getting over 4 times as many people to subscribe as it used to. To put it another way: for every 1000 people to that page, we’re now getting 114 of them to sign up, instead of just 27 of them.

Why Did The New Page Do So Much Better?

Looking at the pages side by side, it seems obvious that the 2nd one would do better.

The “X Reasons to Subscribe” format is powerful stuff. And if that’s all you need to take away from this to go test your own subscribe page, that’s fine by me.

But for those of you who want to see the “why” behind these results, let’s dig a little deeper.

Click on the screenshot to see the new subscribe page, annotated with my thoughts on why it worked:

A few points I want to underscore:

  • Testimonials make this page really rock. For each reason, we have a real testimonial from a reader so that visitors can see that the promises we’re making on this page are authentic. How’d we get those testimonials? We surveyed subscribers late last year and asked them this question: “Please share one way you’ve improved your email campaign results after reading this blog. What did you learn from the blog, what did you do, and how did it help your campaign?”
  • Focused copy that addresses why people read our blog. At the end of the day, improving your email campaigns is about making more money with them. So we speak directly to the profit motive in the introduction and with our choice of testimonials.
  • It’s easy to subscribe, with multiple chances to do so. We have a form at the end for people who need to read all 7 reasons before signing up. At the same time, we have an option to subscribe near the top for people who are sold after the first 1 or 2 reasons.

What Can Testing Do For Your Business?

Think about how much traffic your subscribe page (or your about or contact page) gets in a month.

What if you could turn a tenth (or more!) of them into subscribers? How many more people on your email list would that be?

Now, multiply that number by 12.

That’s how many people you’re losing by not testing your subscribe page.

Time to Go Test For Yourself

OK, now that you’ve seen what we did and how it has improved our results, I have 2 suggestions for you:

  1. Test it!
  2. When you do, come back and share your results.

One last thing: if you haven’t subscribed to this blog yet, and you want advice like this on how to make your email marketing more successful and profitable, you should subscribe today.

Justin Premick is the Director of Education Marketing at Aweber. Start your email list today for only $1.

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{ 38 comments }

Jeff April 15, 2012 at 4:47 pm

How do we test to minimize the amount of time it takes a visitor to read our landing page and sign up.

Make The Money Online Dot Com April 15, 2012 at 5:18 pm

Great post and great advice!! This is definitely a crucial part to building your list.. :)

Cheers
Lloyd

Singapore Casino April 15, 2012 at 5:49 pm

Wow, so honored to have Justin from Aweber to speak for us here :D

Just a suggestion here, can Aweber come up with a form or something, where it tries to encourage the reader to fill up email form WHEN he is leaving the website or webpage? How does that sound? Crazy enough?

Samuel Ho April 15, 2012 at 6:25 pm

Hi John! This is a great post for newbie blogger as me who is not very good on Email marketing and even don’t know how to do and setup the email list. Thanks for sharing!!

Regards,
Samuel

Martin Staten April 16, 2012 at 2:06 am

This is an excellent post. Split testing is crucial if you want to maximize opt-ins. Squeeze pages that are just OK, still work. However, squeeze pages and sales letters that have been split tested work much much better.

Thanks,
Martin

P.S. I’m giving away some free eBooks and everyone is welcome to download them here: http://martinstaten.com

Harshad April 16, 2012 at 4:20 am

Good tips. Came at the right time just when I am working on a squeeze page.

Jeff Emmerson April 16, 2012 at 4:24 am

As always, thank you for your insights, John! I take from you what works, and it’s awesome!!

Matthew Meyer April 16, 2012 at 4:46 am

I have been hired by a political organization to help them with their email marketing. I was trying to convince them to do what you are saying to do but you went even further than I did. Thank you for the great ideas and improving my game. Well done!

Kent Chen April 16, 2012 at 4:51 am

I am really blew away by the information, it really opens up the cloudy areas and brings out the sun!

Steve April 16, 2012 at 4:52 am

Hi John
Nice post,great advice .i was just thinking of changing my optin box.
Thanks for sharing!!!

Kind Regards
Steve

msasinski April 16, 2012 at 4:54 am

I’m trying it right away. Now i get 20% effectivnes on register page. I’ll let you know about effects.

Joseph D. Shiller April 16, 2012 at 5:03 am

Thanks John, I had forgotten about how easy aWeber is to work with as an affiliate, I use them myself and I am very happy with their product and service.

Kristie Chiles April 16, 2012 at 5:09 am

Hi John, I am certainly trying to increase my optin rate and I just created a new squeeze page modeling your example. Here she blows! Thanks so very much for the help!

Kristie Chiles

Lisa Cash Hanson April 16, 2012 at 5:13 am

I think these are awesome. I added a video to tell they why to subscribe and that has improved my list as well. My site is going through some changes but thanks for the example I’ll be adding some of those techniques as well. Love it here on John Chow!

Mercer April 16, 2012 at 5:31 am

Testing is 80% of the job and it’s articles like this that prove it. Thanks for passing along Visual Website Optimizer… hadn’t used that one before.

Arbaz Khan April 16, 2012 at 5:50 am

Great post. Its really important to build your e-mail subscribers’ list in order to succeed in your online venture. You covered the topic very well in your post. Thanks for this great article. Keep up the good work !!!!!!

fas April 16, 2012 at 6:11 am

Looked familar, then i remembered reading this on AWeber blog 2 days ago.

April M. Smith April 16, 2012 at 6:47 am

It is important to provide a clear message to our readers. We never know if that is the 1st or the 5th time they have been offered to opt-in. Another great post John!

Tarik Pierce April 16, 2012 at 7:00 am

This is a good case study. It’s important to list benefits to the subscriber so they know what they are missing.

Shailesh Kumar April 16, 2012 at 10:40 am

Learned the value of testing the hard way. I assumed, based on all the advice about newsletter landing pages, that giving out a free report will increase conversions.

Removing the free report offer increased my conversions from 25% to abut 30%

I suspect, in my niche it probably came off as “trying too hard” that rubbed people the wrong way. Besides, people who navigate to this page are already motivated (they chose to click the button to get here). Goes on to show that what works for others may not work for you and so you need to keep testing.

Lisha April 16, 2012 at 6:34 pm

Those are some great tips. I think I’ll set up an “X Reasons to subscribe” page.

~Lisha

Search Engine Marketing Melbourne April 16, 2012 at 7:34 pm

Don’t you just love it when you test something and you hit a home run! This one is going into my “swipe” folder for future reference.

It just reinforces the rule, test, test and then test some more.

Karina April 16, 2012 at 8:04 pm

Good tips! Thanks for sharing :)

Chadrack April 17, 2012 at 1:59 am

This is a classic example of what we can achieve if only we will take the time to test our efforts. With these clear examples you have convinced me beyond any doubt that building a list could be easy if you know what to do. Thanks for sharing.

Greg@travel Finland Blog April 17, 2012 at 3:02 am

Informative post John
My prblem is I find setting up Aweber to be extremely difficult,so I just use the WordPress register on my sidebar.
I know my blog would benefit from something such as a subscibe page.It would begreat to do a detailed post on setting up Aweber! and inporting my 2.000 site users
Greg

Nick Dean April 17, 2012 at 4:30 am

Hey John,

Great post. I am surely gonna try this on my opt in page.

Best Regards

Nick

Colin Klinkert @ The Tech Labs April 17, 2012 at 6:35 am

Wow – you got aweber posting on your blog John, nice work mate! :)

I love reading this blog, inspires me every post

Germany Business assistant April 19, 2012 at 12:35 am

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breakdown and calculation of cost developing business in one or more of the 27
states. Hereunder we explain what stands behind each of the components forming
the entire tool.

WayneLifestyle April 19, 2012 at 1:04 am

Excellent post with valuable tips of email marketing. This post will help me much to improve my email marketing activities. Thanks a lot for this great post.

monica April 19, 2012 at 1:23 pm

Hola a todos y especialmente a ti John:
Muchas gracias por compartir este pedazo de artículo.
Aquí teneis una tienda de ropa para niños y niñas a muy buen prcio.

urko April 19, 2012 at 1:30 pm

Me he equivocado al meter la url de mi tienda de ropa online, aquí os dejo el bueno.
http:www.mimodainfantil.es

Sirajee April 19, 2012 at 11:29 pm

Here are given many suggestions and ideas for email marketing.
Thus I appreciate this website very much. I love the email marketing.

Jane April 20, 2012 at 8:54 am

Email marketing has great potential to market your blog. Thanks for sharing valuable information. Aweber is extremely good in this matter.

Jeff Emmerson April 20, 2012 at 10:56 am

Awesome job, John! Look at all these responses!! Who knew I’d already be making 6-figures!!

Nick April 29, 2012 at 12:52 pm

Wow, I love the landing page difference, I picked a lot of ideas from it that I could improve for my own site. Thanks so much :)

Khaja moin April 30, 2012 at 9:38 am

Would like to thank Daniel Scocco for recommending this post and also justin to post the most effective post regarding email marketing.
Shared with my friends on G+

User Experience May 2, 2012 at 10:27 pm

I am not using this kind of marketing on my sites, but whhoopps, I guess it would be my next strategy. Thanks for this good info.

Stacie @ WomanInLeadership.com June 8, 2012 at 8:13 pm

John,

Thank you so much for helping with my current stumbling block with updating my email newsletter opt in strategy.

I absolutely love your advice. It is very detailed and to the point.

To Your Success,

Stacie Walker
Woman in Leadership Founder