Get Their Name and Follow Up: Opt-In Boxes & Autoresponders

by | Feb 9, 2009 | Marketing & Selling

It has been said that if you don’t have a list, then you don’t have a business. So, how do you collect prospect’s names and market to them through your website?

You have an opt-in box that collects their names and email addresses and loads them into an autoresponder.

In this post, I’m going to concentrate on the design aspects of these two key parts of your website.

The Opt-In Box

Your opt-in box should be prominent on your home page. It should be “above the fold” — that is people should have to scroll down the page to get to it, and it should stand out from the rest of the page.

Now, there are some exceptions to this rule — as in cases where the home page’s primary purpose is not to collect prospect’s names — but, for the most part, these rules hold.

Most of the time, the opt-in box is on the right-hand side or in the center, and is either on the top of the page or just below the header graphic.

The less information you request — whether or not it is required for opt-in — the more opt-ins you will receive. The most common is asking for the name and primary email address. (Obviously, the email address is always there and always required.)

Another consideration is how you will indicate what your “ethical bribe” is. You should describe its benefits to your target market in words (short, pithy bullet points are best). You can also include an image of it — this sometimes increases opt-in rates, but you should test that for your audience.

First, let me make sure we’re all on the same page about what an autoresponder is. An autoresponder is a script or service that sends out pre-determined emails when certain actions — that you determine — occur. Autoresponders add a layer of automation to your business, freeing you from having to manage and send out emails manually. They also help you stay compliant with the CAN-SPAM act.

Most autoresponders allow you to send out two different kinds of email: one-off broadcasts set to go out on a specific date at a specific time, and sequential follow-up emails that are sent out relative to the time a person opts in to your list.

This second type of email is key to making your opt-in box and ethical bribe work most effectively. To help you fully understand this, let’s look at the sequence of events that occurs in an ideal situation.

opt-in sequence

Basically, a prospect comes to your website and enters her name and email address in your opt-in box. Your autoresponder sends a confirmation email to the prospect, making sure that she truly wants to opt in (this is called “double opt-in” and is the safest way to comply with the CAN-SPAM act). When the prospect clicks on the confirmation link, she is taken to a thank you page where she can download her ethical bribe. Over the next few days or weeks, she receives a series of emails from you following up.

Now, what that follow-up series says is beyond the scope of this post, but I can give you a simple outline for the first few messages.

  • Message 1: Thank you for subscribing and here’s the download link in case you didn’t get it before.
  • Message 2: I just wanted to touch base and make sure you know what to expect from being on this list.
  • Message 3: How did the download go? Do you have any questions about the content of the ethical bribe?
  • Message 4 to infinity: Go into more detail about the information in the ethical bribe and suggest she take action and purchase your products and services.

These first two to three email messages set the tone of your relationship with the prospect. They let the prospect know how accessible and personable you are and what kind of information she can expect to receive from you.

When you have an effective opt-in box coupled with a well-thought-out autoresponder follow-up series, you can not only increase the number of people who subscribe to your list but retain them for a longer period of time. Of course, there is more to it than just these first steps, but if you start off in the right direction, you’ll have a better chance of ending up where you planned to go.



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