So let’s say that you’ve done what everyone in the blogging world suggests: you’re going to start focusing on your e-mail opt-ins! You’ve heard why having a list is so important, and you’re ready to take the plunge.
So you download the easiest Mailchimp plug-in you can find, throw up a line or two about how people should put their e-mail address down to get your latest posts, and then boom! You wait patiently while the subscribers (don’t) start rolling in.
This happens over and over again across the blogging community, and it’s time for some real talk: what you’re doing isn’t working.
People are still willing to sign up to mailing lists. I have multiple times in this past week, and I hate clogging up my inbox. But we aren’t going to sign up for just anything.
So let’s talk about the main reasons your e-mail opt-ins aren’t converting:
1. There is no incentive to sign up
Simply saying, “Hey, reader! Put your e-mail down below to sign up to my mailing list” with no indication of what kinds of e-mail you’re going to send is no bueno! Like, my mom would kill to be on any mailing list I offer no matter what I send, but that’s about the only person.
You might as well not have any opt-in form at all if all you’re offering is pretty much the chance to be e-mailed by you! It’s tough love, but it’s true!
2. The incentive to sign up is only to see your latest posts or a round-up of your latest posts
This is something I see on a LOT of blogs through my blog audits. I totally understand this. This is what I used to offer when I had my very first e-mail list through Girl Gone London. It’s one of the first steps we take when setting up an e-mail list – we’re writing posts anyway, so we might as well make sure people don’t miss a post, right?
Well, not really. Think about who this offer is going to attract – people who really love you and want to make sure you don’t miss a post.
The same people who are going to be checking your blog regularly anyway.
If all you’re sending them is the same content they’ll find on your blog (even in rounded up form), you’re going to find your list sluggish in its growth.
Similarly, this offer isn’t going to attract anyone else who isn’t head over heels in love with all of your content. So they just won’t bother signing up.
3. Your opt-in form comes too early
This primarily applies to pop-up opt-ins (which I would advise against in general anyway), but there is nothing worse than clicking onto someone’s website and then being accosted by their opt-in before you’ve even had a chance to read their stuff. Instead of entertaining the thought of signing up, you click off the page completely.
This can also apply to in-text opt-ins. I put my opt-ins mid-way through my post or at the end of it, never at the very very beginning. At least give your reader a few paragraphs to get connected to you before trying to entice them to sign up.
4. Your opt-in form is annoying
It used to be widely believed that you need to be in your audience’s face as possible to make them sign up for your mailing lists.
This is not the case anymore. The more annoying your opt-in form, the more you’re going to turn away your audience before you can convince them how lovely and helpful you are.
Pop-ups in general, whether in the middle of your homepage or down at the bottom of the screen are particularly problematic for so many readers who will be accessing your blog via mobile devices. They take up the whole screen and half the time you can’t find the “X” to click off of them, so just huff and close the window altogether.
Not the way to win followers!
5. The incentive to sign up isn’t good enough
So maybe you do have an incentive to sign up instead of just sharing your latest blog posts. Great! You’re one step in the right direction.
But it’s very possible your incentive isn’t good enough. So, for instance:
A $5 discount code off of a $200 product.
An eBook with too-complicated language that your readers can find more easily explained on the internet.
Too-specific coupons or local information if your blog is meant to apply to a wider range of people.
6. The incentive to sign up isn’t targeted to your audience
Similar to the above point, you need to really do research into your target audience – not only of your blog, but of your mailing list. Who do you want to sign up? How will they benefit from what you send?
If you run a lifestyle blog and your incentive has to do with recipes, but then all you send out in your mailing list is travel tips, you’re going to find that you’re not reaching the right people.
If you run a travel blog, you need to come to terms with what kind of travel blog you run. Is it student travel? Luxury travel? Family travel? These will all impact the type of opt-in you offer significantly.
7. The opt-in form is too flashy or garish
Your goal in an opt-in form is to show your audience that you’re knowledgeable and have enough of a sense for design that you’re not going to assault their eyes every time they go to your blog.
There’s no need for flashing neon lights, colors that are hard on the eyes or any other visual technique to draw your reader’s attention to your opt-in.
They should be drawn in naturally, and while you do want them to notice it, of course, you should probably leave the excessive cat emojis and tragic combination of hot pink, lime green and sunset orange for another day.