Measuring engagement at your website can be complicated. People interact with different kinds of content in different ways, and changes in time on page or bounce rate can have different causes. Looking at your opt-in rate can give you an additional, and often clearer, metric for your marketing.
What’s your opt-in rate?
Your opt-in rate is the percentage of your visitors who share their contact information with you. The most frequent kind of opt-in is probably subscribing, either to get notifications when you have new content or to receive your newsletter.
However, people may swap their contact information for an ebook, a special report, a coupon, a discount, or any number of other things. Any time they give you permission to communicate with them directly, your visitors are opting in to your marketing. By sharing their name and email with you, your visitors are saying that they want to hear from you.
This is basically a specific kind of conversion, and you can calculate your opt-in rate the same way you calculate your conversion rate. If you have 100 visitors a day and two subscriptions a day, you have a 2% opt-in rate.
Define your opt-in rate consistently
When you want to improve something, you have to define and measure it consistently. Say that two out of 100 visitors subscribe to your email newsletter today and that gives you a 2% opt-in rate. Tomorrow, one visitor subscribes to your email newsletter, but two other visitors follow you in their WordPress reader feeds. Should you claim a 3% opt-in rate?
You can go either way, but you need to do it the same way every day.
Your opt-in rate shouldn’t be based on just one day, but it absolutely must not include different criteria from one day to another. Decide which opt-in actions you’re counting and how you plan to calculate them, and stick with it. Otherwise, you will not be able to tell whether that rate is improving or not.
Once you’ve established your benchmark, try some of these ideas to improve opt-in numbers.
Put CTAs in multiple places
Opt-in Monster, an excellent plug-in for getting subscribers to your WordPress website, has a list of ideas about how to add email subscription forms to your website. At the very least, make sure that you invite visitors to subscribe on every page.
The thing is, internet users have generally developed ad blindness. We know the places ads will probably hang out, and we just don’t look there. That right hand sidebar? We ignore it. Pop ups? We close them without reading. Top banners? We don’t look at them.
Some marketers try to overcome ad blindness by using brighter colors, louder sounds, or bigger pop ups, but the truth is, yelling your visitors won’t get their attention — it will make them leave.
The exception to ad blindness is when there’s something we’re actually interested in showing in those ads. You’re thinking about buying a new fire pit? A picture of a fire pit will catch your attention. It’s not that you don’t see the ads at all. That’s just not where you want to put your attention. Just as you ignore the noise in an airport until your name is called, information that is actually of interest to you will capture your attention even when you have defined it as noise.
So we’re not saying you should put subscription opportunities everywhere so that people will be forced to take action. Rather, you should put them everywhere so that when your visitors are receptive to the idea, they will have an opportunity available.
Offer something good
Obviously, a good offer is more appealing than a poor one. If you have good content on your website, your visitors have better reason to think that your newsletter will be worth reading. An inciting ebook cover will get more downloads than a boring one. And 15% off your first order if you subscribe may get a lot more response than a plain old subscription form.
If adding subscribers is a high priority for you, create a landing page with a compelling description of what your subscribers can expect to receive. You can create multiple sign up paths:
- Simple subscription forms like the one at the top right of this page, that let people subscribe in seconds
- Bolder invitations that ask people to click through, and then make a sales pitch with lots of information
- A pop-up that activates when people are ready to leave, promising privacy and control or offering a discount
Then make sure that you follow through on your promises.
Don’t rush it
One of the most common errors marketers make with opt-in forms is rushing visitors. The subscription pop up that covers the page before your visitor has had a chance to look around feels too aggressive. Your visitor isn’t committed to reading yet, and will probably bounce away. Set that pop up to show after the visitor has been at your page for at least the average number of seconds that page keeps people reading.
A subscription form at the bottom of the page makes a lot of sense — people who reach the bottom of the page must like what they see.
Think about making these changes one at a time so you can tell which changes encouraged subscribers.