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Opt-in Forms: An Effective Way to Generate Leads

Even with an effective marketing plan to optimize your web pages and create a strategic paid search campaign, there’s a missing link here that can help businesses really capture quality leads: the opt-in form.

Jeremy Harrison


SEO, paid search, social media, blogging—these are all effective ways to increase traffic and generate leads. But even with an effective marketing plan to optimize your web pages and create a strategic paid search campaign, there’s a missing link here that can help businesses really capture quality leads: the opt-in form.

People who land on your website and stick around long enough to browse through a few pages may not be ready to place a call to your business or order a product, but they may be willing to enter their email address into an opt-in form. Placing an opt-in form on your homepage or creating a landing page specifically to capture emails is a great way to generate quality leads.

Before you log in to your website and slap a form together, ask yourself a few questions first:

  • Who are you targeting? Think about your primary and secondary customer profile whom your business serves. These are the people you want to serve via the opt-in form, and by gathering email addresses.
  • What action do you want them to take? Most businesses create an opt-in form to gather email address. Creating a separate landing page for the opt-in form is a great way to isolate the call to action, or getting people to opt-in. However, you can also locate the form on your primary web page, in the sidebar or header. The opt-in landing page should generally be very clean, without a lot of other information or buttons cluttering the page, and focused, with copy, color and design that specifically directs users to take that one specific action.
  • What are you willing to give consumers? People will be less likely to type in their email address into an opt-in form unless they’re getting something in return. In exchange for the email address, you can offer customers a special report on how to get a lower mortgage rate, a discount or coupon to use in your brick and mortar store, or a video that talks about how your product solves a specific problem.

So what should the opt-in form look like? The primary elements you should feature include:

  • A headline that instantly grabs attention and draws readers in.
  • The benefits that they’ll get by subscribing.
  • A call to action that invites consumers to sign-up in a very clear, direct way.
  • The opt-in form, with slots for a name and email address. (Some opt-in forms request more information. If you choose this route, make the additional information optional. Customers tend to be intimidated by long forms, and hesitant about providing too much personal information, so the idea here is to ask for less to get more people to sign-up.)

For optimal success, once you put an opt-in form to work on your website to generate leads, split-test your form to gain insight into your unique audience of consumers. The results of changing one or two components on the form lets you know what’s working, and what’s not. Making small but strategic changes to the font, form positioning, messaging, or design can drive more people to your lead-generating opt-in form.

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