The 6 Core Steps to Crafting Opt-Ins That Convert


Entrepreneurs are kind of like vampires. After all, we can only enter inboxes when we’re explicitly invited inside (and garlic may affect our powers, but this has yet to be tested).

When it comes to getting permission to step inside your leads’ lairs, it all starts with these little words: the opt-in.

If you’ve ever read an article about digital marketing, you’ve probably heard about how important opt-ins are for generating new leads, building your list, and connecting with your people. (You want all those things. Those things mean business longevity.)

At the end of the day (or sales quarter), you want an opt-in that catches eyes, opens wallets, and steals hearts. Whatever lead magnet you create, you want it to hook people so hard that they don’t just go for your service pitch down the line—but also brag about you to their network, friends, and mail carrier. 

The end result? An entire database of folks who can’t wait to hear from you.

Before you dive feet-first into crafting your lead magnet, study up on these tips for a surefire win.

1 | Get comfortable with trading.

Let’s think about this from a marketing perspective.

When you offer up a free opt-in, you’re doing it because you want something from them: their email address. But what are you giving them in return?

In business (and life), people want to feel seen, heard, and respected. If you intentionally develop a useful offering that improves their lives, they’ll feel great about sending over their information in return. 

Even-steven trades, y’know?

Once you pinpoint what your audience needs, they’ll be typing in their details faster than you can say, “Wait, that’s what a lead magnet is? It’s so simple!”

2 | Give away some of your best info.

Sounds scary, right? After all, if you “give away” all your best information, why would people pay you for more information down the line? Funnily enough, that reasoning actually works backwards in business.

When you lead with your actual best (and most valuable) foot forward, you’re:

  • Making the best first impression, so they’re more likely to become devotees of your brand, and listen to what you have to say.

  • Showing off your knowledge and expertise to boost trust and establish your authority.

  • Reinforcing your confidence—because if you give away something really helpful, they can’t help but wonder what other invaluable secrets you’re stashing in your brain.

  • Genuinely helping them, instead of clogging up their downloads folder with another useless PDF.

  • Setting the expectations for the kind of incredible work they can expect from you moving forward.

For example, if you’re a beauty professional, you might create a lead magnet that walks them through the 10 steps of an at-home facial, and the products you recommend.

If you’re a fitness coach, consider creating a 3-video workout class, so they can get a feel for your energy, style, and intensity of the workout.

And if you’re a yak farmer, deliver a step-by-step guide on how to weave the wool into a pair of socks for your soulmate.

The main goal is for you to show off—and for them to watch with rapt attention.

3 | Optimize your call to action.

Once you’ve designed your freebie, you’ve got to get their attention. It can be tricky to cut through all the noise, but there’s a core set of steps to get all eyes on you (and all emails on your list).

  • Include the word FREE in your description. This is a time to be clear over clever, and people’s brains immediately come to a screeching halt when they see that particular eff-word. We all love free stuff, so don’t be shy about shouting it from the rooftops.

  • Keep the details short and punchy. If it’s too wordy, their eyes may skip right over it, and you’ll miss the chance to snag their info.

  • Sprinkle in some power words. Active verbs (action words) are often the most effective, like: create, upgrade, save, try, explore, get, or play. Think about actions that people want to do. We don’t want to: pay, check out, sign up, or give.

  • Speak directly to their concrete problem, and don’t skirt around the issue. They  probably want to know if you can help, so it’s not the time to be humble.

  • Don’t forget to link to your privacy policy to let your customers know how you treat their data. Assuring them that their info is always kept under lock and key, safe in an underground secret room, and will never be sold, traded, or released is an important way to boost trust.

Let’s circle back to our yak farmer. Her market research has shown her that most people buy yak wool to weave into gifts for their loved ones. Her opt-in text might look a little somethin’ like this:

Rekindle your romance with this FREE guide.

Finally master the art of yak wool weaving, and give your sweetheart the ultimate surprise of hand-darned bespoke socks. (They’ll fall head-over-feet for you, all over again.)

opt-in best practices

Not only does this example lead with a solution to their problem (a lack of romance in their lives), it also communicates that it’s free (that magic word!), what it does (teaches yak wool weaving), and the ultimate benefit (a renewed sense of spark and intimacy with their partner). 

The button text is tied to a feeling, not a download. They’re not downloading the PDF. They’re surprising their love. See the difference?

Note: It’s also best practice to include a brief bit of fine print that informs your leads what they’ll be signing up for. You can call it out below your opt-in button and use succinct, plain language about the sorts of emails they’ll be getting from you. 

4 | Share the news.

You’ve crafted your valuable freebie and written stellar words to grab their attention. Now, all that’s left is letting them know all that you have to offer.

We think there’s a perfect trifecta that exists for optimal opt-ins, and it looks like this:

  • Set up a pop-up box on your site, that automatically interrupts the scrolling and entices readers. If you go this route, make sure to delay the pop-up by about 10 seconds, or 15% down the page. (We all know it’s annoying when a site asks you for info before you even know what they’re all about.)

  • Create a static opt-in bar in your footer on every single page of your site. This way, no matter how or where people discover you, they have the chance to get some of your most valuable info for free. (And you get the chance to truly connect with them.)

  • Jot down a few social media posts about it, and add the link directly to the post, or have the opt-in link in your Instagram bio. Not everyone will go to your website, but they’ll discover your web presence.

Putting those three pieces in place means all your bases are covered—and your potential clients have a chance to sign up. 

5 | Introduce yourself in your delivery email.

They’ve signed up for your gleaming freebie, but that’s not all they want in their inbox.

They’d also like a soft-serve ice cream cone.

All joking aside, they’re excited for whatever free offer you’re sending they’re way. But more than that, they want to duck behind your velvet ropes, look behind the curtain, and meet the person who just invited them into their world.

They’ve given you their details, but you don’t have a relationship just yet. This first delivery email establishes the tone for the kind of community you’ve created, and what they can expect when they work with you.

Give them an idea of what to expect when your newsletter lands in their inbox. How often will they hear from you? What will it be about? This makes sure they don’t immediately unsubscribe, or ban you to spam. (You can even remind them to add you to their address book, so their email client doesn’t block you accidentally.)

Keep in mind that this isn’t an explicit sales email, and they asked for free resources, not high-pressure pitches. You can (and should) definitely showcase your , but keep it soft and casual.

6 | Follow up.

You sent them something, so you want to know if it’s been helpful, right? You should be able to see if the email has been opened and the freebie downloaded, so make sure you have a quick hello ready to go after a week. 

Don’t be pushy, but ask if they found it useful and make sure it’s clear that if they have any questions they can come straight to you. You’re the expert, after all.

You’re ready to craft an opt-in that no one will (ever) want to opt out of.

Because when you’re putting your authority and know-how out there for people to learn from, their attention, email addresses, and follows aren’t just a possibility—they’re an inevitability.  

Want future clients to come to you? Experiment with a free trial of Acuity Scheduling.

small business strategy, small business automation, small business, how to promote your business