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How One Plugin Gave Me a Massive Opt-In Boost Worth $1000s Per Week

Last weekend I finally got round to installing a plugin I’d been meaning to try out for a while.

I’m glad I did! Because it immediately boosted my mailing list growth by about 400%!

Check this out! And remember I’m writing this on April 19th, and the plugin has only been running for a week!

BH Mailing List growth 2015

OK, I’ll admit it. I’ve been very lazy about growing my email list for a long time. I took my eye off the ball, and it was a mistake.

How Important is Growing a List?

It is critically important. I remember Ken McCarthy telling the attendees at the System Intensive I attended in 2009 that…

“If you don’t have an email list, I want to tell you to leave the seminar right now, go set up your list, then come back. It’s that important!”

No one can say for sure what a name on a mailing list is worth, but I heard at another conference a few years ago that the global average revenue from one name is £10 (about US$15).

So if in the last week my list grew by about 100 more names than the same period in March, that’s worth about $1500. In a week!!

I’ve been thinking a lot about mailing lists recently, because I’m helping a group of small business owners to craft new marketing campaigns using the OSM process (which is going great) and we’ve been working through the Capture & Nurture phases this week.

The logic is simple. If you don’t capture your prospect’s contact details in some way, you either have to

  • complete the transaction on one visit (very unlikely),
  • or trust that the prospect will come and find you again (very, very unlikely).

If you have their contact info, you own a channel that you can use to continue the conversation, totally under your control, for as long as you need in order to get the conversion. I’ll let you figure out what that means to your business.

(We’re also developing some very powerful techniques around this that will transform your profitability, but I can’t share that now because it’s still in development.)

Just How Much Has My Opt-in Rate Grown?

Back in September 2011, I wrote a post about boosting my opt-in rate using the Optincrusher add-on.

Three years ago, here’s what effect that had on my signups, back when I used AWeber.

Mailing list sign-ups per week (from AWeber)

After I installed Optincrusher, my sign-up rate jumped to an average of about 170 per week.

Now, at that time, this site got a lot more visitors. Here’s the graph from Analytics, showing unique visitors by week.

WDFS weekly visitors since 2011

Let’s say I was seeing an average of about 25,000 unique visitors per week back in mid-2011. That gives a sign-up rate of 170 / 25,000 = 0.68%

Compare to now. Last week I got 11,418 unique visitors, and I got 96 new mailing list subscribers. That’s a sign-up rate of 0.84%, about 25% higher than the previous peak, and at a time where we’re all a bit more cynical about signing up to mailing lists than we were four years ago.

What Did I Do?

Well, you’ve probably already seen my new opt-in mechanism, offering my five ebooks for free.

Lightbox opt-in

(Affiliate link)

The plugin is the new Thrive Leads (Affiliate link). I make no secret that I’m a huge fan of Thrive’s conversion-oriented WordPress themes and plugins. Quite simply, they’re growing my business faster, and don’t cost very much at all! In fact, every new site I’ve put live in the past few months is on a Thrive theme.

The main reason it works is because it’s big and in your face, meaning I can project my message in a bold and confident way.

If you’re thinking, “I hate pop-ups and opt-ins and wouldn’t want to do that on my site,” believe me I know where you’re coming from. But my advice would be, if you’re talking to your ideal prospect (i.e. someone who needs what you can do), and you’re offering them something genuinely valuable, why wouldn’t you make that offer confidently?

If you’re pissing off your visitors with your opt-in offer, you’re either getting the wrong traffic, or you’re being mean and offering a crappy lead magnet.

There’s a lot to love about this plug-in, and I’ll link to the video which explains it better than I can. But let me share a couple of things that I’m buzzing about.

Creative Control

Like their other offerings, Thrive Leads (Affiliate link) uses the super-simple Thrive Content Builder for editing your opt-in creative.

Now, you don’t have to use the lightbox-style mechanism that I’m running. You can have ribbons that slide in from the top or bottom, or forms that hang on the side of the page. There are a lot of options, and you really do not need to know how to code in order to set them up.

They’ve also introduced two-step and multiple-option opt-ins. See the video below for more info.

Thrive video link

Split-Testing Built In

Perhaps even more valuable than the creative choices is that Thrive Leads (Affiliate link) also offers A/B split testing built right into the plugin.

I am not exaggerating when I say I set up my first split test in about sixty seconds! I was testing different triggers for showing the lightbox. You’ll be surprised at how much of a difference it can make.

If you’ve got any doubt about how important A/B testing can be, check out the results!

Click on the image to see full size if you need. But the bottom line is that timed delays worked WAY better than displaying the lightbox when the visitor had scrolled a certain way through the content.

But, perhaps more surprisingly, a 20-second delay was significantly more effective than 10 or 30 seconds. In fact, showing after twenty seconds got me 40% more sign-ups than waiting thirty seconds!

Now, I’m not saying you should take my results, because your context, your visitors, and your content will be very different to mine!

But I am saying these details can obviously make a big difference, so you must test! Fortunately, Thrive Leads makes that easy. (Of course, I’m now running a follow-up test, testing 15, 20, and 25-second delays.)

AB test results

Of course, there’s still a lot more I can do. For example, I haven’t tested the offer itself, and I can easily show different creatives within Thrive Leads. Plus, I could also plan for showing different relevant offers depending on the section of my site.

The bottom line is…

  • If you’re not actively building a list, you should be (unless all your offers are short-term, one-shot deals, or you already have all your prospects’ contact info)!
  • Do not, whatever you do, even think about putting “Sign Up for Our Mailing List” because no one wants another mailing list or newsletter! Offer them something they really want, which delivers real value, proves your expertise, and also qualifies the prospect as a high-value “bullseye” visitor.
  • If you’re not offering a compelling “lead magnet”, you really, really should be!
  • If you’re not split-testing your offers, you should be! Test constantly.
  • If your site is running on WordPress, if you’re not running Thrive Leads, you should definitely check it out (Affiliate link).

You’ll know I don’t promote anything that I don’t believe in one hundred percent. I’m able to recommend this only because I’ve already got dozens of times more value from this plugin than it costs — in the first week!

About the author

Ben Hunt

Ben has over 20 years' experience in web design and marketing, and is one of the most influential figures on the subject of effective web design. He has written a bunch of books and spoken at multiple conferences internationally. In 2015, Ben created Open-Source Marketing, which promises to turn the practice of marketing upside down.. Find out more at http://opensourcemarketingproject.org

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