Secrets to Designing an Effective Website Optin Form

The one asset that is considered to be the gold in your online business is your email list. I constantly tell my clients that their #1 goal at events and primary call to action in their online marketing strategies should be to asking people to join their list. The best way to get people on your list is to create an effective opt-in form on your website. An opt-in form is a sign up form on a website that asks for key pieces of info, like email address and name, for example, in return for sending the visitor something of value, like a free report or ezine subscription. What are the criteria that need to be considered in the design of this form? 1.

Page Placement. On what page of your website should your opt-in form be placed? That's easy -- every single page of your site. Most people erroneously believe that every visitor will come to their website through their home page. Nothing could be further from the truth. Because every page of your website is a possible landing page, ensure that someone can opt into your list from whichever page they are taken to within your website.

In fact, about 60% of my traffic comes to my site through one of the articles I have written, and so I have my primary call to action -- an opt-in box for my ezine -- visible on every page of my site. You can even add this strategy to the checkout process when someone makes a purchase from you. Add a check box to join your list to the checkout page of your shopping cart, ask the purchaser to opt-in to your list via the thank you page your purchaser is sent to after purchase, or include the request in the email autoresponder follow up that the purchaser is sent post-purchase. Another place to insert your opt-in form is at the end of any articles you have on your site or your blog. Create some short (1-2 sentence) sales copy that ties your content in with an offer to opt into your list. If the visitor liked what he read, you'll catch him at just the right moment to want to opt-in to your email list.

2. Location on Page. Marketing wisdom says that the best location for an opt-in form is the upper right corner of a page. Regardless if it's on the right or the left, the opt-in box definitely needs to be "above the fold", to use an old newspaper term, i.e. in the top of the page that's immediately visible on the screen so that the visitor will not have to scroll down to see the opt-in form.

For maximum impact, the opt-in form needs to stand out and be noticed. Putting the opt-in form into a box with a bold outline or eye-catching color will help, as will creating a graphic icon that the visitor will immediately see, like an image of your ezine or your special report or bonus ebook. In order for your visitors to take action, your opt-in form needs to be the first element on your page that attracts their attention.

3. Type of form. There are two basic types of forms you can use for your opt-in form: an inline form and a popup form. The inline form is the traditional form you see on many websites that request the visitor to fill in his email address and name, for example. The pop-up form, or pop-over form (which is unblockable by pop-up blockers), is disliked by many people. However, from my experience, the pop-over form (one that slides onto the page from the top or side of a page or one that jumps into a page and bounces a bit (also know as a hover ad) is very effective, provided it is used properly.

Your best strategy is to use a combination of the two forms. Make sure that your inline opt-in form in present on every page of your site, and use the pop-over form selectively throughout your site only on certain pages. Don't ever use the pop-over form by itself, as having that repeatedly appear in front of your visitor is a sure way to annoy him and cause him to immediately leave your site.

4. Opt-in Benefits. Why would someone want to part with his name and email address for you? Your visitor is seeking the WIIFM (What's In It For Me) factor.

There has to be a very compelling reason for your visitor to part with his name and email address these days. One way to get that information from your visitor is by offering a free email newsletter, but even today that's not usually enough. In order to get a visitor's attention today, you have to up the ante and offer a free report, ebook, audio or video, or ecourse that helps the visitor solve one of the pressing problems that led him to your site. In order to build that trust and confidence and further bolster your opt-in success, let your visitor know your privacy policy, or how the email address will be used; set expectations for how often and on what occasions he will receive emails from you; and what happens next in the signup process. 5.

Information to collect. How much information is a visitor willing to give you? For many years simply an email address was considered adequate, but with the advent of broadcast services that have well-developed features that let you personalize email broadcasts, you may want to request additional info. At a minimum, get the first name and the email address of your visitor. If direct mail marketing or telemarketing is a part of your future business marketing strategy, you may want to collect mailing address, city, state, zip, and phone number as well. However, if you make that information mandatory, you may lose many opt-in opportunities.

If you want to collect this extended information, put asterisks on your opt-in form to denote which fields are mandatory (like name and email address) and which are optional. You'll be surprised at how many people will give you their mailing address just because you asked for it. 6. Post-form process. Create an online video or one-page tutorial with screen captures to walk your subscriber through the next desired steps in the opt-in process.

Most visitors don't want to think, so if you can take them by the hand and show them step-by-step how to get on your list, they will happily follow along and do as you ask. This is especially helpful for newbies who may not have experience in joining lists. With an effective opt-in form and opt-in process, you can exponentially increase the size of your lists in a very short time. Then, you have a ready and willing list of potential clients to whom you can begin to market your expertise, products, and services. Copyright (c) 2007 Donna Gunter.

Online Business Resource Queen (TM) and Online Business Coach Donna Gunter helps independent service professionals learn how to automate their businesses, leverage their expertise on the Internet, and get more clients online. To claim your FREE gift, TurboCharge Your Online Marketing Toolkit, visit her site at . Ask Donna an Internet Marketing question at

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