What's an Opt-In?

Simple SEO Podcast, Organic Marketing

It’s a common question: what’s an opt-in? Once we answer that, the next questions often are: do I need one, and how do I figure out what to create for my business? How do I set this up, and finally, what if it doesn’t work? Let’s walk through it all and see if we can’t figure it out.

Let’s start at the beginning. What is an opt-in?

You use an opt-in to entice a potential customer to share their information with you. It must be interesting enough that they’re willing to give you their email address in exchange for the info.

You may also hear the term lead magnet; it’s the same thing. You will most likely want to have one for your business, and you’ll want to have it easy to find on your website. Yes, you will need a little tech skill to do this, but it’s not hard once you understand how the entire process works. Don’t worry; I’ll walk you through the steps.

Why do we use an opt-in? 

You create an opt-in to help grow your email list. You want to grow your email list because it's the only form of customer contact you have control over or ownership. If your favorite social media channel went away tomorrow, how many of your followers would you be able to reach? Building your email list is a key business strategy every small business owner should focus on. 

Listen to the podcast here.

How do you create an opt-in or a lead magnet?

The most important thing is for you to know your ideal customer well. If you’re not entirely sure who you’re serving with your business, you’ll want to go back and re-read these posts on identifying your ideal customer and determining what they want from you.

Lead Magnet or Opt-in Creation Process (answer the following questions)

  • What is your Ideal Customer’s #1 Issue?
  • How can you help them solve their issue?
  • What can you give them now, for free, that’s a quick win?
  • Is this enticing enough for them to provide you with their email address?

What type of opt-ins work best?

The type of lead magnet or opt-in you need will vary based on your business and your Ideal Customer’s needs. Some examples of great opt-ins include:

  • Coupons for retailers
  • Free drink or free dessert for a restaurant
  • Free teeth cleaning for a dentist
  • Free meal planning guide for meal delivery, weight loss, or diet program.
  • Free training snippet for online course creators
  • Free outfit planning guide or location guide for a photographer

Now, it’s your turn to think through the questions and come up with an idea.

  • Who is your Ideal Customer?
  • What is their #1 need?
  • How do you help them solve that problem?
  • What can you teach or give them now that they can implement in under an hour that will make a difference?

How do you create and promote a lead magnet?

Once you’ve decided on your opt-in topic, you’ll want to create it and make sure it looks polished and professional. If your budget allows you to hire a graphic designer for the project, that may be your ideal solution. If you can’t hire someone yet, you can buy templates or create them yourself using templates on Canva.com or another design tool.

Create the lead magnet, have someone proofread it to ensure there aren’t any typos, and make sure it makes sense. When working closely on a project, we sometimes miss the typos because our brains read what we think is there, not what it says. Ask someone else to read through the file for you and ask any questions they have. If they do not understand the information, you may need to revise it a bit to clarify it. Pay attention to the feedback you’re getting, especially if they’re your ideal customer, as others may have the same issues. 

 When you’re comfortable with the content and design of the opt-in, you’ll need to set up the distribution channels. Most people use email to deliver their lead magnets or opt-ins. You can set up an auto-responder via most email service providers.

You’ll want to look for the specific directions for your ESP (email service provider), but the path you’ll follow is this:

  • A person enters their email address
  • Email address is added to a list
  • Once someone is added to the list, it triggers on the back end and starts an automation
  • The first email can be the double opt-in confirmation email (the yes, I signed up for this email) or the delivery email with the opt-in itself
  • Send the opt-in email with the information they’ve requested
  • From here, you should add them to a nurture program where you send them helpful information weekly. The information in your nurture sequence should answer their questions and be useful.


You will likely need to spend time in your Email Service Provider’s Admin area setting up your email lists and automation. You’ll want to double-check everything and test with several email addresses to ensure it’s working before you start sharing your opt-in with anyone.

Once ready, add it to your website’s homepage and share it on your social media channels. You’ll want to offer it to your website’s visitors and your social media followers. You may also want to invest in some Facebook Ads to expand your audience reach. You’ll need to get your opt-in in front of your Ideal Customer to find out if it’s what they want.

How do you know if your opt-in is working?

To start, you’ll want to track your email sign-ups to see if there’s steady traffic. If you’re running ads to promote your opt-in, you will want to set up conversion tracking in your Facebook Ads account and use the thank you URL for your custom conversion so that you can see how much you’re paying per sign-up. A guideline is to spend under $8.00 per lead in Facebook Ads. I like to keep my opt-in costs as low as possible and test with different opt-ins to see what performs the best for my audience. 

What opt-in metrics are good?

If you have a dedicated landing page for your opt-in, you want to see a 50% conversion rate or better on that page. You can figure this out a couple of ways. Some landing page programs include analytics in the dashboard, so you don’t have to do the math – bonus. If you’re not using one of those programs, you can track the number of custom conversions on the page (if you set that up in Facebook Ads Manager) and the number of people who clicked on the ad (also found in Ads Manager) or you can use your Google Analytics account to determine how much traffic visited the landing page and how many people visited the Thank You page. To find this out, you’ll need to have a different Thank You page URL for each opt-in, or it will all count the same in your analytics reports.


The key to setting up an opt-in is planning. You want to create one that talks to your ideal customer’s biggest problem and helps them find a solution. You then want to take your time designing the opt-in and ensuring it looks polished and professional. Think about what information would help you know what’s working and set yourself up for success from a reporting standpoint. Create specific lists in your email provider, have dedicated landing pages for each offer, and create unique thank you pages for each thank you URL so you can track everything you need. Take the time to prepare, and you’ll be much happier in the end.

What if something isn’t working?

You're Running Facebook Ads to your opt-in

What do you do if your offer isn’t working? If you’ve got your opt-in out there and you’re getting traffic to the page, but people aren’t signing up (less than 50% of the page visitors are converting) you have one of two problems. First, if you’re running ads, your targeting is off. The people visiting the page aren’t finding the information they want or expect. You have a breakdown in your targeting or your message. Reassess this area.

You're Not Running  Facebook Ads to your opt-in

If you aren’t running ads, but you’re having the same issue with a low conversion rate, it could be that your offer isn’t exciting enough, or you’re not explaining it in a way that makes them feel like you understand them and can help them. You need to either update your landing page or try a different opt-in. I would start with updating your landing page, especially if you asked your ideal customer about their issues and this addresses them. Does your landing page show the value of the offer? Do they understand how you’re going to help them?

It may take several attempts to find the perfect opt-in for your business. Keep testing and adjusting until you see the conversion rate you want (above 50%, the higher, the better) and the cost per lead you want (under $8.00, the lower, the better). You will also want to ensure the people opting in are a good fit. If you’re emailing them regularly, are they opening your emails (goal above 20%) and clicking through to read more (target above 1%)? Are they ultimately converting to customers? A huge list of unengaged people is worth much less than a small, highly engaged list.

Let me know if you have any questions about creating the right opt-in for your business.