11 Techniques to Improve Email Opt-In Rates in 2021 and Beyond


According to email marketing statistics from Sumo, the average rate of visitors who subscribe to an email list is only 1.95 percent (1). Is your business suffering from low email opt-in rates? If so, it’s crucial to start thinking about how to design and deploy opt-in forms to maximize conversions. Whether you’re creating your first sign-up form or your fiftieth, here are 11 techniques to attract more subscribers.


Emphasize the Benefits in the Headline 

If the benefits of signing up aren’t immediately clear in the headline, you’re going to lose many potential subscribers. What benefits will people get from opting into your email list? Clearly and concisely state what you’re offering and how you will help new subscribers.

Tip: Don’t write about your business; write about what your target audience wants and needs. Below the headline, briefly expand upon what you offer in a sentence or two, or a bulleted list.


Offer an Immediate Incentive 

What can you offer immediately to encourage potential customers to give you their email addresses? A discount, loyalty points, or an exclusive guide are all worth considering.

Tip: Try offering free shipping or a gift card. According to a Zettasphere consumer research study, these were the top two most influential offers, with 67 percent of participants saying they would sign up if one of these things was offered (2).


Offer Exclusive Content 

As already mentioned, useful, relevant content is a great way to encourage subscriptions, but you need to have something ready to deliver immediately. For example, a product guide, a cheat-sheet, a white paper, or an industry report.

Tip: Explain the specific benefits subscribers will get from your content and emphasize that the content is unique.


Check Your Tone of Voice 

When using the previous three techniques, it’s crucial that you use language that is clear, consistent, and appropriate for your business. Make sure your style of writing matches your other online content and use easy-to-understand words and phrases that your target audience will be familiar with.

Tip: Most businesses benefit from using a more conversational tone of voice. When you sound more approachable, readers are more likely to trust your business and subscribe.


Use the Two-Step Opt-In Process 

Many people are reluctant to immediately click on an email subscribe button as it feels like too much of a commitment. However, if you use a CTA button first, such as “Want a Discount?” or “Save 10 percent on your next order,” it doesn’t involve an immediate commitment from the visitor. Then, you can re-emphasize your offer in a popup opt-in form or subscription page. Because users have already taken a positive step toward receiving a benefit, they’re more likely to complete the process.

Tip: Insert the CTA button in the header of your homepage or in a box near the top of your homepage to make sure more people see your offer.


Optimize Button Text 

The words you use on opt-in form buttons can make all the difference when it comes to your conversion rates. Avoid using generic terms like “Subscribe” or “Submit.” They just don’t convert as well as more informal language. Instead, try “Let Me Join” or “I’m In!” When appropriate, make sure the button text relates to the actual benefit subscribers will receive. For example: “Send Me My Free eBook.”

Tip: Using first-person pronouns like “my” and “me” helps readers feel the personal benefit of clicking.


Use Design to Maximize Conversions 

The most successful opt-in forms are concise and visually appealing. It sounds obvious, but if forms are unattractive, difficult to read, or confusing, conversion rates will decrease. Only ask for the minimum amount of information – using fewer form fields generally results in more conversions. For most brands, just asking for a name and an email address is enough.

Tip: Try using a bold color palette and larger font to make your form stand out. Also, use high-contrasting colors for the sign-up button to make it clearly visible.


Optimize Popups 

Popups can annoy some people, but you can make them more engaging if you emphasize the benefits of subscribing and get the timing right.

Tip: Most form builders allow you to time your popups. Check your analytics to determine the average time people spend on a certain page, then set your popup to display at around half this time. At this point, visitors are more likely to be engaged with your content. Test different popup frequencies and track the results.


Experiment with Form Placement 

Apart from showing sign-up forms at the right time, the location of forms is also key. For example, fewer people will see a form that is tucked away in the page footer. Consider using a combination of the following: 

  • Include a floating bar at the top of the page that remains in view at all times. 
  • Place a form at the top of your sidebar. 
  • Add a form to your “About” page – it’s one of the most frequently visited pages. 
  • Try a scroll-triggered opt-in form, which appears when users scroll down a specified percentage of the page. 
  • Insert a CTA button in the author box at the end of blog posts. 
  • Use exit-intent popups that detect when users are about to leave your site. 

Tip: If you have a checkout page, highlight the benefits of joining your email list and include a simple “yes” or “no” checkbox to subscribe.


Set Clear Expectations 

When potential subscribers know what they can expect from your email content, they’re less likely to be apprehensive about signing up. From the outset, make it clear what kind of content you’ll deliver, and how often subscribers will receive it.

Tip: To build trust, state clearly on your form that you don’t share subscribers’ details and that anyone can unsubscribe at any time.


Use Social Proof 

People are more likely to trust your business and give you their email addresses if they know other people have already signed up. For this reason, highlight how many other subscribers you have next to your sign-up button. For example: “Join 5,247 other subscribers to receive exclusive deals and more.”

Tip: If you have a strong relationship with an industry expert, try to get a testimonial from them about your business and feature this on your sign-up form.


Optimize Your Opt-In Forms for Long-Term Growth 

Email marketing is still one of the best ways to build a loyal customer base, but to maximize results you need to find out which forms improve email opt-in rates for your specific business and target audience. For best results, use a combination of sign-up forms and don’t worry about asking visitors more than once. Sometimes, people need to see an offer multiple times before they’re ready to commit.

The above techniques are a good place to start, but it’s important to experiment with different opt-in forms and track the results. Test different designs, change the language you use, and vary your offers to see what works for your unique business.



  1. sumo.com/stories/email-signup-benchmarks 
  2. zettasphere.com/email-marketing-consumer-research/
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