How many opt-ins can I expect?
Asking how many opt-ins you should expect to receive on your website is one of the most common questions asked by new email marketers. The volume of opt-ins that you will receive will be totally dependent on how much traffic your website receives, the quality of that traffic and the effectiveness of your opt-in forms. If you are getting 20,000 page views per month on your website, you are probably going to receive twice as many opt-ins than you would if you only had 10,000 page views per month. If most of your visitors come to your website from search engines and other websites similar to yours, you are likely going to get better opt-in rates because people doing searches and looking at websites similar to yours are either doing research or are generally more engaged than people that wander onto your website from social media or unrelated websites. Working to attract a steadily growing stream of high-quality traffic website is the single best way to set yourself up to build a large mailing list.
The size, number, design, content and placement of your opt-in forms will have a dramatic impact on your opt-in rate. When you are first getting started with email marketing, you will not have any idea of what combination of lead magnets, messaging and opt-in forms will yield the highest opt-in rates. Your best bet is to start with the best practices I have outlined earlier in this chapter and do a large number of split-tests over time to determine if there are ways that you can improve your opt-in rates from the baseline that I recommend.
A highly effective set of opt-in forms on a website with good traffic sources might yield an opt-in rate of 4-5%. A less effective set of opt-in forms on the same website might only command an opt-in rate of 0.5%. There is no industry standard for what opt-in rates that you should expect. Don’t beat yourself up if you get low opt-in rates for the first few months of your email marketing efforts. Instead, focus on whether or not your opt-in rates are improving every month.
Let’s say that during the first month of your email marketing initiative that you get 20,000 page views and 200 opt-ins. You had an opt-in rate of 1%. During the second month, your website attracts a bit more traffic receives 25,000 page views. You setup a highly-effective popup opt-in form and you receive 500 opt-ins. Your opt-in rate grew to 2% during the second month. During the third month, your traffic stays flat at 25,000 page views, but you identify a highly effective lead magnet and you attract 750 new opt-ins. Your opt-in rate just grew to 3%. By making a series of improvements and running a series of split-tests, your opt-in rates will slowly improve over time.
What if my website doesn’t get much traffic?
If you are just getting started and your website isn’t getting much traffic yet, you should still place opt-in forms on your website. It takes time to create a popular website and build a large mailing list. You may only get 50 or 100 opt-ins per month for the first several months of operating your website and that’s okay. Your total list size will continue to grow as weeks and months go on. As new subscribers sign-up for your mailing list, your list size will grow like a snowball rolling down a hill. Before you know it, you will have a few thousand people on your mailing lists that want to receive email from you on a regular basic.
While growing the amount of traffic your website receives is beyond the scope of this book, there are a number of great resources available that can teach you how to build a popular website. The book Traction by Gabriel Weinberg provides an overview of 19 different marketing channels that you can use to grow your business and get more people onto your website. There are a number of books in the “For Dummies” series that teach traffic generation concepts, such as search engine optimization, social media marketing and Facebook marketing. DigitalMarketer.com produces a number of resources that teach you to attract more web traffic. If you aren’t sure what marketing channels you should pursue initially, you can use SimilarWeb (www.similarweb.com) to see where some of your competitors are currently getting their traffic from.