What do you envision marketing to look like? On its surface, it seems like an easy question to answer. Of course you need to make sure that your audience actually knows about you, and convince them that yours is the right product or service for them to choose.

Dig below the surface, though, and the answer becomes more complex. Simply pushing out information about your business or product will not get you heard in a noisy environment where the typical consumer sees thousands of ads every single day.

Instead, you need to create value. You need to make sure that your audience actually wants to read your content. When they do, you need to capture their information for further, even more relevant communication. That, in a nutshell, is the power of a marketing strategy focused on opt-ins.

The Power of Opt-In Marketing

Would you be shocked if we told you that in 2019, 47% of internet users decided to actively block ads when browsing online? What about the fact that digital ads consistently rank among the least credible marketing channels across industries? Our customers expect better brand experiences than popups or videos that are impossible to opt out of.

Now, imagine a different scenario. Through research, you’ve found exactly what your audience’s pain points are. Now, you develop content specifically designed to soothe these pain points and solve previously unmet needs. Rather than being confronted with an ad out of nowhere, the same audience now gets answers to their specific questions.

There’s just one catch: they have to give you their contact information. The good news is that the content is valuable enough to them, they will. Now, you have enough to follow up with even more relevant, timely messages. From first getting their attention to converting them into a customer, you follow a consistent strategy. That’s the power of opt-in marketing.
In Gathering Opt-Ins, Outputs = Inputs

A strategy based on opt-ins, of course, only works if you can actually generate leads and inquiries from relevant customers. Even the best messaging matters little if your audience gets to your sign up form, thinks about it, and then navigates away. Average lead conversion rates differ by industry; if you’re below that average, it doesn’t mean you should give up.

Instead, consider your inputs. In this type of marketing strategy, you can only be successful if you offer content that actually adds value for your audience. That content needs to be unique and in-depth enough for them to give you their contact information. In other words, you need to spend significant time considering not just what type of content you want to share, but how you build that content in a way that maximizes relevance.
5 Types of Gated Content to Attract Sign Ups

In marketing vernacular, the pieces of content driving opt-ins are typically known as ‘gated content’. The gate, of course, is the sign-up form through which your visitors get access, and you get their contact information. Once your audience passes that gate, they get access to in-depth content they wouldn’t receive otherwise. These 5 types of content have proven successful for this type of strategy.

1) Whitepapers and Ebooks

In a way, they are more in-depth versions of blog posts. Whitepapers for B2B marketers and Ebooks for their B2C counterparts dive deep into a topic, ideally with plenty of stats and graphics, to explain it better to their audience. The goal is to position yourself as a thought leader and expert on the topic, building on primary and secondary research to make your point.

2) Webinars

You probably already know about webinars, but you might not consider them in this context. In reality, they are among the most successful lead generation tools. If the topic you focus on is relevant, the presentation is interactive, and the presenter is already known to your audience you will get plenty of sign ups from your audience.

3) Cheat Sheets and Checklists

We all need help in our daily lives sometimes. Simple checklists can range anywhere from ‘how to build your website’ to ‘what to consider when shopping for eye glasses’. If they’re unique and relevant enough, they can live behind a sign up form that asks for basic contact information.

4) How-To Guides

Where checklists provide an overview, how-to guides go deep. They examine processes and actions that your audience runs into on a daily basis, helping them solve issues. A home improvement company may provide a DIY guide on a common household problem, with a point to call if it gets too complex. A parts manufacturer may offer guidance on how to evaluate a potential supply chain partner.

5) Email Subscriptions

Sometimes, gathering opt-ins can be simple. If you already publish a regular email newsletter, drive toward people signing up for it with only their name and email. If your blog garners existing readership, prompt them to subscribe for updates as soon as they publish. Email subscriptions help you leverage your existing content easily, while still generating leads in the process.

What Happens When a Visitor Opts In?

Of course, in this type of marketing strategy, the sign up is only the beginning. After you get their contact information, you have to keep your promise. That means immediate access to the content they requested, both via a web page redirect and a follow-up email. It also means that every communication afterwards has to be carefully manage.

Remember that these users have not signed up to receive marketing and promotional messages from you. They’ve given you permission to communicate with them, but even that permission implies that you need to add value. Lead nurturing is complex enough to deserve its own post, but is an important strategic consideration if you decide to go this route. Ultimately, your goal is to move an opted-in contact to become a customer through subtle messages that remain relevant even as your leads become more ready to buy.

Leveraging Opt-Ins to Transform Your Marketing

Do it right, and your digital marketing may never look the same. Opt-ins, in isolation, help you generate leads. Once they begin to create the fabric of your entire strategy, they can transform your marketing.

To get to that point, you have to get it right. You need to conduct thorough audience research designed to find pain points, then develop highly valuable content that fits your audience and answers these pain points. Landing page and form optimization and post-conversion follow-up matter just as much.

That sounds complex, and we won’t deny that it is. And yet, the results you can gain will be well worth your effort. To learn more about leveraging opt-ins to transform your marketing, contact us.