April 26, 2017

How to Create an Email Opt-in Bonus for an eCommerce Store

ecommerce email opt in ideas

What's your value exchange for an email address?

What do customers REALLY get for signing-up for your newsletter?


If you're still saying, "Sign-up for news and updates" (or whatever the boilerplate text is for Shopify's email footer), then you need to read this blog.

If you're still only sending out your newsletter once a month, then definitely keep reading.

And if you're just sending out product info in your newsletters, and adding no other value to your customer's lives, then YES, keep reading.

Newsletters are truly the only owned marketing channel that we as eCommerce startups have to talk to a customer one on one.

Social channels are one to many (though you can direct message people, it's not practical). Your emails land in that person's inbox. They gave you permission to speak to them regularly. 

This is special. 

Here's why you need to spend some time, and resources, and possibly, yes, even money to create an opt-in bonus for your eCommerce store:

  • It will increase your conversion rate. Instead of losing a visitor who doesn't buy, you're giving them something in exchange for keeping in contact with you.
  • It will give your dream customer something that reinforces your brand vision and mission and adds value to their life. Win. Win.
  • If you do a good job, it will be sharable across multiple social channels, and as as result grow your list.
  • It will exponentially grow your list. The value of ONE email subscriber cannot be underplayed. Over their lifetime, this one subscriber could turn into a subscriber  worth thousands of dollars.

Now that you're a believer in the list, let's talk about how you can create an incentive for people to sign-up to receive your newsletter.

I've pretty much always had an opt-in for my newsletter since I've been on Shopify (so, around 2013). The idea first got planted in my head from Marie Forleo's B-School, where she puts a heavy emphasis on providing valuable content. Though a tactic often used for service-based businesses (i.e. life coaches etc), it is totally applicable for product-based businesses as well.

My first opt in for Encircled was a free printable carry-on only packing list. I created it in Adobe Illustrator. I'm self taught in adobe, so let's just say it wasn't fabulous. The font was hideous! In fact, I think I used 5 fonts. But it worked. It gave my customers VALUE. It told them exactly what to pack for a 5-7 day trip using just a carry-on. 

Over the years, it evolved. My content marketing coordinator redesigned it. We printed some for shows. It was a hit! But as Encircled evolved our mission to focus in on ethical clothing for everyday adventures, it felt out of place. So, it was re-designed into something new (more about that later).

The point of this drawn out story is that when creating an opt-in bonus you need to start SOMEWHERE.


It doesn't need to be perfect.

But it does need to add value to your dream customers lives.

Find your Great Opt-in Idea

It's easy to go the route of using discounts such as free shipping off your first order, or a % or $ off your order as the go-to. While these types of monetary incentives work from a conversion standpoint, they don't do the best job on retention of email subscribers.

How often have you subscribed to a newsletter JUST to get a discount then unsubscribed when the first email came in?

I've done it. It's a popular online consumer behaviour.

If you really want subscribers that stick you need to attract them using content that's not only brand relevant, and related to your email newsletter content to come, but also that is meaningful to your dream customer's lives.

Your opt-in should educate, inspire, or engage. 

Some questions you can ask yourself about your brand and dream customers:

  • What is unique/different about your brand?
  • What does your dream customer do every day?
  • How does your dream customer use your product? Are there any other ways to use it that they might not know of?
  • How does your product truly add value to your customer's lives?
  • What type of social media posts get the most engagement on your account?
  • What is something that you know more about than your dream customer?
  • If you could create the perfect solution for a problem in your customer's lives. What would that be?
Create your Opt-in Bonus

This is the part that a lot of entrepreneurs get stuck at - the creation of the opt-in. Once you have the idea, how do you execute?

Easy. Hire it out!

Go onto Fiverr, Upwork, or 99 Designs and hire someone to do the design work (if needed) for you.

Or, DIY. There are amazing free tools like Canva, and PicMonkey that are available for free. Easy to use. Do not labour over getting this out there. Get version 1.0 out there. Get feedback. Improve/change, and launch version 2.0. 

Where to promote your Opt-in Bonus

Here's a shortlist of places you can promote your opt-in bonus (Did I miss something? Leave it in the comments)

On your home page slider In a pop-up light box on your site In your website footer
In your social media profile descriptions In social media posts In Facebook groups 
On your personal Facebook profile In a facebook live video In an instagram story
At the bottom of blog posts In your email signature On guest posts
On your cart page On your checkout page In Facebook Ads

Have you started dreaming of a super-cool opt-in idea?
Write it down. Grab that notepad and get going. 

Like this blog? Share it with another maker.


Wishing you much abundance + retail bliss,

Chief Retailpreneur @ Retail Bliss
Founder + CEO @ Encircled
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