The “Blog Opt-In Explosion Method” (i.e. How We’re Getting a 10% Email Opt-In Conversion Rate)


The “Blog Opt-In Explosion Method” (i.e. How We’re Getting a 10% Email Opt-In Conversion Rate)

James: Hey, what’s up everybody? It’s James and welcome to this week’s edition of The Marketing Show. I got some good news and I’ve got some bad news. It may be all good news, depending on how you look at it, but here’s the scoop. All right, the first piece of good news is that this week’s episode rocks you totally you want to watch it. The bad piece of news is that Clay lost one of the MOV file.

So about the first 10 minutes of this are going to be a screen share. You’re going to be able to see what’s on our screen. You’re going to be able to see my face appear, but you won’t be able to see Clay and I interacting. Now, maybe for some of you, you’re saying yeah, that’s actually good news. That’s not bad news. But hey, you’re not going to be in next week’s edition of the Shout-Outs, okay.

So here’s the deal. We’re going to play the audio for the first 10 minutes, and then the video is going to come back in for like the last 4, 5 minutes of it. You’ll get to see some interaction there that I think makes it worth it. You just stick around for the whole thing. So anyway, without further ado, let’s get into this week’s episode. I’ll be right here with you watching. I’m going to be doing kind of a mystery science theater thing. You can let me know what you think about it in the comments.

Clay: Hello everyone, I’m Clay Collins…

James: I’m James Lepine.

Clay: …and in this episode of The Marketing Show, we’re going to be sharing with you the light, the abbreviated version of what’s commonly known as the blog opt-in explosion method. This is the method that we’ve used on our niche’s websites to get a 10% conversion rate from, get this, blog traffic.

James: Yup.

Clay: Not squeeze page traffic, but traffic to the blog. We’re going to discuss that. We’re going to also discuss the state of James’ face, and we’re going to have our bonus duel.

James: That we are, and you’re going down.

Clay: Dude, you are going down…

James: We’ll see about that.

Clay: …dude.

James: Whoa, whoa!

Clay: All right, that’s what you have to look forward to in this episode of The Marketing Show.

So in just a second, we’re going to dive into the duel and some of that content, but James, what are we going to do first?

James: Before we do that, we want to give a shout-out to some of our commenter’s from the previous episode to some of the people or some of the more insightful comments and good comments on that last show. Thank you for participating. Here’s a shout-out to you.

Hello everyone, and welcome to this week’s edition of The Marketing Show Shout-Outs. We’d like to give shout-outs to Elaine Theriault; Andy Fawcett; Brian T. Edmondson; Jaxi West, a customer of ours; John McIntyre; Carol Everhart; Kimberly Houston; Marshall Sontag, also a customer; Mike Kuwula’s daughters; Dr. Shannon Reese, also a customer; and Tom Shivers.

If you’d like to be featured on next week’s edition of The Marketing Show Shout-Outs, you know what to do. Leave a comment in the comment section below.

Clay: So we’re about to show you the 3 – This is 3, I know – the 3 places on your blog that you must have an opt-in box if you want to do this blog opt-in explosion method, but before I get into that, I want to say again, this is getting us a 10% opt-in rate to our blog, which is unheard of. Blogs generally gets, you know, anywhere from a 2% to 4% opt-in rate, and some squeeze pages don’t even get a 10% opt-in rate.

James: It’s true.

Clay: So this is incredibly effective.

James: All right, so let’s get this party started. What is the first location?

Clay: The first location is as you can see here on the upper right-hand side of your side bar. It can also be above the main body area on your blog. As you can see, you can do this with or without a bribe. One of our highest traffic sights gets us around a thousand opt-ins per week, and there is no bribe. So I know a lot of people will wait around forever…

James: Right.

Clay: …to put in an opt-in box. They’re like I don’t have a bribe. Why would I do this? But like seriously, you are missing out on a lot. Maybe your bribe is going to increase your opt-in rate a little bit, but some of the most popular and well subscribed sights on the internet have no bribe so don’t feel like, you know, you need some elaborate auto responder sequence developer or any auto responder sequence developed whatsoever to get that opt-in box. Get that freaking opt-in box up now.

Anyway, location number one is on the upper right-hand side of your blog. A lot of people have experimented doing the left side versus right side. The upper right-hand side almost always wins. So if you don’t have the traffic or the wherewithal to do a bunch of like crazy testing, just go with the upper right-hand side of the blog.

James: Awesome.

Clay: So James, what is location number 2?

James: Location number 2 is below each and every article on your blog, and the reason that you definitely want to have one there is because people go in there check out your site.

They read your post, and then they get to the bottom of it, and if they enjoyed it they’re thinking I think I’d like more information. I’d probably like to stay up-to-date with this. So rather than having them scroll back up to the top right-hand side of the page, just put it right there and let them drop their e-mail address in there.

Clay: Yeah, yeah. I mean not doing this is essentially like, you know, you know, back in the day when I was single, I didn’t have a girlfriend.

James: Yeah.

Clay: You know, like you meet someone and you have a great conversation, when’s the best time to ask a phone number? Like right about, you know, before you’re done.

James: Right.

Clay: Right about, you know, when you’re going to go.

James: Yup, yup.

Clay: So if someone’s invested the time in reading your blog post, your article, maybe you should hit them up for an e-mail or something.

James: Yeah, a little goodnight kiss or something.

Clay: Yeah.

James: Yeah. All right, how about location number 3?

Clay: Location number 3 is the pop-up. Now a lot of people screw this up. It’s a huge mistake. Here is how I recommend doing the pop-up, okay. Two rules: One, make the pop-up appear after a delay. It someone’s going to your sight the first ting they want to see is just the content, the reason why they came to this sight in the first place.

James: Right.

Clay: And if they immediately see a pop-up, it’s keeping them from where they want to go. However, if you set the delay to be around oh, 20 to 30 seconds, then it gives them a chance for, you know, for the ADD to kick in for them to consume enough of your content to figure out that they like you a little bit more than they like you when they originally appeared on your website.

James: Right, right.

Clay: So that’s rule number one. Rule number two is don’t display this. Like there’s lots of different plug ins, WordPress plugins that allow you to create a pop-up, and I recommend that you not display the pop-up more than once per month. So if someone comes to your website, the plugin will like remember them, and ensure that they don’t see that pop-up every single time they come to your website regardless of whether they opt in or not, right, like even if they just click close, they shouldn’t have to see that pop-up for at least another month.

James: Yeah, yeah.

Clay: Now, unfortunately, most web browsers and computers are amnesia. They can’t remember you that, you know, much longer than that, but you should set that form up, and actually, there’s a third thing I said too, but…

James: Go ahead.

Clay: No, it’s not that a lie. This is a bonus.

James: All right, all right.

Clay: This is a bonus rule. The bonus rule is that you should not make this pop-up appear on the very first page that someone sees on your website.

James: Yeah, yeah.

Clay: So most pop-up plugins will allow you to say that this does not appear on the first page that someone sees when they come to your website.

James: I like that.

Clay: It appears on the second page.

James: Uh-huh.

Clay: So, you know, regardless of what page they come to first, like they go to one page, and then they navigate to a second page, on that second page is where the pop up appears, and the software handles all of that for you. You don’t have to tell what the first page is or the second page. You know, the software knows that you’re at the second page.

James: That’s huge because I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone to somebody’s site, and neither a.) the pop-up just instantly appears, and I’m like dude, I didn’t even see like what you do or like what your content is, or I want to check out that homepage and then click over to something else, and the pop-up appears before I can even do that. So…

Clay: Seriously…

James: …get rule.

Clay: …schmucks. Don’t do it. We don’t do it on The Marketing Show.

James: We don’t.

Clay: You shouldn’t either.

James: You shouldn’t either.

Clay: Don’t do anything we wouldn’t do.

James: That’s right.

Clay: Okay.

James: You do name it after us. Just kidding.

Clay: Okay…

James: Location…

Clay: …location number four.

James: …number – That was a four.

Clay: Wait. Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, this is the bonus.

James: This is the bonus. As you can see, in parenthesis, location number four is a bonus, and we all know what that means. It’s time for the bonus shades.

Clay: All right, so James is putting on the bonus shades.

James: Yeah, I am, and I’m sure you remember this, my famous bonus shades. This is the Slide out FX, and what this does is has this slide-up appear at the bottom of the page. So whenever they’re consuming content, this will show up at the bottom. You can see the bribe there along the bottom. And this is an easy way for someone to drop in their e-mail address no matter where they are at the page, no matter if they’re at the bottom of an article or at the top right-hand side, or wherever they are.

Clay: Yeah.

James: It’s just always there and available. It’s not a pop-up so it’s not like in their way from consuming the content, but it is there if they want to put their e-mail address in.

Clay: Yeah, yeah.

James: That’s my bonus.

Clay: That’s – You know, that’s really good. I bet everyone, you know, watching this at home was like whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, you said three, and then there’s like a fourth one.

James: Uh-huh, totally.

Clay: That’s really cool.

James: Yeah.

Clay: Okay, so actually, not to be outdone, I have my own bonus.

James: What?

Clay: Yes. So I’ve got my bonus glasses.

James: I have – He’s copying me. He’s copying me.

Clay: And check this out. I have…

James: Whoa, whoa.

Clay: I have my bonus boots, and my bonus…

James: Okay, I’ve got to pause right here and tell you what’s going on. Clay is actually putting his feet up on the desk like this and trying to deliver his fifth bonus. So anyway, that’s the scoop on what’s going on there since you can’t see it because Clay deleted the MOV file.

Not that I’m angry about that. Continuing…

Clay: …boots…

James: Okay.

Clay: …could really like – I’m doing this like – Was that Mr. Roger stuff. My bonus boots could kick the crap out of your bonus box.

James: All right, all right.

Clay: So we put it on – I don’t know how flattering this is…

James: It’s very nice.

Clay: …if it’s on you putting on boots.

James: Very nice.

Clay: So now that I have my bonus boots on…

James: Bonus boots, great.

Clay: …and…

James: Oh wow.

Clay: Yeah.

James: You’re going to – Okay.

Clay: So I knew this is kind of awkward. Don’t you lie for me if you were like Dumbo. So my bonus is the WP Greet Box Plugin. So there’s a plugin for WordPress called WP Greet Box. It recognizes what traffic source you’re coming from. Are you coming from RSS? Are you coming from the search engines? What’s going on there? And what’s really cool is that you can modify this to also ask for the e-mail address. So it’s really cool in that regard, and it’s just a fifth place that you can click this. So right about now, you’re probably thinking that 5 places is far too many places to have opt-in boxes on your blog, but actually, when you do this right, and when you do this tastefully, it isn’t obnoxious.

James: Yeah.

Clay: So for example, the pop-up box, right? That’s not appearing on the first page. It’s only appearing after 30 seconds. It’s only appearing once per month. So it’s not something that most of your visitors are going to see most of the time, right?

James: Right.

Clay: So that’s the first thing. The second thing is the opt-in box below each post that’s below the fold. So they’re not going to see that at the same time they’re seeing everything else.

The third thing is that you don’t have to use all of these. If I were going to drop one, I’d probably drop James’ bonus…

James: Oh really?

Clay: …the Slide out FX.

James: Is that right? Okay.

Clay: Yeah.

James: That’s nice. And if I were to drop one, it would probably be close.

Clay: You know, it would be mine.

James: Yeah.

Clay: So anyway, just know that there are reputable blogs. In fact, a lot of the most traffic blogs that really are on their game have many of these 5 in place, usually 3 to 4 of these 5 in place, and we’ve tastefully done this with all 5 locations. You can pick and choose which of these you want to use. I suggest that you use at least four of them, especially if you want that 10% opt-in rate, but I just wanted to address that objection head-on.

So anyway, that’s my bonus. I think I won, but let us know in the comments who you think won the bonus duel.

James: Hang on, the bonus duel ain’t over yet. I have with me my bonus umbrella.

Clay: Yeah, but you can’t – if you don’t have a bonus – If you don’t have another bonus, you can’t have another bonus item.

James: I get to make the rules. I’m creative.

Clay: Maybe next time you could use…

James: This is my bonus umbrella. And…

Clay: This is – All right, all right, all right. If you’re going to use the bonus umbrella…

James: Yeah.

Clay: …then…

James: Whoa.

Clay: …I’ve got the bonus plant.

James: What is this?

Clay: It’s a bonus plant.

James: The bonus plant.

Clay: Anyway, thank you so much for watching The Marketing Show. James got pown’d…

James: I did.

Clay: …and if you enjoyed this content, please share with your friends, and you know, James and I have your back when it comes to marketing.

James: We do. We’ll be here with you next week on The Marketing Show. We appreciate your watching. Take care.

Clay: Take care.

  • Aweber did a couple tests. Immediate popovers increased leads about 50% in these 2 examples, versus delays: of this story: Test it out!

    • Not sure what happened there.  Here’s the url:

    • Yeah, AWeber has a very broad demographic that’s less likely to hate and be wary and burned out on popups than our audience.  With folks new to aggressive direct sales interent marketing (which I’m not a huge fan of), an immediate popup will work better.  But as markets mature and become more savvy, it’s becoming less effective.

  • Hey, I thought the ‘heat map’ showed upper left to be the place folks eyes go to…

    Thanks guys

    • I haven’t seen that heat map.  But a heat map is basically irrelevant: the only thing that’s relevant when it comes to opt-ins is an opt-in map :-).  And the opt-in map shows more opt-ins on the upper right hand side.  Make sense?

    • That’s where the eyes start in cultures where we read form left to right, but it’s not where the eyes want to end up. The bottom right is actually the “terminal” position. More importantly, the right side of the page is where we are trained to expect this kind of thing by convention. Usability (and conforming to expectations) is key when you want people to take a specific action.

  • Hi Clay & James

    It’s raining here so umbrella wins! 🙂

    What plugins would you recommend
    1. for the optin that comes after each article
    2. for the exit popup?


    • There’s no good plugin that I know of that does #1.  That just has to be custom coded into the theme (not hard).  Also, I don’t recommend that you use an exit popup.

    • Halina, I know of two that do this: WP Subscribers and Optin Skin.

      The latter is cheaper and easier to use IMO, but I use both on different sites. Either plugin will also tell you the conversion rate for each form, but Optin Skin also allows A/B testing of forms, so that’s worth checking out too.

  • Ha! James & Clay, you are a riot.  Great suggestions for opt-ins… I have been hesitating to do pop-ups because I can’t stand websites that have them sticking me in the face every single time I click over, buuuuuut, now that I know I can not only delay, but specify pages & frequency of recurrence… I’ll be doing this soon.  Cool beans 🙂
    Brandi H

    • So glad you like this, Brandi.  And if you don’t like popups, you can also use a welcome gate:

  • Tom

    Yayyy, the logo is now consistent what you say in the logo video

  • Corey

    James, if you would have pulled out the bonus Pink Flamingo, hands down, slam dunk, you’d be the winner.

    Great show fellas. My question, is it better to have people opt-in to a email list on feedburner or something like Aweber. I use both, but for different purposes. Perhaps it is time to combine them into one.

    • Corey, great question!!  Please never have folks opt-in to feedburner.  When you mail with AWeber or another service, you can send out the email whenever you want, and it can say whatever you want it to say.  With feedburner, you get no control over what’s said in the email.  I always tell folks that the purpose of a subject line is to get folks to open the email, and the purpose of the email is to get folks to click on the link and go to your page.  But when you send out emails with feedburner, you can’t craft an email that’s written expressly to get folks to click on the link.

      Does that help ?

  • Umbrella, Tree, Boots, Glasses ….all the props were out in full force – got the kids going!  

    2 Questions: 
    1) What Slide UP app do you folks like for a retail site? I’d like to use it for opt-ins and Messages.  Not all my customers hit my home page. They come in on a product, add to cart and out, thus really not a customer – just an order. 
    2) Clay – Really love : I’m sure it would help me capture more leads as I get 1500 visitors a day, convert at 2.7 %, but only 10 or so opt-ins. Any suggestions on how I can get them to a page like that on my site since 90% come directly in on a product page like this: (sorry no boot dispensers) 

  • Clay and his freaking boots…

  • ErinaMarie

    Sorry if this is a stupid question, but I’m new to this…..what are the better pop-up plug-ins and can you put them into WordPress? Thanks! 

  • Jaxi West

    Hi Guys

    This new look is simpler – but I actually really liked the look of the last one, but you guys know what you are doing with this stuff better than me.

    What I found odd was you changed the font for the wording up at the top (the word’s ‘marketing show’) but you kept the same logo design in the video. So there was no consistency. Not complaining, cause as I said, I really liked the logo you had for this and the theme before 🙂

    I was thinking why no just take the M from the word ‘marketing’ in the top black bar and make that stand out some to be more consistent with the video’s old logo marketing show style. Like keep the entire new font style, but just change the M. mimic the M that is from the old style – with the somewhat logo design around it. just a thought.  But I ‘get’ how new doesn’t go with old, so you will probably dismiss this.   

    Question: if we installed welcome gate, that would be considered one, so don’t you think it would be obnoxious if the 1st time user gets to the page for your blog and then you have that WP Greet one – sort of looks like you are just slamming them instantly before they get to know you or read your content with ‘sign up for my stuff’General thoughts on all this:

    1. Sorry James, I know this is one of your bonuses, but I hate that slide up bar. To me it is exactly like a pop up, just placed lower. People will be at the tops of your pages before they are at the bottom so I just think it is more annoying than anything. I always close these out. I think I have entered my email in that location a total of once over the few years it has been showing up on people’s sites.  

    2. I am also not a fan of the WP Greet – the one seth godin created – but then again, i am not a seth godin fan. But regardless of who made it, this is why I don’t like it:First off, it is ugly and uncreative, boring. You have no control over the design. So the 1st thing a user sees at the top of your page when they land on your blog page is this. Secondly, when you are massively competing for people’s instant attention and maintaining it – I think this is a major distraction. What you want to do is instantly grab their attention. Your headline to the blog post does that (and perhaps keeps them there). That is what I want my reader to first see. Not to mention, it’s probably the reason they came to your site to begin with (you posted on twitter or FB that you just wrote a new blog about xx) I doubt these people, myself included, want to see a ‘please sign up for ‘ box when they 1st land on someone’s page. Again, this is very much like a pop up – an annoyance right away. I never enter my email in these even if I want to subscribe. I purposely use the one on the right side they provide (so they can understand user experience :)Either way, to me shows desperation or neediness or just insults the user because they obviously see the top right sign up box (which is where most people place there main one). 3. I do like the delayed pop up effect – these I think are acceptable and non intrusive. I like Clay’s suggestion of not having it show up on the 1st page. But my question is, if your site is very simple and all you really have going is a blog (at this time), if you don’t put it on the blog page, chances of them every getting it will be slim to none. So what do you suggest with this type of pop up in that case? 4. Can you recommend 1 or 2 of the WP plugin delayed pop ups that you use? I wasn’t aware that you can control how many times a month it is shown. That is cool, so can you be sure to at least include that specific one in the recommended ones? 

    This was cool to see this show without seeing you two and seeing James ad lib some emphasis points. Something different. I still enjoy seeing you two – so it’s not that – we just got to see a lot more of James’s personality come out this way – so I liked it. 🙂 

    Not use to getting these on a Saturday either – usually monday or tuesday – so neat surprise in my inbox today. Enjoy your weekend!

    • Thanks Jaxi . . . this episode was produced before we made the change to a new theme, which is why the look and feel is inconsistant.  Thanks for your comments.

  • In the video, you guys argue that a delay in a pop-up is effective because it allows people to see your content before being hit up for an email address. However, in using a Welcome Gate, aren’t we in effect throwing up a pop-up with zero delay that prevents the reader from seeing our material first?

    It’s not that I don’t like the Welcome Gate…just trying to reconcile the different approaches I’m hearing.

    • Hi Dave . . . a Welcome Gate isn’t the same thing as a popup, so our research on popups doesn’t apply to a Welcome Gate in many ways.  For example, with a popup, folks can see the content behind it (and visitors are very aware that the popup is keeping them from the content behind the popup).  That phenomenon doesn’t occur to the same degree with a Welcome Gate.

  • Keahi Felix

    well, slapstick comedy is O.K. once in a while, but I don’t have the time for it on a regular basis. I love the Marketing Show and watch it often.

    • Thanks, Keahi.  I’m glad that you like the Marketing Show.  I agree that too much slapstick humor can be a turnoff, so we’ll be cognizant of that.  Thanks for your feedback.

  • Also I will like to add that you should track the specific locations on your blog that gives you the highest optins. I use Aweber and I can tag it based on Location (right sidebar or underneath the blog post).

    Besides placing an optin on the right sidebar and below each blog post, I currently I have a specific landing page / squeeze page where if folks click on a tracked link in my email messages to them or a banner they see on the internet, they get the chance to optin into my list. You can track you links to your squeeze page by using Google UTM URLs and Google Analytics or Kissmetrics.

    I use Pippity for my Popups because you can set up several different Popups and hence several different mailing list (<<<— I delay by 60 secs since I have video content on my site and want to give my new viewers a chance to watch the content and because it uses a cookie to track those who have already signed up so it does not display the popup to them anymore).

    One last point, you know how you can have several different categories on your blog, you can also set up different optins/popups based on the category of the blog post so that each optin/popup is targeted with a different message that is applicable to the reader / viewer of that specific page (<<<— you need to be a little technical for this or hire someone who is). In my case I have two main categories on my site, one for those looking for Virtual Assistant hiring tips and the other for Coaches who want to learn from my interviews with other coaches (<<<— hence based on the category of the post you will see a different optin form on the right sidebar and below the post).

    Clay I am curious what is the URL of WP Slide Up Plugin because I am interested in it? I am also wondering can one set up WP Slide UP and WP Greeter so that they show different messages based on the categories of the blog posts?

  • Thanks for the great tips! I was especially interested in the strategies for using the pop ups (with delay, on second page, etc.). I was wondering though – how does that square with the Welcome Gate plugin, which appears before people see the site at all? The plugin does not seem to have settings for delayed appearance or appearing only on the second page. 

    • Totally, Andy.  Great question:a Welcome Gate isn’t the same thing as a popup, so our research on popups doesn’t apply to a Welcome Gate in many ways.  For example, with a popup, folks can see the content behind it (and visitors are very aware that the popup is keeping them from the content behind the popup).  That phenomenon doesn’t occur to the same degree with a Welcome Gate.  Does that make sense?

      • Yes, that does make sense. I never thought about the difference between a soft squeeze before content is displayed and a pop-up that hides content that people have already had a glimpse of. Thinking about my own reaction, I guess I have to admit that a soft squeeze or welcome gate makes me think, “oh, this person knows what they’re doing” and a pop-up provokes something like, “just show me the €$§$% content!”

        I just watched the “Opt In Rates Are Dropping…” video and so my head is spinning a little bit with such a huge paradigm change. The funniest thing is that I’ve actually noticed a few 2-step opt-ins with some major IM “gurus” and I think, “ooh, too bad their software doesn’t let them do 1-step opt-in.” Just goes to show how hard it is to bust through assumptions of what is “correct.” 

  • I have to know who that guy is posing as your “Self-Centered Marketer”. The way he stands makes me want to opt into anything he offers…IYKWIM.
    Oh, and sorry Clay, I say, pop-ups suck, period, end of story. The FX at the bottom are definitely more classy.