The Two-Step Opt-In Process (And How It Increased Our Newsletter Subscriptions By 60%)

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Transcript: Hello marketing people. In this episode of the Marketing Show, I’m going to tell you the three things you can do to increase your opt-in rate by 60%. These are things you can do today, but before we do that, I have an audience-building story for you.

So here’s the audience-building story, and you may have heard this before. So once upon a time, there were 2 bulls standing on a hill looking at a herd of cows. The young bull says, “Let’s go down there and breed a couple of those cute cows.” The old bull replies, “Let’s mosey down there and breed them all.” So the moral to this story is that you can be super aggressive with your marketing, and you can get some results, or you can mosey your way into building a huge audience. Let me show you what I’m talking about.

So these are examples of old-fashioned and traditional squeeze pages. As you can see, there’s a lot of use of flashing arrows. We’ve all seen things that look like this. Before, huge red headlines. Again, here’s another example; moving arrows, and you know, just lots of arrows and very, very aggressive marketing. I’m not judging this. I’m not judging this from a moral point of view. But these do work, and you can get some results with them, but they’re definitely much more aggressive than the moseying approach.

So these are examples of one-step opt-in processes, right. You go to the webpage and you immediately opt in, or here, you know, you go to the webpage and you can opt in. Again, here, this is a one-step opt-in process. Enter your e-mail address and then hit submit. So those one-step opt-in processes do okay, but I recently did a mosey experiment with a two-step opt-in process, and increased my opt-in rate about 60%. So let me show you how that worked.

Here we are at, and right here, we have kind of the traditional one-step opt-in process, right. Enter your e-mail address to get free updates and you can do that and hit join us, and you’ll be immediately added to our newsletter, and you’ll get updates about the Marketing Show. But we recently experimented with a two-step marketing process, and in a second, I’m going to show you the three things that we did to increase our opt-in rate by 60%, and they were all, all of them a two-step opt-in process.

Now you’re probably wondering right now what is the mosey approach to building an e-mail list. What is a two-step process? Well, right now, let’s just go over the two-step opt-in processes that we implemented. So the first two-step opt-in process was the blog sidebar, and here’s what I mean. Here we are on, and if we click on this link that says, ‘Want free marketing tools and updates,’ we click on this link, so that’s step number one, and step number two is to opt in here. So people first indicate their interest by clicking on a banner, and then they’re brought to this page.

Now this is actually just a welcome gate. We built this with the welcome gate software, which if someone wants to, they can turn off the welcome gate, and they can just use it as a squeeze page. So it won’t appear when someone comes to their homepage. They can decide to just use it as a landing page to collect e-mail addresses. So again, with this two-step process, step number one is to click here, and step number two is to opt in, and we got a number of opt ins from this two-step opt-in process.

The second two-step opt-in process that we used was a survey. So here we are again on, and at the bottom here, there’s just a little survey that says, ‘How often should we e-mail you about new Marketing Show post?’ and someone can click on either every time we add new content, which is daily, or once per week, and if they click on either of those – Let’s click on one of them – they’re brought to this page again where they can opt in. So step one is make a selection on the survey and step two is to enter their e-mail address. So that’s the second two-step opt-in process.

Now the third two-step opt-in process was lead player. So what we did was we took all of our old Marketing Show videos, and we added lead player to them. So we’re not doing this with our most current Marketing Show videos. We’re only doing this with Marketing Show videos that are a month old or older, and here’s what happens with those. ‘Hello everyone, my – And we’re going to give you our favorite marketing e-mail of all time, and we’re going to give you some swipe copy that you can use in your business that’s based off this. So that’s what you have to look forward to in this episode of the Marketing Show.’

So as you can see here, in those old episodes of the Marketing Show, at some point, we say, “That’s what you have to look forward to in this episode of the Marketing Show,” and then folks can opt in to continue watching. And again, you can get lead player if you’re interested in it at, but what we were actually able to do was take the gold that was in our existing YouTube videos, and we just took those existing YouTube videos. We pasted them in lead player, and we turned it on, and we immediately took every single existing past episode of the Marketing Show and turned it into a two-step opt-in process. So step number one is they play the video. They hear the intro. They hear what they’re going to get in that episode of the Marketing Show, and then it says, ‘Opt in to continue watching.’

So with those 3 examples under our belt, I’d like to briefly go over the benefits of using a two-step opt-in process. The first benefit is that your visitors aren’t bombarded with opt-in boxes. It seems nowadays, so many blogs and websites are just bombarding you with opt-in boxes. There’s a feature box. There’s an opt-in box above the post. There’s an opt-in box below the post. There’s an opt-in box on the right and left sidebars. There’s a slide up. You know, there’s so many different ways and there’s a pop up. There’s just so many things going on, and when you use a two-step opt-in process, those opt-in boxes are buried a second layer deep, and people are only shown them when they express interest that would indicate that it is actually time to make those opt-in boxes appear. So a lot of this is based on timing, and it’s driven by the end user.

The second thing you do when you have a two-step opt-in process is you create a yes letter with lead player. Someone hits play to watch a video, and then after they find out what’s in the video, they get an opt-in box with the call-to-action that is custom tailored to the content in that video. So it’s absolutely congruent. Someone decided that they wanted to watch it. It shows part of that video, and then it offers them the opportunity to opt in to watch the remainder of it, and again, the call-to-action is custom tailored to the content in that video, essentially allowing me to take all those videos I have on YouTube and turn them into lead generation devices.

Third, when used correctly, two-step opt-in process simply convert better. Now, if you have a horrible two-step opt-in process and amazing one-step opt-in process, the one-step process is going to work pretty well, and there are plenty of cases where a one-step opt-in process should be used, but on the whole in most situations, I prefer using a combination of one-step and two-step opt-in processes, and from what I’m starting to see both with my clients and with myself, more people are going to end up opting in through the two-step opt-in processes because they’re more effective. The entire process is driven by the end user. They’re not aggressive and they tend to be much better received.

Anyway, that’s what I have for today. I hope you have enjoyed this episode of the Marketing Show. I hope you’ve learned a lot, and I’ll talk to you next time. Take care.

  • Marcos

    Ah the old bull’s wisdom… timeless! thanks for this video Clay, I did learn a lot!

  • Interesting and will definitely give it a try. We get over 1000 plus visitors a day but capture less than 10 emails a day…NG. Thanks 

    • Got to get some of those numbers up! This should help 🙂

  • Awesome information and one I am telling my clients to start using! Thank you.

    • Awesome, Janet.  Glad you liked this.  Come back and share the results when you have them.

  • Austin

    Is there a way to make the opt-in show up at a specific time during the middle of the video and the viewer has the option to decline opt-in and still view the rest of the video?

    • Yes! You can absolutely make the opt-in show up at a specific time during the video.  That’s very easy with the product.

      • Austin

        Can the viewer decline opt-in and continue to view the video? 

        If a viewer has already opted in will they see the opt-in forms each time?


        • Yes! If a viewer has already opted in then they won’t need to opt-in again. But, right now someone can’t decline the opt-in and continue to view the video.  We’ll add that in the next version and that should be available in about a month.

          • Austin

            Are the people who have already opted in still shown the opt-in box?  Or does the video just play without the opt-in box showing each time on every video?

          • No. The people who have already opted in will *not* be shown the opt-in box.  Great question.

          • Austin

            Clay, picked it up last night and am excited to put it to action today!  Quick question (but can’t promise it’ll be my last) what are you using for the survey on the bottom right?  Thanks!

  • Jan

    Interesting. I liked hearing about your approach with this. One question about the 2 step process on your old videos. What if someone who wants to watch them is already on your list? Do that still have to give their email?

    Oh and another question. What if I find your site and want to watch 2 or 3 of your videos (and I’m not on your list, which is fictitious because I am on your list)–do I have to enter my email each time to watch the content? Just looking at it from the end-user’s point of view. Thanks!

    • Hi Jan! You don’t need to enter your email address each and every time to watch a video.  Just once.

      • Dylan Alford

        Hi Clay, 

        I’ve been on your list for awhile now. After watching this video, I clicked over to watch the 8-part product formula video listed in the related content area. I had to enter my email address to watch and I got your welcome message in my inbox. Not that I don’t love getting email from you. I do! But I think this is third time I’ve received that welcome email. I think for the user experience, at least for existing subscribers, it’s not ideal. It’s not terrible either, but not ideal. 

        In Aweber (and probably other autoresponders, too) I know you can display a different thank-you page or message to people who are already on your list. I wonder if you could do something similar in that case with the LeadPlayer opt-in?

        • Thanks for the note, Dylan. That’s not a LeadPlayer issue. It’s an issue with me not configuring AWeber correctly. Thanks again for pointing this out.

      • Hi Clay, Does LeadPlayer use cookies to accomplish this?  So as long as they’re using the same browser or device they don’t see the opt in again?

  • oops. my gravatar didn’t work did it?

  • MDstinkbugs

    Great post…I learned a lot. I didn’t realize these products existed.

  • I capture first name and email address for my A-Weber list. Because Welcome Gate captures email only, I cannot use the plug-in. Have you considered an update to include capturing additional fields?

    • We will likely never do that.  It’s simply not best practice for the majority of web businesses.

      • Fair enough. But in what marketing textbook or research is it not best practice to personalize your communications with customers? Just curious how it is not “best practice.” Would love to hear Derek Halpern chime in on this topic. Couldn’t help but notice he doesn’t collect names either. 

        • Five things. First, when you collect two fiends instead of one, opt-in rates go down.

          Second, they’re not fooled because they have the name in the subject line. Everyone knows that they’re getting an mass email these days.  Just because you have their name in the subject lines doesn’t mean they’re going to be more excited about your email. In fact, generally speaking, name is subject lines are used almost exclusively in automated emails these days (when was the last time a friend placed your name in a subject line).

          There are cases when personalized messages outperform non-personalized messages, but in almost every case, the improvement doesn’t make up for the decreased conversion rate that results from having two fields.

          Third, friends often don’t use your name in emails to you.  They just send quick messages like “hey . . . want to hang out tonight” or whatever.  Not using a name can make your message seem more personal and informal. Which often is a good thing.

          Fourth, people often use fake names in the name field. And nothing says mass email like “Dear IDon’tWantToTellYouMyName . . .” as the beginning of your email.

          Fifth, my clients and I simply make more money when we don’t require a first name.

          I hope that makes sense.


          • Thanks Clay, that was an awesome explanation! This really resonates with me — “Third, friends often don’t use your name in emails to you.  They just send quick messages like “hey . . . want to hang out tonight” or whatever.  Not using a name can make your message seem more personal and informal.”
            For the record, I have NEVER used a name in the subject line, it screams spam! I only use names in the body but that may stop after hearing this explanation.Again, thanks!

          • You’re welcome! I’m glad this made sense and helped. Hum . . . maybe I’ll turn my comment and this discussion into tomorrow’s blog post? :-).

          • LOL. We have a winner!

          • Hi Derek, 

            There is also the danger of getting one like this, which I received this AM:

            Hello *|FNAME|* 

            I’m always amazed at this when I get from companies that should know better – including those who talk about email marketing.

          • Great point.

          • Nice article. Thanks for sharing.

          • Thanks for the link Derek. I appreciate it.

  • Clay, I think you forgot to mention how cool and awesome your content is! I’m quickly becoming a HUGE fan of yours! I recently read 1 of your posts from a couple of years ago about the “real” you. It was 1 of the most realest posts I EVER read! It made me laugh too!

  • PJ

    Are we likely to see a Joomla version of LeadPlayer any time soon?

  • Another brilliant Marketing Show. Thank you so much Clay! Love the two step process and would never have thought of that on my own. You rock my world and inspire me continually.