How to create the perfect opt-in incentive for lead generation


What is a perfect opt-in incentive?

It is something that gets your ideal customer or client to sit up and take notice, gladly give you their email address, name or any other information you require and become your email subscriber.

This is actually a win-win situation for both you and your subscriber. When they know exactly what they will be getting once they join your email list, they want to stay subscribed. They look forward to your content and what you have to share. There is a little chance that they will turn around and unsubscribe as soon as you send them the first email. And you get to stay in touch with your target audience.

Unless you make the biggest mistake someone makes as they create a freebie offer for their new email subscribers: You choose something that is so generic that it appeals to nobody.

This is when all your lead generation effort will go down the drain because nobody wants your freebie you spent hours creating.

In this blog post, we will rectify this issue – and more. I will take you through the process of creating an opt-in that will have people drooling after it. And I will teach you how to test it before it goes live.

Let’s get started.


#1 Start with your favourite person – your ideal client or customer

So the process of creating an irresistible opt-in starts with stepping into the shoes of your ideal customer. You have got to know them better than they know themselves so you need to go deeper than the superficial information such as the demographics. You want to pay attention to the psychographics.

Remember, you can create multiple profiles for your business. In fact, this is even better because you will attract people to a specific list and not have to worry about list segmentation later on.

Start with the basics. Who are they? Are they male or female? How old are they? Where do they live? What do they do? How much do they earn? Are they single, married, or married with kids?

Now start drilling down. What keeps them up at 3 am? What frustrates them the most? What have they tried in the past that didn’t work? Who is their enemy? Who do they admire? What are their values that they would never compromise on? What are they looking for? What does their dream solution look like?

Once you jot down answers to this second set of questions, you’d be surprised at what ideas spring to mind that would appeal to your perfect audience, and the ones you initially thought were great now seem so lame. Now you know what they want on a much deeper level and you can be far ahead of competition because they haven’t taken the time and effort to know their audience so well.

The truth is, the better you know your audience, the easier this whole process will become.


#2 Come up with the right idea

Before you dive into creating the incentive for your lead generation funnel, ask yourself this question:

“What is the ultimate goal of getting this person to sign up to your list?”

Do you want them to enquire for a specific project? Do you want to offer an introductory product to convert them into a paying customer, and get a feel of what’s it like to purchase something from you? Do you want them to book a coaching or consulting session?

What level of information does your lead currently have at this moment? Are they well aware of their problem and know what solutions exist in the market? Are they not aware of their problem and need some education to identify what they need in the first place and to position your offering as the right choice?

Answering these questions will help you create the freebie that attracts the right kind of people you want and discourage the ones that aren’t such a good fit for your list and those you won’t be able to serve properly.

Now think about what is it that they need to know to become a client or a customer. This can be foundational or basic level information only, or with some advanced level information thrown in (if you are not attracting beginners only).

You want to keep your opt-in freebie on brand. This encourages the right people to sign up and discourages freebie-seekers. If you sell design services and you create an opt-in offer around optimizing your website conversion rate, you will get all sorts of people, but if you tie it to website design and call it 7 design tweaks to optimize conversion rate, your sign-ups will be way more relevant and likely to stay subscribed.

Go ahead and create your opt-in offer around your introductory topic. The people who aren’t interested in this topic will naturally won’t feel the need to sign up, which means you will actually get high quality leads.

Next we look at how to make sure this is a good idea.


#3 Test your opt-in offer idea

This step won’t take too long.

One thing you can do is to just ask your audience. That’s it. Most people never think of asking because they think it is going to be a free offer, but ask anyway. Do a survey, like you would normally do when you poll your audience to see whether or not they want your next big thing.

Ask them about their biggest frustration. Ask them specifically if they’d like to see a cheat sheet on a certain topic. Not only will this give you insider knowledge of what they want but also what they haven’t managed to find so far. Then go ahead and create your freebie.

Another thing you can do is to publish some related content on the blog and watch your open rates and social engagement closely. If the post does well then it gives you an idea that you are on to something, if it tanks, you know it is time to go back to the drawing board.


#4 Choose the right format

There a number of ways you can potentially create your bribe. Here are some ideas to get your creative juices flowing.

An ebook: You can create an ebook on an in-demand idea. Turn to your blog and your newsletter to pick the right idea. Something that has gone viral? Something that received a lot of interest from your readers. Maybe your readers have been asking you to write on something for a while now. Pick a blog post and expand on it.

An ecourse: You can teach people something through a series of lessons delivered via email. When you create an ecourse, you don’t have to worry about cover design or formatting (whereas when you write an ebook, you do). You also get to train people to open and click through your emails.

Outline your course. Create your lessons with varying level of length, detail and depth and use your autoresponders in your email service provider and you are good to go.

A webinar: A webinar (a live video conference where you share a presentation or a screencast with your audience. There is a Q/A session at the end and it is generally interactive) is a great way to collect email addresses. You can do live ones periodically or you can use pre-recorded ones. One caveat: A webinar requires a bigger commitment from the audience so keep your lead-generation webinars short, to the point and filled with high quality, no fluff information.

Video tutorial: Record yourself on video teaching people how to do something correctly.

You can also offer a free trial of your membership program, a discount, a sample or run a contest or giveaway. You can offer a bonus chapter of your book or worksheets as well.


#5 Make your best first impression

So you know your audience and you know what they want. Now the question becomes how should you offer it?

Firstly, I want you to create something that will play to your strengths. If you are great with words, go with an ebook. Great at teaching? Think about creating an ecourse or a video tutorial. People say you are a fantastic speaker – consider recording a webinar.

Remember, your opt-in offer gives people a taste of what it’s like to work with you or buy something from you. Your opt-in creates the first impression and you want it to be the best one.

I want you to approach this in this way: pretend you are creating something that you can actually sell. It doesn’t have to be a premium offering, or very long, but something you can actually charge money for. Then use this as a guideline to creating your freebie.

Once you think of it as something you can sell, you will create something of high quality, something so extraordinary that it will hurt a little to give it for free. That’s how good your incentive should be.

Don’t forget, your opt-in offer is not really free. You are asking people for their email address as well as their time. You have got to do the work and make it worthwhile.


#6 Create a squeeze page that converts

No matter how good your incentive is, a poorly constructed page will kill your conversions.

And unless you get people to opt-in, they won’t know what they are missing out on, and as a result they won’t get to know how good you are at solving their problems and giving them exactly what they need. It’s their loss and you want to minimize this as much as you can.

So, this is what you need on your opt-in page. If you already have one set up, you can use this to make sure you’ve got everything you need, if you don’t, use this as a guideline to set it up.

  • The very first thing every opt-in page needs is an attention grabbing, highly compelling headline. It needs to stand out, make a big promise and speak directly to your target audience. It needs to show them that you can help them solve a problem or fulfil a desire they have. It should actually turn folks away who are not a good fit for your products and services.

Eye-catching visual. Your squeeze page needs a compelling picture that draws people in. If you are offering a PDF (an ebook, a report, a cheat sheet, etc.), use its image. (Make sure you have an appealing cover design for what you are offering – remember, it needs to be so good that it can actually be sold.)




You can also show your own image if you have a personality based brand. Just make sure that the image is of high quality and portrays you in a good light.

  • You don’t have a ton of space for long copy so use bullet points to bring out your most appealing benefits. You want to get your point across immediately. And don’t be afraid to use the word free in your copy.

Call to action. Tell people what to do next. Most of us know we are required to give up our email address and name but don’t assume everybody else does. Tell them explicitly what they need to do, for example, ‘Enter your name and email and click the button below’. And add a prominent call to action button.

Privacy policy. Reassure people that you are not to share their details with anyone else or spam them. Give them a peace of mind so that they know it is safe to proceed.


Remember, your opt-in bonus should be:

Attention grabbing: You want to catch the attention of potential buyers and hope for ‘I gotta have this. This is perfect for me.’ effect. It needs to satisfy a deeper emotional need and not be a surface level gift.

Highly valuable: You want to promise a real benefit and then deliver it. Whether or not it is an ebook or a cheat sheet, the person should walk away feeling like it was worth subscribing to your list.

Likely to attract prospects: Lastly, you need to attract the right people from day 1. This should exclude any freebie seekers and tire kickers. And you do this is by staying on brand and offering something that clearly ties in with what you are selling.


Ultimately, it is your choice which type of freebie offer to create, to attract the perfect email signups and excite them.

So how are you attracting new subscribers?

Leave a comment below and let us know.