1. Email Marketing

3 examples of successful opt-in forms and why they work so damn well

72% of US adults send or receive personal emails via smartphone at least weekly and 68% of consumers polled say their preferred way of receiving commercial messages is email.

So, it’s no shock then, that email opt-in forms can be found on almost every blog and eCommerce site as, as can be seen from the above, email is still one of the most effective ways of reaching and building a meaningful relationship with your target market.

But what separates an email opt-in form that converts amazingly, achieving countless sign ups every hour to one that sits there idle, generating hardly any sign ups at all?

This is the key question we’re going to be answering in this article, calling on well-founded research and a couple of examples of opt-in forms done properly.

You’ll be relieved to know that there are a few tried and tested principles that, if followed correctly, should turn any ignored, low performing opt-in form into a subscriber generating machine.

These principles aren’t fads or short term tricks to temporarily get you a hit of subscribers but are well established, well researched techniques that are based on human psychology. These principles worked well 10 years ago and we’re confident will work well 10 years from now.

Below we’re going to briefly outline and explain these principles and are then going to analyse 3 opt-in forms and explain why they are successful based on the principles.

Part 1: The Principles.

Source: https://dubioblog.com/2012/01/28/six-universal-principles-of-influencing/

The 7 principles are based on work by Robert B. Cialdini, Professor of Psychology at Arizona State University and are covered in detail in his best-selling book, Influence: Science and Practice, which was first published in 2000.

After decades of extensive research and experimentation Cialdini established these 7 main principles of persuasion. The principles have since been tested year after year and still perform as well as they have always done as they are rooted in human psychology that hasn’t changed in thousands, possibly tens of thousands of years, unlike online trends and tricks that often change monthly or yearly.

Whether it’s a high performing TV ad, PPC ad, salesperson, marketer or opt-in form. One thing they all have in common is that they all incorporate at least one of the below principles.

Principle 1 – Reciprocity – People instinctively want to return a favour. This principle largely explains the popularity of free samples in marketing as well as the reason why compliance professionals offer a small gift to potential customers.

Principle 2 – Commitment & Consistency – If people commit to an idea or goal by saying it aloud or writing it/filling it in then they are much more likely to honour that commitment because they now see it as being a part of their self-image.

Principle 3 – Social Proof – People often look to others similar to themselves when making decisions. This is particularly common in circumstances of uncertainty, risk and/or ambiguity.

Principle 4 – Authority – People are inclined to obey or be swayed strongly by authority figures, even if they are asked to carry out unpleasant acts.

Principle 5 – Liking – People are persuaded by others that they like or those that are physically attractive.

Principle 6 – People are naturally persuaded by perceived scarcity. For example, if a retailer says an offer is “available today only”, that encourages sales.

Principle 7 – Unity/Shared Identity – The more a person identifies themselves with others, the more that person is influenced by those others.

Below are some opt-in forms that work incredibly well as they successfully incorporate one or more of the above tried and tested persuasion principles.

Part 2: Examples Of High Performing Opt-in Forms


Image source – kikolani.com  – http://kikolani.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/popup-opt-in-form-content-marketing-institute.png

This opt-in form works so well as it makes good use of;

Principle 1 (reciprocity). The opt-in box is offering the visitor something for free (the eBook) in return for a favour (visitors name and email address).

Principle 3 (social proof). It clearly states that 40,000 others have joined the mailing list which naturally lessens the uncertainty/risk of signing up in the user’s mind.

Principle 7 (unity/shared identity). The visitor is informed that by joining they will be with thousands of their “peers”, in other words, people just like them.


Image source : NeilPatel.com  – neilpatel.com/blog/how-to-convert-visitors-into-customers-using-a-landing-page/

This opt-in form works brilliantly well as it makes good use of;

Principle 1 (reciprocity). The opt-in box is offering the user something for free (free weekly tips “how to leverage online marketing” etc) in return for a favour (users first name and email address).

Principle 3 (social proof). The bottom of the opt-in box has the logos of highly respected, long standing publications such as Forbes and Time Magazine. This is used to instil a great feeling of trust in the visitor’s mind and so reduce any uncertainty/perceived risk of signing up.

Principle 5 (liking). The man on the right of the opt-in box is someone the visitor likely aspires to look like and thus finds pleasing/attractive.

Principle 4 (authority). The man is also positioned as an authority figure as he is being perceived to have achieved what a large proportion of those visiting the blog want/aspire to.


Image source: OKDork.com

This opt-in form works fantastically as it makes great use of;

Principle 1 (reciprocity). The opt-in box is offering the user something for free (access to 85% of Noah’s best business hacks) in return for a small favour (users email address).

Principle 3 (social proof). The footer of the opt-in box has a positive quote from a notable figure in the marketing world who has interviewed thousands of entrepreneurs and marketers. This adds a lot of credibility and greatly minimises any feeling of uncertainty the visitor may have about signing up.

Principle 5 (liking). The large picture of Noah on the left of the opt in form goes a long way in increasing his likability especially as he’s smiling and has good dental hygiene and straight teeth. This may sound trivial, but both of these things have been proven to have a great positive persuasive effect in many settings/circumstances.

We’re confident that if you incorporate at least one of Cialdini’s seven tried and tested, researched based principles into your opt-in forms you will likely see a big jump in subscribers.

They’ve been used for decades by companies, big and small, in pretty much every industry to great effect. So, test one or more of them out, we think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the outcome.

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Comments to: 3 examples of successful opt-in forms and why they work so damn well
  • January 19, 2018

    We have seen that in present time the use of opt-in-form is increasing day by day. Post help us to know a successful opt-in forms and why they work so damn well.

  • March 3, 2018

    Hi Gareth, I’m happy to see you found my image useful! Could you please add a reference to my blogpost you got the image from though? I drew the picture and posed in on my blog: https://dubioblog.com/2012/01/28/six-universal-principles-of-influencing/. Thx, would appreciate it!

    • March 14, 2018

      Sorry we missed that Maarten, I’ve updated the image to include its source. Thanks!

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