Business Productivity

The essential opt-in offer guide

- December 9, 2020 3 MIN READ

If you are a business who does business online (quick check, take down your website and turn off your email – if you still have a business after 1 month, you probably don’t need to read this ;-), and you don’t have an opt-in and you’re not harvesting new subscribers, you are passing up a huge value-add.

We’ve spoken before about how valuable your database is to your business, but we’ve never shown you how to build a healthy list of potential clients… until now.

The purpose of an opt-in offer or lead magnet is to build your database. It is simply an offer of something your audience will find valuable in exchange for their name and email address.

Think of your opt-in as a piece of ‘investment content’. It needs to be well designed, of value to your audience, and in a format that can be used time and time again.

But working out what your offer might be, isn’t as easy as it seems.

We have created the following guide to help you decide what you can offer your audience so you can build a healthy list of subscribers who are interested in your services.

The Goldilocks test

Your offer should be ‘just right’ for the audience you are targeting.

Paradoxically, our first recommendation is to try not to make your offer TOO attractive.
The reason we say this is because you want your offer to be a filter for your audience. If your final sale is a high-end business service – you don’t want to attract small start-up style businesses who don’t have spare cash for a coffee, let alone your amazing, premium product.

Many people see their opt-in almost as a product in itself and they try to ‘sell’ as many as possible but because the offer is free, and everyone is familiar with the ‘unsubscribe’ button, your list will quickly de-value – that is, you will have a big list of people who are probably not suitable for your product or service.

So the first question you have to ask is this:

What product or service do I want to sell to this list?


Here at Brilliant, we have two distinct groups of clients.

We have clients who hand over their content strategy and creation needs to us, and we take care of everything for them. They don’t need to know how to do it – they are interested in what needs to happen to get it done. For them, we offer a free content audit to show them where their best content opportunities are, and how we can help them with the content.

Our other group are smaller business owners who are looking to understand more about content marketing, how it applies to their business and how to do it themselves. We are creating a Content Academy filled with inexpensive online courses. For them, we have a free download which shows them step-by-step how to write 3 different types of articles.

You can see how we’ve made sure the offer matches the product we would like them to purchase.

The hook

The next part to understand about creating a successful opt-in offer is what will make someone hand over their name and email address?

We’ve identified 4 most enticing reasons:

1) The offer sparks their curiosity

Quizzes and checklists do this very well.

2) The offer gives added value

10% off your first order if you subscribe.

1 month free

3) The offer educates them so they feel smarter

Reports and curated lists

Specific industry developments or innovations

4) The offer helps them do something

How to, step-by-step and guides that help people get something done, learn a new skill. In fact, we could save this article as a .pdf and call it an opt-in offer!

Make an impression

A well thought-out offer is great but we are visual creatures so it pays to make sure your content is well packaged.

For businesses with a strong brand identity, this is relatively simple. If you are not sure – we have the following tips:


Always include images. A nicely designed cover page gives a document more credibility.


Make sure the format you choose is best suited to your audience. Documents and reports are best created as .pdf files so they can easily be downloaded. Video files need to be relatively small so they can be streamed. If you are looking at quizzes and checklists, you can use embedded Google Docs or apps such as Qzzr.


Don’t go overboard and deliver too much value. Your audience are as short on time as you are so the more succinct you can deliver a specific valuable point, the better.


Pay to play

Unless you have a lot of time to relentlessly promote your offer, it pays to pay. Facebook ads, Google Adwords and LinkedIn ads can all assist you to fill your database.

Choose wisely

Make sure the database you choose is right for your needs. If you intend to grow your subscriber list to 2000 +, and plan to do a lot of email marketing and automation, you can look at Active Campaign, Infusion Soft or similar.

If your list is smaller and you’re going to send out a regular newsletter but not much else, you might be better with the free version of MailChimp.

Of course these are only general suggestions – do your research and find one that suits your business now and into the future.

This post was written by Camille Blyth, founder of The Brilliant Content Agency.