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I know it’s the end of the week, but maybe the weekend kicks off your side-hustle time. So let’s shift back to online marketing talk: let’s talk about opt-in bonuses. This is something you could create this weekend to push the needle on your online business.

It’s funny — you know how when you are checking out in a retail store, and they say “can I have your email address to send you coupons?” I ALWAYS say, “oh, no thank, I don’t want to give it,” because my email address is precious to me and I want to keep my inbox as promotion-free as possible.

But as soon as I see an opt-in bonus like, “7 Steps To Creating a Regular Meditation Practice That Will Radically Shift Your Life!” I’m like — sign me up, here’s my email address, my first and last name, and my phone number while I’m at it (just kidding, who gives out their phone number online?!).

That’s why one of the first things I recommend to my online marketing clients is to create some type of goodie that people can receive automatically when they give you their email address in return.

Okay, that’s great Carrie…but how do I do that?

I’m glad you asked.

I’m going to assume you’re using MailChimp in the steps I’ve listed out below, but every email marketing system has something like this. Here are the exact steps to create an opt-in bonus in MailChimp and start growing your email list this weekend:

  1. Click “Lists” at the top of the screen.
  2. Click “Create List” to create a new list, and title it your opt-in bonus
  3. Once your list is created, find it on your dashboard, click the down arrow next to “Stats”, and select “Signup forms”
  4. Select “General forms”
  5. Customize this form to your heart’s desire — but I highly recommend adding at least your logo/name, and a brief description of the opt-in they’ll be receiving at the top
  6. Once designed and saved, copy that “Signup Form URL” at the top and start sharing it! 
  7. Once your list and signup form are created, click “Campaigns” at the top of the screen, then “Create Campaign”
  8. Click “Create an Email”
  9. Click “Automated” at the top of the screen
  10. Click “Welcome new subscribers”
  11. Finish creating the campaign, with the first email set to trigger automatically, which links to a way for them to access your opt-in bonus.

Voila! Now you’ve got a new list, an automatic email they receive when they sign up, and a link to start promoting it among your friends on social media and your website.

Now let’s back up a little — you may be wondering…WHAT should you create for your opt-in bonus? My answer is simple, but it may take some brainstorming on your end: something that is a great extension of your message and your brand. 

So if you’re selling firewood, you probably don’t want to make an opt-in bonus about scuba diving. Otherwise, you’re not going to be attracting the right kind of customers, who would be interested in buying your firewood. You’d be confusing your audience and diluting your message.

Instead, maybe you could do something along these lines:

  • PDF ebook of “The 5 Secrets to Creating the Perfect Fire”
  • Video training for DIY fireplace cleaning
  • Re-purposed blog post of “The 3 Best Types of Tinder for Starting Your Fire”

Make it something that your perfect customer would be interested in, something that shows you’re the expert on all things “firewood,” and something that will leave them wanting to learn more from you.

And don’t be afraid of “giving it all away for free.” Online marketing karma is gold, and the people who sign up for your list won’t forget the value you give them.