11 Juicy Opt-In Offer Ideas Your Readers Will Love

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11 Juicy Opt-in Offer Ideas Your Readers with LoveThe next time you offer a free digital download in exchange for someone’s email address, don’t rely on the old standby: an ebook.

I’ve offered plenty of them in my own business. 

But I have to admit. When I see others using an ebook to bait the hook, I sometimes think to myself, “I don’t have time to read it.” I’ll bet it’s the same with you.

Sometimes you opt in. Sometimes you don’t. If you opt in, you might never refer to the book–a lost opportunity for the author who could have grabbed your attention many other ways.

Make people really excited to type their email address to get your opt-in offer. Give them enticing digital freebies they feel as though they can’t do without. Here’s a list to get you started. Not all of these examples require an opt in. But I’m including them here to show you the many possibilities.

1. Pocket Guide

Offer a compact guide that someone can print and slip into a shirt pocket. Hostelworld.com offers free content-rich pocket guides for people visiting cities all over the world. The guides include things like transportation options, climate, useful phrases in the native language, cheap eats, upcoming events and budget tips. Download the pocket guide for Paris.

Pocket Guide for Paris

2. Study Buddy

Sporty’s Pilot Shop, which teaches people how to fly airplanes, also sells charts, headsets, books, leather jackets and other supplies for pilots, and has a flight school. At their website, you can create an account and take practice tests for the FAA written test to get your pilot’s license.

3. Cheat Sheet

Microsoft offers more than 100 free printable cheat sheets and quick references for you to use “no strings attached.” They include tips for Access, Excel, Lync, Office, Outlook, PowerPoint, Project, SharePoint and Word.  You’ll also find cheat sheets for Windows and Apple products.

You can keep it simple. Your cheat sheets don’t have to be this elaborate.

Microsoft Cheat Sheets

4. Test Drive

A test drive is a smart way to give people a taste of your membership site or service.

The Gift List, a subscription service, provides contact information for more than 250 top newspapers, wire services, and television producers at national networks, cable and syndicated television shows, plus national radio. All are planning special sections or features on consumer products that would make great gifts.

Before you subscribe to the service, you can go to their website and complete the opt-in form for a 72-hour free test drive.

5. Email Course

Almost anyone, regardless of the product or service they sell, or the cause or issue they promote, can offer an email course.

Want to discover the smartest ways to mix social media, content marketing, and SEO for lead generation? Copyblogger offers Internet Marketing for Smart People, a 20-installment email course and newsletter that delivers the techniques and strategies you’ll need to become a much smarter marketer online.

In exchange for your name and email address, you’ll also have instant access to more than 15 ebooks on email marketing. Overwhelming? Maybe, but what an enticing way to offer high value in exchange for that email address. 

6.  Sample Contracts

This idea is perfect for service providers, particularly coaches who teach others how to grow a service business. 

The Solo PR Pro membership website, a community for solo PR practitioners, offers a free collection of sample PR contracts. These documents are perfect for people just setting up their PR practices, as well as for veteran PR people who might need a contract for a special project. They include simple letters of agreement and full contracts.

Kellye Crane, an independent PR consultant who manages the community, doesn’t require an opt-in.  “It’s my hope that you’ll find it valuable enough to share with your networks after you read it (a novel concept, right?), and that everyone will choose to sign up for the free Solo PR e-newsletter,” she says.

Use the scroll bar to read the contracts at the website, or download it. Note that she calls this an ebook. In your marketing, emphasize the sample contracts which are more specific and more enticing.

7. Quiz

The American Kennel Club offers Something to Chew On: American Kennel Club Dog Trivia. It’s a list of 10 multiple choice questions. The AKC gives you the correct answer right after the list of choices. But it could also force the opt-in for the correct answers, and offer another freebie.

 8. Toolkit

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit that provides trustworthy information to kids, families and schools, offers a “Cyberbullying Toolkit” to help students understand and deal with cyberbullying. It shows them how to respond when they see digital harassment, and offers two lessons on cyberbullying for each grade level.       

9. Flow Chart

The CyberbullyingToolkit mentioned above also includes a Cyberbullying Flow Chart with guidelines for school administrators, as well as a dozen other resources for kids, parents and teachers. You could offer a flow chart as a standalone freebie and use it to explain a procedure for something people want to learn how to do.

Cyberbulling flow chart 
10. Action Guide

This handy blueprint on how to introduce a new policy, procedure or program is perfect for nonprofits.

Seven years ago, when companies were instituting no smoking policies, The Partnership for Prevention, a nonprofit, created an Action Guide of Smoke-free Policies to help companies and groups that want to establish a smoke-free ordinance for their businesses or public places.   

Doesn’t an “action guide” sound a lot more interesting–and promising–than an ebook?

11. Comparison Chart

Bloggers, especially those who review products, can create comparison charts for a wide variety of products: cars, household cleaners, business software, kitchen gadgets, etc.

Best Buy created a  simple chart that compares no-contract carriers for mobile phones.

If you don’t want to hassle with creating some of these freebies, hire a freelance graphics designer or other techie person at a site like Elance.com or ODesk.

Once you’re up and running and offering the opt-in, write a press release about it and share on the social sites.

Have you seen other examples of interesting giveaways? Do you have one you’d like us to know about that performs well for you? The Comments section awaits!    

Joan Stewart
Publicity expert Joan Stewart coaches business owners on how to promote their expertise by creating content and generating free publicity. Subscribe to her twice-a-week email tips at PublicityHound.com. Joan lives (and tries to stay warm) in Port Washington, Wis., where her German Shorthaired Pointer, Bogie, takes her on walks twice a day.
Joan Stewart
Joan Stewart
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  1. Denise,

    Thanks for sharing this value-rich list from Joan Stewart. I follow Joan to get loads of great free publicity tips, advice, and strategies like this.

  2. Those are exciting choices for freemiums. Right now I have an ebook but I think my next gift will be either a process map or an audio interview, just to mix it up. <u question is, how often can you change your freemium?

    • Dina, you can change the freemium as often as you wish. But you might want to test it. Try it for three months and see how many opt-ins you get. Then use a different one for the next three months, and so on. I love your idea for a process map. What kind of a process would you feature?

  3. Great ideas, was just talking with a client today about changing his opt in offer.

  4. Genius! Pure genius! I’m implementing this, this weekend. I learn so much from you, Denise. Thank you!