Multi Step Optins – is this really the fastest way to grow your email list?

When it comes to conversions, many marketers hold to the age-old saying that “less is more.”

I’ve even said as much myself on this blog already.

But is that always true?

The multi-step optin (MSO) is widely touted as one of the highest converting methods to build your subscriber list.

By using the concept of micro-commitments, MSOs make use of a simple psychological trick which breaks your optin flow down into a series of steps.

And the theory says that… by breaking your campaign down into a series of more palatable chunks (which guide your prospect through the process of opting in) you will see an increase in your conversion rate.

The key thing here is starting your prospect on the way to saying Yes to your optin with a smaller Yes (or multiple smaller Yeses).

And via the principle of consistency, one of the 7 major levers of conversion, your optin rates are likely to increase.

So goes the theory.

And here’s the best news…

For the most part, the theory is true and multistep optins do actually increase your conversion rates – Yay!

Lets take a look at a few different strategies, and discover why MSOs are one of the most powerful ways to create a valuable list.


Attract ONLY Highly Engaged Subscribers

Did you know that our mind just cannot resist questions?

Asking a question is at once both deceptively simple and very powerful.

And asking a question, engaging your user in an interactive experience, is one of the things you can do with multi-step forms.

When you ask a simple “Yes” or “No” question in your opt-in forms, before presenting your email sign-up, your visitors will have to choose.

When they choose “Yes” they are making a micro-commitment, a small step which statistically increases the chances that they will opt-in when you present them with your email sign-up form.

Who here wouldn’t want to build a list of highly engaged subscribers that truly want what you’re sending them?

If you said no, then close the door on the way out.

Still here?  Good.

Lets take a look at some of the different MSOs you could try out.


1. The confirmation

This is the most basic type of multi-step optin.

So instead of presenting the optin form right away, you first present your offer, and prompt your visitor to click a button/link to confirm that they want the offer.

This works because the end user first confirms that they are interested in your offer, before they even see the optin form.

So rather than immediately showing a user an optin form and essentially throwing in a barrier to them getting the information, you delay that barrier and first entice the user with a smaller step – e.g. clicking a button to confirm that they want the information your lead funnel will deliver.

There’s a couple of ways you can actually do this:

  1. Manual triggered popup
  2. Multistep optin page/popup

Or of course you could combine both.  We did that on our Facebook Lead Ads post and the popup on that page has had a steady opt in rate of 30% ever since.

Step 1 – popup triggered by clicking links within the article

Step 2 – Optin form shown after clicking the button at Step 1

And here’s another example straight out of our template library.  This one has two steps before the optin form:

Step 1: Seems innocent enough?

Step 2: Who doesn’t want to save money?

Step 3: And boom!

Easy peasy, lemon squeezy.


2. The Yes/No, binary optin

Deceptively simple but also very powerful.  This is a method we use extensively ourselves.

Again we’re making use of a couple of psychological tricks to help improve conversion rates.

Firstly, as with most MSOs, we’re using micro-commitments and leveraging the power of consistency

This type of offer works best as a popup or conversion mat, simply because the “No” option needs to be linked to an action – typically closing the popup or scrolling the conversion mat out of view.

In this case loss aversion, another psychological hack, comes into play.

Interested in the psycological triggers which lead to improved conversions?  Check out our guide here

So the binary method relies on the use of a simple, no-brainer type question.

Using the Facebook Ad example, a good question may be something like:

“Would you like to double your leads from Facebook ads, whilst reducing your costs?”

Sounds great right?

Assuming you can deliver on this promise, and have some proof on your optin page or credibility that you can achieve this for your new subscribers, then you should be on to a good thing.

How to phrase the question

The easiest way to come up with the question is this: look at your opt-in incentive (your free report or whatever else you offer in return for the opt-in) and write down what the most important benefit is that people get from it.

In other words, what is the ideal end result that someone will get by making use of your opt-in offer?

Then, simply formulate the question as “Do you want [benefit you just wrote down]?”

Improving response rates

A plain old Yes/No response lacks a bit of emotional punch, so try adding some further text to trigger a deeper connection with the benefits of your product or the pain of your prospects.

E.g. “Yes, I’d love to free myself from escalating ad costs“ or “No thanks, I’m happy wasting my money on ads”.

Here’s a simple example we’re using for our Conversion Cheat Sheet. Again its from our template library with some minor adjustments to the template:

And here’s the second step where we spell out the offer – the big promise in the black box and use some proof to back up our claims.  Notice also how we’re using loss aversion in the copy below the optin form.  This fits with the “Sooner” response.

3. Multiple choice offers

The primary benefit of these types of MSO is the ability to segment your audience.

Imagine the Facebook ads example again.

A multiple choice offer could start with a step like this:

In this example, we’re using the same psychological principle as before by posing just a simple question and offering a simple choice of answers.

There’s almost zero friction to taking the next step when you present a form like this.

You then simply route each different response to its own optin form – i.e. the Facebook icon links to a step with your Facebook Ads guide optin form, the Twitter icon to your Twitter ads guide, etc…

You have then segmented readers interested in FB ads from those interested in Twitter or YouTube, and are able to better follow up with them with offers more befitting their interests.

This technique has been shown time and again to increase conversion rates and ROI by better enabling you to put the right offers/content in front of the right audience.

To fully make use of this strategy, your different choices need to lead to different offers, which are connected to different mailing lists or segments of your CRM (using “groups” or “tags”).  That’s where the real power of this strategy lies.​

Multi choice campaigns can also help to increase conversions by gamifying the optin.  Here’s another simple multi-choice campaign lifted from our template library.

By offering the illusion of choice, the site visitor can choose their own fate, the micro-commitment comes into effect and the conversion rate to subscriber at step 2 is increased.

Segmentation Ideas:

Depending on your niche and business model there may be many ways to segment.

Perhaps your prospective audience neatly fits in two 2 or 3 major groups.

Or perhaps you have 2 or 3 products and you want to segment based on offer suitability.

Or perhaps you have services which cater for people with different needs.

Some examples:

  • A fashion retailer may segment site visitors by men/women
  • A building contractor may wish to segment by domestic or commercial
  • Many businesses will be able to use the Beginner/Intermediate/Advanced segmentation model
  • A private tutor may segment his prospective English students from his French and Spanish ones

Keep in mind that you are not just limited to two choices, and don’t forget to continually split test your campaigns and optimise their performance over time.

4. The mini survey

There’s no rule that says you can only offer 2 or 3 choices in your optin flow.

Likewise there is no limit to the number of steps to your campaigns.

So in theory you could take segmentation to the extreme, perhaps targeting only beginner marketers interested in Facebook advertising with a budget between 10 and 20k a month.

You could use an elaborate sequence of questions which segments your audience into many different categories.

Here’s an example which has 22 different steps and segments users into 1 of 16 different auto responder series.

A bit extreme?  Maybe.

But I happen to know the campaign is incredibly profitable and was relatively easy to set up (the bulk of the work involved was with writing the email sequences for each segment).

However, if you sell copy for a living and with an average order value of $10k+, then deeper segmentation to pinpoint ideal customers and cut out conversations with non-ideal ones is well worth the investment.

How to setup MSOs with Wishloop

Wishloop offers a simple way to create multistep offers and also makes it incredibly easy to link the steps together to create a high converting campaign.

Whether you want to base your segmentation around simple text buttons like the Sooner/Later example above, around images like in the Ad Network or Discount tags examples above, or even via a poll (see below), getting started is incredibly easy.

If you haven’t already, start your free Wishloop trial today.

Did you enjoy this post?  Let us know by clicking here (and see a simple poll based popup campaign in action).

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