Counter-Intuitive List Building: The Reverse Opt-In

Have you ever looked at what everyone else is doing and thought there must be a different way…

Maybe you’re like me, and you can get a little rebellious when it comes to commonplace marketing advice.

When everyone else is zigging, it makes sense to zag.

That’s exactly what this counter-intuitive tribe building and email list growing technique is all about. Keep reading.

Typical List Building Opt-In Pages

You know that the status quo is to drive traffic to an opt-in squeeze page, where the only option on the page is to opt-in or leave.

These types of landing pages are extremely effective, sometimes getting opt-in conversion rates from 20% up to 80% depending on who lands there.

They’re so popular that there’s an entire market of tools designed to help you build these “lead pages” and squeeze pages.

But there’s a reason they’re called “squeeze pages”… because you’re trying to squeeze a website visitor into opting in to your email list.

This absolutely does work, and when you’re spending money advertising you might want to keep sending people to squeeze pages…

However, if you really want to build your tribe and email list, and build a community of people who share your amazing work for you, there’s another way.

It’s called The Reverse Opt-In.

Introducing The Reverse Opt-In

Tired of The Usual List Building Tactics? Try The Reverse Opt-In Instead...


As the name implies, this is a different type of web page… where instead of asking someone to opt-in to your email list and THEN giving them the goods, you first give them something of value and then you ask them to join your list.

Let’s look at a few examples, to illustrate the difference.

With a traditional lead page, you’ll ask someone to sign up for your email list and then they get to attend a webinar that you’ll be hosting.

With a reverse opt-in, you would send someone to a webinar recording or live webinar if you’re hosting it live… and then on the page people would have the option of joining your email list for more.

This “more” could be another webinar, a checklist download, a series of emails, or anything else that might be of value to people.

Here’s another example for you. With a traditional squeeze page, you tell someone about this amazing ebook that you want to give them. They give you their name and email and they get access to the ebook.

The risk here is that the visitor doesn’t know how good your ebook really is, and they need to take a chance and hope that you’re not just full of hype. (This is especially true in certain industries, that tend to over promise and under deliver!)

On the other hand, with a reverse opt-in you can send people to a page and give them the download link for your ebook immediately.

On the same page you’d have an opt-in box, where people can stay in the loop and get more of the same type of information you provide in your book.

See the difference? Here if someone downloads your ebook and thinks it’s ho-hum, they won’t opt-in for more. But if you’re giving a super high quality gift, then people will be clicking that “opt-in submit button” faster than you can “free”.

The Subtle Benefits Of The Reverse Opt-In

If someone downloads your ebook or attends your webinar without first opting in… they get to know if you’re a good match.

This is part of the wooing process, and sometimes a first date doesn’t impress you… And people are becoming more discerning with their email addresses and the amount of emails that they sign up for.

A hard squeeze page might discourage people from even going on a first date with you or your business, so a reverse opt-in is a gentler way of bringing someone into your world.

This method of tribe building actually helps you attract the RIGHT people, and it converts the skeptics who would have been on the fence or totally turned off by pushy marketing tactics.

I believe that a reverse opt in technique can make us more human, and approachable, too.

Reverse Opt-Ins Increase Social Sharing, Building Your Tribe Faster

Reverse Opt in Example
The first time I used the reverse opt-in was in my first online business, where I was giving away a book called “28 Desserts You Can Eat Every Day”.

I had befriended a few influencers on Twitter and at large on social media… but I had a feeling that if I approached them asking them to share a squeeze page they wouldn’t go for it.

Think about it: who wants to ask their friends to opt-in for something? (The big exception I’ve seen is when the content is so freaking good that it should be a paid course, like the 30 Day List Building Challenge).

So instead, I put the download link for the ebook directly on the page I wanted people to share. I also included an opt-in box in the sidebar on the site, so it was really easy for people who liked the ebook to get more stuff.

I also explained what they’d get when they joined the list – which included recipe videos and a live webinar.

The result of using the reverse opt-in and having a really freaking awesome ebook that I was giving away for free? I added nearly 500 new people to my email list.

I didn’t have to beg people to share the ebook, because the first few people who downloaded it loved it so much that it was a no brainer to retweet or share the link with their audiences.

When To Use a Reverse Opt-In

Obviously, you’ll notice that I don’t use the reverse opt-in exclusively on my sites… I do have landing pages and opt-in pages, depending on what I’m promoting.

I don’t necessarily believe you should give “everything you’ve got” away without asking for an opt-in… but there are times when using the reverse opt-in will help your message spread further, and your list build even faster.

I recommend using the reverse opt-in when you:

  • Want a super valuable piece of content to go “viral” on social media
  • Plan on using retargeting ads to capture people who don’t immediately opt-in, by showing them further opportunities to join your list later
  • Want to make it super easy for affiliates to share your content, and still get sales commissions if people sign up down the line (because of cookie tracking)
  • Need to test how you talk about something to make sure you “nail” the language and best way to promote a gift or topic

You can also make the most of a reverse opt-in if you’re using email marketing automation because you can see un-gated content to people who are already on your list, but haven’t checked out a specific topic area from you yet.

Choose The Right Email Marketing Platform

If you haven’t selected your email marketing platform yet, you can check out our full CRM comparison guide, and see how the top tools compare.

You’ll want to find something that lets you test different opt-in offers through a reverse opt-in, and tag people based on what actions they take from there.

So Are You Feeling Rebellious?

If you made it this far, your curiosity about the reverse opt-in might be piqued! If you’re feeling rebellious toward traditional list-building landing pages, then it might be time to take the reverse opt-in for a spin!

I’d love to know your thoughts in the comments below!

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