Why You Need An Opt-In Barrier On Your Website

Note: This article was first published in my email newsletter.
To start receiving my latest articles directly: Subscribe Here

As online marketers, we’re always trying to grow our email list

So we come up with “irresistible offer” lead magnets.

We put together hyped-up copy promising the world when someone subscribes.

Then we cover our site in opt-in forms. Pop-ups. Welcome mats. Slide-outs. Exit-intent…

Because it’s all about growing the list, right?

Well… I know I’m in the minority here but, I hate that approach.

Doing everything you can to twist the arm of every person that happens to land on your site until they finally give up their email address is stupid.

It’s how low IQ marketers run their businesses.

I like using an opt-in barrier instead

An opt-in barrier is just a small hurdle that protects your email list. Like giving people a hoop to jump through before you let them subscribe.

Some examples are…

  • Putting long-form copy or an entire article BEFORE your opt-in offer.
  • “Hiding” your opt-in so people have to look around for it if they want to subscribe.
  • Requiring extra information on your opt-in form.

Anything that adds some friction, making it (slightly) harder for visitors to sign up, can be an opt-in barrier.

I know it’s counter-intuitive to make it harder for people to subscribe, but an opt-in barrier is actually a good thing to have on your website.

You’ll attract More Qualified Subscribers

Most marketers want as many email subscribers as they can get.

But the number of subscribers doesn’t matter.

What matters is the number of people on your list who are a good fit for your business – the number of qualified subscribers.

Why are qualified subscribers so important?

Because you don’t want EVERYONE on your list.

If you sell “fat loss for moms” offers, you only want moms who are trying to lose weight on your list.

You don’t want skinny moms. Or women who aren’t moms. And you definitely don’t want men on your list.

Anyone on your list who isn’t qualified to buy your offers is a waste of your time, energy and marketing resources.

Having an opt-in barrier on your site helps you avoid wasting your time marketing to people who aren’t a good fit for your business.

It lets you pre-qualify people so only the best, most qualified leads make it onto your list in the first place.

You’ll get Better Quality Customers

The people on your email list will (hopefully) eventually become your customers.

So why would you want a list full of people you had to trick into signing up? Or people who just want free information because you dangled a overhyped promise in front of them? 

Those kinds of subscribers make terrible customers.

They’re the ones who complain, ask for refunds and need all kinds of support and hand-holding.

Luckily, those types usually don’t get past an opt-in barrier.

Because they want quick and easy. They can’t bring themselves to do even the tiny bit of work you require before signing up for your list.

They’re looking for a bright, shiny, opt-in offer with overhyped copy that promises to fix all their problems in exchange for their email address.

Using an opt-in barrier is an easy way to keep these people off your list in the first place.

It prevents those pain in the butt customers from sneaking onto your list, buying from you then making your life miserable.

And you’ll Minimize “List Bloat”

How many “burner” email addresses do you have? 

You know, a throw-away email address you use to sign up for lead magnets when you don’t want all the marketing emails that come along with it.

I’ll let you in on a secret… you’re not the first to come up with that idea. Everyone has a burner email.

And they’re using them to sign up to your list. Bloating your list full of people who never even see your emails.

But an opt-in barrier can help you minimize list bloat.

Because when someone takes the time to work through your opt-in barriers, you can be sure they want to be there.

By nature of it being hard to sign up, it’s more likely they actually want to be on your list and read your emails and buy your stuff.

There’s no reason to keep paying your email service provider to host a bunch of email addresses who only wanted your lead magnet and never intended on reading your emails or buying your products and services.

Use an opt-in barrier to minimize your list bloat and save yourself some money every month while you’re at it.

But every marketer in the world knows growing your list is the top priority…

Now I’m telling you to put up a barrier to make it harder for people to sign up? It doesn’t make sense.

Well… growing your list IS your top priority as a marketer. But only if it’s the right people on that list.

What you don’t want is a list full of people who never see your emails. Or who never play on buying anything from you.

You want people who actually want to read your emails. People who are a good fit for the products and services you offer. And people who will be good long-term customers for you.

And an opt-in barrier helps you build a list like that.

It optimizes for the quality of your list over the quantity.

Which is the best way to build your list – and your business.

Stop beating people over the head to join your email list

Ease up on all the pop-ups and the overhyped copy.

And stop trying to coerce every visitor into opting-in to your lead magnet.

Try making it a little tougher on them instead.

Make your leads work through an opt-in barrier if they want to sign up for your list.

And you’ll notice you get more qualified subscribers, better quality customers and you’ll stop wasting money on a huge list of people who don’t even read your emails.

What to read next