Making Opt-Ins a Real-World Option

Tomo restaurant opt-in card

If you’re looking to grow your email subscribers list, you have probably already exhausted a number of online options. You’ve featured an opt-in form on your page, required an email subscription for online content, and even included an application on your social media pages. But, have you explored the final frontier in your quest to promote your email list? The real world (gasp).

Surely you yourself have subscribed to email lists while venturing out into the big, bright world. If you’ve been to retail stores like The Gap or Apple as of late, you’ve probably noticed that they asked for your email at the register to send your receipt. How about restaurants? The picture from above was taken at a local sushi bar, Tomo, next to our Atlanta offices – A cleverly placed email subscription card, right next to the take-out menus. Another local restaurant, Sugo, includes their email cards in every single check presented to the table at the end of the meal. Customers are given incentive to sign up by entering their birthday and anniversary to receive a free dessert coupon via email on their special day. What sets Sugo apart from other restaurants is that the servers are motivated to collect email cards and their name is delivered with the autoresponder email to the new subscriber (Dear Mr. Smith, John enjoyed serving you…), giving each email a personal touch. If the patron enjoyed their meal, they may be more inclined to request that same server for their next visit now that they know the server’s name, which benefits the server and improves customer service.

Real-world subscriber forms don’t necessarily have to be in the form of an email card or sign-up list either. There’s the obvious use of QR codes that have been included in posters, stickers, signs, and advertisements. But, these handy opt-ins don’t have to be limited to just print format – Get creative. QR codes have been seen on business cards, promotional schwag, t-shirts, and even painted onto people at concerts and festivals. As long as the QR code is easily visible and can be scanned (make sure to test it first!) in a mobile-friendly environment, your potential subscriber can have immediate access to your online content. This will allow you to reach a larger audience in their “natural habitat.” The more you can reach out to where your target subscribers will be, the more you can provide opportunities for opt-ins.

Take a look at who your emails are geared towards and where they would most likely see and respond to a real-world opt-in. Instead of letting them find you floating around in cyberspace, come to them and make their job easier. Give them an incentive to want to sign up, much like how Sugo gave out a free dessert. It’s like fishing – If you wait on a dock with a net for long enough, you’re bound to catch a fish. If you come to them with a baited hook, you’re going to catch more.


Sarah Zibanejadrad
Inbound Marketing Coordinator, WhatCounts

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