Say More With Less: Writing Effective Opt-In Language to Get More Email Subscribers

Say More with Less: Writing Effective Opt-in Language to Get More Email Subscribers

Email marketing is often considered the golden ticket to engaging with your customers in a deep, meaningful, and powerful way. Your customer’s inbox is their personal, sacred space where they (hopefully) only receive messages from brands they know, like, and trust. As opposed to interruption marketing—soliciting customers through unanticipated and unwelcome messages or ads with little or no interest or value for the recipient—permission marketing gives you the opportunity to really show up for your customer and to build a relationship with them that goes beyond a website or a social media post.

“In order to get permission, you make a promise. You say, ‘I will do x, y and z, I hope you will give me permission by listening.’ And then, this is the hard part, that’s all you do.” — Seth Godin

It starts with how you ask permission to be invited into your customer’s email inbox. What kind of request are you making to your customer? What are you offering them in order to sweeten their interest? What kind of promise are you making?

Let’s take the standard opt-in language:

Click here to subscribe to our newsletter.

Who thinks “newsletter” is intriguing or engaging? Anyone? Seriously, does anyone think it sounds appealing? Nope? And the default call to action of “click here” is overused and may result in that glazed-over look from your reader.  This kind of language may be boilerplate but it isn’t going to set you or your brand apart from others. In fact, it could even set you at a disadvantage; if your reader reads “click here” and “newsletter”, they may very well assume that, if ignored, they will avoid another run-of-the-mill annoying email series barrage in their inbox.

You can make a few simple adjustments to your newsletter opt-in language so that you can start to see an increase in subscribers and readership.

1. Give it a name.

Naming your newsletter offers you another opportunity to reinforce the look and feel of your brand. What kind of words and phrases evoke the essence of your brand? Could one of those words be added to another word to create your perfect newsletter name?

A named newsletter sparks interest in your reader and draws your reader into what you’re offering. A boring, standard default name like newsletter most likely won’t get you a steady stream of email subscribers to your email list. Why? It’s just not that interesting or unique so your reader has a tendency to skim over or ignore your prompt. Ash Ambirge from The Middle Finger Project says, “You wouldn’t put a book up for sale with no title, no description, and no way for them to know what it was about–and then expect people to buy it. And you can’t do that when you’re selling a relationship with you, either. Because at the heart of it, that’s what an opt-in is truly selling: A relationship with you. Not a newsletter.”

For a new take on your email marketing, choose a term or phrase from this list on my recent blog post on alternatives to newsletter.

2. Make an offer.

Give your reader something to set the tone that you value both their time and their inbox. Incentivize them to opt-in so that they can start saving, shopping, or working with you. Maybe this is a special discount code or free shipping on a select product. Is it a special gift on their birthday? What about a free 20-minute consult call? Whatever you choose to offer, make it easy to deliver your end of the bargain so that you can avoid hiccups or redemption confusions.

3. Set expectations.

What can your reader expect to receive, learn, utilize, or gain by signing up to your email list?

Is this a monthly, weekly, seasonal email series? By being open, upfront, and honest with your reader, you can start to help them build more trust and confidence in your ability to add value to their inbox.

Here are some examples of opt-in language we developed for some previous clients of ours:

We worked with Laura from Kelea Surf Spa to develop her newsletter content and name.

Branding your Newsletter | The Surf Report

You can read more about the work we did for Kelea Surf Spa here.


For IMPRESSED by nature, we worked with Kyla to develop PRESSED, her newsletter.

Alternatives to Calling your Newsletter a Newsletter | PRESSED

To read more about the work we did with Kyla, visit our portfolio.


For Berkeley Community Acupuncture, we worked with Thuy to develop her monthly Musing on Healing.

Branding Your Newsletter | Monthly Musings on Healing

Read more here about the rebranding we did for BCA.


Lastly, here’s our newsletter opt-in.

Branding your Newsletter | The Look & The Feel

Feel free to join in on the conversation. Do you send emails to your customers? Does your newsletter have a name? What kind of content do you share? Tell us more about your process.


Happy branding!

Happy Branding | Shelly Jackson Buffington