How a Stranger Becomes a Subscriber

All right – this is one of the big confusing parts of getting online for the first time. Setting up that initial mailing list.

This is going to cover how a random person on the internet becomes a member of your mailing list – aka a subscriber – and ideally one who responds to your messages and engages with you about your content. (The engagers are the ones most likely to become customers. They are also the most fun, and, if my hypothesis is correct, they are also smarter, better looking and great in bed.)

Here’s the high-level process.

Someone sees something you created, like a free report, and decides to opt in. They give you their name and email address, and hit submit. They are then directed to a thank you page and you send them the report, (sometimes after making them click a confirmation link in a preliminary email) and then you send more emails and communications to build the relationship.

There are lots of modifications and customizations you can add to that process – but essentially – that is what happens. Here’s how it looks!

The key technology pieces are an email auto-responder, and either a website or a landing page (or both).

What people TALK about the most is a “sign up form” – you’ve seen these – it’s a place on a page or a pop-up window where you enter your name an email.

But what CREATES that form?

That depends on the set of technology that you have chosen to use – but it is almost always going to be your email auto-responder.

Because you use your auto-responder to send all of your emails, and organize your subscribers into different categories – it is the software that needs to receive the names and email addresses.

A third-party landing page software, that creates pages with sign-up forms for people to inter their information on will have to communicate with your auto-responder to tell it that someone has subscribed, and can be sent messages.

This is what happens no matter where the sign up form is, or what it looks like. Underneath it all, it’s just a form that someone fills out that submits a name and email address to your auto-responder.

For example, if you have a sign up from in the sidebar of your website, then that form was probably created by your auto-responder. If you have a special page on your website that has information about your offer and a sign up form, that might be a landing page software that TALKS to your auto-responder.

Got it?

Good. Now let’s go through the elements you need to have in place for it all to work, but first – If you’re looking for a step-by-step guide to GETTING THIS DONE – you can join the Newbie Academy for Free to learn EXACTLY how to do it with Aweber and Leadpages – in my opinion some of the most reliable and, compared to the rest of the options out there easiest services to use to get the job done.

FREE Tutorial on Creating an Opt In Funnel

The Opt-In

This comes in many forms and by many names. An ethical bribe, and opt-in, a freebie, a lead magnet. What you call it doesn’t matter, but what it NEEDS to be is interesting and valuable enough that someone is willing to trade you an email address for it.

Choosing the perfect opt-in is beyond the scope of this instructions – so we’ll just talk about a couple of the different *formats* it can come in, because that will impact the following steps.

  • PDF Document
  • Video
  • Email Series

The big issue with the opt-in tends to be HOW it gets to your new subscriber once they sign up. You do not want to send an attachment in an email – so you need to store the opt-in somewhere else and provide a link to it.

Let’s look at some of the options:

PDF Documents

These can be stored on your website itself, or on a third party provider. You will save space on your hosting/website by storing it somewhere else – Like AmazonS3, but it is simpler to store them on your website.

What it means to store something on your website is that you upload your finished PDF to the media library, and give people the unique URL that is generated in an email, so they can click on a link and go right to the PDF, where they will have the option to save it.


Videos will almost always be stored on a video hosting service, like Youtube, or Vimeo, because they take up a lot of bandwidth on your site, and make it run slowly.

When you upload your video to one of these hosting sites, you will be able to get either an embed link that you can put on a web-page, or a URL directly to the video that you can send to your new subscriber.

Email Series

An email series will be set up through your email auto-responder. After they sign up to your list through a sign-up form, your new subscriber will automatically receive emails that you wrote in advance, and are delivered in a specific order on a specific timeline.

Sign Up Forms

As we’ve talked about, when someone is signing up for your mailing list, they are effectively giving you permission to send them emails (so you’re not violating spam laws) – and that form will be created by either your auto-responder, or by a landing page service.

Let’s look at what’s happening behind the scenes for both of these scenarios:

Auto-responder generated sign up form:

When you created a new list with your auto-responder (a list is a collection of people who all signed up for one purpose – like a webinar, a specific opt-in bonus, blog updates, etc.) you probably also created a new sign-up form.

When you create a form to display on a page by itself, in social media, or on a sidebar of your site, you follow the steps indicated by your auto-responder, then copy-paste the code into your website. When you do this, a form appears allowing people to type in their information.

When they do so, the auto-responder takes in the information and either: sends them a request to CONFIRM their registration, or automatically puts them in the “okay to send email to” category, and may send them an email immediately to welcome them to your list.

Landing page service sign up form:

When you use a service that is NOT your auto-responder to collect emails, you must connect it to the auto-responder. There must be an open line of communication between the two pieces of technology – and that line is created by a sign up form from your auto-responder. Yes. Even though you are using a different software, you STILL need to create a sign up form (that no one will see!) on your auto-responder.

The completion of that form, no matter if it is happening through another software is the “trigger” that let’s your auto-responder know that this person wants to receive emails from you.

Most of the landing page softwares work in the same way – when you are creating your page, you indicate during the process which sign up form from your auto-responder you want to be the bridge.

If you’re using a software that is BOTH your auto-responder, and your landing page creator – you do not need to worry about it.

Thank you Pages

You’ve had this experience:

You sign up for an opt-in, and after you hit submit, you’re redirected to a page that says “Thank you! Please check your email!”

That is a “Thank You” page – and they can come in all sorts of shapes and sizes.

“Thank You” pages can be used in a number of different ways: to instruct people on how to confirm that they want the content they just signed up for (more on that below), to ask them to share on social media, to thank them for signing up or to show off more awesome content.

Depending on your technology, you instruct either your auto-responder (when you create your LIST) or your landing page software (when you are building your landing page) what page to direct people to once they have hit the submit button.

Important Note! Double Opt-Ins.

You may have heard, and your auto-responder may recommend to require that people who sign up to your list have to click a confirmation link so that there is an absolutely rock-solid paper trail of permission.

This has pros and cons. On the one hand, your butt will be totally covered if they ever flag a message as spam. A double opt-in is proof that you have permission to send them email. The downside is that pretty often people will START but not finish the opt-in process. If they do NOT click the confirmation link, then they will not receive your emails (or the opt-in that they wanted)

A single opt-in, which theoretically, someone could sign up for on another person’s behalf, is not such solid proof, and you are at slightly more risk of being accused of spam, which can negatively affect your ability to send emails down the line.

OK, let’s review.

Someone sees your opt-in offer, and they decide that they want it.

They fill in their name and email address in an opt-in form which you created using an email-auto-responder, and SHOWED to them either using code FROM the auto-responder, or through a LANDING PAGE software that connects to your auto-responder.

Once they hit submit, they are directed to a thank you page that you identified when you did your setup WHILE your auto-responder sends them either a confirmation link (if you choose double opt-in) or an email containing the opt-in they wanted.

Are you more visual? I made a little flowchart to show off the process. 🙂

You can do this for yourself! Some of my favourite tools for turning strangers to subscribers are Aweber and Leadpages – and  I have a step-by-step tutorial that will take you through the entire process!

FREE Tutorial on Creating an Opt In Funnel

(These instructions originally appeared in an email I sent to the ProsperityQM community!)