How to Add Freebie to Entice Signups to Your Email List {Demo with Mailerlite}

The Incentive

Content Creators need Email Marketing, but it is hard to get new people onto your list! If you’re looking to increase signups for your email marketing campaign, offering a freebie or optin incentive could be the way to go.

A freebie (downloadable or printable) is an easy way to draw people into your email list. Plus, it can also help you build trust with potential customers and nurture relationships with existing ones. By providing a valuable offer in exchange for their email address, you can incentivize users to share their details with you.

That is the key though – the incentive has to be valuable. And only valuable to the right audience or you’ll have a ton of unsubscribes.

This article will outline the steps for adding an optin incentive to your website and deliver it only after you have received a valid email address.

You’ll learn how to use mailerlite to create the forms, groups, and automations to deliver the incentive/freebie. If you’re not using mailerlite the steps are similar for other programs.

The Checklist: How to Deliver Incentive after Signup

Time needed: 45 minutes.

Follow these steps to easily add a new signup form to your WordPress site. From the form, you can collect emails and send a unique opt-in incentive. We are using Mailerlite in our example although most email marketing providers follow a similar process.

  1. Create a New Page in WordPress

    This is the page that will offer the optin incentive. You will want to give this an intriguing name and add copy that will sell this valuable download to your readers.

    This is the page that will be advertised everywhere so users can signup.

  2. Upload your Optin Incentive to a Doc Host like Dropbox

    Choose any host you like but be sure the permissions allow anonymous users to download it. Copy the link to your Optin Incentive. Save this link for later.

  3. Create a New Form in Mailerlite

    Create a new Group and a new Form. Within the settings for the new Form, make sure all users are added to the New Group you created. Now you can target this group with an automation.

  4. Copy the Form HTML and Paste into WordPress Page from Step 1

    If you do not have a form plugin installed, then copy the form “HTML Code” and paste into the html block on your new page from Step 1. Update the page to save as draft.

  5. Create a New Automation in Mailerlite.

    Trigger for this automation is “Completes a Form” and select the New Form you just created in step 3. The steps for this automation are 1) send an email and 2) copy to the default group.
    After you have created the automation, edit the “email”. Be sure to add a button or link to download the opt-in incentive. This is where you’ll paste the link that you copied in step 3.

    When the email is finished, return to the Form page and ‘activate’ the automation.

  6. Activate the New Signup!

    When the email is tested and delivering the optin incentive, and when the sales page is just the way you like it, Publish the page to start the sequence.

    When a reader enters their details into the form, they will receive the automation email and be added to your default list.

    Be sure to publish this link for the new freebie in all your social media bios!

Step by Step Guide with Screenshots

Step 1: Create Opt-in Page in WordPress

This is the page that you can link to from social media. For our example, we will call it, “50 Ways to Kickstart Your Email List in 2023”. The link for this page is:

The trick to getting new signups is to create something they really want so give your page an intriguing name.

You will want to advertise this page on:

  • social media profiles
  • Pinterest Idea Pins and IG story with link stickers
  • email signature
  • feature it in a blog post
  • and the latest newsletter (encourage sharing of the newsletter)
  • get friends to mention it in their blogs or newsletters or social profiles

Create the Freebie & Upload it

You’ll need to create a freebie that is actually valuable. Think: What would I willingly sign up for? We’ll create a pdf with 50 Ways to Kickstart Email in 2023.

You can also hire someone to create the digital item for you on Upwork, Freelancer, Fiverr, Etsy or Creative market.

Next you’ll want to upload the freebie to your Dropbox account (or amazon storage if you have it). It doesn’t matter which storage host you pick. Copy the link. (Check permissions to allow anonymous users to download the file.) This is the link that we will need later on.

Create a New Form in Mailerlite

In the new Mailerlite platform, (not classic) you’ll see the sidebar on the left – click on Forms.

Click Create Form button > Embedded Forms. Give your form a name: [Kickstart Email 2023] – a good idea is to give it the name of the incentive and date so you know what that person signed up for on your website. You can target them with an email campaign later if you wish.

Create Form in Mailerlite New

Name the form “Kickstart Email 2023” but… um… use your optin’s title.

Click “embedded form”. Click “Save and Continue”.

Name and Select “Embedded Form” in Mailerlite

Next you are going to select the group for your signups. Anyone who signs up for your valuable optin will be added into this group.

You will need to create a new group for this form. Anytime you are going to send a new opt-in incentive, you need a new group. This will allow you to target these readers specifically. (which is marketing gold, by the way!)

Click the green “Add New Group”.

I recommend that you stay with the theme and name it, “Kickstart Email 2023” (add the date in case you use a similar freebie in a year’s time). Click “Save” or return on your keyboard.

This screen will open. Check to be sure your new group is selected. Then click “Continue”

Now you have a blank form, that will add everyone who signs up, to the group “Kickstart Email 2023”.

Next let’s style that form and add it to the new page in WordPress (the page we titled, “50 Ways to Kickstart Your Email List in 2023”). This is how to do that.

  1. Select Default form

In order to let your theme create the styles, we’ll remove all styles from your form if possible. In Mailchimp this is called the “Naked Form”. This is the fastest way to get the signup form to match your site. Any styles that are in your theme will then take over the signup form.

For Mailerlite, select “Default” for the design type. Change the background colors and fonts to resemble the Opt-in Page. Then switch to Settings tab.

  1. Change settings of form

In the settings tab, the only one that we need is the captcha to prevent bot signups. You will also need another antispam plugin (or two).

Save the form, and you will see the screen to confirm and copy the code.

  1. Copy the HTML code

Confirm that the title of the form and group are matching. Then go to the HTML tab to copy your signup code. This is the code that you will add to your Optin Page. (note: this is for the html signup code. You do not need this step if you are using a plugin for your forms)

  1. Paste the code into the Optin Page

At this stage, we have completed:

  • an Optin Page
  • a new form and group added to Mailerlite
  • the form html added to the Optin Page

Now let’s create an email to deliver the optin incentive to the subscriber. At this point you can initiate a sequence of welcome emails that will nurture the subscriber even further and keep them subscribed. Alternately one email will do the trick too.

Create Automation to Deliver the Incentive

Automations (aka workflows, auto-responders) work as little programs that will fire every time someone completes the form. If an already existing subscriber completes the form – that is ok (even good!) – they should get the freebie too. We want all those who complete the form to go through this sequence. We want them to get the freebie. Every automation in any email program consists of:

  • a trigger event, ie: submit a form
  • an action item ie: send an email
  • other actions, optional

Go back to the Embedded form you created. Click on the “Automation” tab at the top. We are going to create your first automation.

If you did this correctly, the Trigger for the automation should already be complete for you. It should look like this:

Trigger: when a subscriber completes a form
Which form: “Kickoff Email 2023”

The action for this automation is to send an email. So click the ‘plus’ sign below the trigger and click on ’email’.

Edit the name (internal use), the subject line and save. UTM tags are very helpful for GA4 tracking.

After you click ‘save’, click “Design Email” button or the “Define Email Content” on the workflow graph.

Create the Delivery Email / Sequence

Note – the delivery email is not the same as the confirmation email, if you enabled Double Opt-in per CAN SPAM rules. So after a user confirms their email, then they are considered ‘completed the form’. And the automation/workflow begins.

The email should confirm that it is really you – that they are in the right spot and get to the point quickly to deliver the promised goodies. You deliver the freebie, by linking to it within the body of your email. Create a button or link and then paste the dropbox link that you copied in step 2.

Click save / update to return to the Automation builder screen.

Click the plus one more time and add an action. After the email has sent, we will add them to the regular newsletter group. At this time they are in the Kickstart- Email – 2023 group. Let’s leave them there and copy them to the Default group.

Select the Default group. Click Save to go back to the automation screen. It should look like this (with a Trigger, email, action). If that is done, then click “Go Back”.

To turn “on” your Incentive Delivery

Make sure that the automation in Mailerlite is ‘activated’. And then publish your page. Test the signup form with a real email address to check delivery.

Don’t forget to test the download link.

Then publish the page in WordPress. Then it is time to start advertising the new freebie that you have for your readers!


Next time you create a freebie for your audience, the process is a LOT simpler. All you’ll have to do is ‘duplicate’ the page, form, group and automation. Change out the content and names of everything. And voila! You have a complete system for adding subscriber incentives.

  • the page to ‘sell’ the optin is done and published
  • the signup form on the page is tested
  • the form and group are named appropriately in mailerlite
  • the email automation is started (from your test on the form)
  • the download link in the email works
  • the test user was added to the default group
  • the email automation is ‘active’
  • the WordPress page is published
  • the redirect, if using, is created

Now you need to get that link to as many people as possible! Good luck!