You want to build your own empire. To do that, you need a whole village.
Online, a village is called an email list, and its size is determined by the number of email addresses in it. The doors to your village are called signup forms and are governed by email opt-in forms best practices. emailLet’s revisit that.
The size of your list is determined by the number of email addresses that you have in it.
But what are email addresses?
Your approach to email marketing will take a complete U-turn when you start seeing email addresses for what they are; real people behind their screens spread throughout the world.
How do people get to your list? How does one become a member of your village?
There are several things that bring people to a village. In the literal sense, it is the productivity of the land, availability, and access to social amenities, safety, liberty to leave as and when they want to, etc.
For someone to join your email list, they need to be assured of things of a similar kind:
- Value to be attained
- Important and relevant alerts
- Safety- from spams
- No difficulty in joining
- Free to leave when and as they wish
If your sign-up form can communicate all these three clearly, then it’s done right.
Use the table of content below to jump to specific sections of the article. I'll cover:
Email Opt-in Best Practices
To build effective newsletter sign up forms, you need to abide by some of the critical sign-up forms best practices:
1. Keep Your Forms Simple and Easy
You are dealing with the audience whose attention span has immensely reduced.
Your email opt-in forms should be very simple.
Only ask for the information that you really need, like name and email address.
The information you require will vary based on your marketing needs and the industry you’re in. You might need to ask for phone addresses especially if you run local events
2. Leverage the Power of Social Proof.
The primary objective of email opt-in forms is to get as many of your readers as possible to subscribe to your list.
Social proof convinces them that they’re in a good company.There are several ways that you can use social proof to build your brand authority and foster trust from your readers.
You can use social proof in your headline by highlighting the number of people already in your email list.
If your opt-in form is big enough, then you can attach a testimonial from a known guru in your industry.
3. Offer an Irresistible Offer
For someone to give you their email address in today’s age, you need to prove to be of value to them.
- No-fluff how-to guide
- An ultimate report
- An eBook
- Video tutorials
- Subscribers-only content library
- Discounts etc.
4. Have a Maximum of 3 Email Opt-in Forms Per Page.
You want to ensure that your readers can see and access your opt-in forms wherever they are on your website. However, you don’t want to do so at the expense of user experience. Two sign up forms are okay, three if necessary.
5. Make compelling Call-to-Actions buttons (CTA)
Your Call to action is a very important element in your sign-up form. It is what leads people into your list, and hence your overall marketing journey. Some of the things that you need to pay close attention to in your CTA buttons are:
- Size: Medium button sizes and even larger are preferred by lead generation experts
- Colour/background. Your button colour is important as it makes it stand out and hence higher viewability and more clicks
- Position: Should you place it on the side of the form content, below form content? You want to position your button in a position where it won’t require anyone filling the form to move their necks to find it.
- Effects: button effects such as borders, background shades, hover backgrounds, etc. are crucial when it comes to conversion
6. Mind your Email Opt-in forms’ button copy.
Your button copy needs to portray a sense of trust, urgency, and actionability. Instead of using generic “subscribe” text, use the following instead
- Learn More
- Download Now
- Instant Access
- Get access
- Start Building
- Join Us
- Get 12 Past Issues
- Become a Legend
- Get Special Offer
- Get Started
- Watch Tutorials
And much more. You want your form to clue the reader/ subscriber what happens next after subscribing (Providing their email addresses)
7. Communicate Expectations and Errors
If your reader makes a mistake, for instance, when entering their email addresses, then you need to provide clear error message for instance “Your email is missing @ sign) By providing clear error messages, you help your readers to fill your form faster. Remember the longer it takes for someone to fill a sign-up form, the higher are the risks of abandonment.
8. Make Them Contextual and Conspicuous
Your opt-in boxes need to stand out so that they are easily spotted.
You don’t want your forms to disappear into your content copy.
Good opt-in forms have backgrounds that contrast those of the content. Most forms will have a dark or light grey background, while others have an image overlay.
9. Split Long forms (Using Multi-Steps Opt-in Forms)
If you are a large company that relies on segmented lists and requires certain extra information apart from name and email, then you can still capture this information using multi-step opt-in forms.
The secret behind this is that once someone has already committed, they are more likely to go through the whole registration process.
The goal thus is to get your readers committing, after that you can ask for more information.
For example, you can display a two-step form. In step one, you only ask for a name and email address with a compelling “Get Started” button.
Upon filling in and clicking on the “Get Started” button, then they are shown step 2 that asks them of more information such as phone number and home address and choice of interests (using a drop-down button)
10. Always ask for Easy Fields First.
A form with lots of fields can be off-putting to your readers. To curb this, you want to ask for simple fields first and progress as you add more fields in order of complexities.
If using multi-step, have simple fields shown on page one, and more complex fields on the next page
11. Promote Your Sign-up form
You’ve created a stunning lead magnet and so you need to get it in front of as many eyeballs as possible.
Display them in strategic areas on your website such as sidebar, footer and button header
12. Make Email Opt-in Forms Mobile-Responsive
Half of the global web traffic comes from mobile phones and tablets. This means that of all the traffic that your website receives over time, half of that comes from mobile devices.
If your email sign-up forms aren’t optimized for mobile then you would be missing nearly half of your prospective leads.
13. Do not use CAPTCHAs
We’re in an era of spam but we shouldn’t punish our readers for effects brought by robots (though typically created by humans)
The point is, CAPTCHAS (Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart) can be annoying to users and sometimes requiring them to enter them several times before getting them right.
This slows down the registration process and eventually, your potential leads end up walking away without opting in.
So what should you do instead? CAPTCHAs Alternatives
Implement the Honepot Technique that uses code to hide a fillable field on your form so that humans don’t see it.
Thus, since it is invisible, you wouldn’t expect a value return. You can then set an automation that marks forms content as Spam if the said field has a value. This is because, while the field is not visible to humans, it is still detected by spambots, and so they fill it. Bots fill all the fields in the form.
This is perhaps the best Captcha alternative since it happens at backend and hence users’ workflow is not interrupted.
14. Tell Your Subscribers What Happens Next.
After opting in to your list, don’t wait until their inbox to start building trust.
Redirect them to a page that shows them what they should do next, or confirm that you have already sent them your freebie. By so doing, you will increase your email confirmation rates.
See how Quicksprout embraces simplicity when it comes to their confirmation page, in a way that the subscriber knows exactly what they should do, and what happens after doing that.
15. Know when to use Drop-downs and Multi-selects
Email segmentation is very important. While giving a guide on blogging, you might be tempted to believe that all those who download it actually want to learn about blogging, while in reality, they downloaded your freebie to only learn SEO, which is a chapter in your book.
By including a simple “I want to learn about…” Dropdown field, you can help your subscribers to self-segment themselves so that they can receive the right content.
In this case, your dropdown could contain options such as SEO, Content Creation, Digital Marketing, Making money blogging, etc.
You can use multi-select instead if you want to allow your subscribers to select more than one interest.
16. Stick to One Column if You Can
Multi-column forms have been known to convert poorly and decrease user experience. Only 13% of websites actually use multi-column forms. This thus says a lot.
Multi-column forms are subject to misinterpretation and slows down the form filling process as one struggles to move their eyes left and right as well as the cursor.
Email Opt-in forms are not usually long, so displaying them as one column shouldn’t be an issue.
17. Inject Brand Personality into Your Email Opt-in Forms
By injecting your brand personality into your sign up forms, you foster trust, credibility, and trust. You can do this in several ways:
- Brand voice: write your sign up form copy in your brand voice. If you love humour, then incorporate that tactfully in your headline and description copy
- Using Company Figures: Show a face of yourself/ CEO that regularly shows up on your website. Since this face is well known, it will inject personality to the registration process
- Add team photos/brand graphics etc.
18. Choose the right Email Opt-in Forms Type
Email opt-in forms come in different types. You want to choose the right sign up form for different pages of your website.
Types of Email Opt-in forms
- On-click pop-up forms are good since they are not intrusive. They are only triggered when someone clicks on a signup button link. Plus, popups generally do not interrupt the user’s reading experience as they can easily close and continue from where they were, unlike links that load the signup page.
- Ribbon form types are less intrusive yet very effective. It’s more like a notification bar that appears on top of the header and you can enable close button so that readers have the option to close. Ribbon forms can either show fields or a button that directs the user to the offer page or even trigger a popup
- Timed popups are not as annoying as many people think. They work. You only want to show popup form once per user per day. Do not be aggressive when it comes to popups, you’ll annoy your readers, something you should strive not to intentionally do so.
- Screen filler is a type of popup that covers the entire screen and hence ensuring that the readers fully see it. You may want to A/B test this type of sign up form against the normal Lightbox pop-up to find out which is more effective for your website.
- In-line opt-in forms work well with content. You can choose to show in-line email opt-in forms in the just at the end of the content, before content or inside the content usually through shortcodes or using the Ad Inserter plugin
- Slide-In Popups are types of pop-up opt-in forms that show up as one scroll down the web page. They slide in from the sides and only cover a smaller area unlike lightboxes.
- Exit-intent popups only show up when the user shows clues that they are about to leave the website. They are good at capturing users who have been passively exploring your website. What works well with exit-intent sign up forms are exclusive offers, discounts, etc.
19. Comply With EU GDPR Standards
If you think about GDPR, there are probably many rules to it, but it all boils down to one thing: permission-based.
To comply with GDPR, you need to ask your potential subscribers to consent to receive your content via their email address
You need to integrate your forms with an email marketing platform that is GDPR compliant. ConvertKit makes it easy for you to do things such as data processing agreement and data forgetting processing
20. Test and Optimize Your Email Sign-up forms
Implementing email opt-in forms best practices can’t be complete without this critical practice.
After you’ve been running sign up forms for some time, you want o dig in, scrutinize data and see what is working for your audience and what isn’t.
Remember, if you torture data long enough, it will confess.
There are several tools that can help you A/B test some elements of your email opt-in forms.
If you are using Thrive leads, then make use of their A/B testing tool.
What are some of the elements of a sign-up form that you need to test?
- Your headline copy
- Your sign up form description
- Image/lack of
- Call to action copy