How to Create Better Email Opt-In Forms

Today, I bring you a guest post from Diane Vukovic.

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You can have stellar subject lines and interesting content for your email marketing campaign, but it is going to be pointless if you don’t have anyone to send emails to!  That is why the most important part of any successful email marketing campaign is list building.

There are a lot of email marketing tips which generalize list building as something that only involves:

  • Putting signup buttons on all your webpages
  • Offering freebies in exchange for email addresses (read more about this here)
  • Ask subscribers to refer a friend
  • Use eye-catching opt-in forms

While all of these email marketing tips for list building are on point, they are too basic to do you much good.  So, here we will take a deeper look at how to make the most out of your opt-in forms.

Customize Opt-In Forms

If you are going to start an email marketing campaign, you will need email marketing software to help you out.  The software makes it possible to manage all aspects of your campaign, such as by giving you vital metrics so you know which areas need improvement.  A good email marketing software provider should also give you customizable opt-in forms.

You don’t have to be a web designer to make a stunning opt-in form for email marketing. However, you do have to be at least a bit marketing savvy.  Do NOT just use the basic opt-in form.

Instead, customize the opt-in form so it would appeal to your target demographic. For example, if you’ve got an uber serious blog about financial news, then use stark designs with Times New Roman font.  If you’ve got a blog about yoga, then get mother-earthy with your color choices and use a whimsical font like Gabriola.

Give Them a Reason to Subscribe

Even more important than the design of your opt-in form is this: you need to give visitors a reason to subscribe.  This is as simple as adding a single line of text above the email box saying what the benefits are for signing up.

For example:

For special offers available only to our email subscribers, sign up now!

Use Social Signals

Nothing is as powerful as peer pressure when it comes to getting people to take action.  So, why not include some social proof in you opt-in form? Again, this can be very simple to do.  Take a look at how Copyblogger does it in their opt-in form:

Copyblogger email opt-in

Less Information Requested = More Subscribers

The less information you request at sign up, the more subscribers you will get.  So, keep your opt-in forms very simple (name and email address is enough).

But here is the problem: To run an effective email marketing campaign, you should segment subscribers into groups based on their personal characteristics.  Information collected at signup can be very helpful for list segmentation.

Here are two email marketing tips to help you with this problem:

1. First collect the email with a very basic opt-in form.  Once this step is complete, have another form popup which requests additional optional information.  This way, even if the subscriber is put off by the info request, you already have his/her email.

2. Get creative with questions. Instead of opt-in form questions like this:

  • How many cars are in your household?
  • What is your income?
  • M/F?
  • What industry do you work in?

Use opt-in form questions like these:

  • Which phrase best describes you?
  • __ I am nuts for cars!
  • __ I think cars are just for transportation.
  • __ I don’t know much about cars but want to learn more.

Here is why the questions in the second opt-in form are better:

  • It is more interesting so people are more likely to fill it out.
  • It gives you more characteristic information about the subscribers (as opposed to just demographic information).

For example, if someone checked the “I think cars are just for transportation” box, then you could send emails with oil change reminders or tips for saving gas. The people who checked the first option would get a wide range of industry news, such as cool new automobile technology or even articles like “most expensive cars in the world.” Subscribers who checked the last option could get info like DIY car maintenance advice.  You couldn’t do this level of targeting just by asking questions about gender or income.

Do you customize your email marketing opt-in forms? What has worked for you?

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diane vukovicDiane Vukovic is a long-time blogger who tackles online marketing from a humanistic, not algorithmic, approach. When she’s not writing for EmailMarketingServices.org or Local-Internet-Marketing.net, she’s making delicious vegetarian food.

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  • Brandon Randall

    Thanks for the helpful feedback!

    • http://www.flybluekite.com/ Laura Click

      So glad you liked it! Diane did a great job,

  • http://soulati.com/blog Soulati

    Excellent tips and timely content as I’m all about this these days. Thanks, Diane!

    • http://www.flybluekite.com/ Laura Click

      Yes, she did a great job!

  • http://www.nashvilletechfeed.com/ David Beronja

    Good tips!

    An additional suggestion is an example of the actual email. So they can see what they will be receiving.

    If you want to go even further look at the actual design of the form. How you present the elements will affect how they fill it out. A good book I highly suggest is “Web Form Design by Luke Wroblewski” – http://amzn.to/10hn92W

    • http://www.flybluekite.com/ Laura Click

      Great idea, Dave! I think that can definitely be valuable so people know if it’s worth it to sign up or not. Thanks for the book recommendation too!

    • Diane Vukovic

      I’ve actually never seen this done. How do you show someone an example without distracting them from the landing page at hand? Do you know of any marketers who use this strategy to get more signups?

  • tylerclark

    This is great. I would add another:

    Tell potential subscribers what to expect. What type of content will they receive? How often will they receive it? Etc. “Join our monthly email for exclusive offers, industry news and blah blah blah.”

    • http://www.flybluekite.com/ Laura Click

      Totally agree, Tyler. I think people are becoming overburdened by email, so you have to give people a reason to sign up and let them know what they’re getting. Explain why it’s worth their while and that will really help. Great point!

    • Diane Vukovic

      Good point Tyler! It drives me crazy how vague some people are in their sign-up forms. As if I want to flood my inbox without first knowing how I will benefit from the emails!