Subscription Form Best Practices Part 1

Subscription Form Best Practices Part 1


Part One: Convincing Content

Email updates are a way for companies to start building relationships with new leads. They’re the first step toward greater brand awareness and more sales. But before you can send emails, you need a sign-up form to gain recipients. So how can you, as a marketer, design a form that stands out without annoying your site visitors? It’s all about knowing your audience and targeting their needs.

Before you add a form to your website and start crafting emails, we’ll walk you through some best practices. Next week, we’ll release Part Two on form placement, but today, we’re talking content.

Intriguing CTA

Boring old calls to action (CTAs) like “submit” and “sign up” might seem to get the job done, but I know you can do better. Reinforce why someone should sign up for your emails with an intriguing, “send deals to my inbox” or “get exclusive updates.” Want to update consumers on new products, sales, or events? You might try “catch up with us” or “join our weekly updates.” See how much more engaging CTAs can be?

“Submit” and “sign up” actually sound taxing, like it’s asking consumers to send private information away for something very un-fun. If you’re doing email marketing right, signing up for emails should be fun! Remind people that they’ll receive a well-designed, informative email delivered once in a while, not some flashy, annoying spam to clutter their inbox.

Reassuring Copy

The best sign-up copy reminds site visitors that you won’t abuse their private information and they can easily unsubscribe if the emails don’t interest them. Again, you want to remind them that emails from you will be relevant and sent in moderation.

Check out this lightbox (a form that pops up on websites while you’re browsing) that Emma shared from The Mazama Store. It’s friendly, reassuring copy targets consumers’ reservations about email sign-ups. They even throw in a fun “scouts honor!” at the end, which is a nice nod toward their store’s theme.

Another great thing about this lightbox is the two ways to close out of it: the “X” at the top and “Maybe Next Time” at the bottom. This helps consumers feel less pressured and allows uninterested shoppers to simply opt out. If only Mazama marketers had saved some of their creativity for the CTA!

Something in Return

An effective way to get more people to subscribe to your emails is to offer them something in return. Just last week I signed up for Tropical Smoothie Café’s Tropical Email Club simply for the welcome coupon. The offer doesn’t have to be a free product or discount coupon; it could be a video, e-book, or just some helpful tips. Find out what your site visitors may be interested in and design email forms to reflect their needs.

For example, let’s say Joy runs a fruit stand and is looking to increase her brand awareness. When Joy invites website visitors to sign up for her emails, she might try advertising special recipes to make with her fruits. Imagine a lightbox popping up with an image of a delicious blueberry pie and copy inviting consumers to give their email in return for an easy step-by-step recipe from Joy herself. Now that’s a form I’d be excited to fill out.

The initial offer gets consumers engaged and willing to give you their email address. As long as you keep subsequent emails on track with their interests and relatively short, they’ll likely stick around!

Short Forms

Long forms deter your audience from signing up for anything. Luckily for an email campaign, all you really need from them is their email address. It’s a good idea to also ask for first and last name (for email personalization) and birth date (for birthday messages or rewards).

The exception for short forms comes when you want to further personalize emails. People appreciate messages that are tailored to their interests. Ask for more information to help focus your emails and they’ll likely be happy to give it to you. You can try asking in the initial sign-up form, or in the confirmation email. REI Co-Op included the copy below in their welcome email to ask for more information. Note their word choice and focus on creating a better experience for the user.


Sign-up Confirmation

One of the most important things to remember when creating email sign-up forms is the confirmation email. If it takes any more than five minutes to receive a confirmation email once a consumer has submitted their information, they’ll start wondering if it even worked. A simple thank-you that forecasts what consumers can expect from your emails will do—just make it timely!

By intriguing your audience with catchy CTAs, comforting copy, and an exclusive offer, you are setting the foundation for a strong consumer/brand relationship. Follow up with a confirmation email and short, relevant content, and you’re sure to keep your audience engaged.

Plan the location of these forms that will capture the most subscribers with help from “Part Two: Prime Placement."

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