The holiday shopping season delivers more than sales. An avalanche of new customers just poured through your virtual doors, too. Did you do everything possible to persuade them to give you their precious email addresses so you can stay in touch? Are your email opt-in forms up to snuff?

That’s what two email experts wanted to find out. So, in a recent webinar, FreshAddress Co-Founder and President Austin Bliss and Kath Pay, Founder/CEO of Holistic Email Marketing, discussed how to create persuasive, trust-generating email opt-in forms and then reviewed four forms sent in by webinar listeners.

Read the highlights below if you missed the webinar. Then, use the insights Austin and Kath share to refresh your own email opt-in forms and process to be more welcoming to your new customers.

How to create effective email opt-in forms

It takes both art and science to create effective email opt-in forms. Here’s how to get it right:

First, the art:

 1.) Make it easy and intuitive.

“People tend to gravitate to what’s easy to do online. If they have to do things a couple of times, they’re going to bounce away,” Kath says.

 2.) Be clear, transparent and compelling.

“Being compelling is crucial to your success,” Kath says. “It gives you the opportunity to have a conversation with email, but it will save you money in your acquisition budget.”

“You’re paying for that person to come to your site because of your investment in content marketing, PPC or social media advertising. If you don’t get their permission there and then, you’re going to have to pay again to bring them back.”

 3.) Set expectations, and then deliver on them.

“That’s how you get happy subscribers and happy customers,” Kath says.

4.)  Inspire trust.

“You need those little reassurance statements that say, ‘We value your privacy and won’t share your data,” can seem tiny to you, but they can go a long way to earning your customers’ trust,” Kath says.

 5.) Be visible.

“If you want somebody to perform a task, make it so they can find it,” Kath says. “We want our visitors to fill these forms out, so it’s up to us to make sure they’re visible.”

 6.) Provide an equal value exchange.

“Consumers understand that their data is valuable to marketers, and they’re asking for a fair and equitable exchange,” Kath says. “If you don’t offer that, they won’t come to your party.”

If they’re just subscribing to your newsletter, you can’t expect them to give up much data beyond the email address. A purchase discount or a high-value white paper delivers more value. So, you can ask for more data.

Now, the science:

It’s not just a quest to collect the most addresses. They must also be clean and problem-free

1.) Collect only as much data as you need to start the relationship.

“For something like a birthday, ask yourself, ‘Do I really need it now?’ If you do, tell your customers why you need it,” Austin says.

2.) Analyze and test.

“You can change this form all the time, so you should have A/B or A/B/C testing going on,” Austin says. “Feel comfortable experimenting. If you don’t have ownership of the email opt-in form design, try inserting a testing tool that gives you that ownership.”

 3.) Use email validation.

Catching typos before they go into your database is a must for a good customer experience as well as deliverability.

“If someone is sold on your value exchange, but they make a typo in their email address, they won’t get the $5 coupon they want,” Austin says. “If you don’t notice the typo and help them correct it, they’ll be mad at you because you didn’t send the coupon. This is a strong argument for using a list validation tool.”

 4.) Develop benchmarks, and QA your form completion process.

First, know your usual form completion rate. Then, have a warning system that alerts you if that number plummets. Test your forms often, too. Use a new email address and following the opt-in process all the way through.

“You’d be surprised to find out how often forms go bad,” Austin says.

 5.) Know and comply with laws affecting data privacy and protection.

Know your own country’s laws and those that affect your customers beyond your borders. “Be sure your email opt-in forms are consistent with your own privacy policy and corporate values,” Austin says.

Want to learn more about how to optimize your email opt-in forms? Check out these articles:

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