Does your sign-up form sell?

Email design is important. Deliverability is very important. But then so is your subject line. And your offer, copy, call to action, timing and targeting approach.

Of course, none of these will make any difference at all if nobody is actually on your email list!

That’s why attention also needs to go to address acquisition processes, including the copy on your lowly sign-up form.

Here’s the main challenge with these forms: YOU know what the prospective subscriber should do and what they can expect if they sign up. But THEY need to be shown or told.

Unfortunately, many marketers write the text on these forms without accounting for the reader’s lack of knowledge about the email program. One of the consequences is a failure to “sell” the sign-up adequately.

A sign-up is a conversion

A sign-up is a conversion event and should be treated as such. Sell the prospect on the benefits of giving you their email address. Think of that address as a payment: what does the subscriber get in return?

In most cases, then, the form needs to offer more than just a “subscription” to a “newsletter” or similar.

Describe the email content (news, articles, promotions, deals, discounts etc.) as a start, but go further.

How will that content impact the subscriber?

Will the emails help them save money? Find a bargain? Stay up-to-date? Improve their skills? Find a new apartment? Gain customers? Lose weight? If so, then say so.

Here at FreshAddress, for example, our website sign-up form invites people to “Stay informed of industry trends and best practices.”

Take care with the language

The words you use to label the actual email program and describe the act of subscribing also matter. They impact both the decision to sign-up and subsequent subscriber expectations.

For example, the following words are all synonyms for getting on an email list:

  • join
  • subscribe to
  • sign-up for
  • register for

Do they all imply the same level of commitment or required effort? Probably not. So test different wording to see how it changes sign-up rates.

[The same principle applies to the submit button next to the email address field: consider testing join, go, submit, subscribe etc. to find a winner.]

And are they signing up to an email alert? Or a newsletter? Or a loyalty club? Or email promotions? Or just an email list?

Each description has different associations. Subscribers might assume an “alert” contains very timely information or offers, while a newsletter is more content rich than an email promotion.

Choose your words with care, otherwise a disconnect between expectation and reality might lead to unnecessary disappointment…even spam reports.

How else might you optimize your opt-in forms? That’s a topic we’ll return to in later posts!

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