The Biggest Email Sign-up Misconceptions

You obviously need an email signup option on the home page of your website. But if you think that’s enough, you’re wrong. There is a lot more to explore. I have written about increasing sign-ups base and will do it again, because it is such an important part of email marketing. But often companies leave money on the table by not using their sign up potential, so what are some of the biggest sign-up misconceptions?


You don’t need a sign-up page

No matter what you’ve heard, an email sign-up page is crucial. It is a misconception that you won’t need one as long as you have a sign-up box somewhere in your sidebar or footer. A separate sign-up page makes it possible to directly link to it from other places, like your social media channels. Think of it as a sign-up landing page.


We can’t be smarter

Many websites are now using lightboxes for email sign-up. These “pop-ups” appear upon arrival at the site’s home page. However, they typically only ask for an email address for sign-up. This example from Astley Clarke is a bit smarter and already captures gender information upon subscribing:




What i like about this pop-in is that the headline gives the visitor a hint of what’s to come: LUXURY ESCAPISM. Sounds great.


After “we got ‘em”, we’re done

Think about the whole process of subscribing. Once the email sign-up is complete, you should take the subscriber to a confirmation page. Here’s a chance to offer some promotional content and keep the subscriber on your site. Astley Clarke immediately offers a 10% discount on the first order, and includes links to its Facebook and Twitter pages.

The imagery on this confirmation page is interesting, I had to look twice, but it is a rainbow of jewelry. Anyway, it looks great, too bad it draws in all the attention from the page.




A confirmation email that’s ONLY a confirmation is again a wasted opportunity. If you’re going to send a confirmation email, make it an amazing  welcome email one of my favorite event driven emails. Show a little of your brand’s personality… and make the new subscriber feel truly welcome.

Astley Clark’s confirmation email comes across as a personal message, thanks to both visuals and copy. And, in case you missed the 10 percent offer on the confirmation page,  they follow up with this confirmation email:




Now that we know you, we still don’t know anything

With only a simple signup, anyone can enter an email address and automatically be added to your email list. Who is that person? One of the first misconceptions is that you will never know anything if you don’t ask. 

But once your new subscriber starts interacting with your emails, clicking on their favorite topics or products or even making purchases on your site, you’ll have solid clues as to their interests and preferences. Use that data, for instance to send upsell emails on products they already bought or highlighting categories they have shown interest in. 


Social media doesn’t work

It is said that when people subscribe by themselves on your website, they are the most responsive and prone to buy. But nowadays, your website is no longer the only outpost of your brand, you can also use all your social media channels to encourage email signups. It is a way to play with and even cash in on your social currency.

A while ago Twitter announced that it’s now possible to add sign-up functionality within tweets:




Again, a word of caution: If an email address is all you capture initially, be sure to follow up with an email seeking additional information.

You don’t have to be a big business to show you’re email marketing savvy. Even mommy CEOs like Kelly Lester of Easy Lunchboxes know where the sign-up magic happens. She uses Facebook to build her email list, the image in the header is a bit too happy and role-model confirming for my taste, but she does include an option for newsletter sign-up on her Facebook page.




Her email sign-up page on Facebook is colorful, but certainly inviting:




And, while I’d have preferred a more seamless transaction, this takes me to her website, where I’m asked to give both my email address and first name – giving me the impression that I’ll receive personalized emails.




By the way, it also works the other way around. You can also use email to grow fans and followers.

The point is that you should want more than to just capture email addresses. You want to get to know your subscribers, their interests and preferences. Only then will you be able to effectively market to them.


What have you been doing to capture email addresses? Please share your comments and questions below.

  • Jim_Ducharme

    Good post Jordie! I like your point about “now that we got em we’re done.” We still have a ways to go in educating marketers to move away from the old style “batch and blast” mentality of traditional media and towards relationship marketing. Think of that subscription (sign up) as the first hello before even the first date — they’ve given you their number, now take them someplace nice. :)


  • Maricor Marcellones

    Great post! But what do you think about the concept on “less clicks and steps are what customers & subscribers want”. This has been a debate on our team. For me, I’d like to follow the normal process of the opt-in

    1.) sign-up

    2.) thank you page informing about confirmation link and some links to landing pages and social sites

    3.) email with the confirmation link

    4.) confirmed subscription page with other call to action (freebies and stuffs)

    While some people on our team, would only want a sign-up with no confirmation link on the email, the end, just the email informing the subscriber that she/he is already subscribed.

    Which one is best? Would really appreciate your feedback. Thanks! :)

  • Dave Hendricks

    Great post Jordie. The best place to get signups is not on Twitter or via search, but rather in newsletters. Other people’s newsletters. We have tremendous success building lists for brands by running ads in newsletters.

    If you are looking for an email signup, of course your site is the first place to start. But if they haven’t visited your site, how do they know about your company?

    By acquiring new subscribers through ads in newsletters, you are already acquiring a subscriber who is 1) an email opener and 2) someone who clicks on ads in email. Those are the two things you want most in a new subscriber.

    Search subscribers are cheaper, but they are also lower quality.

  • Kelly Lester

    Thanks so much for sharing my page with your readers and featuring my sign up process! So appreciate it Jordie!

  • Jordie van Rijn

    Thanks for the addition Dave. Can you share some examples of these successes?

    It reminds me, sometimes you see a sign up for this
    newsletter link in a emailing. Strange? Not really, because that is actually
    not for the initial recipient but in case they forwarded the email or shared it
    on social. A friend of a friend so to speak, they are often high quality
    subscribers too.

  • Jordie van Rijn

    And thanks for coming around and posting a comment Kelly! It shows you are monitoring on social and the web too. Did you happen to change something to your signup over the course of time?

    For anyone looking to see the actual Facebook page: (sorry i didn’t include this in the original post).

  • Jordie van Rijn

    What is best (double or single opt-in) depends on your situation. If you see a lot of people not clicking the confirmation link, that kind drop off can be kind of disappointing. I would say, try to get everyone to open your first email, link or not. An amazing welcome email (series) can definitely help. As can a small incentive.

    What is your company / sign up page? I’d love to take a look.

  • Jordie van Rijn

    I love the analogy Jim. But I am not sure your wife would like you to date all the newsletter subscribers. Unless you are stating a newsletter for a dating service :)

    The trick might is to find out where they would like to go on that first date … and also not to wait a month before going out.

    Who do you think do a good job of relationship marketing Jim? (besides your wife)

  • Pete Austin

    Why is it “smart” to ask for gender on signup? If this issue matters to you, it will already be a fundamental part of your ecommerce site navigation, so let your real-time marketing system automatically load the information to to your ESP.

  • Jordie van Rijn

    Hi Pete, thanks for your comment.

    I am wondering how many sites do you think have that kind of system and process in place at the moment?

    Many sites do have better results through targeting on gender, while they don’t have the navigation on the site. Dave Chaffey mentions a classical example in his book from 2003: A pizzeria that offers hot ‘n spicy to the guys and healthy and natural to the girls. Or how about a promotion for a “special guys shopping night, fathers day promotion or any other by a hardware store?”.

    Sometimes you just need to make double sure, because gift buying is also a sizable portion of shopping behaviour. Although i don’t understand why, I heard a lot of guys sign up for Victoria’s Secret newsletter….

  • Jim_Ducharme

    Gee Jordie, I don’t want to put anyone on a pedestal here except my wife :).


  • Jordie van Rijn

    I actually meant companies :) What do you think is a good example of a company that moved away from the old style “batch and blast” mentality and towards relationship marketing

  • Kelly Lester

    I think you mean my newsletter sign up tab on FB was not in the same place as showing on your screen shot? Yea – I had a giveaway tab up for a bit, so it was still there, but just in a different place. But I’ve just put it back to how your screen shot shows it.
    Thanks for the heads up Jordie. Sorry if there was any confusion :)

  • Dave Hendricks

    Here’s a great case study on Marketing Sherpa. LiveIntent is the email ad exchange that is mentioned (there is no other).

    It would rarely make sense to have signups for your own newsletter in your own newsletter…here’s why:

    You send 1,000,000 newsletters
    You get 150,000 opens (15%)
    You get 750 forwards (.5%)
    They get 375 opens because friends trust your messages
    You get maybe 10 (3%) new subscribers – I bet this is high
    How sustainable is this?

    How much is that worth? What is a subscriber worth to you? If your subscriber is worth $5 a year, you just created $50 of value. And this will diminish over time since forwarding might happen with the same people over and over. NOt sure.

    Compare that to running an ad for someone else’s product or newsletter In that same spot. Say an ad paying you $3 cpm on view. That’s in the middle of the range, btw.

    That would have netted you $450. Everytime you send. And you would not need them to 1) click or 2) forward on the ad. If they clicked, it would pay even more.

  • Jordie van Rijn

    Hi Dave, thanks for the link to marketingSherpa study, i’ll be sure to have a look.

  • Maricor Marcellones

    My concern primarily focuses on our blog, since we also have signup for our tool. Here is the blog:

    Thank you very much. :)

  • Jordie van Rijn

    Hi Maricor

    Nice sidebar there, very prominent! If you don’t see a lot of false sign ups, which I don’t expect, This looks like a single opt-in situation.

    Do have a second look at your thank you page though. I spotted some spelling mistakes and it can use an even more powerful
    CTA. Something like: “Please check your mailbox and confirm your subscription.”

  • Maricor Marcellones

    Thanks Jordie!

    Probably overlooked that. We’re new to handling email marketing, as we’re more focused on web content. This write up is great and you are awesome! Thanks for the help. :)

  • Ava Cristi

    Great article Jordie! Email marketing is definitely something I need to brush up on and this post has provided some much needed clarification on a lot of myths I was already unsure about.