Make Your Sign-up Form Pop!


Growing you email list is a survival technique. About one third of your list will become inactive each year. So you better start promoting it! The great thing is that building a larger, engaged list of subscribers is also a way to get better results from your email marketing and increase your email marketing ROI. Last time I gave five tips for growing your email list from your own website. But how do you make your subscription offer stand out?


Use eye-popping contrast

Make sure your sign up gets enough attention. How? By using a stand out format and contrasting colors. Just like an email newsletter, contrast draws attention to the subscription box. So for instance, if the base color of your whole site is blue, make the sign-up box orange. For added effect, use a contrasting “Submit” button color.  If the sign-up box is placed on a blog, make it stand out among other elements (like advertisements) that are placed close to it.




Make a separate sign-up page

Most blogs and sites that have a sign up box on their site don’t have a separate sign-up page. A giant missed opportunity! A separate sign-up page makes it easy to link and promote your subscription in other channels and social media. For instance when using twitter to grow your email list, you might want to tweet that your newsletter is sent tomorrow. A tweet is too short to include “And look at the bottom of the page for the signup form”.


High-traffic pages deserve special attention

You probably have them, one or two pages that attract much more traffic than others. For instance, a page with a popular email marketing blog post, a category page where all your articles on a given topic come together or a page with discounted products. These deserve extra attention. Insert a link inside the page text. Or highlight a context-appropriate subscription reason (discount on your next purchase on a sales page).

Of course if you create different subscription boxes and rotate them on the site, they will, after a while, show which one has given the largest number of subscriptions.


Direct the eye to your subscription form

Bryan Eisenberg, the author of the optimization book Always Be Testing, knows what a converting sign-up box should look like. And as a conversion specialist he knows the power of email marketing. (thank god!). So his own site is designed to get the visitors converted into subscribers. Can you tell which trick(s) and techniques he uses with his sign up?


Another great example of “the power of looking at your form” can be found in the Obama email campaign where they used it on almost all of his opt-in pages.


Make it stand out – use a non-regular format

You might say that the web is ruled by conventions. We expect the website navigation to be at the top or left, we expect clicking on the logo to bring you to the home page. We expect a lot of things.

Same goes for subscription forms and boxes. By that definition, you wouldn’t want to get too creative with the way your forms work. But in grabbing attention, unconventional or custom formats can work perfectly. Yoast does a good job by adding his signature cartoon to the subscription box. I myself, do a terrible job on my site. 🙂




Quality content matters

That brings me to the last point, if you are offering mhèh content, it will make it a lot harder for you to gain new subscribers. If people know you or your company has something interesting to say, they will be eager to sign up. I have seen large sites spend a lot on SEA to get new people to their site and then lose them because of…. well… they didn’t pay attention to content quality, that isn’t just the way to lose your current signups but it will also make it harder to get new ones in!


So, are you making your sign-up forms pop?

  • Jim_Ducharme

    Great post Jordie!

    Every element of your marketing campaign has to be tested and optimized. This includes yoru sign-up forms! Your point about contrasting colours and using unique approaches is right on. You have to make it clear to people what you want them to do.

    Should you ask for more than just the name and email address? Some people tout that as valuable data, but wouldn’t that make it just that much more work for people to sign-up?


  • You can disagree with me, but I like to ask as much as I can.

    Provided that the company does know how to directly use that data.

    Can you imagine that you sign up for a newsletter from a car brand and they don’t ask you:
    * if you are already driving their brand?
    * if you are looking for a car right now.

    Hellloooooo! Now that is valuable info.

    Can anybody give me one great reason why not to ask those crucial questions?

  • Great article Jordie!

    I am in the camp of progressive profiling when it comes to building up a user profile. To me, it is less intrusive to ask for a few basics first (name, email) and then over time as they engage more with your content you ask for additional info to build out their profile.

    While I know that it is not always possible to only have name and email on forms for various reasons, I like to keep it as minimal as possible when I can.

    Of course, like anything related to digital marketing, always test to find out what works best for each situation 🙂

  • Pete Austin

    @Jim Re: “Every element of your marketing campaign has to be tested and optimized. This includes yoru sign-up forms!”

    LOL! Spot the lack of testing. I’m guessing you didn’t optimize that comment either.

  • Pete Austin

    Any large car company probably already knows whether you’ve bought a car from one of their dealers recently, whether you’ve been looking at their brand of cars online, and a lot more besides.

  • Hi Pete, thanks for your comment.

    They might know some details from some of the sign ups, provided the customer database and dealer database was linked to the email database. But that’s usually not the case and from the majority they don’t know anything. next to that, there is a huge used car segment, not bought via the
    brand dealers.

    We did a research on email marketing in automotive in the Netherlands last year. It wasn’t pretty.

  • That is a good addition Chris, thanks.

    Progressive profiling is great, ask more once you have a longer relationship with your subscribers. Although you probably wont get 100% of the subscribers to take those steps.

    What would you do to encourage them to add extra info?

  • Jim_Ducharme

    Hi Peter!

    That word and I just don’t get along! LOL Thanks for the catch!


  • Jim_Ducharme

    I wouldn’t argue how valuable that data is Jordie. It’s just that the main argument i sometimes hear against more complex opt-in forms is that people won’t bother to complete the process because there are too many questions.


  • There is a difference between asking information and overasking. The second one makes people go away.