How to Optimize your email opt-in form

email opt-in form

The holidays do more than ring your cash registers constantly – they also can be a rich vein of new subscribers made up of shoppers who are either coming to your site and converting for the first time or visiting you again after previous holiday seasons.

These shoppers are highly motivated, interested and engaged. Capitalizing on that energy can keep them coming back to your site often than once a year.

Your focus, naturally, is on converting your visitors into paying customers. But, while you’re at it, make it enticing to join your email list with compelling value and easy-to-use sign-up forms.

  • If you haven’t updated your email opt-in form in a year or longer, now is a good time to tune up and test-drive your opt-in process.
  • Use the first few weeks of the all-important fourth quarter to test and learn what works.

1. Remake your email opt-in form for mobile.

We still see way too many email opt-in forms designed for navigation by tab key or mouse instead of the finger. Here’s how can you capture more of your mobile customers (and, by extension, make opting in even easier for your desktop/laptop shoppers). Bonus: Each tip comes with something to test to see what works best for your brand and site:

  • Start with the email address and ask for more later. Full name, city, preferences and ZIP code are a lot to ask of anybody, especially someone on a smartphone. Test question: Does asking for a first name help or hinder opting in?
  • Get noticed quickly. Use an icon to call attention to your email field. Don’t lever it in at the bottom of your homepage with the rest of your contact data. Test question: Which locations yield the most opt-ins?
  • Communicate value. Don’t just ask for an email. Answer the “what’s in it for me?” question in terms your customers will appreciate.

2. Add an interactive email opt-in form – carefully.

You’ve seen them everywhere – an email opt-in form that launches as soon as you hit a website, or the instant you move your cursor to close a page. They’re called pop-overs, popunders, modal windows and interstitials, among other terms.

They’re better than old-style pop-ups, which most browsers block, because they are part of the web page, not a separate page. But they get your attention because they interrupt what you’re doing.

These tips can help you collect more valid emails and reduce the annoyance factor:

  • Find the best time to serve the form. Format your form to launch a certain number of seconds after arrival or when the page detects movement to exit. Test question: What’s the optimal point to collect the most valid opt-ins?
  • Don’t force people to respond. This happens when a form blocks access to the entire page or requires visitors to click a button (either an opt-in or a “no thanks” button) to make it go away. It’s a common B2B tactic (show us the test results on that, please). We can’t imagine time-pressed shoppers would welcome a progress-blocker like this.
  • Use the space in the form to sell the program. Add artwork and a well-chosen value statement to sell your email program.

This “formus interruptus” is attention-getting, but is it effective? A 2016 consumer study by email service provider Adestra suggests that annoying subscribers with can backfire.

In the study, 57% of respondents said they would do something else besides give up a real email address. Leading contenders for alternative behavior included leaving the site (39%), giving an old email address (12%) or giving a fake one (5%).

These concerns shouldn’t stop you from trying an interstitial, especially on mobile. It’s easier to find than a simple opt-in field and gives you space to brand and promote the value of opting in.

3. Validate, validate, validate.

No matter which form you use – pop-over, static, multiple locations – add code to validate the email address in real time to reduce your exposure to misspelled, malformed, phony or outdated email addresses. Even double opt-in isn’t enough to keep potential harmful addresses out of your database, and it won’t correct inadvertent mistakes.

Next steps

These three tips will help you persuade more shoppers to sign up for your emails. That, of course, is just the start. Keep watching the blog for tips on how to keep your subscribers engaged with your emails after the holiday madness subsides.