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Blog / Marketing tips / 10 Tips for Creating Effective Email Signup Forms

Marketing tips

10 Email Signup Form Hacks to Double Your Subscriber List

10 Email Signup Form Hacks to Double Your Subscriber List
Ana Llorente

By Ana Llorente

11 min read

If this isn’t your first day on the web, you’ve probably heard that email is the mightiest channel for keeping a strong connection with your audience.

There are many impressive numbers that prove it. First of all, email marketing boasts the highest ROI of 4400% with $44 return for every $1 spent. Second, 80% of retail businesses indicate that email is their biggest driver of customer retention.

You may be new to email marketing and just gathering the first subscribers for your online store. Maybe you have an old list that’s not performing well and you feel it needs refreshing. Or maybe you have a signup form that isn’t showing the results you were expecting.

Here’s what you SHOULD be expecting.

We live in times of the shortest human attention span ever. These days it’s a challenge to compete for even a few seconds of our prospect’s attention, not even talking about getting their email addresses or other personal information.

It’s no wonder that the average email opt-in rate is only 1.95%. And only the top 10% marketers boast a 4.77% average opt-in rate. In other words, you’re very lucky if 5 out of 100 visitors who land on your website give you their email.

To get those emails pouring in, your signup form has to stand out from the crowd.

Don’t worry – you’ve come to the right place. Each of these 10 signup form hacks is guaranteed to generate a steady flow of new opt-ins for your online store.

Roll out the red carpet for your new email subscribers!

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1. Give them a carrot a.k.a. a lead magnet

These days email is an asset – a piece of valuable information you can trade for something you want or need. Sometimes we forget that this trade is the reason behind every signup.

Therefore, if you want to acquire the visitor’s email address, you need to give something valuable in return.

A lead magnet is a strategic approach – as the name suggests, your email subscriber becomes a lead that is much more likely to purchase one of your products than just a random visitor you cannot influence with email.

What can serve as a lead magnet for an online store?

  • Discount or money-off coupon. 70% of subscribers open marketing emails in search of a discount or a special deal. If your signup form promises this, your chances of attracting a new prospect are much higher.
  • Valuable e-books, cheat sheets, gift guides, etc. What kind of content would interest your target audience? For example, if you sell wall posters, why not prepare a guide with advice for home interior design and wall decorations?
  • Webinars (e.g., a fashion or interior design webinar). Depending on what you sell and what’s your area of expertise, you can educate your audience while strengthening your bond with it.
  • Free shipping is also a powerful incentive for many people to sign up and make their first purchase.
  • Access to early bird sale. If you already have a highly demanded brand or giving discounts just isn’t your thing, promise your subscribers early access to your next sale.
  • Exciting or fun quizzes, surveys. An original way to get new email addresses without giving discounts. Before revealing the quiz results, ask the participants for their email address and deliver the results to their inbox.

The offer itself (i.e., the lead magnet) usually makes the biggest difference, so make sure to test and tweak it if necessary. Lead magnets should be ultra-specific and offer immediate gratification instead of a vague promise for some unspecified future. However, you have to be sure the subscriber who is interested in an e-book or webinar will also appreciate the newsletter content you are going to send later on. 

Kate Spade’s signup form is a fine example of a direct and attractive offer – 15% off PLUS shipping. The text underneath “No thanks, I don’t want 15% off” makes it even harder to refuse.

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2. Invite them to join the awesome crowd (social proof)

Humans are social animals – we rely on the experience of others. Studies show that 92% of online shoppers read testimonials and reviews before making a purchase.

Similarly, if they are on the fence about engaging with your brand or leaving your website forever, social proof might convince them to follow the crowd.

There are several types of social proofs that you can use to urge people to sign up for your email:

  • Mention the number of people already on the list. Do this if you have a sizeable list – this will suggest that being your subscriber is somehow valuable or trendy.  
  • Present expert social proof. Mention a quote from a credible expert who has ordered your products and was very satisfied with them or your customer support. An expert can be anything from a fashion or lifestyle blogger to a business leader that has influence in your industry.
  • Present celebrity social proof. If you’re lucky to have been endorsed by a well-known person, do not hesitate to mention it in your signup form.
  • Share success stories. Show real people who are happy to be using your products and inspire your new subscribers. Mention their testimonials or reviews on the signup form.
  • Demonstrate exclusivity. You can turn this strategy around and mention that only the most valued customers enter your signup list and receive the best deals before anybody else.

Sumo app have done a fantastic job with their blog footer signup form. In just a few text lines they accomplish two things:

  • Demonstrate that their software helped a celebrity – Tony Robbins – get 15% more leads for his website
  • List several world-known companies as their customers
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3. Give popups a second chance

The word “popup” gives the chills to many people, and not without reason. Some types of popups can be intrusive, especially on mobile, and Google has declared war against those. So, make sure the type of popup you choose won’t harm your SEO.

Nevertheless, popups are still on the rise, and some have even improved conversion rates by up to 1,375% compared to a static signup form.

The truth is – popup signup forms don’t have to be irritating if you design them right, and show them to the right people at a reasonable frequency.

Some tips for using popups, the right way:

  • Choose a suitable type of popup for your business and audience – lightbox popup, scroll box, exit-intent popup (more on that later). If you have enough resources and people on your team, test several popup forms to find out which works best.
  • Set up different popups on each section of your online store. For example, show different popups in the male and female section, then track the signup source and craft tailored newsletters for each segment.
  • Don’t show the pop-up immediately after a visitor enters your site. A good strategy is to check Google Analytics for the average time users spend on your site and set the popup to show right before the average user is about to leave.

US retailer Shinesty have matched their popup with the background image and the overall style of the brand, letting the signup form blend in nicely. This popup also doesn’t show up repeatedly, and therefore isn’t annoying the returning visitors.

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4. Charm them with a beautiful design

Beautiful design matters – we know it in our hearts already, but there is no shortage of UI & UX studies that prove it’s good for business.

High-quality design not only attracts our attention but it also makes us trust the brand. To put it simply, rich imagery, bold typography, and attractive illustrations reinforce a positive first impression of a brand, and your signup form is a significant part of it.

However, looking pretty without a strong underlying message is not enough. Oru Kayak have done an amazing job in combining both great visual design and substance. Add an emotional calling that speaks to all the travelers and adventurers out there – and you have a signup form to copy.  

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Oru Kayak use a full-screen signup form also called the Welcome Mat. It’s often considered controversial as it interrupts the user’s action with a full-screen overlay. However, it’s definitely much less annoying if it looks this lovely.

5. Create a sense of urgency and scarcity

Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) is a thing, and there’s evidence that the majority of millennials have experienced it. If your target audience is between 18 and 34 years old, you can appeal to this emotion in your signup forms and promise to keep your subscribers in the loop with all the best offers.

Wanderlust + Co are a female jewelry e-store that directly appeals to this fear, knowing their target audience – young girls – are the primary victims of FOMO.

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A more popular strategy is to add a sense of urgency or scarcity to your opt-in form, urging the users to sign up immediately. For example, you can mention that the exclusive deal is “valid for a limited amount of time,” or that “only the first 100 newsletter subscribers receive free shipping.”

6. Turn your signup form into a story

Nowadays we are overwhelmed by promotional information – studies show that we’re exposed to 10,000 brand messages daily.

If you can cut through the noise and find an original angle for addressing your visitors, you are guaranteed to attract some attention.

A signup form designed as a story with blank fields is still uncommon therefore is more likely to capture attention and bring you new email addresses.

A story signup form uses a natural sentence to softly request the information from the user. This type of form will be most effective if you offer a few custom input elements in drop-down menus. For example, you can say:

“I want X store to send me…. [choose product segment from drop-down] updates to …. [email address field]”

Here’s a sample and an actual guide how to code it, in case you’re up to it!

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7. Seize attention with animated and interactive signup forms

Even a simple animation is likely to attract more attention than a static signup form. The explanation is simple – animation directs our eyes and controls where we focus.

Animated signup forms make joining your list simple, fun, and engaging – and your brand is more likely to be remembered with positive associations.

If you choose an interactive opt-in form or an animation (or any other type of signup form, for that matter), make sure it is mobile-responsive and easily clickable for mobile users. Mind that single column signup forms tend to look better on mobile devices. All the fields should fit on the screen without scrolling up or down, or, even worse – left or right.   

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If you make signing up fun, people will feel the urge to complete the process. Attractive design and innovative input options turn this signup form into an exciting user experience – even for mobile readers with even shorter attention spans than desktop users.

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8. Write magnetic copy

Although email signup forms should contain as little text as possible, those few words need to be brilliant.

It’s no easy job to avoid clichés and find original ways to persuade users into signing up – all while sticking to the tone of voice of your company.

The language and tone you use will also depend on your target audience, and you should use the opportunity to capture their attention through compelling copy. For example, consider using an alternative CTA than the standard “sign-up” or “subscribe” call to action.

A good trick for writing a call to action is to make your button copy finish this sentence:

I want to ________________

Shinesty provides another good example of an unconventional – and provocative – signup form. They are sticking to their bold and eccentric tone suggesting that their emails are much better than all the others. The button saying “let’s get weird” stimulates curiosity and suggests that subscribers will join some mysterious club. Even the Terms and Conditions under the CTA are original, complementing the user and explaining what content they’ll receive.

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9. Put your foot in the door with an exit intent popup

We already discussed popups, but the exit intent popup deserves special attention thanks to its effectiveness. Turns out it has the potential to recover 35% of your slipping-away visitors – a chance you shouldn’t miss, right?

Exit intent forms use Javascript to track the mouse movements of each user and present a special offer or a signup form when they are about to leave your site.

Even if they didn’t buy anything from you this time, maybe they’d be interested in getting your news & updates? Or a special offer that might entice them to return to you once again?

Your job is to offer them something interesting and valuable right before they leave (and possibly never come back again).

A valuable proposition like this one by Avanchy can indeed help to turn some customers around. If they were considering to buy a certain product before they saw this popup, they might see the 15% off as a deal-breaker.

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Or simply direct their attention to your newsletter as they leave your blog. There’s no harm in asking, right?

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It’s true that burying your newsletter signup form at the bottom of your page is not a massive lead attraction strategy.

However, many users – the ones that are particularly interested in receiving news from you – are likely to look for the signup field exactly there. Simply because we are used to it, just like we are used to seeing a company’s logo on the top left corner of a website.

With just a little creativity, you can turn your footer signup prompt into an attractive and important zone of your website. For starters, write a juicy CTA and add an enticing short text on top of the email field.

Shorts maniacs Chubbies don’t say much about the content of their newsletter anywhere near the signup form. But the mysterious and somewhat arrogant text “Your inbox deserves better” is a nice way to address their audience of young people who hate everything ordinary. The nearby social buttons allow easy sharing and cross-promotion, urging users to continue interaction in their other channels.  

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Become the master-hacker of signup forms

The biggest hack of all might be the combination of several email signup form hacks. For example, your perfect signup form can be a beautifully designed exit intent popup with a lead magnet that offers a 10% discount upon signup.

However, evaluate what best fits your audience and experiment. Don’t just assume that something might work well for you. Instead – test, fail, learn, and repeat.

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The most important advice from the signup form world – don’t be greedy. In other words, you should ask for as little as possible on the form, and give the subscriber as much as possible in return.

Once you’ve found an opt-in form that works well for you, keep monitoring its performance and tweak it time after time. Share your ideas and experience in the comments!

Read Next: How to Develop an Effective Marketing Strategy

Did this post make you want to launch an online store and try these techniques? Then download our ebook!


By Ana Llorente on Jan 30, 2018

Ana Llorente

Ana es una inquieta trotamundos en busca de nuevas experiencias. Sus tres grandes pasiones son: la comida, los viajes y el marketing. Por ese orden.

Ana es una inquieta trotamundos en busca de nuevas experiencias. Sus tres grandes pasiones son: la comida, los viajes y el marketing. Por ese orden.