Getting potential customers to sign up for your email list is still one of the most important things you can do for your business.
The thing is:
There’s no guarantee your site visitors and/or current customers will actually subscribe to your newsletter. Even if you do deliver valuable content and offers to your mailing list, those who don’t belong to it obviously won’t get to see it.
Which is where newsletter signup forms come into play.
In this guide, we’re going to discuss the benefit of having an email sign-up form as well as the various elements that you should consider if you want to create the best newsletter signup form possible.
Table of Contents
- What is a newsletter signup form?
- Why you should create a newsletter signup form in the first place
- The impact of design on your newsletter signup form
- The types of newsletter signup forms that you can create and where they should be placed
- Critical components to optimize when trying to create the best newsletter signup form
- Examples of some of the best newsletter signup forms we’ve come across
A sign-up form is a digital form, typically presented on a company’s website, that allows website visitors to provide their contact information to the company in question.
The company can then add the individual to its mailing list — allowing the team to deliver email newsletters and other correspondences via email (and possibly other means).
On the surface, this sounds pretty straightforward.
But, there’s much more to getting people to register for your mailing list than throwing a simple form up on your website.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at all that goes into creating an effective newsletter signup form — and give some prime examples of brands “doing it right”.
First, though, let’s take the time to understand why, exactly, it’s important to grow your mailing list at all.
“Well-designed newsletter sign-up forms are exactly what you need and here’s why: They can change your email personalization game.
A highly personalized experience that will resonate with every subscriber will drive more engagement and, in the end, conversion. And when it comes down to data collection, nothing works better than a sign-up form that will transform your mailing list.”
Virginia Zacharaki, Marketing Communications Associate, Moosend
It’s clear that having an ever-growing mailing list is better than having a stagnant one (or not having one at all).
But the true value of getting people to sign up for your newsletter comes from the impact it has on your relationship with your individual audience members.
The act of signing up for a brand’s newsletter is commonly one of the first “official” actions site visitors take on their way to becoming paying customers.
For this reason, retailers typically see this moment as the moment a random site visitor officially becomes a new lead.
Think about it:
The individual is clearly interested in what the brand has to offer, and has requested to engage further with the company. In fact, they’re so interested in learning more that they’re willing to hand over their contact information to do so.
It just makes sense, then, for brands to focus heavily on providing value to these newly-engaged leads.
(Yes, you certainly want to remarket your anonymous site visitors and otherwise try to re-engage them — but those who have actively made themselves known should definitely get more attention.)
Of course, if you don’t make it easy for interested prospects to sign up for your newsletter, many of them may not end up doing so. They’ll stay anonymous, and you’ll have no way of engaging further with them — even if they want you to.
So, to ensure your interested prospects make themselves known, getting them to sign up for your newsletter is a must.
Create a Direct Line of Communication
More than simply identifying these new leads, getting them to register for your mailing list allows you to communicate with them in more personal and personable ways.
And you don’t want to squander this opportunity. While growing your mailing list in size is definitely important, it’s even more crucial that you take full advantage of every new connection you create with said list.
Without this direct line of communication intact, there will remain a pretty wide gap between your team and your leads — which will make it increasingly difficult to nurture them toward conversion.
By forging this connection early, though, you can start forging an authentic, trusting relationship with your new leads from one of your very first engagements.
Learn More About Your New Leads
The key to building this authentic, trusting relationship?
Listen to your new leads.
All you’ll know about them once they sign up for your emails is…that they’re interested in your newsletter.
Of course, you’ll need to know a lot more about them in order to deliver value and nurture them toward conversion.
So, after you’ve procured their contact info, your first order of business (after welcoming them with open arms) is to probe deeper into their needs and expectations.
Again: While there are other ways to learn about your audience members, taking a more personable, intimate approach via email is the key to proving your dedication to them from the get-go.
Deliver Laser-Focused Value
Once you know what your new leads are looking to get from your brand, well…you can start giving it to them!
This, to be sure, is the reason you send out a newsletter (and other emails) in the first place.
In some cases, the content of your newsletter is the thing of value, itself. Delivering helpful tips, interesting stories, and other engaging content not only provides value to your new lead — but does so free of charge.
In others, you’ll be using your newsletters and emails to promote something else of value — be it certain products, branded events, or any other offers you may be running.
In both cases, the idea is to focus not on what you’re doing, but on what it means to the recipients of your newsletters. By segmenting your audience accordingly, you can deliver laser-focused content, offers, and promotions tailored to new leads based on their specific needs and interests.
Engage Regularly With Your Audience
Of course, you won’t just be communicating with your leads just once after they sign up for your newsletter.
Rather, you’ll now have a license to contact them on a regular basis (and/or whenever you have something of value to offer them). This allows you to keep your brand top-of-mind at all times — increasing the chances of converting new and existing customers alike.
In routinely sending newsletters and other blast emails to your audience, you’ll be building a habit amongst those who regularly engage with them. Basically, they’ll learn to look forward to your newsletter, knowing that it will be jam-packed with value. In turn, you’ll stand a pretty good chance of getting regular business from these interested audience members.
You’ll also be able to engage regularly with individual customers based on their specific circumstances. Replenishment reminders, abandoned cart emails, and other methods of individual outreach keep your leads and customers engaged and heading for their next purchase.
As we said, getting people to sign up for your newsletter is just the beginning.
Earlier, we touched on the fact that there’s more to creating a newsletter signup form than meets the eye.
Compare the following two signup forms:
Obviously, there are major differences between the two.
But, neither is the de facto “better” form; each can potentially drive conversions given the right audience and situation.
And, both were strategically developed by creative teams, with laser-focus on specific aspects of the form to increase engagement and conversions.
The point is:
Newsletter signup form design should never be an afterthought for your team.
Is it possible to get people to register with a plaintext form with little branded personality? Sure.
Is it likely? No way.
Even “good enough” isn’t really good enough, either.
When placing a newsletter signup form on your site, attention to detail is critical. Not only will it allow you to maximize the number of signups you generate, but you’ll also be better able to identify specific ways in which you can make further improvements to your form’s design.
As you’ve seen, email sign-up forms come in a variety of shapes and sizes.
In fact, where and how you place your signup forms is a key part of design. By placing your form in just the right spot on your website, you’ll optimize your chances of converting a new lead.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the three most common types of newsletter signup forms businesses typically use.
Pop-Up Signup Forms
As the name suggests, pop-up signup forms “pop up” over the actual content of a web page.
There are multiple types of pop-up forms, as well.
Modal pop-ups, such as the one in the above screenshot, appear over top of the page’s content — and must be interacted with or closed before the visitor can continue onsite. Modals are often timed to reach visitors at moments when they’re most engaged.
Side pop-ups appear on the sides or in the corners of the visitor’s screen, but don’t necessarily interfere with their on-site actions.
Exit-Intent pop-ups are modal pop-ups that appear when visitors take action to navigate away from the page, such as moving their mouse toward the “back” button or remaining inactive for too long.
Each type of pop-up can be used in different situations to generate newsletter registrations. The goal is to know when your visitors are ready to engage further when checking out your site — and making it as easy as possible for them to do so.
Check out our Ultimate Guide to Email Popups to learn more about how to create effective popups that get people to subscribe to your emails.
In-Line Signup Forms
It’s also common to place email signup forms directly in-line with the content on your site, as well.
Unlike pop-ups, in-line signup forms are static, appearing at specific areas of a given webpage.
For example, you might place them near the top of a page’s content to catch visitors before they dive in:
Or, you might place it on the side of your page:
Often, brands will place their forms as a way to break up a page’s content into more digestible chunks:
And, you’ll typically see mailing list signup forms near the bottom of certain pages, acting as a footer or final call-to-action to the visitor.
Placement of these static, in-line signup forms is just as important as with pop-ups:
The goal is to hit your visitor with a can’t-miss offer, along with a simple ask, at just the right moment during their on-page experience. In turn, you stand a chance of getting even the more reluctant members of your audience to check out what your newsletter has to offer.
We’ve hopefully made it clear just how important it is to be strategic when developing your mailing list signup forms.
Here, we’ll take a look at some of the best practices to follow to help you with creating the best possible email signup form.
While effective forms don’t necessarily include all of these features at once, understanding how each is used will allow you to implement them within your signup forms as needed in order to attract and engage new leads.
Let’s dive in.
A Strong Offer (or “Lead Magnet”)
Depending on the industry, the average opt-in rate for newsletter subscription forms is typically anywhere from one to five percent.
(Though, they certainly can perform much better when done well.)
In other words, the majority of visitors to your site won’t end up subscribing to your newsletter.
The main reason for this, as we touched on earlier, is that they simply aren’t going to want to give up their email address unless they stand to get something great in return.
So, it’s up to you to offer your visitors something of value to incentivize them to sign up. In fact, doing so can nearly quadruple your opt-in rates in some cases.
Typically, brands will offer something that doesn’t cost them too much to provide — but that will give the new lead a good idea of what to expect moving forward.
A few examples:
- Gated content, such as an ebook, white paper, or how-to guide
- Freebie gifts, like a calendar or other small, branded item
- A one-time discount on the lead’s first purchase
Now, you don’t necessarily need to offer something extra on top of the newsletter if you choose not to.
Whatever you’re offering, though, you need to make the offer clear, and contextually relevant.
In terms of clarity, make sure your visitors know:
- What they’re signing up for
- What they’ll be getting in return
- Why this offer is valuable to them
As for relevance, your offer should relate, in some way, to the page on which it appears.
Be it an ebook on the topic being discussed, or a discount on the exact product the visitor is checking out, a relevant offer will fit in with the visitor’s on-site experience — and be more likely to get them on board.
Your form’s copy is, of course, how you will communicate the value of your newsletter and offer.
What’s more, your copy is also what allows your brand’s voice and personality to shine.
As we said above, clarity in your copy is key. If there’s any doubt in the visitor’s mind as to what they’re getting into, they most likely won’t go through with it.
StyleRunner isn’t vague with what they’re offering here — and it’s this clarity that will get many to convert.
Relevance also comes into play when focusing on voice and tone. Match the message of your form to that of the surrounding content, or your form will stick out like a sore thumb.
Finally, your form’s copy should be customer-facing, focusing on “what’s in it for them”. Again, make sure they know not just what they’re getting, but also why they should care.
“Ideally the copy of your opt-in form should be able to convey to users the benefits of subscribing to your newsletter as opposed to just letting the user know what they get when subscribing (features oriented).
As an example, let’s say you manage a fitness related website. A features related opt-in might have messaging such as ‘Subscribe to our newsletter to get the latest weight loss and strength building tips’. On the other hand, a benefits related opt-in might have messaging such as ‘Want to improve your health and transform your body for the long-term? Subscribe to our newsletter to get our best fitness articles that will help you reach your goals.’
By refocusing the newsletter signup copy to make it include the benefit (what’s in it for them) as well as feature (what they’re getting to help them realize the benefit), you provide a great incentive for a user to subscribe.”
Alon Popilskis, Owner, Smart SEO Designs
A Clear Call-to-Action
A strong and clear call-to-action (CTA) is necessary to ensure your prospects know exactly what they need to do to sign up for your newsletter.
In terms of design, your CTA button should stand out from the surrounding content, allowing prospects to quickly submit their completed form.
Speaking of the word “submit”, the way in which you word your CTA can be the difference between collecting a subscriber and losing a potential customer.
A few examples:
- “Get Our Newsletter”
- “Get Your One-Time Offer”
- “Earn Your Free Reward”
In contrast, you’ll want to avoid using words and phrases like “Submit” or “Register for Our Newsletter”, as these are more focused on what the customer is doing for your brand, as opposed to what they’re getting from you.
“I run a newsletter where I send bi-weekly marketing teardowns. Initially, my sign-up form button had the standard ‘subscribe’ copy. The results weren’t bad, but I wanted to fine-tune and really squeeze the best out of my traffic. So I ran a series of A/B tests modifying my elements one by one. In one of these tests, I changed the CTA to ‘Send me new case studies.’ As a result, I saw a 10% conversion rate boost.”
Andrea Bosoni, Founder of Zero to Marketing
Attractive, Engaging Design
We talked about the importance of design earlier, but there are two key points we left for this section.
First, your newsletter sign-up forms should be more “functionally attractive” than “attractively functional”. Yes, you need to focus the prospect’s attention on your form — but it shouldn’t be so flashy that it’s difficult to engage with.
You also want to make it easy for prospects to navigate your forms — and even to close them out.
A simple and obvious “X” will do:
While not essential, some level of interactivity within your form can help catch your visitor’s attention and make them more likely to convert.
A functional form with just enough aesthetic “oomph” will grab your prospects’ eyes, and allow them to quickly hit the path toward conversion.
Social proof is one thing you don’t necessarily need within your newsletter signup forms — but it’s certainly nice to include when you can.
Typically, you’ll want to include social proof in your forms when offering something of major value and/or making a bigger ask of your prospects.
In the above example, Tim Ferriss asks prospects to commit to a long-term program (in addition to other content). While the offer is free of charge, it will require more of a time commitment than, say, signing up for a simple newsletter.
To be sure, many prospects will balk at the idea of making such a commitment — unless it’s clear that the program will work for them. With that in mind, Ferriss includes a number of testimonials discussing the value of his offer.
To avoid using social proof too frivolously, make sure that the social proof you do use is specific and relevant.
“Don’t make the mistake of including social proof for every signup form. For instance, if you simply send a regular monthly newsletter with company updates and new blog posts, it isn’t necessary. Instead, you’ll need it when offering exclusive content, courses, or large guides that promise to change the way your readers think. Whenever you’re bringing your own unique insights or views on a topic and need someone to back up your expertise, look to add social proof to your opt-in form.
As an alternative, you can have a separate landing page for your newsletter too. This will allow you to add testimonials and social proof just like you would for your products and services.”
Alexandra Cote, B2B Content and SEO Strategist
In spite of all that, we just said should go into your mailing list registration forms, it’s also crucial to keep these forms as simple as possible.
- Delivering a clear and simple message
- Providing an easy-to-understand offer
- Making it easy for the prospect to submit their form
Thinking of the actual form itself, you really should only be looking to get the prospect’s email address and maybe their name. The idea is to ask for the minimum info necessary to deliver on your promises — which will open doors for additional communications at some point down the line.
The people signing up for your newsletter don’t know all that much about your brand. They won’t want to spend too much time reading through your form or completing it. And they definitely won’t want to be too free with their personal information, either.
“In my experience newsletter signup forms convert better when they’re transparent to the potential subscriber while offering a clear indication about what he or she is subscribing to. I have had a lot of success when keeping my newsletter forms simple and direct.
The goal is to catch the user’s attention, communicate your message…then step back and let them fill out your form.”
Tim Glendenning, Marketing Manager, OnTheClock
Verify Your New Leads
Earlier, we mentioned that one of the benefits in creating an email newsletter signup form is that it provides your business the ability to generate leads and build long-lasting relationships with those leads.
The thing is, to be able to have an authentic relationship with potential customers that subscribe via your opt-in form, you need to make sure the contacts you gather are genuine as invalid email addresses, can find their way into your email lists. Invalid data can cause higher bounce rates while fake email addresses can lower your open-rate, both of which can adversely affect deliverability to customers that actually want to hear from you as well as your ability to accurately calculate ROI.
“For marketers, every new email address is a new opportunity, and you want to know you’re making the most of it. There are reliable ways to prevent bad data from spoiling your email lists such as making use of an email validation API to reject misspelled or temporary emails which will help to keep your list healthy.
When designing your newsletter opt-in forms, you may want to consider making use of a real-time email validation API in the background. That way, you can count on building a real, engaged community around your emails.”
Liviu Tanase, Founder and CEO of ZeroBounce
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a policy introduced by the European Union as a way to better regulate how businesses use personal data collected from European citizens.
While there are multiple requirements a business needs to undertake to ensure that it is GDPR compliant, when it comes to newsletter signup forms, it’s important that you receive consent from subscribers.
As part of consent, it’s also important that it’s clear to users what subscribing to your list actually means. Essentially, if you’re using a lead magnet as a way to get users into your newsletter mailing list, then your copy needs to reflect that.
To learn more about how to make sure your newsletter signup forms are GDPR compliant, check out our post Popups and GDPR: What You Need to Know.
While we’ve already checked out some newsletter signup examples earlier in the article, let’s now break apart some of the best examples to really get an understanding of why they’re so effective.
Baremetrics’ in-line newsletter signup form is one of the “cleanest” examples on our list.
While it is jam-packed with information, it’s not overwhelming in the slightest. The simple but strong copy sets the visitor’s expectations, explaining just what type of content they’ll get upon subscribing.
The overall design of the form is perfectly balanced, here. On one side of the coin, the minimalist approach ensures the visitor stays focused on the actual form. On the other, there’s just enough branding injected to make the form unique.
Finally, though the CTA isn’t perfect, the follow-up call to “join thousands of subscribers… “ uses both social proof and benefit-focused copy to nudge visitors in the right direction.
Here, Chartmogul uses in-line signup forms differently, opting to place theirs to the side of the page’s content.
The first thing to notice about this example is how it manages to jump out from the rest of the content on the page. This, despite the fact that said content includes other eye-catching media, as well.
The form’s design and copy are both quite simple and to-the-point. A quick glance is all the visitor will need to understand what’s being offered, and what they need to do to get it.
On that note, while “the best content in SaaS” doesn’t provide all that much info, the form appears in-line with an example of Chartmogul’s content in the first place. Since the visitor already knows what to expect, spelling it out here would be a bit redundant.
Lastly, the simple CTA matches the rest of the form — and again allows the visitor to quickly take action without beating around the bush.
Happy Tuesdays offers another example of a crisp, clean email form here.
Like Baremetrics’ example, the form’s elegant, simplistic, design showcases Happy Tuesdays’ branded feel without being distracting. The use of white space also ensures the visitor stays focused on the message being communicated.
This message, as it happens, is personable and authentic: It’s a promise to keep new subscribers “in the loop” with goings-on in the Happy Tuesdays community. That said, it’s not exactly easy to know what that means when viewing this form out of context.
Still, though not explicitly stated, it’s clear that Happy Tuesdays regularly engages with its customers via email — and does so in a comforting, familiar manner.
Make Up For Ever
Make Up For Ever takes the drop-down approach, presenting their newsletter signup form as a header across their website.
MUFE is straightforward with what subscribers will be getting — which, as you can see, is a lot. The value of the newsletter can’t be overstated, especially in an industry in which trends shift with the flip of a switch.
Also worth noting is the no-pressure ask, clarified by two key things. First, the comfort that they can unsubscribe at any time can be the deciding factor for many fence-sitters. Secondly, the fact that visitors can close the form completely to continue their on-site experience is a user-friendly touch that, again, lessens the pressure of the offer.
The Plant People (FIND)
With a brand name like The Plant People, you just know you’re going to get some quirky content.
And their newsletter signup form does not disappoint.
Throughout the entire form, the tongue-in-cheek tone of TPP is crystal clear. Yes, they’re serious about keeping plant life healthy and safe — but they also know it’s possible to have fun while doing so.
The specific focus on the newsletter is clear: to deliver leaf-saving tips to the team’s audience. The added promise to not inundate subscribers with excessive emails (i.e., junk) also serves to nudge hesitant visitors toward converting.
Finally, the unobtrusive links to the brand’s social media pages and email address allow interested visitors to quickly engage even further. As we said earlier, you typically want to use a singular CTA; if you’re going to break the rule, make sure it’s worth it.
Kinship delivers another offer to help customers “stay in the loop” — adding a one-time 10% discount to sweeten the deal, too.
Though there is a lot going on within this example, the information provided serves to build trust and incentivize both soft and hard conversions.
Between the discount, free shipping offer, and money-back guarantee, visitors can feel pretty comfortable engaging further with (and eventually buying from) Kinship.
We talked a bit about this one before, but let’s take a closer look.
Is it busy as heck? Sure is.
Are interested individuals going to read everything on the screen? You bet.
Both the form and surrounding content vary in terms of style, format, and presentation. We’ve got bold claims, the social proof to back it up, and an exact roadmap of how Ferriss’ newsletter content will help make it happen.
And it’s all jam-packed onto a single screen.
As a nice finishing touch, Ferriss’ newsletter form includes a customer-facing call-to-action. The subtle shift (from something like “Submit”) allows the visitor to focus on what they’re getting from the exchange — not what they’re giving away.
Looking for more examples? Check out our post 36 Amazing Email Pop-Up Examples and the Science Behind Why They Work for additional inspiration to help with building your newsletter signup form.
Newsletter Signup Forms: Your Next Lead-Generation Machine
A high-quality newsletter signup form can have you generating leads in your sleep.
…but getting to that point isn’t going to happen overnight.
To truly perfect your newsletter signup forms, you’ll need to continue tweaking and optimizing them as time goes on. The more you understand about what attracts and engages your site’s visitors, the easier it will be to create mailing list forms (and accompanying offers) that grab their eye.
For your team to be able to make these changes, you need to have complete control over your creative assets, your forms’ performance data — and much, much more.
You need a robust website popup solution that provides you with 100% control over how you customize your forms as well as provides you with analytics and tracking data so that you can measure how well your newsletter signup forms are performing.
With WisePops, your team will always know what needs to be done to improve your newsletter signup forms — and can start making these improvements with ease.
Want to see just how easily WisePops can help you create better forms and generate more leads? Check out our 14-day free trial which gives you access to all of WisePops’ features.