How to Create an Effective Newsletter Sign-Up Form

How to create a newsletter sign-up form

The newsletter sign-up form: no email marketing strategy is complete without one. If you want to grow your email list (and who doesn’t?!), you need a compelling form in all the right places. Want to make the most of this simple yet powerful tool? Here’s how.

What do I need?

  • A form builder tool – this should already come with your email marketing software
  • Double opt-in email
  • Welcome email
  • Website (and blog)

Why do I need a newsletter sign-up form?

First things first: it helps to understand why the sign-up form is so important. You’re just asking for an email address, so what’s the big deal? Actually, there is something quite special about users who subscribe via your form. These are people who have read your content, liked what they saw and want more of the same. They have actively decided to join your mailing list. They are engaged and interested in what you have to say. These are exactly the kinds of contacts you want – and a sign-up form is how you’ll get them.

What makes a good sign-up form?

There are certain things a newsletter sign-up form can and should do:

  • Make the sign-up process as simple as possible: The user should be able to subscribe to your newsletter in a matter of seconds.
  • Create a positive first impression of your brand: A lackluster, buggy or over-complicated form will make the user think twice about providing their email address.
  • Provide you with audience insights: The sign-up form can be a good opportunity to learn about your subscribers and their interests, but don’t overdo it. Remember, simplicity rules.

So you know you need a form, and you know it needs to make an impact. Ready to make it happen? Follow these five simple steps.

1. Content & CTA

Your sign-up form is an extension of your brand, so wording and tone are crucial. If your website is formal and businesslike, the sign-up form should mirror this. If your overall branding is more lighthearted, your form can be a little more tongue-in-cheek.

Another thing about language: be clear and concise. Leave the user in absolutely no doubt as to what they should do next (enter their email address!) and where.

Especially important is the CTA. Don’t just furnish your button with a generic “Subscribe”; talk in terms of benefits. Tell the user what they stand to gain by subscribing to your newsletter. For example: “Yes, I want all the latest updates” or “Grab your 10% discount”. Much more convincing, right?

2. Input fields

Next, think about the fields you want to include. The email address field is a must, but you may also wish to gather a bit more information about your new subscribers. Things like name, date of birth and location can be extremely useful when it comes to personalizing your emails and segmenting your audience.

However, user experience should take priority here. If they have to manually enter too many details, they may abandon the process altogether. If you do decide to add more fields, pick just a few and make them optional. This way, the user can skip them if they want to, and you still get that all-important email address. You can always build up user profiles later: the number one priority at this stage is to get them on your email list.

3. Design & Layout

When it comes to design, think clean and minimal. Stick to one single column; multiple columns only serve to make the newsletter subscription process appear lengthier and more confusing than it really is – a surefire way to deter potential subscribers. Keep your form free of clutter and don’t go overboard on the text.

It’s also important to consider the order in which your fields appear. The email address field is undoubtedly the most important, so make sure this – and your CTA – both stand out.

4. Location

Location is everything. You want your form to be as visible as possible so that, whenever a user is browsing your website or reading your blog, they can’t miss it. Here are the key sign-up form hotspots:

  • Homepage: It sounds obvious, but this prime location is often overlooked. There is every chance that a user will bounce from your website without even exploring beyond the homepage. This doesn’t mean they’re not interested, but they may have already found the information they were looking for. Make sure you provide the opportunity to subscribe to your newsletter before they go: place the sign-up form somewhere visible, for example in the sidebar, header or even footer.
  • Blog: If someone is reading your blog, they’re clearly a fan of your content – and therefore an ideal candidate for your mailing list! This is the perfect time to ask them if they want similar content delivered straight to their inbox. Place your sign-up form at the end of each individual post, or in the sidebar.
  • Contact page: If a user lands on your contact page, they probably want to get in touch. This shows clear interest in your products or services, so why not grab them while they’re engaged? If they’re taking the time to fill out a contact form, they can probably be convinced to sign up for your newsletter at the same time.
  • Social media: Your fans and followers on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and co. are absolutely ideal for your mailing list. You’ve already got their attention and convinced them that you’re worth a follow, so use their favorite platforms to get them on your mailing list. Include a link to your sign-up form in your bio or share it as part of an exclusive content offering.
  • At the checkout: If the user is completing a transaction, you can include your email subscribe form as part of the process. Want to sweeten the deal? Offer an exclusive 10% off their first purchase.
  • Premium content: Nothing generates email addresses like premium content. Create an exclusive whitepaper, report or infographic and let the user download it for free in exchange for their email address.

5. What happens next?

Remember: the newsletter sign-up form is just one part of a wider process. Once the user has entered their email address, they should receive a confirmation email as part of the double opt-in process. When designing your newsletter form, you will also need to set up this double opt-in email – you can read about the double opt-in process here. You can also direct the user to a specific landing page once they have signed up, so this will also require some thought. In the name of consistent branding, you might want to set up custom landing pages that align with your website design – find out more here.

About the Author

Emily Stevens

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