Sign-up Forms Begin the Relationship with your Customers

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These days, the largest source for email addresses of potential customers for many businesses comes from website sign-up forms. It may sound simple, but how your get people to that form, how it is designed, and where the addresses go are of critical importance, and there are best practices associated with every step.

LOCATION
It may seem obvious, but your signup form needs to go in a place where it is going to be seen. Think of it as the entrance to your shop. It should be seen by everyone. Test different locations on the page and formats of the form itself. Whatever location and style gets you the most signups is the right one!

DON’T PRECHECK THE BOX!
I’ve said this so many times over the years, and it’s still a bad idea! It results in consumers unknowingly signing up for your email marketing list. If someone doesn’t realize that they signed up for your list, then it’s not truly an opt-in. It’s bad for the customer’s experience with your brand and can lead to increased spam complaints and unsubscribes. Unless you have explicit permission, you shouldn’t send them marketing emails! Gmail agrees that using pre-checked boxes to sign up subscribers is not recommended and advises that each user on your distribution list should opt to receive messages from you in one of the following ways (opt-in):

Through an email asking to subscribe to your list.
By manually checking a box on a web form, or within a piece of software.

And if you’re sending emails in Canada, you have even more reason to reconsider this practice, because emails collected via pre-checked boxes are categorized as having given implied consent under CASL, which only allows you to send commercial messaging for 2 years, unless it’s renewed.

PRIVACY
No one wants their email address shared or sold, so put their fears at rest right away with a brief statement of your privacy policy right next to the fields where they enter their information.

TELL THEM WHAT THEY GET
Tell your signups exactly what they will be getting and how it will benefit them. And tell them about your email frequency options. Give them a link to a sample of what they will receive. You might also offer a white paper or another relevant, high value document to encourage signups.

ASK FOR INFORMATION – BUT NOT TOO SOON
Don’t scare them away by asking for too much information before you get their email address. Ask for the email first, then you can take them to a preference center where they can give you more information and specify how often they want emails. Ask just for what you need.

CHECK SYNTAX
Make sure to check the email address for errors. It’s important that you never auto-correct what a subscriber has input, but offer them a prompt to correct if they’ve input a commonly mis-typed domain. You want to avoid emails bouncing later, or sending to invalid domains.

AND OF COURSE, TEST, TEST, TEST
Test every aspect of your email collection regularly.

Search the web for examples of how others do it. The social networking site Pinterest is often used as a classic example of a powerful signup process that has resulted in millions of signups. Their process is easy, it shows the user how to use the site, and it makes each user feel like signing up is a special privilege.

If you use an autoresponder, they will have a signup box you can use so that the information goes directly into the list you maintain at their site. Include links to your social networking sites so you can get interested users to sign up there, too.

Creating a good sign up process is vital. Forrester Research found that 11 percent of US adults have abandoned an online purchase because they didn’t want to register online. Some of them felt that the site was asking for too much information. This applies to your sign up box as well. You could be leaving money on the table if you have an overly complex sign up process. Keep it simple, make it look good, and put it where your visitors can find it. The result will be many more opportunities to create a great, lasting relationship with your customers.

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