A first step in creating email marketing relationship with your (potential) customer is the sign-up process. In most cases a web or sign-up form is used to get the information needed to get the email relationship started. You are not there by simply adding a sign-up form to your website.
Walk through the funnel
Not everyone who starts the sign-up process for your email marketing newsletter will complete it. Some might not even make it to your website but that’s a whole other discussion. Once the subscriber is interested in signing up, they need to walk through the process and complete it. You can visualize this as a part of a sales funnel. At the top, the interested people, at the bottom, the ones that buy from you. Each (mental) step will cause extra defection. The signup is in the very top of the funnel, so this is a very important part if you want them to buy from you.
The balance of value
There should always be a balance between the value they give (time, energy, information) and the value you provide (experience, product, service). This is true for the sign-up, but also later for the interestability of the email marketing campaigns they will receive. Make sure that the future value is clear and well presented. Also the perceived value investment can be made smaller by using good design and interaction. Liz Fulghu gave us some great examples of creative sign-up form design. When we make it as easy as we can for them to sign-up, we will be providing a good user experience.
Sign-up forms are always a source of debate. It is still the question how much information we should ask for during sign-up. Should we ask for 3 fields, 5 or 10? In general, you are always asking too much. With each field you add to your form, you are adding a mental step and reducing the number of people who will complete it. So if you can do with less, ask less. There are three basic questions to ask yourself and see if you could do with less data.
The 3 questions:
1. Would you complete your sign-up?
If you would not even complete your sign-up form, get to redesigning right away. But think about your customers. Would they fill out your form? Why would a part of them defect?
2. What will I do with the information?
If you are not going to use the information in the sign-up form, don’t ask. Be critical here, often clients don’t know or are not sure what they will do with information. Asking more information feels safe “just to have it”. While actually you are preventing a part of your future email relationships from even getting started.
3. Do I need this information now?
If you don’t need it now, you should consider asking later. Partial commitment is a very powerful persuasion strategy. You could for instance ask them more in your welcome email series. By asking later, you could tip the balance between giving and asking to your favor and get those extra subscribers.
Takeaway: Make sure your sign-up is easy. Show the future value and ask for only the data you really need. This will get you more subscribers. A good sign-up experience is the first step to a great email relationship.