A kick-butt email marketing program starts with a rock-solid list. No list, no luck. But let’s be real—starting a list from scratch is hard work, though it sure beats the damaging effects of buying or renting an email list (the horror!).
Nothing competes with an organic, homegrown list you’ve built from the ground up. These lists are filled to the brim with expectant, engaged, and downright valuable recipients. So, how do you get these one-of-a-kind subscribers to consent to you regularly entering their precious inbox? Good question.
Below, you’ll find some of my favorite time-tested email list signup forms that’ll have subscribers jumping to join your list.
Vital Components of a Compelling Signup Form
Before we get to the different approaches, let’s take a second to catch up on the necessary elements of every signup form. Without these ingredients, your form will fall flat and underperform—regardless of how strategic you’ve been with the where, when, and how:
Add Value – Your signup form needs to answer the question: “What’s in it for me?” You can’t just ask for an email address—you need to give something first: whether that’s information, convenience, or a coupon.
Pack a Powerful CTA Punch – Sure, you can ask visitors to “subscribe” or “sign up,” but think about more powerful CTAs like, “Get my free ebook!”, “Join the movement,” or “Yes, count me in!”
Create Clear Expectations – Let your subscribers know exactly what’s coming to their inbox. What kinds of content will they be receiving? How often?
Keep Branding Consistent – Your signup form should be a cohesive part of your brand and the viewer’s experience. Make sure your fonts, colors, and tone in the signup form match the voice of the page it lives on.
Make it Simple – Don’t require your potential subscribers to enter their name, hometown, favorite color, and beverage of choice to subscribe to your email list. Keep it simple. Ask for an email address. You can gather more information about your subscribers down the road.
Irresistible Email List Signup Forms
1. Hit ‘Em Hard on Your Homepage
Visit Backlinko.com, and you’ll be smacked in the face straight away with a full-page email list signup form. Most people don’t just stumble upon Backlinko—they visit because they know the owner, Brian Dean, is an SEO guru. Instead of beating around the bush, Brian jumps straight to the point with an impossible-to-miss signup form promising “proven traffic tips.” That’s an SEO enthusiast’s dream come true!
If you’re not a big name brand with some clout, this in-your-face tactic might not be as effective. But notice how the form is followed up by Brian’s big-name customers like Entrepreneur, Forbes, HuffPost, Inc, and even a testimonial from CEO Larry Kim. That’s to establish a little bit of social proof. If you haven’t yet established brand credibility, add some social proof of your own (maybe a customer quote or two) to give viewers rationale for sharing their email address.
2. Offer Page-Specific Add-ons
Create signup forms that are relevant to the page your visitor is reading. For instance, Legion Athletics offers a full beginner’s guide to weightlifting on their intro article to strength training. And on all their supplement research posts, they provide coupon codes for their products in exchange for an email address.
Make sure your signup form matches the content you’re serving. You could imagine how alienating it would be if Legion Athletics used a signup form promising coupons for their whey protein products on an article about vegan nutrition. Or by promoting a men’s guide to bodybuilding on a female-focused workout page.
3. Wait, There’s More
Pretend it’s like a first date. You don’t want to ask for engagement right away—you need to get to know each other first. Let your visitors consume the content they came for and then make your request.
On Designmodo’s blog, you won’t get hit with the “Join Our Email Newsletter” signup form until you’ve read the entire article. At this point, you’ve clearly shown you’re interested in the content, so it makes sense for them to offer to send the latest articles straight to your inbox.
Inversely, pop-up forms that attack you before you’ve even had a chance to read the first sentence are a huge turnoff. Why would your visitors hand over their email address before they even get to know you and what you have to offer? Be patient. Let them read. Let them engage. After they’ve shown their interest, then offer them more.
4. Add a Signup Form to Your Sidebar or Footer
Consider this your passive list building method. Footer or sidebar signup forms are an unobtrusive way to gain email subscribers. You’re not jumping to get in front of visitors—you’re more providing a simple, easy-to-find form for visitors to discover if they want to subscribe.
Consider Email on Acid’s footer form. It’s plain and clean—no fluff about it. Any page the visitor is on, they’re able to scroll down and subscribe. Easy as pie.
5. Make it Stick
Sticky menus provide a fantastic venue for subtle opt-in forms. A sticky menu is simply a navigation bar on the top or bottom of your screen that stays in the same place even as you scroll up and down the page. These sticky forms are great because they’re not obnoxious or in your face, yet they’re impossible to miss.
Take a look at this example from Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income. He has his latest podcast episode in a simple media player stuck to the bottom of the window. And sitting inconspicuously in the corner is a smooth suggestion to “Join SPI Newsletter.” If you visit the website, start listening to the podcast, and find you enjoy the content, you’ll be primed to go ahead and subscribe for more.
6. Expand Your Signups to Social Media
Your email list signup forms aren’t just limited to your website. With social media, you can invite your “followers” to become “subscribers” with a variety of techniques.
First, use organic posts to drive traffic to landing pages with lead magnets. Try pinning these posts to the top of your profile so it’s the first thing your visitors see. As you probably know, social media is becoming more of a pay to play world, so you may have to use some cash to see conversions—that’s where lead ads come in.
On Facebook, you can set up lead ads to make the email signup process easy. These forms combine simple CTA buttons with pre-populated forms to help you convert on desktop and mobile. With just a few taps, viewers get the information they need, and you get an excellent new member to your email list. It’s a win-win.
7. Take Your Form Offline
Woah. Radical, right? This technique might seem old school, but hear me out.
With the world going digital, a physical email list signup form can stand out. If you have a brick-and-mortar business, you could place signups forms at the register or even on the dining table. If you have a booth at a conference, festival, or other events, keep a signup form handy for interested passerby and customers.
8. Ask Your Registrants
When visitors register for a webinar, demo, or another event, ask if they’d be interested in joining your email list. They’re already providing their email to receive notifications and information regarding the event, so it’s a natural follow-up request.
Take Vertical Measures’ webinar series, for example. At the bottom of the register form, they provide an easy way to subscribe to their blog with a simple checkbox. If registrants aren’t interested at first, don’t fret. After the webinar, make the ask again when you send post-webinar email campaigns. If you knocked it out of the park with the webinar, there’s a good chance they’be interested in receiving more of your content.
9. Provide an SMS Signup Option
Make it easy for recipients to join your email list by trying a text-to-join option. If you’re hosting a conference or event, let attendees know they can receive your emails by texting “Signup” to a specific number. Texting a few words to a phone number is a lot easier than visiting a landing page and signing up via a form.
10. Mind Your “Please” and “Thank You”
Take advantage of your thank you pages and form submissions by asking visitors to subscribe. If a customer just purchased a product or service they’re super excited about, offering up-to-date news and future coupons could entice them to join your list.
11. Sharing Is Caring…and Rewarding
This isn’t necessarily a signup form per se, but it’s an incredible method for growing an engaged list.
Get your recipients to help. The Hustle does this magically well with their referral program. In every email The Hustle sends, you’ll see a “share the hustle” section at the bottom that explains the program in a nutshell—you share a link, people signup, and you get sweet branded rewards like t-shirts, socks, subscriptions, and more. It’s simple, but oh so powerful. Powerful enough to grow The Hustle’s list by more than 1 million subscribers.
12. Make the Most of Your 404 Page
Turn your lost visitors into loyal subscribers by optimizing your 404 pages. How? Let Shinesty give you a little inspiration. Their 404 page is witty, helpful, and exploits the innocent navigation mistake. At the bottom, you read “Emails Suck. Ours Don’t,” with a fun “Let’s Get Weird,” CTA. This 404 page is chockfull of topnotch copywriting that surely converts a handful of subscribers who might otherwise have become disgruntled visitors lost in cyberspace.
Never Stop Experimenting and A/B Testing
Your signup forms shouldn’t be a one-and-done task. Experiment, assess, and adjust. Try using a combination of these techniques to create your own compelling email list signup forms. One of these methods may help you strike signup gold, or it may just be a good place to start as you come up with your own original form ideas.
There’s no one-approach-fits-all email signup form. Every audience is different, and you’ll have to test to see what works best for attracting new subscribers. Maybe your footer opt-in form has terrible conversion rates while your sidebar form excels. Perhaps one of your page-specific forms is blowing all of your other signups out of the water. Keep an eye on each of your signup forms’ performances so you can find what converts and what doesn’t. Over time, you’ll build high-converting forms and gather data to validate removing the not-so-successful ones.
Once you get your forms up and running, you’ll have a pipeline of subscribers joining your email list. Congratulations! But gathering email addresses is just the beginning—now it’s time to deliver value to nurture and convert these lucky recipients. To take your program to the next level, check out SendGrid’s How to Grow Your Email List best practice guide. It’s jam-packed with great tips to grow your email marketing list and keep your subscribers engaged.