In an article in EmailLabs, Loren McDonald gives tips on how to optimize opt-in pages.
According to McDonald, the presentation of opt-in pages and forms determines how fast the list grows, the quality of the list, subscriber expectations and email performance.
Getting People to the Opt-in Page
1. Put a very prominent link to your email newsletter or email promotion on every page of your site, possibly in main and secondary navigation boxes and in promotional boxes in side bar areas.
2. Use the terms “Newsletter,” “Enewsletter,” or “Email Newsletter” for links. Do not use a name or term that isn’t obvious to everyone.
3. When appropriate, promote articles and news from the current issue on your home page with links to the article or issue.
4. Newsletter publishers should have a “Knowledge or Resource Center” in your web site to house archived issues. Subscription to the email newsletter should also be promoted in this area.
5. Back issues of the email newsletter posted in the web site should include a “subscribe” link inside the newsletter.
6. Online retailers should consider putting prominent copy saying something like: “Sign-up for Retailer X’s free monthly newsletter and get Special Deals and sales only available to Newsletter Subscribers.”
Copy and Design/Layout of Opt-in Page
The design, layout and copy of your email opt-in page should have the goal of converting as many visitors as possible into subscribers.
1. Keep it clean and simple, designed in such a way that the images, copy and form instill confidence, trust and value.
2. Always include a link to a sample copy of your email newsletter.
3. Include testimonials highlighting awards reaped by your email newsletter, or praise from readers and third parties.
4. Offer incentives with subscription, such as a free white paper or a discount on the subscriber’s next purchase.
5. Show subscribers the core value of your email newsletter or email promotion, which they will get in exchange for their email address. Retailers, for example, should highlight “email only specials” and advance notices of sales. Newsletter publishers, on the other hand, should emphasize content, timeliness, expertise and content relevance to readers.
6. Include a brief sentence on your email policy near the subscription form’s “submit” button, with a link to your company’s complete privacy/email policy, e.g., “X Company will not use your email address or information for any purpose other than distributing the X Company Newsletter and related special reports.
7. If using a confirmed opt-in approach, clearly explain your confirmation process.
8. Set the recipient’s expectations by accurately describing the nature and value of your email newsletter or email promotion, and the frequency of emails you will be sending.
The Opt-in Form
The opt-in form should ask for the right balance of information.
1. Do not ask for too little information. The minimum form fields are:
- First Name
- Last Name
- Email Address
- Format Preference (HTML or Text)
Inform your subscribers that text is recommended if you use Eudora Light, Eudora Pro 3 and below, Lotus Notes versions below R5 or AOL 5.0 and under.
Also ask for other preferences or demographics key to your program.
2. Do not ask for too much information. Avoid asking for information that you cannot use for email delivery and personalization or segmentation. If you have too many fields, make some optional. Possible optional form fields are:
- Secondary Email Address
- Preferred frequency
- Demographics (gender, age, location, etc.)
- Interests/Preferences (topic, rock vs. jazz, etc.)
3. Validate email addresses by including a script that checks for syntax errors upon submission, or include a secondary box that requires subscribers to re-enter their address.
Other Opt-in Pages
There are also other means of gaining new subscribers on your web site.
1. Put an email subscription check box on your registration forms for downloading white papers, membership, demo requests, etc.
2. Include product/shopping preferences in your shopping cart form and a clear opt-in check box for your email newsletter or email promotions. Putting pre-checked boxes is not recommended. If you do, the CAN-SPAM Act requires that you label your email as advertisement.
Well thought-out and well-executed opt-in pages will bring in better returns.