4 secrets to high-performing signup forms

McKenzie Gregory

When it comes to optimizing email signup forms, Ben Jabbawy is the absolute best in the game. 
That's Ben!
He's the founder of Privy, a company that powers list growth and on-site overlays for over 100K websites and growing. His experience working with brands of all sizes has led him to a hard but powerful truth: We all suck at conversion. In fact, 98% of site traffic leaves without ever completing the goal you want them to complete, whether that's making a purchase, registering for an event, signing up for a trial – whatever.
However, as Ben shared at Marketing United 2017, 89% of consumers are willing to share personal info in exchange for clearly defined benefits (Microsoft). So, how do we get better at site conversion? What’s your offer that will win people over and allow you to keep nurturing them? How do you ensure you're providing the right offer to the right site visitors?
Here are four key elements he told us and MU attendees to consider when building a signup form.

1. Audience targeting

Your site visitors all come from different places and behave differently, so it's crucial to put strategies in place that serve people based on what you know about them rather than treating them all the same. 
Think about their visit and help direct them:
Do they know what you sell?
Have they been here before?
What device are they using?
How did they hear about you?
Where are they from?
What are they looking for?
Have they purchased before?
Let’s use device type as an example. Recently, Google instituted some changes that give preference to websites that provide a great mobile experience. You may want to use a timed pop-up form on your website, which is absolutely fine for desktop visitors – but for mobile visitors, you'll want to implement a subtle tab that doesn’t open unless it’s clicked. That way, it’s user-initiated, and your search ranking won’t be affected. 
Or, let's think about the referral path. Let’s say a visitor comes to your website through a landing page that’s all about a certain product or service. Your overlay offer should complement that product and provide a cohesive experience to the potential buyer. 

2. Display types 

What is the right signup form style? A pop-up? A fly out? A banner? 
They can all be effective based on where and when they’re displayed, especially when you accompany that form with a strong offer. This is where testing should come into play, along with a general awareness of the site visitor's experience. 
An example of a pop-up style signup form 

3. Triggers 

When is the right time to display your signup form based on the action someone takes on the website? Will it be based on a timer? Is it based on how far they scroll down on a blog post? Is it when they are about to leave the page?
Exit intent pop-ups like this one can be incredibly effective

4. Value 

"But wait!" you might say. "Our brand doesn't do discounts or coupons." That's ok. You don't have to attach a monetary value to your signup form offer for it to be considered valuable. 
For example, this is a really small business that initially just had a basic, embedded site form. Their list hadn’t grown significantly in years. Then, they added this on-site overlay. There’s no coupon attached to it, but simply by promising exclusive content, they added 5,000 new subscribers and boosted their site-to-signup conversion to 8%. 
Or, another example – this is Masterclass from Gordon Ramsay. They’re a higher-end brand that really wanted to avoid coupons or discounts, so they decided to lead with valuable content – in this case, a sneak preview.
The moral here? Content can get you just as far (if not further) than free shipping or coupons, especially for the right audience. 

Hungry for more? Check out Privy for all your list growth needs, or watch our most recent webinar with them for even more tips and tricks. 

About the Author

McKenzie Gregory

McKenzie Gregory is a senior content manager on Emma’s marketing team. A Nashville native, she can be found covering all things email on the Emma blog, debating hyphenation rules, and watching obscene amounts of Netflix without a trace of shame.

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