The sunsetting of third-party cookies is putting added pressure on marketers to grow their email subscriber and loyalty member audiences. In addition to needing to collect more email addresses as identifiers, they need the zero- and first-party data these programs generate to improve targeting and personalization across all their advertising and marketing efforts.
Here are five ways to boost your email signups:
1. Sell the Benefits of Signing Up
“What’s in it for me?” That’s the question you need to answer for would-be subscribers, but many brands don’t do a great job of this. And some brands who do answer this question well focus their signup appeal entirely on the signup incentive, which is more likely to attract new subscribers who get their incentive and then unsubscribe — or, worse, opt out by marking your emails as spam.
If you’ve never A/B tested your signup appeal, consider making that a priority in the months ahead. Measure not only how changes impact the number of signups, but the value of those signups and how many of those subscribers stay subscribed for more than, say, three months.
Related Article: 6 Ways to Review and Improve Your Automated Marketing Emails
2. Make Your Signup Forms Simpler
Generally speaking, the more fields your signup form has, the fewer people are going to complete it. Here are some ways to reduce yours:
- Only ask for what’s needed now. To start an email relationship, you rarely need much more than the person’s email address. If you’re a B2B company, you might also need their company name and title for lead management purposes. And if you’re a B2C company, you might need their zip code to be able to deliver relevant messaging or local store information. However, all other information can be collected post-signup on the signup confirmation page, through progressive profiling or through a successful conversion.
- Reduce or eliminate optional fields, too. Optional fields still contribute to the impression that a form is long. Plus, they make people have to think about whether to fill in that field, and the more you make them think, the less likely they are to complete the form.
- Avoid asking for sensitive information. All information isn’t equal. In particular, asking for additional contact information tends to significantly reduce form completion rates.
3. Make Your Signup Forms More User-Friendly
Boost signups by designing efficient forms that make it quick and easy for your customers and prospects to complete them. In particular, consider adding the following functionality to your forms, especially on mobile:
- Auto-fill. When you already have form information from previous interactions, auto-fill it to make form completion easier.
- Auto-complete. For mailing addresses, email domains and other information, enable auto-complete to reduce the number of keystrokes needed to fill out the form. It also mitigates errors that can cause your campaigns to not reach their intended recipients.
- Matching keyboard on mobile. For example, if you’re asking for an email address, bring up the email keyboard that includes “@” and “.com” keys. Shockingly few brands use this functionality.
Related Article: 6 Email Marketing Mistakes to Avoid in 2022
4. Make Your Signup Forms More Prominent
If visitors don’t notice your email signup forms because they’re small and tucked into the dark corners of your pages, then they won’t even consider signing up. To address this issue, consider:
- Placing signup forms above the fold. Just like the fold is important in email design, it’s also important in form placement online. While it’s a good practice to include email signup forms at the bottom of all of the pages on your website, if that’s the only place you have them then you’re missing out on significant list growth. An above-the-fold placement could boost your signups by 30% or more. However, this change can be politically tough, because everyone in your company wants prime real estate on your website and in your app. Build support by proving that the long-term impact across the business of having more email subscribers outweighs the often short-term gains of promoting other calls-to-action.
- Using micro-animations to draw attention. For static opt-in forms on your website, an animated icon or call-to-action button can be effective at increasing signups by increasing visibility.
5. Use Many Subscriber Acquisition Sources
While it’s essential to optimize your existing signup forms, you should also look to add more subscriber acquisition sources, paying attention to the risks and rewards associated with each possible new source. A couple of aspects to keep in mind include:
- Leverage modals, carefully. Whether it’s a pop-up, popover, slide-in, light box or something else, modals are a powerful way to get your signup forms in front of more visitors in a way that can’t be ignored. The danger here is that they can be really annoying unless you craft your modal wisely and put controls in place. Despite the risks, modals can dramatically increase email signups.
- Beware of offline signups. Stores, restaurants and events are great venues to sign up high-value subscribers. The problem is when signups happen verbally or via handwritten forms. The transcription error rate in those situations is really high, which means you’re at higher risk of hard bounces and even hitting spam traps. Mitigate that risk by using tablets to sign people up or using QR codes that take people to signup pages on their own devices.
Investing some time and attention into those five areas should significantly accelerate the growth of your email and loyalty programs, helping your company get ready for a world without third-party cookies.
Chad S. White is the author of Email Marketing Rules and Head of Research for Oracle Marketing Consulting, a global full-service digital marketing agency inside of Oracle.