Make Your Subscription Forms Clearly Visible

Your subscription forms should stand out. While the majority of your visitors won’t subscribe, they must at least see it.

In this post, I’ll cover some tips and tricks to increase the number of subscribers. This should be a priority for anyone with an active newsletter.

Remember that those who subscribe, more often than not, didn’t initially want to join your list. They just happened to see your subscription form.

If you need help with styling your forms, you can ask on WP Questions for a quick and cheap fix.

“Subscribe”, or the call to action

Steve Krug, the author of the book Don’t Make Me Think, says it bluntly:

[It’s] a good idea to assume that everything [in your web page] is visual noise until proven otherwise.

Your “Subscribe” button should stand out from the noise, by all means.

It’s the call to action that should naturally draw the scanning eyes of any visitor. It’s should be bold, and clearly state its function.

Stick to the label “Subscribe” since this word equals “newsletters” in the minds of most. Of course, if you’re offering a freebie, you can write “Sign up, and get the book“, for example.

WordPress themes typically have faded buttons, like this one from Twenty Twelve:

Form with faded button

Make it stand out with contrast, bigger font, like this:

Form with button that's clearly visible

Note that I also increased the size of the input’s text, because it has the “email” in there.

I purposefully kept the title and text above the input smaller because I don’t want them to compete visually with my button.

Dig this lengthy article with plenty of examples on making the perfect button, if you want to learn more.

What’s your promise?

A visitor to your site is now looking at your subscription form thanks to your eye catching “Subscribe” button. He probably thinks:

“Another newsletter… I already get too many of them!”

It’s time to set the expectations of your newsletter in a short paragraph, above the “subscribe” button.

Here are a few pointers:

  • Frequency. Once a week, or monthly?
  • What’s in the newsletter? Just blog posts? Or more exclusive content? Tempt them!
  • What does the newsletter look like? Provide a link to browser version of a past newsletter, as an example.
  • How many other people are on this list? 10 or 10,000? The size doesn’t really matter, but a number is always comforting to see.
  • Keep your paragraph short!

Jakob Nielsen, a vocal usability expert, has a pretty extensive signup page. A good example of clarity trumps brevity. What do you think?

Positioning the form

It’s up to you to determine where your form should be placed in your theme’s layout.

The right column is quite ideal, especially right at the top of it. Scroll up to see ours.

Here are other places for your form:

  1. In the footer. Surprisingly, it often works as good in the depths of your page as in the sidebar.
  2. Bottom of a post.
  3. Below the header.
  4. Slide-in, or footer bar.
  5. Popups. They can be annoying, so be careful.
  6. Landing pages. Be warned: don’t ask your visitors already on your site to click a link only to subscribe. That extra step yields few new subscribers.
  7. Header: this is unusual, since users might mistake it for a search box.

You can implement all of these different form types and placements with MailPoet.

Two forms is better than one

It’s a good idea to put more than one form on your site. Your visitors might miss one form as they quickly scan your page.

You can try out ClickTale to see heat maps on where your users focus their attention. It’s down right scientific.

For example, Yoast, a popular plugin author, currently uses 3 forms on his homepage. He’s racked up nearly 96,000 subscribers over the years, or nearly 5 times more than his Facebook page.

The first form, a popup, appears immediately on your first visit:

Yoast's popup form

The second form is in his right sidebar:

Yoast's sidebar form

The third one is a slide-in which appears only when you’re near the end of the page:

Yoast slide in form

He’s trying really hard for you to sign up, isn’t he? He knows his subscribers are valuable to his business.

You should try, and test some combinations:

  1. Top right column / footer
  2. Header / footer
  3. Top right column / bottom of post
  4. Side bar / popup

In MailPoet, you can track the number of subscribers each form converts.

This is ideal for you to evaluate which form works better, and try new combinations.

Leave a comment, become a subscriber

You can add a checkbox to your comments’ form so user can subscribe, like this:

Subscribe checkbox in comments

This is an easy win since your visitor is already filling a form with his email address. You can activate it directly in your MailPoet settings.

Registration form for new users

If you have a membership website, you can also add a checkbox to your registration form (enable it in MailPoet’s Settings), like this:

Subscribe in registration form

Why ask new users to subscribe since MailPoet already has a list of WordPress users? That’s because you might have 2 types of emails to send to your users: newsletters, and important emails.

For example, use the “WordPress users” list on special occasions, like warning your users about an upcoming site maintenance.

For your regular newsletters, use a list that users chose when they registered.

Final word

I’ll recap the article in actionable steps for you:

  1. Make your subscribe buttons stand out!
  2. Put more at least a second form
  3. Wait a few days, and check the forms’ performances

Interested in learning more about improving signup forms? We wrote a definitive guide on improving your signup forms.

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