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How Effective Is Your Online Email Sign-Up?

  |  March 19, 2012   |  Comments

Changes you can make to your sign-up page to provide a boost in conversion rate. Part two in a two-part series.

How effective is your online email sign-up? Here's the second part of a case study showing how simple, inexpensive changes to a client's sign-up page took it from less than a 10 percent conversion rate to a 45 percent conversion rate. In my last column, I discussed issues I identified on their original page; here, I'll cover the changes we made which provided the boost in conversion rate.

After reviewing the content and determining what needed to be removed, it was time to build a wireframe for the revised page (below).

030512-revised-nl-sign-up-page3                                Figure 1: Wireframe of Revised Newsletter Sign-Up Page

Notice what's missing? As we discussed in my last column, we've removed all of the advertisements and items with links to take people to other pages on the website. The list includes:

  • Two advertisements that appeared above the website header
  • The website breadcrumbs that were above the header
  • The website search box that appeared next to the header
  • The website navigation bar that appeared under the header
  • A box with links to other newsletter sign-up pages that had been at the top right
  • An advertisement that was in the middle of the right column
  • A box with links to other sections of the website that appeared at the bottom of the right column

Now that we've freed up space, I moved some of the other items around a bit to optimize the page.

The newsletter logo, benefits, and sample issues pretty much stayed put. All were above the fold on the original page and we've kept them there. I did look at making the newsletter logo smaller, but it is actually a montage and didn't look like much when we minimized it. So we kept it the same size.

The biggest change here is where the fields, privacy, and submit button appear. These are the most critical elements of the page, the items that keep the promise made in the call to action that people clicked on to get here. I've given them a prominent location at the top right of the page.

Notice also where the above-the-fold line falls now. By removing the extraneous content (content not directly related to the email sign-up), we were able to get all elements of the page above the fold. Visitors no longer need to scroll, unless they want to view the page footer.

One thing I want to mention that you can't see here are the copy changes I made.

I revised the newsletter benefit copy and bullet points to be more benefit-oriented. This is something that many email marketers overlook. Although sign-up is free, getting people to sign up is still a marketing exercise. The benefits of having an email relationship with you (in other words, what's in it for the subscriber) are critical to getting the sign-up.

I also changed the terminology on the button below the fields. On the original page, the button said "Submit" - on the revised page I changed it to read "Sign Up." Is this a small thing? Yes. Would this change alone cause a dramatic increase in conversion rate? Likely not. But your website and the copy on your website reflect on your brand. "Submit" is a rather cold word; "Sign Up" or "Join Now" are softer, friendlier ways to say the same thing.

I also want to say a few words about the sample issue. Offering visitors a chance to see an issue of the newsletter before they sign up has shown to increase conversion rates. But it's important to do it right. The sample issue here opens in a daughter window. That's a new browser window that appears in front of, but does not completely cover, the existing page. The links in the sample are not clickable - it's just an image of the email. This is very important, as these links would be exits that could take people away from the sign-up page.

So how did we do? The client saw a dramatic increase in list growth overnight by making these simple, inexpensive changes. Conversion rate went from just under 10 percent to 45 percent, right away. And it's stayed at that level.

Best of all, this is just the beginning. Now that basic optimization of the page has been done, we can start testing other things, both on this page (to increase its conversion rate) and on the calls to action leading to this page (to drive more traffic). The sky's the limit!

So now it's time to take a look at your sign-up page. Start with your website analytics to see what your conversion and abandon rates are currently. Then critique your page to see what you can do to deliver on the promise of the call to action, close the exits, and boost your list growth rate!

Until next time,


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Jeanne Jennings

Jeanne Jennings is a 20 year veteran of the online/email marketing industry, having started her career with CompuServe in the late 1980s. As Vice President of Global Strategic Services for Alchemy Worx, Jennings helps organizations become more effective and more profitable online. Previously Jennings ran her own email marketing consultancy with a focus on strategy; clients included AARP, Hasbro, Scholastic, Verizon and Weight Watchers International. Want to learn more? Check out her blog.

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