4 tips for growing your email list with opt-in

Earlier this month, I led a webinar for the Specialized Information Publishers Association (SIPA). One of topics we discussed was boosting opt-in email list growth. Here are some tips that you can use to acquire new subscribers, no matter what industry you’re in. The key metric we focused on is acquisition conversion rate.

Acquisition conversion rate

For most organizations, the corporate website is ground zero for email subscriber acquisition; this metric shows the percentage of new (not returning) website visitors that sign-up to be email subscribers.

Here’s how you calculate it:


Here are three scenarios:


As you can see, the conversion rate can have a dramatic impact on how many new names you add to your list each month. With my clients, I shoot for a conversion rate between 5 percent and 20 percent. Obviously the higher the better, but something in this range should be attainable for any website.

There are a few simple things you can do to increase this rate. These are some examples based on my work with clients.

1. Include the sign-up fields in the call-to-action

I’ve been able to boost email list growth by up to 450 percent, which is more than five times the sign-ups generated by the control, by embedding the sign-up directly in the call-to-action and removing the need for visitors to visit a separate page to fill out the sign-up fields.

ClickZ does a good job of this:


2. Embed larger sign-up forms in webpages

In the example below, we used a combination email sign-up and lead generation forms. It may look a little busy, but the boost in email sign-ups and leads generated was dramatic compared to the control where people had to click to another page to take these actions.


3. Place the email sign-up call-to-action above the fold

No matter what the primary goal of your website may be, the secondary goal should be to get an email address from every visitor. I’ve increased sign-ups by 30 percent or more just by moving the call-to-action above the fold.


Above the fold is prime real estate on a website; there are usually turf battles to get positioned here. But the value of an email subscriber is huge – it gives you the opportunity to reach out to that person and continue to communicate with them.

4. If you must have a dedicated sign-up page, keep it focused

Some organizations can’t or don’t want to embed the sign-up form with the call-to-action; that’s fine. There are still things you can do to boost performance.

In this client case study, the completion on this page went from 10 percent to 45 percent when we removed distractions and moved the sign-up fields above the fold.


You want to focus prospects on the task at hand. Here, the control page had standard website navigation as well as banner advertising.

When these elements are present, I typically see one of these scenarios:

  1. Visitors are actively clicking on these other links and leaving the sign-up process without completing it. In instance, removing them usually boosts response dramatically, which is a win. And you can go back to including them on the thank you page after sign-up in complete.
  2. Visitors aren’t actively clicking on these other links and are completing the sign-up process. Usually when this happens, no one is clicking on these links anyway – so they are just cluttering up the page. Again, it makes sense to remove them.

No matter which scenario exists, the answer is to remove these extraneous links.

The other thing that we did here was we moved the fields up above the fold. Eliminating the visitor hunt for fields will also contribute to an increase in conversion rates.

Try these with your website and let me know how it goes!

Until next time,

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