Despite periodic claims the email newsletter is dead, facts don’t support that conclusion. Email newsletters continue to provide a significant return on investment (ROI). As research shows, email newsletter subscribers:
- Arrive onsite from direct links at a higher percentage than search engine results or social media
- Spend 80% more time at a site than other visitors
- Are twice as likely to buy a product or service
Before you can reap these benefits, however, you must build your email newsletter distribution list. A key element is the sign-up form. A well-designed sign-up form will directly contribute to increased subscription rates.
So, where to start?
The theory and principles of good design are important, but nuts-and-bolts examples are equally helpful. We’ll combine both of these below in examining 8 email newsletter sign up forms that perform.
Principles of effective email newsletter sign up forms
Before looking at the specific email newsletter sign up form examples below, here are some of the most important aspects of designing a successful newsletter:
- Keep it simple: From the number of fields asking for information to color schemes and even vocabulary, your form should be straightforward without being boring.
- Tell subscribers what they’ll receive: Clearly state what information you’ll be sending out as well as its frequency.
- Respect user privacy: This is key to building trust as well as following General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) guidelines for user information privacy and use.
- Include a lead magnet: Offer your new subscribers something tangible for signing up.
- Integrate social proof: Prove the worth of your newsletter by showing how other subscribers find value in it.
- Use a descriptive call to action (CTA): Be clear in your CTA about the exact benefits subscribers will receive.
Okay, enough with the theory. Let’s see how all this works in action:
8 effective email newsletter sign up forms
There are plenty of ways you can apply the rules of good design, as you can see in the examples below. You should also keep an eye out when browsing the internet for other sign up forms with features you like. You can also check out these additional online resources.
Founded by Brian Clark in 2006, Copyblogger offers a wealth of free—and ad-free—information about content production and marketing. Visitors immediately see this signup form at the top of the site’s homepage:
Image Source: Copyblogger
The straightforward design uses only four sentences, just sixteen total words. Brevity may be the soul of wit, but conciseness is also key to powerful writing.
Despite the benefits which come from collecting different demographic data from subscribers such as age, gender, location, and so on, the only information requested is an email address.
Instead of using a generic “Submit” button, the submission button contains a CTA describing exactly what subscribers will receive: free training.
2. Kate Spade New York
Kate Spade New York is a luxury fashion design company which competes with brands such as Michael Kors. Given their industry and niche, Kate Spade’s sign up form has a more elegant approach than the Copyblogger example above:
Image Source: Kate Spade
The black text on a white background is clean and stylish, and also fits with their overall branding. It’s important to keep your colors and fonts consistent across platforms, even email marketing.
The use of the first person “our” and lowercase text in italics with an exclamation point makes the offer to join the mailing list sound personal and informal. Subscribers also know exactly what information they’ll receive if they follow through: announcements, gift ideas, sales, and more.
Requesting a zip code—something Copyblogger did not do—is key to generate targeted emails based on subscriber location and the CTA encourages visitors to “join,” not just submit their email address.
3. The New York Times
The New York Times is a leader in the use of digital platforms for journalism, and this newsletter information page holds true to form:
Image Source: The New York Times
The newsletter segmentation above is essential when you have diverse product and service lines. When this is the case, it’s impossible for a one-size-fits-all newsletter to be effective. If you do produce multiple newsletters—The New York Times has more than 65—allow potential subscribers to view a sample newsletter to make sure its right for them.
Similarly, the frequency of each currently distributed newsletters is clearly identified, so subscribers can decide how often they want to hear from The New York Times.
Everlane is an upscale clothing company which operates primarily online. Given that, it’s no surprise this sign up form automatically loads when visitors arrive at its homepage:
Image Source: Everlane
This is the first example of a lead magnet we’ve seen: offering a tangible benefit—free shipping on your first order—by signing up. Offering an incentive to capture more subscribers is a surefire way to increase sign ups.
Subscribers also have the option to use their Facebook or Google account to sign up as opposed to using email addresses. This provides an added layer of privacy as users don’t have to give away their email. For Everlane, however, this generates an even greater amount of demographic data.
Seafolly is a women’s beachwear brand based in Australia where it has a 35% market share. Similar to designs we’ve seen earlier, its sign up form uses a stripped-down, minimalist style which has one purpose: add subscribers to its email list:
Image Source: Seafolly
You’re not just signing up for periodic emails, you’re becoming a member of the beach club, which emphasizes that Seafolly is more than a store. It’s a lifestyle brand. Emphasizing their lifestyle branding encourages customers to join in and become brand ambassadors.
Again, they offer an incentive—$20 off your next purchase—provided to users once they subscribe.
Whereas Kate Spade needed zip code information for geographically targeted emails, here Seafolly gathers their subscriber’s age. This helps Seafolly break down their list into smaller segments in order to send the most relevant content regarding their separate product lines for babies, toddlers, girls 6-16, and adult women.
6. Nerd Fitness
Nerd Fitness provides free resources as well as paid training and coaching services to its community of exercise enthusiasts called “The Rebellion.” One of its key tenets is exercise should be fun, and that attitude carries over into this sign up form:
Image Source: Nerd Fitness
Everyone loves to root for an underdog, and the slogan “Join the Rebellion” feeds into that as well as reiterates their branding.
The slogan also provides an underlying Star Wars motif, a classic nerd obsession. In fact, the progressively smaller lines of text under the slogan mirror the text crawl at the beginning of Star Wars.
Not only is there a lead magnet—a free book—there is also a picture to allow people to visualize what they are getting. Providing a high-value resource such as a book also tells your subscribers that you’ll only send them high-value content.
Again, there is minimal information required to sign up: an email address and gender, which helps personalize fitness information.
This CTA really is a call to action—”I’m in!”—as subscribers are now part of a nerd exercise army. Studies also show that using the first person in CTAs leads to more conversions.
7. Elle & Company
Elle & Company is the site for Lauren Hooker’s web design and marketing services. She decided early on, however, to also become a go-to resource for others in her field which is reflected in her sign up form:
Image Source: Elle & Company
Potential subscribers immediately learn two key things about the newsletter: its content is actionable as opposed to just theory, and it arrives every Tuesday. This will help drive sign-ups and grow her list even faster.
The inclusion of the envelope graphic with the list in it emphasizes that Lauren’s newsletter will send out to-do action items in the newsletter. The graphic matches her overall branding and the simplicity isn’t distracting from the CTA.
Lauren also makes it clear that she knows her audience: busy professionals who need one business hack at a time as opposed to an all-inclusive manifesto. Potential subscribers will assume that since she knows them well, she’ll only send relevant information.
The ability to opt out at any time also respects subscribers who demand value right away and, if they don’t find it, are welcome to move on. There’s no pressure, no commitment, meaning the gun shy might be more likely to join in.
Plus, this section below the sign-up form incorporates a feature we haven’t seen yet, social proof:
Image Source: Elle & Company
The benefits of joining this email list are demonstrated through social proof: its value to existing subscribers. These days, it’s hard to find people willing to buy in without a little encouragement from friends, in real life or digital, making social proof crucial to increasing conversions.
By including pictures of Katelyn James and Sara Cornelius to accompany their reviews, Elle & Company emphasizes that these are real people who truly find value in the newsletter, not just paid reviews. Linking to their websites also reiterates these are actual reviews.
8. XO Sarah
Sarah Morgan is the driving force behind XO Sarah, a website dedicated to helping bloggers and small business owners build their brands online:
Image Source: XO Sarah
The lead magnet is the top 10 list of tools used every day for her business, another high-value concept that will endear her brand to subscribers and drive in sign ups. Social proof is provided by stating there are already over 20K subscribers. Finally, capturing each subscriber’s first name allows emails to be personalized.
The performance metrics of your email newsletters are critical marketing information. At the same time, you must build your distribution list to generate this data. Employing these sign-up form design principles above will directly contribute to these efforts:
- Keep the design simple
- Tell subscribers what they’re getting
- Respect user privacy
- Include a lead magnet
- Display social proof
- Use the CTA to reinforce the newsletter’s purpose
Once you incorporate these elements, it’ll be time to compare the before-and-after statistics to calculate your exact ROI.
Want to know which email metrics are the most important? Check out our guide to the 10 stats you need to be tracking.