The Process of Inserting a Newsletter Sign Up Form On Your Website
Contrary to popular belief: Email marketing isn’t dead. It’s very much alive and thriving.
One of the most clever ways to do that is by distributing newsletters regularly. It helps you to stay top-of-mind and turn prospects into paying customers.
But crafting a newsletter is a lot more than just emailing your grandma about your summer vacation. You don’t just sit in front of your computer and type away, as you recount your lovely memories on the beach.
Even though you probably receive plenty of e-newsletters from other companies flocking into your inbox on the daily, it’s no cakewalk being on the sending side. There’s a lot that goes on before hitting that send button. This is especially the case for first-time newsletter senders.
That’s what we’ll walk you through in this article: the behind the scenes that take place with crafting a newsletter. It’s about gearing you with the right tools and knowledge before you let your creative juices pour out in an email.
We’ll talk about how to properly check the boxes when integrating a newsletter sign-up form on your website to enable newsletter subscription and grow your email list in a healthy way.
After all, we have evolved from sending out purely promotional emails to the contact details in your lengthy Excel file. Rather, it’s forming a connection with your prospects in an engaging manner. And to do that effectively, you need to follow the right process.
The Right Email Marketing Platform
Naturally, the first step should be determining which platform you’ll use for your email marketing efforts.
Butter has experience using various different ones and we are open to branching out to meet our clients’ needs, but for this article we will focus on the examples of MailChimp and Dot Digital.
Aside from MailChimp being free (to a certain extent), we find that MailChimp has its cons too. It may have more resources as it is more widely used, but can be much more challenging to use.
One of the issues we often hear is that the email builder is not as intuitive as other platforms. It is not a super easy drag-and-drop system, which can be frustrating for newcomers.
This is definitely something that can be worked around, unless you already have a pre-existing brand and want the email to match that style. When that is the case, there can be a lot of imagery that needs to be used - which in turn makes the email size a lot bigger which then takes longer to load on your clients emails.
And if you have technical issues or need human assistance, you’re often faced with automated responses and auto-blocking of your account. It is a very robotic experience and sometimes takes longer to contact their team to solve your problem.
However, one particular advantage is that it’s a good option for small businesses and start-ups. If you have fewer than 2 000 subscribers, the free basic plan is enough to get you started.
Contrastingly, we love DotDigital and use it ourselves. It is generally a higher quality software which has all the tools readily available. However, it does have its limitations, as well.
For one, you need to set a high budget to enjoy the benefits of it and this doesn’t necessarily suit the needs of everyone. For example companies that are aiming to only run very basic campaigns on a weekly or monthly basis.
DotDigital also has great informative resources, but something we love in particular is how awesome their customer support and service is. They’re very quick on their live chat when available, and will answer your emails promptly too. They’re even willing to jump on a call to give you all the clarifications and assistance you need.
Another point to raise is that while MailChimp requires a third party to report analytics, for example Agency Analytics, DotDigital has their own one built in. One of the limitations of DotDigital is that you need to point your nameservers to their servers, which can be considered risky to most.
So there are pros and cons to each and choice really depends on your business needs. Of course, these two aren’t the only email marketing platforms out there, but they’re two we get asked about a lot. If you want to do your own research, paying attention to the following factors will help you land the most appropriate option for your business needs:
Suppose you’re spearheading the digital marketing department. In that case, you probably know the value of a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software and how difficult and tiresome it is to make updates or send hundreds of emails manually.
Having an email marketing platform that can work together with your existing software has bountiful benefits, including smooth content and customer data management and access to campaign metrics overview.
Having the ability to make an original template and have the flexibility to play around with the email builder gives you plenty of freedom to showcase your brand persona in every newsletter you put out. Some platforms limit how much customisation you can do. For example, some limit the number of customised fields you can have, which can pose an issue if you need more than that.
If you want your emails to stand out and catch your target audience’s attention, you can’t send out a boring, generic email. Through data merges and conditional content, you can position yourself as a brand that cares for your customer.
Data merges allow you to pull a client’s first name so you can address the email personally. Conditional content lets you send different versions of the newsletter based on your established criteria.
This depends largely on the enterprise level of your company. For instance, a small mom-and-pop shop might not require the same sophistication level in terms of automation and response handling as an industry giant.
The smaller the business is, the easier it is to conduct manual replies.
The larger the business is, the more you need to devise an automated approach such as a push-button response to emails or assigning a ticket to each query.
Pro Tip: We also recommend looking into software review sites if you’re on the lookout for an email platform to see what’s the right fit.
Form UI on the website
Once you’ve decided which platform to go for, the next order of business is to gather your subscribers.
But you can’t do that without a place for your users to sign up right?
Well, this part is unchartered waters for most E-commerce business owners and startup companies.
What elevates it to a whole new ball game is the fact that not a lot of people want to fill out sign up forms.
The designer needs to be creative and strategic to motivate people to sign up, especially when something as simple as adding too many fields can turn people away.
For us in Butter, we operate under the premise of “Different purpose, Different UI”.
To discover the most effective design, it’s essential to tickle your target audience’s fancy. This requires putting yourself in their shoes and finding more about their behaviour.
Should the newsletter sign up form be built on the page?
It depends. There are various styles to choose from, but we think that placing the form into the page can be particularly successful once users have already taken action or expressed interest. We can help you in finding those engagement points, as this would surely create a more strategised UI/UX.
It’s the reason you often see these forms on landing pages. Splash pages are commonly used as a go-to design because it really grabs the visitors’ attention as there is nothing else on-screen to distract them. However, they’re not exactly built on the same page as the landing page. They’re a cross between a pop-up and on page, since they appear before you can access the rest of the page.
There are also cons to this as some may find it disruptive, or unnecessary as it is not what they came to the site to see. Again, it really depends on your business and your brand and the goals you have in mind.
Should the newsletter sign up form be a pop-up?
Once again - the answer to this will truly depend on your intention. Pop-ups exist to offer an alert form of information that should be worth getting up in their face for. It would definitely interrupt what they are doing - for example, scrolling down the page, and make them stop to see the popup.
As popups are commonly used these days, especially in E-Commerce, most users click on the close button upon instinct. So, keep this in mind when you design an experience for them.
A rule of thumb we use at Butter is to keep the number of form fields to a minimum and display a concise message. As much as possible, only include fields that make the most sense to your marketing plan. The easier it is for your customer to fill out, the more likely they are to do it. Think about it - if you saw a form with tons of fields to fill out, you’d be more inclined to turn away, right?
You should try to give them a brief explanation on what to get excited for and benefits of joining your newsletter. Having a sign-up form with giving no incentive to fill out, is ultimately useless and no one would see any reason to fill it out.
We all agreed that a tactful way for E-Commerce websites to gain more subscribers is to squeeze in a form when there’s a demand for something and signing up is the only way to solve that.
For example when someone clicks on an out-of-stock product, offering an “Enter your email to get notified when this item is back in stock” field looks quite promising. It only takes one second to enter an email here, and there you go - another subscriber!
One thing you must include on your website is the agreement for users that by entering their details anywhere on your website, they are agreeing to receive communications from you. This enables your customers to opt for a notification when the product is back in stock, and absolutely doesn’t hurt to get to add another email to your database.
Same goes for sold-out events (be it a webinar or a trade show) or online courses, services etc. The possibilities are quite endless. You can include a pop-up explaining that all the available slots have been taken, but you can give updates about the next available dates and other upcoming events if they leave you their email address. As long as you have a good reason for the user to actually want to sign up, they will happily do it.
You can also spice things up with a dash of creativity. Take a look at Tipsy Elves’ savvy strategy. They used their “spin to win” promotional marketing campaign to entice users to input their email addresses. This is a unique way of convincing your users to sign up as they will receive a promotional discount immediately.
Should you use reCaptcha in the sign-up form?
Admit it - you feel a bit bombarded when a website asks you to select all the tiles with traffic lights on them and take you through rounds until there are none left. So, do we. And we’re guessing that your prospects probably share the sentiment. It can definitely be a nuisance in terms of UX.
ReCAPTCHA provides a higher protection level for bots than CAPTCHA. Although, it’s still far from perfect, and you can still get spam. Like CAPTCHA, however, its purpose is to secure your sign up form from unwanted visitors.
It has different versions. V2 is the interactive experience (as mentioned above with selecting the different tiles with traffic lights) and people have opted for this either because a) V3 was not available yet or b) because they prefer to filter out bots this way.
V3 also does the job, but does not interfere with the user’s experience. It does not provide any pop-up activities to fill out before they are able to submit. Instead, it tracks the movements of the mouse and keyboard for hesitations and imperfections to make sure that you aren’t automated.
It can be eye rolling for your visitors to solve the v2, which could hamper the conversion process and even at that point, could turn your users away.
If you’re encountering some technical issues, it’s not fair to transfer your burden onto your audience since you stand to benefit the most from their sign up.
In most cases, you would lose out as they would just turn away. And usually getting your client’s email address at the minimum and validating it can give you what you need.
Importance of Fields
Your email marketing campaign won’t work if you don’t optimise your newsletter sign up form. Therefore, you need to put in work to ensure your email subscriptions go up, so you can generate more leads and convert more customers.
Here are some FAQs to ensure that you hit all the right notes:
Should all the form fields correspond with the email marketing platform?
Yes. If you don’t want to create any confusion for yourself and break the connection between the form on the website and the data you capture on your platform, only assign the essential fields that you have you use for.
Note: This requires the help of a developer to tie the backend code of your website’s form with your email marketing platform.
Should there be enough fields to collect all the essential information?
Piggybacking on the previous answer, we always advise to stick to the minimum when selecting fields for your sign up form. Remember Tipsy Elves? All they ask from their prospects is an email address to receive the discount code in (along with future newsletters, of course!).
What happens if there are too many fields in your sign up form?
Short answer: People are more likely to press the X button and leave it for “later”.
You say more with fewer fields. In fact, upon changing an 11-field form to a 4-field one resulted in a whopping 160% increase in submissions and an even more impressive surge in conversation rate by 120%! According to the same study, the information quality the users put forward remained the same since people tend to lie on longer forms.
What are some other pros and cons and things to look out for?
If you decided to collect only email addresses and nothing else, you’ll notice that you cannot personalise your emails with “Dear [NAME]” for example. Depending on your brand and business, it can sometimes be a bummer because according to Get Response, personalising an email increases open rates up to 22%.
You can also use the name field to identify which seem “spammy” and delete them from your list. Also, using your users’ names in newsletters resulted in more unsubscribes and spam complaints.
You certainly need to weigh in some factors to make a sound decision, but sometimes, the only way to know for sure is to try it first and track the results.
Importance of setting up channels
Just as with any marketing campaign, your email marketing efforts won’t take off if you don’t pay much attention to analytics. We suggest setting up channels to track your audience’s behaviour and help you pinpoint what’s working and what’s not working.
When you sort out which sources your customers have originated from (e.g. how many signed up through my website form? How many were manually added by me?), you’ll be in an advantageous position to switch up your current approach and amplify the positive results.
Where can you see the analytics?
When it comes to tracking your performance, let’s just say there are many ways to skin a cat. Sometimes, your analytics dashboard is built into the Email Platform (DotDigital has this feature), and other times you might need to integrate a third party software to view your analytics.
You’d also be able to see there how many individuals unsubscribed, how many emails delivered or bounced back (read more about hard and soft bounces here). And though you might not be able to pin down the reason that made them think they’re better off without your newsletters, you can check out when they decided to do so and track links they clicked on within the email to gather some insight from there.
A single opt-in is usually sufficient, but not the most effective. Users will see it right there on the sign-up form, usually in the form of a box. They have to tick it if they agree to receive messages from you.
More convenient for users
No need for additional steps
Fake email addresses
No online privacy certifications
Bots and subscribers can easily mark your emails as spam.
A double opt-in (DOI) is when you can really see how much your prospects value their budding relationship with you. When a user expresses desire to be included in your email list, you forward him or her a confirmation email containing a verification link.
Dot Digital believes that double opt-ins are the best practice because it shows which of your target customers want to learn and stay connected with you. We'd have to agree. We think the individuals who are willing to verify their email are a lot more eligible to convert into paying customers.
Using your Own Domain for Newsletter Sending
Most marketers believe that using your own domain to send out newsletters or other email marketing campaigns strengthen and support your brand.
According to Seth Godin, a brand is a collection of expectations, relationships, stories, and memories. When done right, it influences a consumer’s decision to choose your brand over others.
Dot Digital also supports this by giving three straightforward reasons to set up a branded domain: higher open rates, increased delivery rates, and no negative impact and overwhelm for your company’s transactional email.
There are certain limitations and considerations you need to know should you opt for a generic from address or your company email address.
If you want your newsletters to be highly regarded, using a generic address can be a huge turnoff. On the other hand, a company’s email address does not allow unsubscribes. Users who want to opt out of receiving your emails are likely to mark your address as spam/junk if left with no choice. And the more people that mark your emails as spam, the more google will mark emails coming from your account as spam to other recipients too.
Most platforms conduct updates, and it’s more challenging to implement the changes if you don’t use the branded domain.
Branded domains have all the inner workings to undertake bulk emails (for example using mailchimp or DotDigital’s domains) and ensure deliverability, which your company email address does not have.
Should An Ecommerce Business Send Out Newsletters?
Yes, and double yes!
Before getting deep into the complexities of email marketing and starting to brainstorm with your team for the perfect call to action for your newsletter sign up form and crafting your first-ever newsletter, let’s highlight the reasons that make it worth your while:
Newsletters help boost brand awareness.
Since you don’t have an actual shop, you don’t have sales assistants pushing your products to your prospects. Your regular newsletters can give them all the juice they need to know about your brand.
Newsletters highlight your products.
The convenience of buying online gives you the opportunity to give customers more reason to spend more (even when they don’t have any plans to). If you put your product in front of your target customers repeatedly, many of them will give in.
Newsletters drive traffic to your website.
Increased web traffic can help put you on Google’s good side. With higher search rankings, it’s much easier to get organic traffic.
Newsletters help you deepen your relationship with customers and prospects.
Sending out newsletters will help you stay top-of-mind and make your audience trust you more.
Newsletters help generate sales.
Well, this has to be the best advantage. In most cases, you get a lot more for than you’ve bargained for from your newsletters as it provides you with the best means of contact to establish a relationship with a customer that’s already paying attention to your brand. What’s your next move going to be?
Email Marketing isn’t new, but it doesn’t mean it’s easy. Laying the groundwork for your newsletter campaign is a tall order and it is a commitment to be consistent with sending out strategic, well thought out and designed campaigns. We’ve listed some of the information that can serve as your bread and butter when starting out. But if it gets too hard, you can rely on us for sustenance and support. Drop us a few lines and let us know how we can help.