It’s Saturday evening, and instead of hanging out with friends and relaxing, I’m working on a few websites. In fact, I’ve been dealing with email opt-in form issues all day. It’s been frustrating, but I’m just about done.
Because I’ve been working on email opt-in forms all day, I thought it would be a good idea to write a post about building an email list, centered on the different types of opt-in forms that I feel are the most effective.
It’s extremely hard to believe that so many businesses, large and small alike, neglect both list building and email marketing. In fact, while working in the agency world, I realized that numerous enterprise companies do a poor job at building email lists and properly working with their list subscribers. Honestly, you wouldn’t believe how bad some of these companies are when it comes to email marketing–horrible.
Personally, both email list building and email marketing are vital money making activities that are extremely important–they MUST NOT be neglected. I wouldn’t have spent an entire Saturday working on email opt-in forms if they weren’t important. Businesses and entrepreneurs who fail to implement effective email marketing campaigns are leaving a ton of money on the table.
There are two key components to email marketing, which I’ve already mentioned in passing. Firstly, an email list must be continually grown using different email opt-in and incentive strategies. Secondly, the email list must be strategically sent valuable content on a regular basis. This post will focus on the first component and the use of different opt-in forms.
To capture emails, every Internet business must use some type of lead capture form on their website (or other web properties). There are four major email opt-in forms that can be used: 1) sidebar opt-in forms, 2) in-post or bottom-of-post forms, 3) slider forms, and 4) pop-up forms. I’m going to briefly describe each type of form, then give you my general recommendations.
Sidebar Email Opt-in Forms
Unless you’ve never surfed the Internet before, you’ve seen a sidebar opt-in form on websites. They are pretty straightforward and are usually on the left or right side of a website; hence, they’re called sidebar forms (although, more and more websites are using ‘sidebar’ forms that span the entire width of a website).
In-Post or Bottom-of-Post Email Opt-in Forms
Unlike sidebar forms, “in-post” and “bottom-of-post” forms are integrated within or at the bottom of content. The advantage of these forms over sidebar forms is that they can be displayed around valuable content that encourages people to sign up for even more valuable information. A sidebar form usually is isolated by itself to one side, away from website content. If a website user finds value in the information provided by a site, then the user will likely submit their email if a form is right in front of them (i.e. within the content or at the end of an article).
Slider Email Opt-in Forms
Slider opt-in forms usually display themselves after a certain amount of pre-designated time (usually a few seconds). These forms will ‘slide in’ from one of the screen’s edges, normally the bottom or top of the screen. The idea behind this form is to attract a website visitor’s attention without interfering with a visitor’s surfing experience.
The slider opt-in form was created as an answer to annoying pop-up forms (which I will discuss next) and ineffective sidebar forms. We’ve all experienced the annoying nature of pop-up forms. We might be reading an article and all of a sudden, we’re disturbed by a pop-up opt-in form that prevents us from reading anything else. As for sidebar forms, some people develop a certain degree of ‘blindness’ towards them because they are on many websites these days.
Pop-up Email Opt-in Forms
As I mentioned, you’ve undoubtedly have seen pop-up forms before. In fact, you probably noticed one the first time you visited this website. Like slider opt-in forms, pop-up forms normally show up after a programmed time interval. Pop-up forms can also act as “exit pop-ups.” This means that the form shows up when a website visitor tries to leave your website.
When Building an Email List, Which Opt-in Form is Better?
When answering this question, there are a number of variables that would lead me to recommend one form over another. For the sake of this post, I’m going to assume that the question is, “Which opt-in form is best to place on the home page of my website?” I’m basing my answer on years of personal experience, experimentation, and from years of working with small and large businesses.
Without a doubt, pop-up opt-in forms have always worked the best for my clients and me. It might seem counter intuitive, and you may really, really, hate pop ups, but I’ve been using them for years despite people giving them a bad rap, because they just plain work. I’ve quadrupled my opt-ins for many of my sites by using pop-ups. If you’ve never used them, try it out for yourself, even if your gut says it won’t work. It has always worked better on my clients’ websites, and mine.
I used to have slider opt-in forms on all of my major websites because I thought they were the best, until I carried out an A/B split test on three websites over the course of two months. On all three websites, the pop-up form produced more than double the opt-ins than the slider form captured.
If you want to try pop-up forms yourself, I really recommend Popup Domination. They have the best looking forms and their web application is very easy to use.
Have you put a lot of effort into list building? What form has helped you build your email list the best? Let me know in the comments section below.