Sign-Up Strategies for Small Business Email Marketing

With email marketing becoming an increasingly important marketing strategy for many small businesses, a critical but sometimes overlooked aspect of your company’s marketing strategy is the registration form that visitors use to sign up for your mailing list. Because you need to attain permission from your customers and prospects to contact them via email (known as an opt-in), the form you use to start the registration  process can play an important role in getting people to agree to receive your newsletter, offers or other information you may wish to send via email.

If your company’s website is the digital equivalent of a retail store, then your sign-up form should play the role of an effective salesperson — a good one can help persuade customers to sign up, while one that’s too obtrusive or obnoxious can send people away.

Clarify Your Goals

One of the first steps in developing a strong email list is determining why you want to do so. Are you interested in producing an email newsletter that can serve as a strong lead-generation tool? Do you want to maintain contact with customers in the hope of generating repeat sales? As with any online marketing effort, understanding the reasons why you want to get involved in email marketing will help determine the strategies you make toward achieving that goal.

What you’ve identified your email marketing goal, the next step is figuring out the benefits customers will receive from signing up. Understanding these benefits, and listing them directly on the sign-up form, can provide a powerful incentive for people who may be interested in your company.

The next step is to start thinking about the design and placement of the sign-up form on your website. As you work with your site designer, it’s helpful to keep the following in mind:

  • Promise you won’t spam them. Because everyone gets too much email already, customers are understandably reluctant to sign up more unless they can see a clear-cut benefit to doing so. This can be a discount offer, updates about your industry or community, or other information they’re likely to find useful. Reassure them that their information won’t be sold to a third party without your permission, and include a list to your link to your more detailed privacy policy.
  • Location matters. It may sound obvious, but the first step in getting people to sign up is getting them to notice the form. Most sites will include a sign-up sheet on a variety of pages, and often in different locations. You may use the top right-hand side of one page, and the bottom of another. It’s a good idea to experiment with different placements to see if it makes a difference in your conversion rate.
  • Don’t ask for too much. While it’s tempting to ask for a lot of demographic information about your customers, doing so can reduce the amount of people willing to sign up. Because customers are nervous about how their data will be used, it’s more effective to simply ask for their name and email address to get them to opt in.
  • Pay attention to color. Using red text or a red button on the sign up form sends a subliminal “stop” signal, which is why most registration forms typically use green buttons.

Paying attention to the design and placement of your sign-up form can play an important role not only in the success of your ability to register users, but also is the overall email marketing efforts.

Do you think it is important to have an email marketing strategy? What steps are you taking to encourage people to sign-up? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts.

Susan Wilson Solovic is an award-winning entrepreneur and journalist, author of three best-selling books, multi-media personality and contributor to ABC News and other outlets, public speaker and attorney. AT&T has sponsored this blog post.

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