Opt-in forms are tricky: they could be either too subtle or too intrusive. In both cases, people will not fill them in and your conversion rates will stay low. There are many things to consider when planning an opt-in form: design, wording, placement and, of course, testing.
There are many theories concerning what works and what does not work in opt-in forms. Results vary from company to company, because the opt-in form needs to be developed keeping in mind its target audience. However, there are a few best practices which remain applicable in all cases. These rules are helpful both for new entrepreneurs launching their first opt-in forms and for established companies which try to gain more qualified leads and subscribers.
Let us take a look at these best practices.
- Plan Your Form Layout Carefully
Opt-in forms need to be perfectly formatted to look appealing to the viewers. They must be able to get the gist of the form in one glance, therefore centred or justified formatting are preferable to other types of formatting.
Explanatory text above or in front of text boxes must be neatly aligned and help even a distracted viewer understand what they need to type in. These small details are extremely important: an appealing look and easy-to-read text make the difference between getting an opt-in or not.
- Do Not Get Lost in Details
It feels tempting to list all the key benefits your subscribers get from signing up for your newsletter or as registered users on your website. However, people do not have the patience to read all the text placed inside your opt-in form (which is usually smaller than your website page). The more text they see on the form, the more likely they are to close the form or navigate away from it.
Instead, select the top benefit, that which will be most appealing to your prospects, and place it in bold text next to appealing graphics.
- CTA Button Must Hold Pride of Place
We have already covered the anatomy of the perfect CTA button in a previous article. Here, we will only mention the fact that one of the key mistakes many companies make in designing opt-in forms is not making the button visible enough. Another mistake is choosing the standard “Submit” button for newsletter opt-in, instead of giving people a reason to subscribe.
- Apply the KISS Strategy
Keep it short and simple (KISS) is a design principle which graphic designers use when planning their work. Clean, distraction-free design is the key to an opt-in form with a high conversion rate. Do not give your potential subscribers any reason to look elsewhere in the opt-in page and navigate away from the form. Opt-in forms should serve a single purpose, and every word and design element in it should exist there to serve that purpose: to convince people to leave their name and email address with you.
- Test the Placement Carefully
The placement of the opt-in form is as critical as its design and content. A lot of opt-in forms appear as a pop-up over layers. They are not appealing for everyone, though, because many people associate them with the annoying pop-up ads. However, new technologies allow you to display the pop-up opt-in form as the mouse cursor navigates towards the corner of the page, to click on the Back or Close page buttons.
A less intrusive option is the slide-out form. It appears in slow motion from either side of the web page, and usually contains a teaser and animations which attract the viewer to click on it and get to the opt-in form itself.
The core rule is to test every aspect of your opt-in form and to keep tweaking and improving it until you hit the perfect form which brings you a high conversion rates.