How to Build a Stellar Marketing List: Forms and Best Practices

how to build a stellar marketing list

The lifeblood of an ecommerce business is your email list. The forms on your site are an essential part of growing your list — so when you think about growth, you should be thinking about forms. 


Getting Started With Klaviyo Forms

Sign-up forms are often your best chance to make a great first impression on your customers. And as the saying goes, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. Unfortunately, the average sign-up form only sees a 2% conversion rate. Product manager Sean Walsh and senior software engineer Daniel Kezerashvili researched and built the Klaviyo forms feature, so they were the perfect pair of people to present how forms can help customers quadruple those mediocre conversion rates.

Why Should You Be Using Klaviyo Forms?

Turning visitors into subscribers is at the very top of the email marketing funnel. The success of your forms fills the pipeline with potential customers. I’d say that’s pretty important!

Dan, a key builder of this feature in Klaviyo, shared reasons why the audience should utilize Klaviyo forms for their business:

[1] They’re astoundingly easy to use: You can build and launch forms directly from Klaviyo without any coding required.

[2] They can be designed quickly: Form design leverages the same tools as Klaviyo’s email editor, so you don’t have to learn anything new to be successful.

[3] More, usable data: The forms input fields are directly synced to profile properties, which are segmentable and usable throughout Klaviyo.

[4] They’re free for Klaviyo users: Enough said!

Dan then showed a quick demo of Klaviyo Forms, demonstrating to the audience where to find forms and the design editor. See that short demo by taking a look at the slides or help articles.


How Do You Optimize Your Forms?

By looking at the data, Sean and Dan curated a list of common themes found in the top-performing forms. Let’s take a look at the top four tips they shared for building amazing forms in Klaviyo:

[1] Give them a reason to sign up

Many businesses use promotional techniques to gather more emails addresses: 10% off this product or free shipping on orders above $x. The key when offering discounts on forms is to make it very clear what the offer is and if there are any limitations. Take a look at the two forms below that offer two different types of promotion:


Offering a discount, free shipping, or a free prize, however, eats into your margin. Another way to convince website visitors or customers to sign up for your newsletter is to offer helpful information about your products or your product category. The below high-performing form is a simple example of offering helpful healthy lifestyle tips instead of a promotion.

[2] Design your form to be consistent with your brand

This one feels obvious, but guess what? A lot of those low-performing examples have some common elements, including inconsistent, rushed design that doesn’t match the brand. The other piece of this is thinking about your customers in tandem with your brand. What would your customers want to see? What do they think about when they think about your brand? That should come through in your form design.

Klaviyo forms makes this easy by mimicking the email template editor where all your designs, fonts, and images can be reused in forms. Simply drag and drop images from your emails and copy your font styles to create a consistent experience. See how the form editor works by checking out the slides.

[3] Balance impressions with disruptions

There’s a pretty universal understanding that pop-ups can be distracting (and sometimes even annoying). Forms that pop up immediately upon entering the site and then again shortly after the user closes them will get a ton of impressions — but at a cost. Meanwhile, less disruptive forms will annoy fewer people, but that’s partly because they will be shown to less people.

The best place to be is right in the middle: a happy balance between your disruption level and number of impressions. Klaviyo has features like fly-out forms and time delays that help you strike that balance. To hear more about these features and others that help balance your forms, check out the presentation slides.

[4] Take advantage of the opportunity to learn more about your subscribers

One under-utilized benefit of forms is their ability to collect information about people signing up. Sean walked through a few examples of great forms that collect information about their subscribers that help them tailor content. In one example, a health and wellness company asked about their subscriber’s goals. The subscribers selecting weight loss would receive different content than those selecting mental health.

Sean then showed how easy it is to add these fields to Klaviyo forms. Pick a field to drag in, and then select a profile property and it will thread through to their Klaviyo profile automatically.

The rest of the presentation went through a demo of forms, from creation to implementation. You can watch the full presentation to see the demo. Remember, despite these tips, the best forms aren’t one-size-fits-all. Your forms should fit your brand and how your customers interact with your site. Use these as guidelines and best practices to follow when building your own forms.


The Marketing List of Your Dreams

Great lists are not built in a day (even when you’re using those great Klaviyo forms!). They take time, dedication, and effort to construct over time. Legislation isn’t making it any easier — GDPR added some complexity that marketers must know overcome. which is why at Klaviyo:BOS, Brian Whalley, Director of Product, set out to answer three main questions to help people build their lists successfully:

[a] How do I ask people to subscribe?
[b] Where do I ask people to subscribe?
[c] How do I develop my subscribers over time?

The median subscribe rate for a typical ecommerce store is 1.8% or 18 out of 1,000 people signing up for a list. But the top-performing stores get 3.5x that amount, or 65 out of 1,000 people to sign up. That’s a pretty large gap, with results that can have a big impact on a store’s success.

The reason these numbers are a big deal is, on average, 1.5% of a marketing list expires every month.

Those subscribers either actively unsubscribe or simply don’t engage with the content. So as marketers, you need to replace 20% of your list every 12 months. That’s why that 1.8% average opt-in rate makes it so much more difficult to grow.

In his talk, Brian set out to provide some best practices that will help you move your store closer to that 6.5% signup rate.

How Do I Ask People to Subscribe?

How you ask people to subscribe to a brand will reflect the type of customer who signs up — and the relationship you ultimately have with them. Some companies opt to use discount wheels or other flashy sign up methods, but these methods tend to attract those “one and done” type customers that will churn out of your list quickly.

Brian showed how some brands talk about their mission and use their passion for the brand to connect with their user. When a signup form displays that passion, you’re much more likely to get people who want to engage with your brand over the long term.

Here’s an example from Beardbrand:

Beardbrand demonstrates how they support the beard community and promise their customer how awesome the information is going to be and why it will be helpful.

That’s going to get the right person, with the right beard (or beard idea), signed up. Sometimes developing this type of message can be challenging, but don’t worry — Brian has your back. He shared a simple worksheet you can use (filled out below for the Beardbrand example) for how to articulate the brand passion in your sign up forms.

Where Do I Place my Signup Forms?

Unfortunately, there is no magic bullet place on a website that gets the best results. The key is actually in the variety of placements. Don’t make the signup form hard to find. Instead, provide different opportunities for visitors to subscribe.

Since one true solution for sign up form placement does not exist, Brain walked the audience through some different types and placements of high-performing forms.

First up was embedded forms. Brian called out one brand, ChefSteps, for how they use the power of their nearly 1M chef community as part of their signup form:

Next were popups and flyout forms. Popups can be really disruptive to visitors, so Brian recommends using them in places where visitors don’t have clear intention behind their behavior.

A bad place for a popup form would be on product pages where visitors are clearly searching for a particular product. A good place for a popup is on your home page for first-time visitors, where you can deliver a nicely branded form that introduces the visitor to your store.

Here’s an example from The Goodnight Company:

Another category of forms you can consider: interstitials. An example of a high-performing interstitial form came from Huckberry, who did a complete page takeover with their form. This form takes over the screen and clearly tells the visitor that they have really cool stuff — and in order to see it, you need to sign up. They even show some people who have already signed up and build that sense of community.

Now, this wouldn’t be a Klaviyo presentation without talking about measurement.

No matter which form you choose or where you place it, make sure you have the ability to properly measure the results. Track metrics like % of viewers who complete the form, $ value of a sign up across different forms, bounce rate, and total sign up rate. By tracking these metrics across form type and placement, you can gather valuable data around which forms work best for your brand.

How Do I Develop my Subscribers Over Time?

As is true with most other relationship building, a key to developing the relationship with a newly signed-up customer is to tell them about yourself.

Share more information about your brand, your story, and your values, and then make sure you’re listening to your customers as well. What does the customer tell you based on their actions on your website or what they purchase? And make sure you’re being a good listener by responding to those actions appropriately. If they aren’t opening your emails, don’t send them more emails, for example.

One great way to start this relationship off is by asking a lot of questions. Get an understanding for what they like, what they don’t like — information you would know about your real friends. You can use that information in your subsequent email messaging to provide only content relevant to their interests.

Trunk Club is a great example of this. Before they ever ask you to sign up for anything, they collect information about what clothes you like and wear at work and at home so they know how you want to look. In their welcome messaging to those who sign up, they can offer messaging to customers tailored to their size, style, and preferences, which creates a better experience and probably more purchases.

You can measure the success of the welcome messaging series you develop by looking at things like at what point of the series did they make a purchase, how many total purchases were made, what’s the average order value of people going through the entire experience, and more. You can get a full list of measurements in the slides.

As you create these relationships, some of them will become your best (VIP) customers and will end up spending a lot more on your brand. It’s not uncommon to see the top 5% of customers be responsible for 20-25% of a store’s revenue. Not sure how to define your VIP customers? Here are some examples of VIP definitions from Klaviyo customers:

  • 28% based on placed order count
  • 20% based on lifetime revenue
  • 18% based on placed order or revenue
  • 15% based on placed order and revenue
  • 19% other definitions such as Customer Lifetime Value


The actual numbers will vary customer to customer based on what the store is selling, how much it costs, order frequency, etc.

The other end of that relationship spectrum across from the VIPs are the “Window Shoppers.” Your subscribers who often browse the products on your site but haven’t yet made a purchase. You can create this segment in Klaviyo and target them with messaging that helps to deepen the relationship with your brand, AKA make a purchase. Maybe it’s a deeper discount? Maybe it’s clearance items? Test different messages and see what works.

Overall, the best way to drive subscribers is to put the mission of your brand front and center.

Brands with personal, unique messaging that visitors can connect to see 3x higher conversion rates and higher subscriber quality. It works!  Also, make sure you having different placements where visitors can subscribe to your brand. Add variety by asking for different information at different points. Finally, make everything really personal and real….at all times!
Learn how to get more submissions on your signup forms.

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