Signup Form Best Practices: How to Get More Submissions From Your Signup Forms
Editor’s note: This article was originally published on June 26, 2020. It’s been updated to reflect current data and insights.
Signup forms are a great way to grow your email and SMS lists, as well as keep your audience informed of new products, specials, and much more.
But there are many factors that go into creating a high-converting signup form. You need to take into consideration the design, copy, images, information you ask for, and location, among other elements.
To help improve your customer experience and increase conversions, below are 13 tips to help you increase your signup form conversions.
Signup form best practices
1 | Always Be Testing
A/B testing is one of the best ways to improve conversion rates on your site and testing signup forms can lead to some quick conversion rate wins.
A/B testing works by showing your standard version (the control) to a certain percentage of your users (usually 50 percent) and a different version (the variation) to a different percentage of your audience (typically the other 50 percent).
It’s possible to do different splits or show multiple variants as well, but typically, an A/B test will be an even 50/50 split between the control and variation.
It’s important that whenever you test anything, you should only test one variable at a time. That way if you see an increase in conversions, you don’t have to guess which change led to the increase.
Here are some elements of your signup form you should be testing.
Signup form length
Nobody likes to fill out a long form, especially on mobile. Try reducing the number of total fields or even the number of required fields.
People hold their phone number close. If you ask for a phone number, make it abundantly clear why you’re asking for it and set the right expectations. Don’t ever subscribe somebody to your SMS list without explicit permission from the user.
You can test different copy on your signup form help to improve conversion rates. Try to explain the benefits of what the user receives in return for providing their information.
Try to experiment with different call to action (CTA) verbiages. Try to make them short and action-oriented.
Color can have a powerful effect on users. Try to use colors that contrast with the overall color scheme of your site so that they stand out and catch the user’s eye.
Try testing out forms on standalone URLs, forms embedded in existing pages, popup forms, flyouts, etc. Sometimes one form type will convert better than another.
Consider trying different customer quotes or other kinds of social proof to encourage users to signup.
2 | Set the proper expectations
What exactly will someone get when they sign up?
Can they expect a newsletter with tips on how to better use your products? Will they receive special promotions and offers?
If you try to cram too many “types” of emails into a single signup form, it may turn people off from filling it out. You may want to consider separate signup forms to allow people to opt into the email types that they want.
Also, consider other questions they may have. What happens after they sign up? Send them to a thank you page that explains the next steps or send an email confirming that their sign up was successfully submitted.
3 | Emphasize the value of your signup form
Think of the information you’re asking for as a form of currency. Your user wants to get something of equal or greater value in return for giving you their name, email address, phone number, etc.
Your signup forms and pages should always stress the value that the user will get in return, whether it’s a discount, credit to spend on products, a newsletter with helpful tips and tricks, or something else.
You could design the best looking popup form in the world, but at the end of the day, all your users will see is a form that’s asking for their information. If they’re not sure of what they’ll receive when they fill out the form, the chances are very high that they won’t fill it out.
When building a signup form, whether it’s a popup, flyout, embedded, or any form in general, ask yourself, “If I were a new user to this site, unfamiliar with my brand, would I want to fill this out?”
If the answer is no, then you should add more context or revise the signup form to better emphasize the value of what your audience will receive to make it more likely that somebody would want to fill it out.
4 | Consistent signup form experience
Make sure that if you have a form to signup for your newsletter, it’s the same every place you ask for newsletter signups. Don’t make a user guess as to whether or not it’s the same form and the same newsletter they may have already subscribed to.
If you have multiple newsletters or subscription types, create an option to allow them to opt into certain types of emails.
5 | Explain how you’ll use their information
If you’re asking for a phone number or any other type of information that doesn’t seem essential, be sure to explain why you’re asking for it.
For example, you may ask for a phone number so that you can contact a customer by phone to coordinate delivery if they need to be there in person to accept it.
If you’re asking for a phone number so that you can add them to your SMS list to send them promotions, be sure to state that as well. Nobody likes getting unsolicited text messages.
On the other hand, if you’re asking for someone’s birthdate, explain why—you want to be able to send them special discounts on their birthday!
6 | Explain frequency
If you send an email once a week, you should state that on your signup form. For some people this will be an acceptable frequency, whereas others may want more or less frequent emails.
If possible, give them the option to self-select how frequently they want emails. Many email tools allow you to use frequency capping so that your customers don’t receive too many emails.
7 | Highlight social proof
If you have a very large email list of happy subscribers who love engaging with your emails, show that on your newsletter subscription form!
Social proof not only helps to put people at ease with giving out their contact information, but it can also cause fear of missing out (FOMO)—if 100,000 other people are getting your newsletter, they might want it too!
8 | Explain they can opt-out at any time
Emphasizing the option to opt-out is another great way to put people at ease.
Although it goes without saying that most companies provide an opt-out mechanism for their emails, everyone has been burned by that one company that sends dozens of emails a day and doesn’t honor any opt-out requests.
9 | Provide examples of content they can expect to receive
If you have previous newsletters, link to them to give the user an example of what they can expect to see from your brand.
This not only helps people understand what the content is like, but it can also provide an SEO benefit to your site by having additional quality content that is indexable by search engines.
10 | Use form validation in your signup form
Certain types of information, such as email addresses and phone numbers, need to be formatted a certain way.
Using form validation is a great way to help a user understand if they’re inputting their information the correct way. Never make a user wait until they hit submit to find out if the data they entered is valid. It’s usually best to display errors right away so they can be corrected as they go.
Always use clear language to explain error messages to make it as easy as possible for a user to fix any errors, such as a mistyped email address or a password that doesn’t meet security requirements.
11 | Remove distractions on your signup form
Once somebody is on your signup page or on your popup form, remove any other possible distractions, including links that go elsewhere, images and copy that don’t relate to what they’re signing up for, etc.
For example, a popup form will generally blur the background so that only the form is in focus.
If you’re sending users to a standalone signup page, remove the navigation and any unnecessary links that may draw their attention away from the goal of the page.
12 | Only ask for the minimum amount of information you need
Separate your form questions into “need to have” vs” nice to have.” Anything that is nice to have, consider removing it.
Studies show that longer forms convert at a lower rate than shorter forms, so eliminating questions that aren’t crucial is one of the best ways to improve your signup form experience.
13 | Avoid asking for information twice
Don’t ask your users to type in their email, phone, password, or any other information twice. Even if it’s to confirm that they entered the information correctly, inline validation can resolve most of the issues that users may experience.
Great signup form examples
What does a great signup form look like in the wild? Here are a few examples of forms that use some of the best practices previously discussed.
Pinkcast is the bi-weekly newsletter from the popular author of “Drive” and “When,” Dan Pink. He does a number of things well on his signup form, including:
- Explaining the frequency (every other Tuesday)
- Social proof (170,000+ subscribers)
- Explaining exactly what you get: A short video that has tools and tips for working smarter and living better and a “one more thing” which has a few paragraphs explaining an idea that caught his attention
- Only asks for two crucial pieces of information: the first name (so that he can use personalization) and email address
- Includes a link (on the embedded form) to a list of all of his most recent newsletters so you can learn more about what to expect from future newsletters
Pandora does a number of things well on their signup form. They make it free to sign up and only ask for five pieces of information. Best of all, they have a small link that says “Why?” next to birth year, zip code, and gender that explain why they ask for this information (they use it to provide a more personalized experience).
Grammarly’s signup form allows you to login using your Facebook, Google, or Apple login (three common accounts that most people will have) or to signup using email.
They also display an inline validation if they think you misspelled or mistyped your email address (a very helpful feature that Grammarly does on-the-fly when writing).
They also use a multi-step signup form after the initial form that has three dots in the top left showing how much further you have to go. This section helps Grammarly learn how you will use the tool so that it can make the most appropriate recommendations.
Chubbies’ signup form is super simple and makes the benefits of signing up clear. You get $5 that you can put towards any order instantly from just signing up, you can earn points on every order, you have the ability to refer friends for money, and an account provides an easy way to track your orders.
They only ask for five fields of information, including first and last name, email address, and password.
Use signup forms to drive conversions
If you have a website, chances are you have at least one form to collect information from your users.
The above tips should help you to increase the conversion rates of your forms and will hopefully give you some new ideas on additional forms to try! The most important takeaway is to always keep your user in mind as you design forms and ensure each form speaks to their needs and provides value in return for the information they provide to you.
Looking for more A/B testing tips and tricks? Check out this blog post for inspiration!
Design engaging signup forms and track their performance, all in one place.