The email opt-in or subscribe form on your website is crucial when you are building up your database, and can help your marketing efforts at a later stage.

The information you can capture here on customer preferences can help make your email marketing more effective and relevant to consumers.

Here are some tips on how: 

Make the sign-up page / link easy to find

Including a link to email opt-in on every page is a good idea. Don’t make customers search for it.

M&S has a link to subscribe on every page, though it is at the bottom so perhaps could be more prominent:

M&S email link

Don’t ask for too much information

While it is important to get some useful information from subscribers to help make your emails more relevant to customers, be careful not to make the form too long.

Make customers fill in too many details and some will simply give up on the idea. M&S has the right idea, with just a few fields to fill in:

M&S email opt-in form

Make sure you get enough information

While you shouldn’t annoy subscribers by asking for too much information, it’s important to get the right information to help you to target your emails.

Next, while it displays the email sign up option prominently, asks for no details apart from the email address, so it is missing the chance to get some valuable data from subscribers:

Next email opt-in

Explain the benefits of subscribing

Give customers a reason to take the time to enter their details and sign up for emails. This may be discounts on their shopping, being the first to find out about new products, and so on.

Find out preferred frequency

Subscribers can get annoyed when they receive too many emails, and may start to simply ignore emails, unsubscribe, or mark them as spam.

To avoid this, you can ask customers how often they want to receive marketing emails and newsletters so you can find the correct frequency for each customer.

Send a welcome message

Once people have signed up, it’s a good idea to send them an email to confirm the subscription and ask them to add your address to their email safe sender list, to avoid your emails going straight to the spam folder.

Related research:

Email Marketing Briefing – March 2008

Email Marketing Industry Census 2008

Related stories:

Beyond opens and clicks: why it’s time for new email metrics

Putting customers in charge of your communications