Maximize Signup Conversions by Asking for Less

Does your form ask for just the information you need to build and engage a list of subscribers, or does it go above and beyond that?

As MarketSherpa has pointed out, “above and beyond” in this case may lead to signup conversion rates and information quality that fall below your expectations.

In the latest Chart of the Week, they illustrate why name and email should typically be all the information we ask for in our email newsletter sign up forms. Take a look:

Marketing Sherpa Chart Thumbnail

Name and email are the two fields most likely to be provided accurately, and still, even these fields are “fibbed” sometimes (i.e. 32% of respondents to the survey said they didn’t always provide an accurate email address).

That’s one of a few good reasons to use confirmed opt-in for all of your campaigns. The fact that respondents were generally less willing to give other information accurately (and presumably *at all* in some cases) is a convincing reason to ask for only what you need from your website visitors.

Alas, sometimes less means more! I couldn’t resist 🙂 .

Other Tips on Building Subscriber Lists:

For an overview of how to boost your website visitor to email subscriber conversions, join our Education Team for the next free, live seminar on this topic.


  1. Fraser Hay

    5/6/2008 7:39 pm

    I could not agree more!

    I do ask for country as well as my offers are targetted by country, but tried asking for more detailed information in the past and was no further ahead on list information than just asking for name and email address. I am curious on what peoples thoughts are on only asking for email address? I see that more and more now.

    Have a good day everyone!

  2. Karin H.

    5/7/2008 4:02 am

    Hi Marc

    What I found very helpful for my subscribers is to direct them right after they’ve submitted name and email-address to a page which explains the confirmed opt-in procedure rather in debt – like mentioning preventing spam, preventing unsuspected people receiving reports, news because someone else signed them up etc.
    We receive around 35 – 40 new subscribers per month and hardly notice any non-confirmed requests (1-2), plus our level of unsubscribers is less IMHO extremely low.

    More info – more understanding – more confirmed subscriptions – more happy readers 😉

  3. Aaron Abber

    5/7/2008 6:59 am

    I set up my autoresponder with a bundle of custom fields where I can place the data I want and making many of those fields "subscriber editable".

    Initially I only ask for the name and email. Later, once I have taken time to create credibility, I ask them to go back and add their snail mail address (so I can send them a printed report.) In some cases I then ask them more detailed demographic information.

  4. Karin H.

    5/7/2008 7:50 am

    "I am curious on what peoples thoughts are on only asking for email address? I see that more and more now."

    How do you address the person then as an individual? Everyone likes to be addressed by at least their surname, receive messages that show it’s (kind of) personal.
    IMHO only asking for the email address is getting the basics wrong on marketing in a sustainable, durable and rewarding – for both sides – way.

  5. CEO

    5/7/2008 9:40 am

    I like to make it simple.
    I ask or email, name (first and last), country, state, city
    I have a few questions but as it relates to the subject.

    People always like to talk about themselves so i ask their opinions on a subject to gain what type of potintial customer I may be able to convert.

    1. Do you download music (with a pull down choice)
    2. If so how often? (with a pull down choice)
    3. And how was the experince of doing that? (with pull down choice)

    Its not about their information but their buying habits that concern me. Also it opens their interest to what we are doing based on the questions.

  6. Marc Kline

    5/7/2008 1:57 pm

    Fraser and Karin,

    Though subtle, I think name personalization is an important factor in effective email marketing.

    However, if I found that for my campaign I got a significantly higher number of subscribers asking for just the email address, I might consider which is more valuable, personalization or the increase in visitors to subscriber conversion.

    I haven’t done any myself, but it might be worth a split test, making sure messages are written in such a way that they look OK even in the absence of a subscriber name.


    Have you tried split testing your form with an alternative version that asks for just name and email? I’d be curious to know if you’d get a boost in subscribers. I’m sure everyone would like to hear your results if you do test.

  7. Shirley George Frazier

    5/7/2008 4:59 pm

    Knowing how much my readers appreciate anonymity, I only ask them for an Email addresses.

    I believe that sending Emails to them without personalization works as well for me as personalization works for someone who asks for a name.

    You truly must know your reader in order to determine how much to request during the signup process.

  8. Steven Lanier

    5/7/2008 9:40 pm

    I usually stick the basics, Name and Email Address. I get great opt-in results that way. Personalization I believe does directly impact conversion.

    It just depends on how personal you want to get with your prospects. Again, studies have shown that people are much more likely to respond when you use their name.

  9. Elizabeth Potts Weinstein

    5/7/2008 11:08 pm

    Are you looking for quality or quantity? I use double opt-in and require a name — not just for personalization, but because I don’t want to waste time/energy on people who are not open to giving me that info.

    If they are not ready to opt-in, they can read my blog to figure out if we are a good match.

    I ask for just name and email address on my squeeze page and eZine signup forms, but I ask for everything (including mailing address, phone number, and fax) in signup forms for free teleclasses — but only name & email are required. And here’s the thing — about 80% of people give me their mailing address, and about 1/2 give me their phone number & fax!

    In a world where email has issues (possible future costs, spam rules, emails not getting delivered, old email addresses), nothing can beat having multiple ways, including snail mail and phone, to contact your list.

    ~ Elizabeth

    Elizabeth Potts Weinstein

  10. Fabian Tan

    5/8/2008 3:16 am

    While this is only somewhat related to this topic, I really recommend having an option to resend confirmation emails to increase signups. Make it so that the number of confirmation emails you can send to any lead is two.

    It’ll lessen the argument of double optin vs single optin and will increase signups – which is the ultimately the goal.


  11. Sira Sudhikam

    5/8/2008 3:45 am

    My vote goes to email and name only since this practice seems to be the most standard. It is very convenient for a person to sign up in a so-called traditional form. We generate roughly 300-400 sign ups on the daily basis.

    If we would like to learn more about our subscribers, do the survey and "alway" provide them some (really good) intensive to participate in the program.

    People do sign up to your program because they believe that you could help them solve their problem. So another tactics that I have been used are to used them "What do they want to learn from us?" – This seems to work quite well.

  12. Harjit Irani

    5/8/2008 4:34 pm

    Asking for too much information may not be healthy. I ask for name and email. That is the best way to capture them.

  13. Penny

    5/9/2008 11:38 am

    I use a two stage approach – I just ask for name and e-mail address and then, I offer to send them something to their physical address. As it is valuable, I do get quite a few people then signing up to my second more detailed list, but it doesn’t put off the people who just sign up to the first one.

  14. Codrut Turcanu

    5/28/2008 5:17 am

    Nice post Marc!

    As you may have noticed we should ask for name and email address from the readers to join our list and it increases sign-ups, but it also depends upon our niche as well, as there are few niches where readers would be happy to provide us more information along with name and email address.

  15. Tom Lindstrom

    2/6/2009 1:45 am

    Making it as simple as possible for people to sign up is the key I think.Placing the optin box on a visible place on your site (top right corner) and asking only for first name and email address.Also, having a few really good freebies always helps.

  16. Karin H.

    2/6/2009 10:28 am

    And don’t forget the fun you can have by editing the text in the submit button.
    "Submit" versus "Yes, unmyth me" (if you offer a free report that tackles certain myths – works a treat for a friend of mine). Be creative and make the experience a bit more fun 😉 in a very simple way.

  17. Justin Premick

    2/6/2009 10:43 am


    Agreed – just because it’s a submit button doesn’t mean it should say "submit." (After all, who wants to submit to something?)

  18. Rick

    3/13/2009 6:32 pm

    As Simple as possible to sign up and to unsubscribe is critical.