5 Ways to Personalize Your Email List Call to Action to Get 10x More Signups

Noah Kagan from SumoMe explores 5 ways to personalize your email sign-up form to get more subscribers.

The following is a guest blog post from Noah Kagan, Chief Sumo at SumoMe. He was #30 at Facebook, #4 at Mint, and now runs the show over at SumoMe, which is a suite of tools that help boost website traffic. (Oh, and he’s a top-rated taco connoisseur.)

We all hate spammy pop-ups when we’re just trying to read a blog post. They indiscriminately pop up everywhere, basically telling us in a loud voice to give them our email addresses so that they can add us to their email list.

It’s easy to say no, close the box and go on with your day. That’s an experience we’ve all had that we totally understand.

But let’s think about it from the flip perspective.

How do you make it a total no brainer for someone to give you their email address? If I offered you $100 cash in exchange for your email address, would you give it to me?

The key to making this work is a time-honored tradition and it’s dead simple. Give something of value in exchange for what you want.

If you want the reader’s email address, you have to offer something valuable in return.

The catch is that value is highly subjective. Preferences are individual. And therein lies the secret to 10x results: personalize your call-to-action, and you’ll see your results go through the roof.

Here are 5 proven ways how to do it.

1. 10x conversions with a personalized call-to-action based on the content of the page.

At my company AppSumo, we offer amazing deals that make you awesome at work. A couple of months ago, we had AppSumo exclusive deal that gave people $1,200-worth of Creative Market design tools for just $39.

Now look at this popup we made with a personalized call to action that’s tailored to the content on the page.


Put yourself in the shoes of someone who’s obviously interested in design and likes Creative Market. This would be an offer that would be difficult to refuse. You’re getting something you’re interested in, with a massive discount of 60%, and all you need to do to get it is to give us your email address.

At SumoMe, where we build tools to increase your email list building and traffic to your site, we’ve seen as high as 10x improvements on conversion rates with personalized calls-to-action tailored to the content on the page.

This customer went from 0.16% to 1.86% instantly with this tactic.


2. 3x conversions with a welcome mat that’s personalized based on a user’s referrer.

When you know where a visitor comes from, you know a ton about who that person is.

Just the simple act of acknowledging who that person is and delivering a personalized message can be a powerful way to entice him or her to take your call to action.


Let’s say that you offer marketing training in different kinds of marketing: content marketing, email marketing, SEO, SEM, and more.

Your call to action could be generic, and it’ll flop. But if you have evidence that your visitor might be most interested in one of your marketing verticals, you can deliver a personalized, tailored message just for them.


Suppose that your visitor came over from the awesome Moz blog where they write a ton about SEO.

Roll out the Welcome Mat, show them this message, and it’s going to drive at least 3x more conversions than a generic call to action that says, “Learn more about marketing: content marketing, SEO, SEM, it’s all here.”

3. Tailor your call-to-action to the action that the customer is taking on the site.

Some calls to action are more intrusive and in your face than others.

You know about the modal that pops up when you visit a site that you have to close if you want to read a blog post. Those can get annoying from a user perspective. From the perspective of someone who wants to collect emails, they can be unhelpful because a user starts zoning out and automatically closing them.

As in life, it’s all about timing. And we can nail the timing if we pay attention to what the reader is doing on the page.

If she’s enjoying the content and mid-read, don’t bug her. Let her give you her email address via one of the persistent but less obtrusive calls to action like a scroll box or smart bar.

But if she has finished her read and she’s about to leave, that’s a good time to jump in and present her with something of value.


4. 4x signups by personalizing based on the amount of signups a page already gets.

Ever heard of the 80/20 rule? It’s something that I live by.

80% of the results comes from 20% of the effort. Once someone points this out to you, you start to see it everywhere in life.

For example, I bet you that 80% of your email signups are coming from 20% of your pages. What that means is that you’ll actually drive more signups by optimizing existing pages than you will by trying to get signups on pages that don’t generate signups.

Do this. Export your email signups and make sure to include what page that the person signed up on.

Then, add up the amount of signups per page.

Now take the top 10 pages and it’s time to do something that my friend Robbie Richards has mastered, called content upgrades, which is one of the best possible ways to accelerate the growth of your list.

A content upgrade a content-specific offering tailored to the content on the page that provides instant value to the reader. You know the reader will find it valuable, because they’re on the page reading the content!

Here’s how it works: You’ve created an awesome blog post that people obviously like because they’re signing up to your list on those pages. Then, you add in the upgrade, which takes the content to the next level with extra materials like:

  • Video interviews, walkthroughs, or screencasts
  • Step-by-step checklists and playbooks
  • A spreadsheet that you can use
  • Any additional product that will help the reader

You package the article together with the extra and offer it to readers in return for their email address.

Take this example from Robbie: he offers the fantastic “Ultimate SEMrush playbook” as a content upgrade on this SEMrush tutorial.


The kicker is that he created the personalized, tailored content upgrade with List Builder in about 20 seconds that got him nearly 200 subscribers right off the bat.

He took an amazing piece of long-form, well written content that he’d produced last year and converted it into a PDF in less than 10 seconds using the free Print Friendly & PDF Chrome extension.

Then in List Builder, he added a rule specifically targeting certain pages with content upgrades.


The content upgrade had an average conversion rate of 7.61%, which is amazing for an email list signup form. As a reference point, I encourage people to shoot for 2% conversions. That’s nearly 4x using personalized content upgrades!


5. Double conversion rates with A/B testing.

In the end, we don’t always know how best to personalize our calls to action, otherwise we’d always get it right!

Having the ability to quickly target your opt-in forms in different ways is great, but what really matters is what converts.

Here’s another example from Robbie Richards.

Do you think adding an image for your eBook helps personalize the message better and improve email conversions? Instead of just thinking about it, let’s run a test.


Versus this other one:


Adding an ebook image to the form boosted the conversion rate 110.72%. All Robbie did was add a small piece of HTML to the form template and he doubled the conversion rate.


Setting up an A/B test only takes a few minutes. You can do test anything you want, like:

  • button colors
  • timing of the popup
  • different templates
  • headline copy
  • and more…

And you can personalize those across a variety of different parameters that we talked about above to see what clicks.

In the end, personalizing your calls to action is an ethos to experiment and see what works, more than it is a set of tactics.

Try the above, experiment, and come up with your own, totally unique ways to make your forms personal that drive crazy results and conversions.



  1. Danny Fortes

    8/14/2015 3:36 pm

    That was one meaty and actionable post. I recently just started implementing a form in the post. However, I will say for some of my local biz clients… pop-ups, as annoying as they are work. I remember reading that as well on the AWeber blog. Thanks Olivia.

  2. sohbet

    8/16/2015 12:18 pm

    thanks for sharing..

  3. Pamela Jobes

    8/24/2015 3:41 am

    Olivia, really good points. We are planning to start building lists apart from our regular marketing strategies. These tips are going to be really helpful. Already noted some of the points from here and also bookmarking this for future reads. Thanks for sharing them.