Hidden List Building Opportunities?

Seeking Out New Subscribers...If you’re reading this blog, you probably already collect email subscribers (if you don’t, then start!).

But are we taking every advantage to collect addresses that we can use to follow up with people – building opportunities later?

MarketingSherpa just dropped off a report in my inbox that suggests people are willing to provide an email address in more situations than most people think.

And you might be surprised by what details people are and aren’t willing to give.

Working with a company called KnowledgeStorm, the team at Sherpa conducted a survey and addressed the following questions:

1. What Content Are Subscribers Willing to Register For?

Many of our users send newsletters, free reports and white papers to their opt-in subscribers.

But how many of you offer a demo that requires an email address? What about product brochures and related literature? Case Studies?

According to the survey, over half the respondents were willing to register for:

  • White Papers
  • Case Studies
  • Analyst Reports

And around 40% were willing to register for product literature and demos. If you look at the table provided in the report, you’ll notice that the vendors’ responses don’t match subscribers’. So they weren’t aware of what people were willing to register for.

2. Does A Content Summary Increase Signup Rates?

In some cases, people hesitate to sign up because they’re not totally sure what they’re signing up for.

At the same time, provide too much detail, and you risk boring people into leaving your site without subscribing.

What jumps out in this section is that while everyone recognizes the importance of having a summary, the weight that vendors place on that summary, and the weight that subscribers do, isn’t even close to equal.

Subscribers want to know what they’re getting in exchange for their email address. Provide enough detail so that there’s no room for misinterpretation.

3. Do People Actually Provide Valid Information When They Register?

We’ve talked before about keeping your signup forms simple so that people:

  • Sign Up At All
  • Provide Valid Details

What’s great about this part is that you see a comparison of how often people are willing to provide different types of information accurately, such as:

  • Name
  • Email
  • Company Name
  • Phone Number

There’s good and bad news here.

First of all, more people provide a valid email address than nearly any other piece of information.

The bad news: only 68% of them always provide a valid email address.

This is one reason why you use Confirmed Opt-In and get people to confirm before providing your content; otherwise, according to this you’re not getting a valid address nearly a third of the time.


  1. Bear in mind that this survey was in the B-to-B market. The B-to-C market may not value a case study or a whitepaper the same.
  2. Use Confirmed Opt-In and require people to confirm in order to receive whatever content/bonus you offer.

Most importantly, take the overall point of the survey:

You may be throwing away an opportunity to follow up with people by not requiring registration for some of your content.

Take a look at your website and your business. Do you take advantage of every opportunity to collect subscribers?


  1. mike herberts

    5/10/2007 8:31 am

    Great article (as usual). Folks….don’t be afraid of giving ‘valuable’ information away to gain subscribers. I was taught this early on and it works!. Don’t just give away the same dross everyone else does. Create something of ‘High perceived value’ that doesn’t have a high financial cost to you personally. Give a few juicy snippets as a tempter. Always ask yourself ‘is this genuinely of value’…if it is….you’ll do great.

  2. Mike Witter

    5/10/2007 2:48 pm

    Great advice and I am learning all the time. Treat people as people too. Lists are so valuable, people are invaluable. Thanks for the article.

  3. 27amDotCom

    5/10/2007 9:26 pm

    Though I’m sure the majority is already putting this into practice… don’t forget the real estate on your download (after the order) pages. If they just took a chance on you and your business by making a purchase, they are certainly more than qualified to opt-in to an offer (might be worth considering co-reg joint-venture opportunities on these pages as well if your system already opts them into a client list automatically).

  4. Pinpoint-Searchmarketing

    5/11/2007 2:37 am

    With any opt-in we create always try to give the user a benefit for parting with their details.

    Rather than "Sign up for our newsletter"
    Try "Sign up for our newsletter and receive 100’s of tips on increasing your (fill in the blank)"

    We always try to keep our opt-in information short and to the point, generally First name and email address since this is enough to manage to make follow ups personable but not enough to make them not wantto spend the time.

  5. Dale Richmond

    5/11/2007 2:21 pm

    As I understand it, what the purpose of the free information is to get interested people to sign onto my url and not using span?. Please explain further.

  6. Debbie

    5/12/2007 12:11 pm

    Very good message you wrote
    Keep it simple!
    Give short but detailed information to what is in
    the newsletter. Give reason why they should sign up.
    Offer something free they will receive when they sign

  7. Marc Kline

    5/18/2007 1:49 pm


    By publishing free, useful information on your site, you provide value to site visitors that establishes thought leadership on your part and makes a future purchase from you more likely.

    In order to help build their list of subscribers, some people will make the free information accessible only at the point where the visitor signs up for the campaign or gives contact information for other purposes.

    You can give incentive for people to provide real name and email address by protecting your downloads using a confirmation process.

    For more information on the best way to tie a download to your form, check out:


  8. Edward Carter

    5/21/2007 9:17 pm

    I don’t know much about getting a list but i would be more than happy to learn even if it took me a year. Thank you for some of the info you have let me in on.

  9. Albert

    5/23/2007 9:04 am

    Very helpful article, really liked it!!


  10. Brad Young

    5/24/2007 6:34 pm

    I agree with the part of keeping your squeeze page simple. I have seen too many squeeze pages ask for way to much info and scare off potential subscribers. Without subscribers you are not building much of a list at all. You also need your subscribers to convert, or else you really just have a huge penpal list. Thanks for the advice.

  11. Kathy R

    5/25/2007 7:13 am

    Hi. I read alot of info "internemercials", my terminology, and some are o repetitive that is rediculous. I am putting a site toghether that sells tangable products. Is there a good, at least somewhat seccussful way to have opt ins, and registered email lists to my site for the various fun areas of my siote and for the sell and updates of my site and products and.or additions of prducts on site? I read so many of these tyoes of newlaters sent out and they all seam to be for intangable products.

  12. Tom Kulzer (AWeber CEO)

    5/25/2007 9:03 am


    There are tons of businesses utilizing email newsletters and other types of opt-in follow up email marketing to reach their website visitors about tangible products.

    One example is Dolls and Friends who sell collectible dolls.


  13. Want Subscribers to Confirm? Get Creative! - Email Marketing Tips on the AWeber Blog

    4/21/2008 10:24 am

    […] According to a MarketingSherpa study, 1/3 of users knowingly enter bogus addresses some of the time […]

  14. Maximize Signup Conversions by Asking for Less - Email Marketing Tips on the AWeber Blog

    5/6/2008 4:05 pm

    […] MarketSherpa has pointed out, “above and beyond” in this case may lead to signup conversion rates and information […]

  15. Christine Colquhoun

    5/8/2008 11:40 am

    I have recently signed up for AWeber and I’m finding the blogs very useful. As I’m just starting out in Business I’m finding there is so much to learn about the web/emails etc., Could you please explain to me what is a white paper?


  16. scott

    5/15/2008 8:08 am

    Interesting article.
    The design of the form is massively important. However, i disagree that simple forms with only a few fields are needed to maximise response rates.

    Firstly, i am amazed at the huge amount of companies (many of which should know better) that do not offer any qualifying questions on their forms at all.

    Secondly, i have spent many years playing with different types of forms. Simple one pagers, forms with the fields that are side by side, or spread over 2 or 3 pages…etc etc. From my experience (B2B) you can expect 75-85% drop off. (i.e. 75-85% of the people that land on the form page will not fill it out.) Thats painful. All those potential punters slipping through your fingers.

    However, i have also tried an interactive dialogue. Where the punter is taken through 7,8, or 9 pages of questions – each question is dependant on previous answer. The answers require only a radio button click or a drop down, and if it is used on a house list then the name address etc is pre-filled in. Not only do i TREBLE my response rates (I go from 80% drop off to a 60% fill in rate! – with the same list!) I can ask them more profiling questions and more qualification questions.

    Not only this but we can view the stats and see at which question people start to bail and if we ask one or two too many we can easily cut back.

    The dialogue takes time to work through and build, but it is definitly worth it. And proves that if the punter sees real value in what they are getting, they will answer many questions.

  17. Aaron Abber

    5/15/2008 7:48 pm


    That’s tremendous. I have never tried starting with a multi-page, radio Q form. I assumed (and yes, I know what happens when one assumes) that idea wouldn’t work but never tested it. Just goes to show testing trumps instinct every time.

    (Except in choosing a mate–somehow I found women didn’t appreciate my multi-testing of engagement rings. Go figure. I said the same words to all six of them with exactly the same inflection, yet they all got upset when they found out I was running a test.)

    I know you are B2B, but do you have a form we can see as an example?

  18. scott

    5/16/2008 5:36 am

    Yes of course

    Here is an example of a static "side by side" form which seems to work better than having all the fields running underneath eachother.


    and here is the conversational form

  19. Maya

    9/26/2008 1:43 pm

    Sounds like having a 2x opt-in setup for your forms can save you an extra step in creating forms with validation scripts. No need to worry if someone put in the right email address because they can only get the content once they opt-in officially. It keeps your list clean, too and allows us to focus on providing valuable content instead of programming forms. Superb!

  20. Kevin Njoroge

    1/19/2010 3:23 am

    Thanks guys for this informative article. Always remember to ask yourself what the potential customer need rather than what you need, what runs through his mind rather than through yours, what his/her interests are rather than what yours are.

    Remember the question "What is in it for me" always and strive to provide answer to it so that you can motivate your potential customers to subscribe


  21. Daniel Edstrom

    11/11/2010 7:08 am

    Awesome tips.

    I’ve been using Aweber for a couple of months now and you guys are just shipping one quality tip after another!

    I love it.