Don’t Let Your Opt-In Form Get Out Of Control

You may remember Mr. Manyhats, a busy man who suffers subscriber fatigue. His wife, Mrs. Manyhats, has the same problem. She has so many emails, she doesn’t know what to do. But she likes that the emails provide her with suggestions and offers that match her interests. One of her interests is craft projects, so she goes to Michael’s Arts & Crafts website to sign up for their emails. But when she gets there, she changes her mind.

Opt-In Form Gone WildYou may remember Mr. Manyhats, a busy man who suffers subscriber fatigue. His wife, Mrs. Manyhats, has the same problem. She has so many emails, she doesn’t know what to do.

But she likes that the emails provide her with suggestions and offers that match her interests. One of her interests is craft projects, so she goes to Michael’s Arts & Crafts website to sign up for their emails.

But when she gets there, she changes her mind.

Would You Fill Out This Signup Form?

Michael's Sign Up Form

There are thirty-eight fields on this form. Thirty-eight actions to take or decisions to make. Thirty-eight chances to decide enough is enough and quit.

Mrs. Manyhats is not going to fill out thirty-eight fields. She does not have that kind of time. And is she really going to provide her phone number and street address for a craft store’s emails?

Lesson Learned

When creating your web form, think about the sign-up experience. You can add up to 25 fields with the new web form generator, but consider each addition carefully.

What stats might you want to segment by? What sets the right expectations for your readers? And what information might subscribers balk at providing?

Keeping some fields optional and only requiring a few is one move subscribers may appreciate. Leaving unnecessary fields out is another. When in doubt, run a split test.

Michael’s Arts & Crafts is a successful business, but their overwhelming opt-in form may hinder the success of their email campaign.

Avoid overcomplicating your forms and keep them simple, and fewer would-be subscribers will abandon them.


  1. Steinar Knutsen

    12/29/2009 3:06 pm

    38 fields? Nuts!

    Name and email . . . that’s enough (to get the initial opt-in). Some just use email, but I like to include name for Personalization.

  2. Angela Wills

    12/29/2009 10:51 pm

    Wow, looks more like a customer survey than an opt-in form. Funny I was just talking today with a friend about how many great sales they have for frames and stuff. Looks like they could use a little tweeking on the email marketing though 🙂

  3. Derrick Markotter

    12/30/2009 12:19 am

    Once you have their name and email address, it’s easy enough to ask for more information. Just offer them something which will qualify them further.

    For example, if your subscribers are ‘Pet Owners’, offer them a ‘Dog Grooming’ report with a link to a new signup page.

    If you want to get their postal address, make your offer a physical item like a CD or a DVD.

    You could end up with dozens of highly-targeted sub-lists.

  4. Ron Orr

    12/30/2009 2:40 am

    split test link above doesn’t work

  5. Justin Premick

    12/30/2009 10:55 am

    Ron – thanks, the link has been fixed.

  6. Jared

    12/30/2009 11:32 am

    Creating web forms are crucial to capturing data, but at the same time there needs to be a strategy to it. Start with simple forms ie: name and email. In the following emails there should be links to more complicated sign up forms…this way you know they are more interested in your products and services. Grow the marketing ball and make sure your emails and forms set the proper expectations, so the spam complaints stay low.

  7. Aaron

    12/30/2009 1:14 pm

    Hi Amanda-

    Great point-

    I recently tried to go past the 25 fields in the new form generator- but realized its limits when I got to 25-

    I agree with Derrick above, and also have noted that we sublist our subscribers through different events they attend.

    He had mentioned reports-

    another great way to sublist your list, get more commitment and information about your subscribers and also a way to develop informational products for your subscribers is to develop reports with headlines on the 5-10 top ideas you believe they might be interested in-

    these mini reports can be sent out to your initial opt-in list – but in order for them to get access to a “FREE” report that they can choose, they have to give a little more information –

    once they opt-in to the report of their choice- we have found that it does a few things:

    1) It gathers more contact information
    2) It creates a bit more subscriber loyalty by giving them value
    3) It further segments your list by more accurate targeting
    4) It reveals what subscribers are truly interested in –

    Thanks again for this blog-

    And keep it going, AWEBER team – as your product and services are top of the line!

  8. Chris

    12/30/2009 3:51 pm

    I especially love the forms that want my birth date, when there is no valid reason for asking for it.

  9. Gerald Weber

    12/30/2009 7:48 pm

    i recently had a client that had a balls to the wall overboard signup form similar to the one in the screenshot. i would never take the time to fill out such an elaborate form unless I was buying a house or something and i suspect my web surfers have the same mentality.

  10. Tom

    12/31/2009 7:30 am

    Good advice! Who needs all that? the government for a survey!

  11. Leslie

    12/31/2009 9:47 am

    I’m new to Aweber, I have a quesiton for those with experience. While creating HTML & text follow-up – do you advise adding a photo (HTML) or leave out? My business is colorful- would like at least one small colorful pic … I appreciate your thoughts on this. I tried one, only a white box appeared. Thanks!

  12. Dave Shillito

    1/2/2010 2:02 pm

    Anyone who understands Reciprocity knows this is 100% counter to that trigger. To invoke the feelings which trigger human reciprocity one must give first, then leverage the tacit imbalance by asking for something.

    Asking for all that before giving anything is, well, bonkers!

  13. Amanda Gagnon

    1/4/2010 1:15 pm

    Derrick, Jared & Aaron – Those sound like excellent strategies. Thanks for sharing them!

    Leslie – You can certainly include pictures in your HTML messages. Follow these steps, and if you’re still having difficulty, give us a call.

  14. Tom Lindstrom

    1/7/2010 6:15 am

    38 fields to fill in is a good way to confuse people and not get anyone to join.In online marketing simple works best.All you need is a name,email address and a great incentive to get people on your list.Often the biggest problem is to come up with a great offer.

  15. Aaron Schulman

    1/7/2010 10:16 am

    For Leslie,

    One of the things I learned early (which is also in the tutorial that Amanda linked to) is that every image has to have the complete URL –

    sometimes if you create an html page or newsletter and add the local link (as in a client side design software) from your computer file, the html page sent through AWEBER or any email client cannot access the graphic as it is not sent as an attachment-

    instead it is referenced with a URL so the graphic must be on a server somewhere (usually your own)

    When the html page comes through an email – each picture then calls the image to load from that URL on the web – it is an absolute reference address and if it is not a complete URL with (or whatever graphic extension you saved it in) – it will not show up or only show as a place holder in the email

    Hope this helps…

  16. Amanda Gagnon

    1/7/2010 12:05 pm

    Excellent point. Thanks for clarifying that!

  17. Amanda Gagnon

    1/7/2010 12:12 pm

    Aaron, Ken and Serge,
    Those are some fantastic content ideas!
    Linking to a video can definitely show new customers what to expect, going under the surface develops intimacy and finding out what your customers want is fundamentally important.
    Great method – as long as they know they’ll be getting emails!

  18. Aaron Schulman

    1/7/2010 12:55 pm

    Your’e welcome, Amanda,

    A Crucial marketing / targeting point was overlooked as I forgot to add it to the post above,

    I realized I left this out:

    Headlines are a vital factor in any kind of written / visual Advertising (this is common knowledge to anyone in marketing)

    The purpose of developing special free reports is to test at least two things while also giving good content:

    1) It tests the effectiveness of your suspected headlines so you can continue to improve them


    2) It tells you what your audience is desiring to know more about

    that is as long as the headlines distinctly target the benefit(s) or desire(s) of your audience. . .

    Sorry for leaving that out- it was one of the main purposes behind the strategy. . .

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