This is a guest post from Karol K.
Is your newsletter list growing slowly … or not at all?
You might worry that you’re sending out the wrong sort of content, or that your incentive isn’t good enough.
The real reason, though, is probably because you’re not giving your readers the best possible opportunity to actually join your newsletter.
Basically, there are three main ways to showcase a newsletter signup form on your blog:
- In the sidebar.
- Through a popup.
- On a dedicated landing page – your newsletter signup page.
Undoubtedly, sidebars are the most popular solution. But as it turns out, they are not all that effective and the conversion rates are rather poor.
Popups, on the other hand, are much better in the conversion department, but the main downside here is that most people hate them!
So out of the three, newsletter signup pages seem like an interesting solution. They have way better conversions than a sidebar form, and at the same time they don’t make the majority of your visitors angry. Instead, they make them feel welcome.
Having such a page presents a lot of other possibilities too. For instance, you can link to it from your other posts, or share it with people via email or social media. And with some luck, you can also rank it on Google.
But how do you actually create it? What are the main principles of building a newsletter signup page that gets results?
My plan when compiling this guide was simple:
1. Spy on the A listers.
2. Examine what they have on their pages and why.
3. Steal their ideas!
Here’s what I discovered:
#1. Understand the Goal of the Page
The goal of a newsletter signup page is simple: to get people to click the big “subscribe” button.
That’s the only thing that matters, and other than that, you shouldn’t care about anything else.
I can’t remember who said it first, but a good way to think about your newsletter signup page is to make people either subscribe or leave your site altogether.
There really shouldn’t be any other possibilities.
The reason I’m mentioning this is because all the other steps on this list really reinforce this goal, so keeping it in mind will give you an instant answer as to why we’re doing something the way we’re doing it.
#2. Use Simple Layouts
Let’s start with the visual aspects of your page because these are what your visitors see first ? even before they read your headline.
The best newsletter signup pages are simple. They have one- or two-column structures with no separate headers or footers.
This is effective because it creates a distraction-free environment. People don’t get confused by all the stuff around your newsletter offer, so they can focus just on making the decision (subscribe or not).
Now, whether you should use one column or two depends on the length of the copy you’re planning to write.
- Slightly longer copy works well with a one-column layouts.
- Ultra-short copy is optimized for two-column layouts.
For example, this is how Ramit Sethi does it. Here are two of his signup pages (he has a handful of those), side by side:
You don’t want to use a two-column layout with longer copy because by the time someone finishes reading it, they can’t see the form anymore. With short copy, the form remains visible at all times.
Also, having longer copy on a two-column layout reduces the readability flow, as the eye starts jumping from one column to the other back and forth.
#3. Make your headline large
Large headlines are one of the most common things on almost all newsletter signup pages I’ve ever come across.
And by large I mean the font size, as well as the number of words and the overall space that the headline block takes.
In the examples above, you can see that Ramit is very serious about his headline game. In fact, his headline block takes roughly half of the visible screen area.
However, the whole trick is to make the headline fit your design. It can’t be huge just for the sake of it and look like a sore thumb.
#4. Erase Your Navigation
Or at least reduce it.
The whole problem with site navigation is that if you have a menu somewhere on your signup page, some people will click it. And you don’t want them to click anything else other than the subscribe button.
Now, if you want to get extreme here, you can erase all navigation altogether. Just like Derek Halpern does here:
Derek has a simple menu on most pages on his blog, but on this newsletter page, you can literally only subscribe to his newsletter or leave the site altogether.
Yes, I did mention that menus are bad for newsletter signup pages in general, but there are still some things you’re required to do by law.
The specifics depend on where you’re from and where you’re doing most of your business, but in most cases, some disclaimer links are required.
That being said, the rules are that they need to be there, but at the same time, they don’t necessarily need to be very prominent.
If you look again at Derek’s page, you’ll see two small links in the footer line:
This is all you need.
#6. Include trust elements
So why would anyone trust you? Well, because you’re awesome and your content is great, obviously!
But there’s no way for people to know this right away, so they need just one final nudge to get them through your subscription process without having second thoughts.
This is when trust elements come into play. Here are the two most popular types.
“As seen on” logos:
Testimonials and quotes:
#7. Consider Using a Video
Videos can work well on a signup page, but only if they are professionally produced and preferably personal in tone.
Try talking to your visitors directly just like Chris Brogan does here:
The main power of videos is that they really help build a connection. Seeing a video of someone where they’re talking to you seems almost as if they were standing next to you. It’s a lot more personal than reading copy on a page.
Now, about the technical side of videos. You can embed your video from YouTube, but you’re better off using a tool like Wistia. It gives you more control over your videos and works flawlessly on every device.
#8. Hook Up Your Newsletter Service
I’m sure you know that sending emails by bcc-ing lots of people through your email client is a no-no these days. If you want to run a newsletter, you need to do so with a specialized email delivery service.
This service will take care of your list, keep people’s email addresses safe, give you access to a cool newsletter design environment and then finally handle the process of sending your newsletters out.
There are a lot of email services available out there, but two of them stand out the most, in my opinion.
The first one is MailChimp. As part of their free plan, you get to send 12,000 emails per month, which should be more than enough for starters.
The other one is Sendinblue. This is a new player, similar to MailChimp, but the thing that’s interesting about it is that the free plan also allows you to send autoresponders, which is huge (not available in MailChimp for free). For instance, you can set automated emails that go out to new subscribers, say, two days after they joined. It’s a great way to re-engage them and get them back to your site.
Anyway, once you register with either of these services, you’ll get an embeddable form, which you’ll be able to use on your page to get people’s emails.
#9. Give it Some Personality
It’s always nice to give your page one or two final touches to make it look special. And there are probably a thousand things you could do, but let’s focus on two really simple ones:
- Include your picture at the beginning. Seeing your face makes it way easier for readers to identify with what you’re saying (especially if you don’t have a video on the page).
- Use one cool-looking graphic that draws people’s attention to your form. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, but it should be in-tune with your main message and headline. You can get those made onFiverr for $5 a piece, by the way.
Here’s how Ramit Sethi does both of these things on one of his pages:
What Are You Up To Right Now?
I hope this guide will help you build a better newsletter page for your blog. But in the meantime, what’s your main way of getting subscribers right now?
Is it through a block in the sidebar, a popup, or maybe you already have a newsletter signup page and you’re just looking for ways to make it better? Drop a comment below to tell us.
About the Author: Karol K. (@carlosinho) is a blogger and writer for hire (link). He has his work published all over the web, on sites like: NewInternetOrder.com, Six Revisions, Web Design Ledger, Lifehack.org, Quick Sprout, ProBlogger, Writers in Charge, and others.
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