Get the Most Out of Your Sign-Up Forms

Building an audience has always been an important part of growing a business, but in recent years, how to keep that audience engaged with regular emailed content has been a question of growing significance. 

Before you can start curating content for that private channel, you need customers to sign up and agree to deepen the relationship you have with them, which is when sign-up form optimization comes in.

Why focus on sign-up forms?

You can’t overlook sign-up forms. Squeezing the most out of each element of this process is the theme of this article because it’s that mentality that helps you turn an audience into an engaged customer community. 

The more engaged that community is, the higher the lifetime value of each customer becomes, and that’s a way you can grow your business without even expanding your reach.

The goals of form optimization

Companies keep their customers engaged through email subscriber lists and by sending out regular newsletters full of content. Now, what that content should be is debatable, but one area that doesn’t get evangelized enough is the sign-up form that encourages users to join. 

This is a crucial part of the funnel and just because it’s a simple concept doesn’t mean there aren’t hidden friction points blocking you from connecting with customers. Optimizing your form can help bring those customers to your subscriber list and bring value to your company.

Better insights

When people sign up, they get a User ID, and tracking their behavior when they interact with your company becomes easier and more accurate. Google Analytics 4 offers useful reports but a lot of their data is ‘modeled’, meaning it’s bulked out with extrapolated predicted data in cases where users have blocked cookies. 

It can be helpful but the accuracy cannot be completely relied upon for detailed close analysis. If you can optimize your forms and have your users sign up, the data you get from them will be ‘actual’ data rather than ‘modeled’ and you can draw out better insights.

Brand building

When you are communicating directly and privately with a customer through a mailing list, you are building a deeper connection with that person. As you build a more personal feeling relationship with your audience, you have the opportunity to positively build on the perception of your brand. 

You have a chance to really hone your values in the eyes of each customer by sending them curated, thoughtfully presented, and perhaps even personalized content—these things can come to define you.

Map high-value customers

As a knock-on effect, when customers start to feel aligned and connected to a brand, they become more loyal, you can start to turn what would have been one-time customers into repeat customers. 

The lifetime value of each person starts to ramp up as you put more time into that relationship. Those loyal customers are also the sort of people who will go on to recommend your company to a friend, bringing in even more customers organically.

How do you find where to optimize?

Figuring out where your current form is deficient and can be improved can be split into two fact-finding processes. 

One relies on data—data can be your best friend and help you to identify friction points and bottlenecks. The other can come under the umbrella term of ‘heuristics’, which includes using your professional intuition and experience to pinpoint how your sign-up process is imperfect.


The benefit of data is that it helps you keep your analysis objective. By dealing with statistical facts you can mitigate the possibility that your personal opinions sway you from what is happening in your funnel.

Tracking your data

Tracking is a key aspect of this. People make the mistake of limiting tracking to how users interact with the CTA button. On one hand, this makes sense, this is where people either click and sign up, or don’t. On the other hand, it doesn’t provide actionable insight into why they didn’t sign up if they chose not to. 

Tracking other areas can help you here. Seeing the whole path that a user took can tell you where they got stuck, and which element of the process turned them away. 

So track all of the fields on your form track:

  • Unsubscribed.
  • Open rates.
  • Website traffic coming from newsletter content.

All of these data points need to be parsed and looked at individually.

Watch to watch for

Keep an eye out for where the data shows a drop-off and where it shows an opportunity. Maybe more people sign up at a certain time of day, so can you optimize your email content to hit that time? 

And with data, just as Google models their analytics, you can use what you track to predict behavior and anticipate what kind of content will be successful. If people are navigating back to a particular piece of content more than once in a session, it stands to reason they would appreciate more of that kind of material.

A/B testing

A/B testing is one way you can gauge interest and gather important data if you have the audience size and capacity to do it properly and with comprehensively controlled test conditions.

For instance, pop-up sign-up boxes can be unappealing to some people, but if they look right and come at the right time, they can be effective. An A/B test can help you gauge whether it’s right for your company and bring you valuable data going forward, even if that interest isn’t there.


Though heuristics sounds complex, it’s a simple idea, and you don’t have to do this on your own—getting multiple people to walk through your website and assess the user journey from engagement to conversion is a good way to analyze what’s functioning well and what isn’t. 

Get their feedback and put it to good use, and then do the same process again yourself. 

Remember to see how well your form does when a user makes mistakes.


At the time a test was run on SpilXperten‘s sign-up form, it was found that when people type the email address into the field incorrectly, they are taken to the ‘thank you for signing up’ page. 

Essentially, they lost a customer because the sign-up will not be processed, the customer will not receive any emails, and they will navigate away from the page thinking that they have.

Using your best judgment you can personally judge how well the form is adhering to principles of user experience and CRO (conversion rate optimization). These principles include: 

  • Position: Where is the box and is it clearly visible in a prominent location on the page?
  • Functionality: Does everything technically work as it should and as a user would expect?
  • Layout: Dow is the form itself laid out, is it simple and distraction-free?

User experience and CRO principles

It is worth exploring UX and CRO principles in a little more depth because there are underlying psychological concepts that are vital to understanding form optimization.

Cognitive fluency

‘Cognitive Fluency’ refers to the idea that people will veer toward the simplest and easiest option. For instance, research has shown that people will leave an unwanted email unopened than unsubscribe. 

You can translate this concept into how your form is set up.

Reduce unnecessary fields

Investigate whether there are any unnecessary thought-consuming qualities on the form. If there are two compliance checkboxes, perhaps they could be merged into one, or replaced with a micro-copy explaining that signing up indicates the user accepts those compliance terms.

Remove distractions

Removing distractions is always the best practice when refining the user experience. If you’ve got things on your sign-up form that aren’t directly trying to get the user to sign up, consider getting rid of them. 

Take a look at SpilXperten website for example, where at the time of testing, the sign-up forms featured these social media icons:

If so, don’t be afraid to streamline the form and get rid of them. After all, when users are close to signing up you don’t want anything to be taking their attention away.

Some studies have also suggested that removing Recaptcha increases the conversion rate on forms by 30%. Although it’s a good tool for catching bots, it does make the process more finicky for the user and may deter them.

User anxiety

Anxiety over handing over their email address is at the heart of why people are reluctant to sign up for mailing lists. By addressing those fears head-on, you could increase your success. So let’s break down what that anxiety is and where it comes from:

  • Fear of spam: This is a common fear and by letting users know up-front exactly how often you’ll be contacting them and with what sort of content you can quickly address it.
  • Error messages: Easy to overlook, but the tone and wording of error messages can create an atmosphere inconsistent with the positive relationship you want to build with a customer. When testing this form, it could be seen that the message is unintentionally blunt and scolding when it doesn’t need to be. The red color of the text only adds to the threatening tone. Be sure to keep your error messages supportive and consistent with your brand personality.
  • Numerical Keyboards: When asking customers to enter numbers, offering an alphabetical keyboard can make the process more difficult than it needs to be. Most users will be accessing the page through a phone, so consider optimizing for that by presenting a numerical keyboard.

Persuasion techniques


The Concept of Reciprocity states that people like to “balance the books”, meaning that if they are offered something good, they will want to return the favor. If you are giving some sort of benefit to the user up front, you can persuade them to part with their email address. 

This idea ties in with your Value Proposition, which is another guiding technique that you should be aware of. Your value proposition is what positive value you are presenting to the potential customer, and the key is that you have to present that from their perspective. 

Telling them how good your website is performing is from your perspective, offering advice or information that could help them is how you persuade people. 


Examine this example from Moosend:

The form is persuasive because it gives a tangible taste of the benefit and value that signing up will bring the user. In this instance, they have leveraged user profiles to assess that their users will likely be people with their own websites and therefore, this is exactly the kind of information that could prove useful and persuasive to them.

Social proof

Social Proof is and has always been a very persuasive way to exhibit the positive aspects of your company. People are always keen to join in and get some of the action if they can see other people already benefiting. This relies on the principle that the desire to be a part of an exclusive club is an incredibly persuasive guiding force in consumers. 

A Swedish media organization added copy to their sign-up form that translates as “Join our family of more than 20,000 members” and saw a 123% increase in subscribers. Because the number of subscribers was already low, that figure may not be exactly transferable to your business depending on the size of your current customer base.


Optimization is an ongoing task, there will always be new metrics to analyze, data to sort through, and hypotheses.  Filter your findings through what you know about your brand, industry, and customer base. To continue improving every aspect of your conversion funnel. 

The statistics indicating how much conversion can be increased through altering a sign-up form show that even the very simplest aspect of that funnel can affect the behavior of customers who are in that pivotal mindset where they are deciding whether or not to sign up.

It can be the smallest, subtlest, most inconsequential seeming aspect of a site and a form can sway them one way or another, so make sure you’re squeezing the maximum out of yours.

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Get the Most Out of Your Sign-Up Forms