When it comes to email signup forms, less is more. The less information you request from a web site visitors, the more likely they are to sign up. If you get greedy and ask for too much information, potential registrants will turn away.
The online travel firm Expedia simplified one of its contact forms by removing the “company” field. The result: an overnight surge in sales worth millions to the company (here’s an article with the details).
We recommend that you ask for nothing more than name (optional) and email address (required) on your signup forms. Some internet marketers will even forego the name.
The principle is simple: People are generally reluctant to part with personal information until you have proven that they can trust you. Your first goal should be to maximize the number of people who sign up.
Some marketers object: Without the additional information, you can’t personalize the content.
We agree. You want to collect as much information about people on your list so you can personalize content and tailor messages to their particular interests. But you should not gather that information on the signup form. You’ll drive too many people away.
We work with a large public library with multiple branches. The library asks only for first name and email address on the online signup form. As soon as a person signs up, our email system automatically sends a follow-up email describing how the library can send more pertinent, useful information if the registrant completes an extended form. Recipients can designate their preferred branch(es) and indicate which sections of the collection interest them — kids, young adult, fiction, non-fiction, etc…
Those registrants who complete the extended form will receive more personalized emails with branch-specific news. Those who don’t complete the extended form are still on the mailing list. That’s much better for the library than driving away those people before they ever registered.