This is a story of how I increased my conversions by 200% by making my sign-up form easier to use and having more of them on the site.
Design vs. Sales
The stereotypes of the sales person and the designer are of two totally different animals.
Sales people, on one hand, are grubby desperate types who like garish colors, big headlines and obvious sales copy.
Designers, on the other, are aloof, creative souls who wince at unsubtle sales pages – they even get upset at the use of a certain font in a movie (Papyrus in Avatar).
The problem with the sales person
The sales person just wants sales. If something works, if it has been proved to sell more or convert more, it’s used. So we get a proliferation of pop-ups, animation and repetitious sales copy.
The problem with the designer
Designers like white space and they like to de-clutter. Sometimes they set type so small that older people or people with poor eyesight will have trouble with reading it. This is because designers often have very good eyesight.
So when a designer has finished a design, it must be understood by the general public, not just by the designer and the client.
The happy medium
Two of the most important characteristics of the sales process are clarity and usability.
I have a great example of this here on my blog and I’m so ashamed that it took me so long to work this out.
My shame: number one
On my website I have a form to take visitors’ email addresses so that they can receive newsletters and a free eBook on How to Market Yourself Online.
When I first put the form on the website I put it on one page only – the page that advertised the eBook and left it at that.
I was looking at my site too hard and too much. I forgot that most visitors look at it for only a few seconds.
One day I wondered to myself, “what would happen if I put a sign-up form on the sidebar”. I’d probably noticed that sign-up forms were there on lots of other sites.
“But,” I thought, “it probably won’t make much difference as visitors can follow the links to the sign-up page because they will want to read more about the newsletter and incentive first.”
Wrong! My subscriptions increased by 100%
My shame: number two
But there’s more. I used to have a field for the first and last name on my form on the email company’s site. I quite liked having it there as I could start my emails “Dear so-and-so” which makes them nice and personal.
The first name field wasn’t required and so didn’t exist on the form on my site so you got an annoying pop-up form when you signed up. I didn’t worry about this for months and months as I thought my visitors wouldn’t mind the extra click at this stage.
Wrong! I got rid of this annoying, unnecessary barrier to the sign-up process and … my subscriptions increased by 100% again.
Keep it simple, stupid!
I really should have know better.
Don’t put any barrier, confusion or unnecessary distracting element in your designs. Perfect design, so the saying goes, is when nothing needs to be added and nothing needs to be taken away.
What do you think?
Have any of you got a sign-up form on your website? Or have you signed up to a newsletter on a website? (I guess that would be most people!) What do you think of the sign-up process here? Is there anything that can be done to improve it here or on your website?
This is a very interesting subject. I’m currently split testing the sign-up squeeze page and I’m getting some interesting results that I will share with you shortly.