March 9, 2013

Make it Obvious

“Put a sign-up form on every page of your website.”

You’ve heard this, right? Well, it’s good advice… sort of. Half the story is missing. Here’s the other half, with context.

Imagine that your best friend has just forwarded to you a newsletter that they’re raving about. You have a look and realize that you really like it too and want to subscribe so you don’t miss future issues. (This happens to me a lot.) You scroll around and can’t find anything about subscribing. Being tenacious, you click through to the website and spend a couple of minutes scrolling around and clicking. Still no sign-up form.

I once called a lady in New York because I could find no way to subscribe to her newsletter, either in her newsletter or on her website, although apparently it was there somewhere.

If you ask people to 'subscribe', in your newsletter or anywhere else, you want to send them to a webpage where they can’t miss your sign-up form. If you don’t have it on a page of its own, where will you send them? If you send them to your home page, they'll have to hunt for the form unless you also give them directions like 'subscribe via the lower right sidebar on our website'. Having to provide directions is complicated for your subscriber. You want to avoid it.

Here is our best advice:

Yes, put a call to action on every page, asking me to subscribe. Then use a link to take me to a page featuring your sign-up form. On that page, your ‘sign-up’ or ‘subscribe’ page, give your form the attention it deserves. Make it clear to me why I want to sign up for your newsletter. How often will I get it? What can I expect to find in it? Sell me on it. At the same time, don’t try to sell me on something else. You have me there... make sure I sign up before you ask me to do something else!