The Ultimate Guide to Creating Email Sign-Up Forms That Convert in 2023

Email marketing is far from dead. In fact, it‘s thriving more than ever in 2023. Consider these mind-blowing statistics:

  • There are over 4 billion daily email users, and that number is expected to climb to 4.6 billion by 2025 (Statista)
  • Email marketing revenue is projected to reach nearly $11 billion by the end of 2023 (Statista)
  • 77% of marketers have seen an increase in email engagement over the last 12 months (HubSpot)

Clearly, email is a critical channel for connecting with your audience and driving business growth. But before you can launch wildly successful email campaigns, you need subscribers. That‘s where email sign-up forms come in.

An email sign-up form is the gateway to growing your subscriber list. It‘s a web form that allows visitors to enter their email address and opt-in to receiving emails from your business or brand. When implemented strategically, these forms can skyrocket your email list growth and feed your lead generation pipeline.

In this ultimate guide, we‘ll share 10 proven strategies for creating high-converting email sign-up forms, backed by research, examples, and good old-fashioned marketing know-how. Plus, we‘ll showcase 20 inspiring sign-up form examples to get your creative juices flowing. Let‘s dive in!

10 Proven Strategies for High-Converting Email Sign-Up Forms

1. Craft a Compelling Value Proposition

Your sign-up form needs a clear, benefit-focused headline that answers the question: "What‘s in it for me?" In other words, why should someone hand over their precious email address to you? What value will they get in return?

Here‘s a simple formula for crafting a compelling value prop:

Join [Your Email List] and Get [Benefit] to Help You [Achieve Desired Outcome]

For example:

  • Join the Backlinko Newsletter and Get SEO Tips to Help You Increase Organic Traffic
  • Sign Up for the CB Insights Newsletter and Get Tech Insights to Help You Stay Ahead of Industry Trends

Check out these examples of strong vs weak sign-up form copy:

Strong: Get the Latest Style Tips to Help You Dress Your Best
Weak: Sign Up for Our Fashion Newsletter

Strong: Download Our Free Keto Cookbook and Start Burning Fat Today
Weak: Join Our Email List for Keto Recipes

2. Keep Forms Short and Sweet

When it comes to sign-up forms, less is definitely more. The more form fields you include, the higher the friction and the lower the conversion rates.

Research has shown that reducing the number of form fields can lead to a significant increase in conversions:

  • Imagescape removed one form field and increased conversions by 120% (VWO)
  • Expedia removed one field from their booking form and gained an extra $12 million in profit (HBR)

As a general rule, only ask for information that‘s absolutely necessary. In most cases, all you really need is an email address. You can progressively gather additional details later through follow-up emails, surveys, or account creation.

3. Offer an Irresistible Incentive

Want to sweeten the deal for potential subscribers? Offer a valuable incentive in exchange for their email address. Lead magnets can include:

  • Discount codes or free shipping
  • Downloadable resources (ebooks, checklists, templates, etc.)
  • Free trials or samples
  • Access to exclusive content or communities
  • Entry into a contest or giveaway

Here are some examples of enticing lead magnets across different industries:

  • Ecommerce: 15% off your first order
  • SaaS: 14-day free trial of the premium plan
  • Service-based business: Free 30-minute consultation
  • Blogger: The Ultimate Guide to [Blog Topic]
  • Influencer: Exclusive behind-the-scenes video

The key is to offer something that‘s valuable and relevant to your specific target audience.

4. Leverage the Power of Social Proof

Social proof is a powerful psychological principle that states people are more likely to take a desired action when they see others doing it. You can leverage social proof to boost sign-up form conversions by showcasing:

  • Subscriber counts (e.g. "Join 10,000+ subscribers!")
  • Testimonials from happy subscribers
  • Trust badges (e.g. Norton Secured, McAfee Secure)
  • Media mentions (e.g. "As seen in Forbes, Entrepreneur, and Inc. Magazine")

Here‘s a great example of social proof on Tim Ferriss‘ sign-up form:

[Insert image of Tim Ferriss form with "Join 1,000,000+ subscribers" social proof]

5. Enable Double Opt-In

Double opt-in means new subscribers must confirm their email address via a follow-up email before being added to your list. While it does add an extra step to the sign-up process, there are several benefits:

  • Higher quality subscribers: Double opt-in ensures that only engaged, interested contacts end up on your list, reducing spam complaints and unsubscribes down the road.
  • Improved email deliverability: A clean, engaged list signals to email providers that you‘re a trustworthy sender, boosting your chances of landing in the inbox.
  • GDPR compliance: Double opt-in helps meet the strict consent requirements under the EU‘s data privacy regulations.

After weighing the pros and cons, most email marketing experts agree that double opt-in is a smart long-term strategy for list growth.

6. A/B Test Your Way to Success

What works for one audience may not work for another. The only way to find out what resonates with your specific visitors is to test!

Here are some key sign-up form elements to test:

  • Headline copy
  • Form length
  • Button color and copy
  • Incentive offer
  • Placement on page
  • Pop-up timing and triggers

Use A/B testing software like Google Optimize or Optimizely to split test one element at a time and determine a winner. Then, continue iterating and testing to improve conversions over time.

7. Optimize for Mobile Devices

Over 50% of web traffic comes from mobile devices (Statista), so your sign-up forms must be fully optimized for small screens. Make sure your forms are:

  • Responsive: Forms should automatically adjust to fit the screen size of any device.
  • Finger-friendly: Make buttons and form fields large enough to easily tap with a finger.
  • Minimalist: Keep copy concise and form fields to a minimum to avoid excessive scrolling. Consider using a multi-step form for mobile.

Here‘s an example of Airbnb‘s mobile-friendly sign-up form:

[Insert image of Airbnb‘s mobile form]

8. Promote Your Sign-Up Forms Everywhere

Don‘t limit sign-up forms to your homepage. Maximize list growth by featuring them prominently across your entire digital presence, including:

  • Website header or footer
  • Blog posts
  • Product pages
  • Dedicated landing pages
  • Social media profiles
  • Email signature
  • Author bio
  • YouTube video descriptions
  • Podcast show notes

Here‘s an example of how HubSpot promotes newsletter sign-ups on their blog:

[Insert image of HubSpot blog with sign-up CTA]

You can also drive traffic to a dedicated landing page optimized for email sign-ups using paid ads, social media posts, or links from other high-traffic pages on your site.

9. Create an Engaging Welcome Series

Your relationship with a new subscriber begins the moment they sign up. Make a strong first impression by sending an automated welcome email series that:

  • Delivers the promised incentive
  • Introduces your brand and values
  • Sets expectations for email frequency and content
  • Shares your best content or resources
  • Encourages engagement (reply to the email, connect on social, etc.)

Here‘s a sample 3-email welcome series template:

Email 1: Welcome to [Brand]! Here‘s Your [Incentive] as Promised

  • Deliver lead magnet
  • Introduce brand mission and values
  • Set expectations for email content and frequency
  • Encourage whitelist
  • Include contact info and social links

Email 2: Get to Know Us: 3 Must-Read [Brand] Resources

  • Curate top blog posts, videos, or resources
  • Highlight social proof or benefits of being a subscriber
  • Include personalized recommendations based on signup source

Email 3: What Can We Help With? Tell Us What Content You Want

  • Ask subscribers to complete a short survey or quiz
  • Gather preferences for email content, format, and frequency
  • Offer a small incentive for completing the survey

10. Showcase Killer Email Sign-Up Form Examples

Need some real-world inspiration? Check out these 20 high-converting email sign-up form examples and what makes them so effective:

  1. Backlinko: Compelling lead magnet, strong social proof, contrasting CTA button, two-step pop-up form
  2. MeUndies: Fun, on-brand design, enticing discount offer, minimalist form
  3. Beardbrand: Engaging, conversational copy, product-focused lead magnet, prominent placement
  4. Nomadic Matt: Clear value prop for travel lovers, clean design, exits intent pop-up timing
  5. Nerd Fitness: Unique, on-brand lead magnet, targeted copy, multi-step form
  6. Casper: Simple, benefit-focused headline and CTA, high-contrast form, subtle animation
  7. Magnolia: Beautiful photography, strong incentive offer, mobile-friendly design
  8. Chubbies: Humorous copy, impressive social proof, holiday-themed lead magnet
  9. Fabletics: Visually appealing design, compelling discount offer, member perks
  10. Tuft & Needle: Clean, simple design, strong value prop, free shipping incentive
  11. Flipsnack: Interactive flipbook lead magnet, curiosity-driven headline, eye-catching visuals
  12. Shinesty: Bold, humorous copy, unique lead magnet, prominent placement
  13. Jenna Kutcher: Minimalist design, inspiring messaging, freebie offer
  14. Fomo: Strong social proof, benefit-focused copy, contrasting CTA button
  15. Trello: Clear value prop, engaging visuals, strong incentive offer
  16. Groove: Compelling case study lead magnet, impressive results, clean design
  17. TheSkimm: Minimalist form, strong CTA copy, engaging quiz
  18. Venngage: Interactive lead magnet, targeted copy, clear value prop
  19. Airtable: Product-focused lead magnet, benefit-driven headline, strong CTA
  20. CoSchedule: Impressive social proof, strong incentive offer, exit intent pop-up
[Include screenshots and short analysis for each example sign-up form]

Wrapping Up

There you have it – a comprehensive guide to creating email sign-up forms that convert like crazy. Let‘s recap the key takeaways:

  1. Craft a clear, compelling value proposition
  2. Keep forms short and sweet
  3. Offer an irresistible incentive
  4. Leverage the power of social proof
  5. Enable double opt-in for list quality
  6. A/B test form elements for better conversions
  7. Optimize forms for mobile devices
  8. Promote sign-up forms across all channels
  9. Engage new subscribers with a welcome series
  10. Get inspired by real-world examples

By implementing these research-backed strategies and studying the examples provided, you‘ll be well on your way to rapidly growing your email list and generating more leads for your business.

But the learning doesn‘t stop there. To dive even deeper into email sign-up form optimization, check out these additional resources:

Happy list building!