11 tips for creating sign up forms

11 Tips To Help You Create Awesome Sign Up Forms

Shane Herring
Shane Herring

Course Developer at Atomic Education

Last Updated: May 11, 2021

Sign up forms are how business typically build their email list.

Usually a reader will exchange their email address for something of value.

It could be the promise of a newsletter, a discount coupon code, or a resource such as an ebook or checklist. The only information required to be collected is an email address but gathering more information could be helpful to a business.

What is a sign up form?

Sign up are way for, usually, prospects to give you their email address. Typically, they’re exchanging their email address for something. It could be the promise of a newsletter, a discount coupon code, or a resource such as an ebook or checklist. The only information required to be collected is an email address but gathering more information could be helpful to a business. Although more information is not necessarily better. More on that later.

Sign up forms are an integral part of any email marketing strategy. They are key to generating leads. The problem is that many businesses, big and small, don’t bother to optimise their sign up forms for conversion.

They can be used across multiple marketing channels including social media and websites. Both yours and third party sites.

How to create a sign up form

What follows are 11 tips you can use to create a great sign up form.

But, some these tips do contradict other tips.

If you try an include an element from every tip, your sign up form simply won’t work well.

Start by using one or two tips in one form. If you’re using more than one sign up form, such as offering multiple lead magnets, try different tips in each form.

Include a clear and concise headline

Headlines exist to catch people’s attention. Whether it’s a blog post, online magazine, or even a television news program, headlines are used to draw people into the article. It’s the headline that is key to getting an engaged audience.

Sign up forms are no different. A great headline will catch the reader’s attention, draw them into the message, and increase the chances that they’ll enter their details.


This sign up form headline from Platformly, explains what you’ll get and the cost. Free. Notice Free is capitalised. Then the value.

Show the value

Below your headline, expand upon the value you will provide your subscribers. Explain how your offer will solve a problem or answer a question they have. Make sure you clearly show the transformation that will occur if they subscribe. You can do with a sentence or two, or a bulleted list.

This landing page from Smart Passic Income does a great job explaining the value of the lead magnet to the subscriber. They make it clear by using bullets for each of types of content the subscriber can access.

Smart Passic Income sign up form

Set clear expectations

Your sign up form should set clear expectations up front with your subscribers about what they should expect to receive from you now and in the future, and how often they should expect to receive it.

This not only reduces the risk of spam complaints or unsubscribes, but it also helps build trust with your subscribers.

Setting clear expectations as early as possible in the sign up process also helps you remain GDPR compliant.

This sign up form example explains exactly what a subscriber can expect.

Set clear expectations in your sign up forms.

Keep fields to a minimum

Asking for too much information at the point of sign up can turn your subscribers off. It’s estimated that for every additional field, 25% fewer visitors will subscribe.

In most cases, name and email address are all you really need.

But it also depends on your goal with your sign up form. If it’s to get a new subscriber, ask for name and email ⏤ that’s it! If your goal is lead generation, perhaps you can ask for more information to help qualify that lead. Think about your goal to determine how many form fields are right for you.

Asking for the subscriber’s name can allow you to personalise your emails. And keep in mind, you can always gather additional information from your subscribers later on.

Spoon Graphics makes it very easy to access their lead magnet.

Spoon Graphics - 11 tips for sign up forms

Create colour contrast

Using contrasting colours in your sign up form helps it stand out on your website. A bright colour, like yellow, on a black and white website draws attention to the sign up form, which can increase the number of people who complete it.

Try using a bold colour palette or font so that your form stands out from the rest of your content.

Really Good Emails has a sign up form that you can’t miss.


Present an unfavourable alternative

This tactic works well for sign up forms that can be closed. It doesn’t work for inline forms or landing pages.

This sign up form from Function of Beauty offers a discount in exchange for their email address. What makes this type of form more effective is that they can close the form by choosing the alternative option of paying full price.


Use a clear call to action

The reality is that more than half of website visits come from mobile devices (source: Statista). So the chances your would-be subscriber is viewing your signup form on a mobile device are very high. Make it easy for them to easily enter their information and tap the button.

Don’t be boring and use generic text like “Subscribe”. Your sign up form become a powerhouse when your CTA reinforce the incentive or benefit a subscriber is getting. For an ebook, use something like “Send me the ebook now!”.

Enginemailer‘s sign up form tells you exaclty what you should do next.

Enginemailer - Sign up forms

Let subscribers choose their preferences

Letting your subscribers choose their email preferences can help with your email engagement rates because it allows subscribers to customize the kind of content they receive in their inbox. When subscribers are able to personalize their experience, they’ll get more value and engage more.

This sign up form from ASOS lets subscribers choose the type of information they want to receive. This can give them a more personalised email experience.


Write conversational copy

When the copy in your sign up forms is conversational, it feels more personal.

Forms that use a conversational tone tend to perform better than those that sound like they were written by robots.

Read this sign up form from Moz out loud and you feel like someone is talking to you.

Be creative and witty

Let your subscribers see the fun side of you and your brand by using copy that is imaginitive, fun, or clever. Making your subscribers smile is creating an emotional response and this is where they are more likely to relate to you.

Shinesty uses creative copy to show that they understand how much your inbox can suffer from the onslaught of emails.


Use social proof

Social proof is a strategy where you leverage herd mentality to convince people to take an action. If people see that everyone else is doing something, they’ll be more likely to do it themselves.

Social proof makes people feel good about signing up for your list. It gives them confidence that you’re not a spammer and that they’re making the right choice.

In the wise words of Peep Laja at Conversion XL, “No one wants to be the only idiot filling [out] your stupid sign up form.” So if you have the social proof, use it!

Another of Backlinko’s sign up forms let’s potential subscribers know that 173, 674 people have already subscribed. Along with building trust, this type of message creats a sense of FOMO. If I don’t sign up, I’ll be the one who misses out.


Wrap up

As I mentioned at the start, it’s not possible to use all of these tips in your sign up forms.

Take a few minutes to think about what you’re offering and what is the minimum needed to encourage someone to sign up.

Try different combinations of these tips on different pages and look at what’s working for you.

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Useful resources


The Guide to Marketing Automation


The Guide to Email Marketing


Your Email Marketing Checklist


The Automated Campaign Worksheet

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