Is there a better way to get people to sign up for your emails than using a form that looks like it was created by the Census Bureau? And is there a better way to assure readers of your good intentions than placing inches of tiny grey type in the legal section of the email?
Yes -- definitely. Some perfectly serious brands are using people-friendly language and fun forms that make it a pleasure to engage with them. Here are just a few samples.
Sign on the dotted line
Most sign-up forms are practical, yes, but fun and enticing? No! A sign-up page should have the same branding experience as the rest of your communications, which may mean that you can have fun with the form itself. Jeremy Keith, a Web developer in England, came up with a registration page for his site, Huffduffer, that works like a Mad-Libs game:
"I would like to use Huffduffer. I want my username to be ________ and I want my password to be ___________. My email address is ________. By the way, my name is __________."
You can see a sample here. Other companies have been using Jeremy's narrative form idea, and tests have shown that conversion increased across the board by 25% to 40%. There's no reason a similar form couldn't be used for email registrations.
Another favorite of mine is the email sign-up page for Simplify101.com, an organizing Web site. The sign-up form is a postcard graphic with handwriting fonts, which comes across as friendly and personal. The message area explains what you get when you sign up (very important) and the address side offers spaces for your contact information and publication selections. View the page here.
Please read the fine print
Ah, the footer on your emails -- all that FTC-mandated stuff in the light grey Lilliputian font that defies the sharpest eyes to read it. Perhaps we think if we obscure the stuff in the footer, no one will worry about the way we handle the privacy of their information, no one will contact customer service with a problem, and no one will bother us with changes to their subscription.
And yet, could there be a better way to utilize that real estate on the email page? Texas Children's Hospital turned a negative into a positive by labeling its email footer with the helpful-sounding words, "Email Admin Center." The text in the footer is the usual CAN-SPAM compliance, email preference and privacy links, yet giving it a name makes the reader think of it as a toolbox -- suddenly, it's a customer-oriented feature.
Toddle.com has done away with the footer entirely, incorporating informative modules right into its e-newsletter for About Us, Contact Us, and Unsubscribe. What does that say about how important Toddle thinks that information is?
Fun is engaging. So is writing that sounds like one human being speaking to another. Either approach can take the sting out of a boring or unpleasant necessity. Try lightening up your communications and see if it works for you.