What Kind of Data to Ask for in a Subscription Form

When you run an opt-in form to gather subscribers for your newsletter, you might be tempted to include a lot of questions in it. This is a huge mistake! You might think that an opt-in form is a great way to gather valuable data about your users but this certainly isn’t so.

It is a known fact that the more detailed a subscription form is, the fewer people will sign up. It is simple to figure out that when a user is confronted with a long questionnaire, many people who will otherwise sign up, will not bother to fill it.

This is not because they are lazy – they simply value their time and in many cases also their privacy and this is why they will not be willing to give their details. Therefore, the trick here is to get them subscribe and optionally get some data as a bonus for you.

The Email Address Is What You Absolutely Need

Obviously, the piece of data you absolutely must gather is the email address to send the newsletter to. In many cases this is all you need to have in an opt-in form, so even if you stop here, you won’t be wrong.

Users’ Names Are Not Too Much to Ask for

The email address might be all you need to add a subscriber to your mailing list but you could also ask for his or her name. This is not because you are curious but because when you have the name(s) of your subscribers you can send them personalized messages and this always helps to make you (and your newsletter) more likable. Still, asking for a user’s name(s) is optional and if you don’t plan to send personalized messages, it is fine to skip it.

Consent to Receive Other Stuff

This piece of data could be very useful, if you have other stuff besides the newsletter you plan to send to your readers. This other stuff could be special offers or announcements that are not included in the newsletter, or messages on benefit of third parties. Even if you don’t have their explicit consent, the majority of users won’t object against receiving an occasional unsolicited email from you but if you want to do things properly, always strive to get their consent first.

Depending on the WordPress newsletter plugin you are using and the WordPress subscription form, the exact ways to do this will vary. Basically, all you need is put a simple check box or a radio button with a Yes and No. You can preselect the Yes of the radio button and put the tick mark in the check box and this will do. It might feel a bit like tricking your users to give their consent but since you do provide an opt-out option, those of them, who really don’t want to receive other stuff, can always select No/remove the tick.

Other Data To Be Careful About

In almost any case asking for other data isn’t a good idea but sometimes it might be. However, be careful not to make the form too long and not to ask questions that might irritate users. For instance, many people won’t answer an income question, some won’t answer an age question, etc.

One good question many people won’t mind answering is about the way they have learned about you (i.e. word of mouth, search engine, followed a link from another site, etc.). Also, if your audience consists of multiple segments (i.e. managers, developers, marketers) you could try to sort them by offering a question about their position but if you feel you are asking too many questions, you can do this at a later stage – i.e. after they have confirmed their subscription.

Basically, all the other stuff you might be tempted to ask about will be of use in your marketing but unless you plan to create multiple versions of your newsletter for the different segments of the audience, you’d better avoid placing these questions on the subscription form. After all, this is a subscription form, not a survey or a cross examination!

Guest post by Ada, The Blogger Relations Manager at WinkPress. We at WinkPress provide tutorials, tips, and reviews about WordPress, its themes, and plugins.

Filed under: Blogging Tips
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January 25, 2012 by: Prasanth Chandra

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