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Is Boosting Our Newsletter Sign-up Rate Web Design or Not?

A visitor sent us this comment:

It’s funny how a page about proper web design has a pop up footer begging for our e-mail addresses. one of the most obnoxious things in the web today. Good work.

The suggestion is that putting a slide-up footer ad on the bottom of our articles isn’t “proper web design”.

I respectfully disagree.

This site exists for many reasons. It has many goals, which include:

  • To be a useful educational resource that promotes web design best practice
  • To drive traffic to my products, particularly the Pro Web Design Alliance, for people who want to master best practice in web design
  • To build a tribe of people who care about best practice in web design

The footer promotion, powered by OptInCrusher (free), supports that last goal – to build a tribe.

I’ve learned a lot about conversion in the past few years – how to persuade people to take actions you want them to take. The single most important factor, when it comes to overcoming inertia, is to make the benefit of doing something outweigh the cost.

It’s all very well providing great content, and putting a little box that whispers, “Please join my mailing list”.

I did that. It worked. I got about a dozen sign-ups per week.

Then I added a reason for people to sign up. I offered them my “50 Web Design Secrets” for free by email.

That worked better. As the graph below shows, new subscriptions increased to between 45 and 80 per week.

But then we added the OptinCrusher. Sign-ups leaped to 150 – 200 per week.

Mailing list sign-ups per week (from AWeber)

Consider that the average lifetime value of a name on a mailing list is £10 (about $16). That’s an asset that’s theoretically growing by $2000 per week. I don’t have a problem with that.

Is it a design feature?

Yes! Because design is about creating new solutions to communication problems.

It isn’t just about style, unless of course communicating a certain brand feel is the primary goal of the design exercise.

You see, design is about whatever the design is about. I’m a marketer, I’m in business. My job is to create great stuff and find ways to deliver that stuff to the people who need it so much that they’ll pay me to get it.

Having a benefit-packed call to action at the end of every article worked.

But this works better! Why? Because it’s not below the fold. It brings my offer to the attention of most new visitors, which means more of them stop and think, and more of them choose to say, “OK Ben, I’ll take you up on that. Hit me with your 50 tips.”

It fulfils my business objectives, and that’s good design in my book.

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