How to Get More Email Subscribers [Website Reviews]

How to Get More Email Subscribers [Website Reviews]

We’re starting weekly website reviews on CXL. This time I asked on Twitter who wants a review, and picked a few that shared one thing – they all want more email opt-ins.

In this ~11 minute video I’m telling 4 sites what I’d do to improve their opt-in rates.

Sites mentioned here:

Note that none the feedback given is based on historical nor current data, I might make a different call after seeing the numbers. It’s only based on my experience of optimizing hundreds and hundreds of sites. 

What Will We Be Looking At In This Website Review?

When I’m optimizing email optin forms, I primarily look at three things.

#1. Clarity

Do I understand what it is that’s being offered, and do I understand that it’s for me. Am I the ideal customer for this offer?

#2. Benefits & Value

Is the offer something I want?

Can I instantly understand the value in the offer, and see how it will benefit me?

#3. Immediacy

Do I get benefits right away?

Of course, this should go without saying, I look at the design.

Website Review 1 – Investing With Options

Investing With Options Trading Service

It looks nice!

It’s very clear, there’s a large email opt-in form, and my overall first impression is positive!

The only thing I don’t like here is the shot on the computer screen. It’s unclear to me what that is, or how it plays a role in the site’s value proposition.

It might just be me, because I don’t know anything about options trading, you may want to consider testing a different image to boost your conversion rate. I would love to see the actual course.

The headline “Free Options Basics Course” is good, because it clear that it’s a basics course, but I’d like to see a more benefits driven headline here.

I would also like to see more clarity in the “Join our 5-part options basics…” lede. I’m unclear what I’d actually be able to do after I take the course.

As someone who knows nothing about options, and the course being for beginners, I’d love to know what the different 5 parts of the course are through bullet points, and have the copy frame my journey from “beginner” to “intermediate” options investor. 

Options Trading Service

I get the “free course” and that is a clear benefit, however the benefit of the course is not so clear.

Finally, I would get rid of the ! in the “Get The Course” call to action, shorten the copy under the form headline, and test a privacy blurb under the main call to action.

Overall Reaction: Good job. There’s a clear eyeflow here, a great contrast on your call to action, and the design is pleasing to look at.

Website Review 2 – Productive Muslim

Next up, is looking to get more email optins.

Productive Muslim   Towards a Productive Ummah

First, let’s look at the headline for your subscription area.

Productive Muslim Email Headline

I’ll be honest, I’m not a big fan of this opt-in area and here’s why.

  1. Nobody wants to subscribe to anything. We have too much spam as it is, and for many the word “subscribe” is associated with junky magazine subscriptions or with paying money.
  2.  The headline and the lede area are essentially saying the same thing.
  3. The “Join Us Now!” graphic looks… cheap. (maybe use the standing man in your logo to somehow call attention to this area?)

I also wonder, why you need my full name in order to opt-in?

Looking at the button I wonder, if I sign up, do I get my productivity tips now? What is the instant gratification?

Do the productivity tips come in the form of a .pdf, a daily digest, or are they weekly? Are they delivered over video, podcast, or slideshow? Do you give me tools, tips, or challenges?

Being more specific with your offer could help you to attract not just more subscribers, but better subscribers.

Moving On…

Productive Muslim   Free Ebook

Free Ebook!?

People don’t want free ebook! The internet is full of free ebooks.

If I want free ebooks, I would spend all day downloading them. People don’t want free ebooks, they want specific benefits.

Because there are so many free ebooks, and I don’t want to download them all, tell me what makes this one great. I want a proper value proposition here. What will I learn when I download your guide?

Overall Reaction:  It’s clear what I’m supposed to do on this page, but I need to have more specific benefits as to “why” I should join.

Website Review 3 – Single and The Sweet Side of 40

Beth O Donnell

I would like to see you test a different headline in this area.

“Living Single 4.0 Support Suite” while it may sound neat to you, it doesn’t sound like anything people would actually say to each other.

It’s a trap we all fall into, but remember, regular people don’t speak jargon.

Imagine your friend walking up to you and saying, “Hey, would you like this Living Single Support Suite” (it’d probably make you want to cry!)

Additionally, the low contrast between the green in your bullet point makes it very difficult to read on the white background.

I would like to see you simplify the amount of information presented in this box. Perhaps add check marks to the bullet point area, and rename the last check point so it’s not nearly identical to the one that comes before it.

single life support suite sub headline

I also don’t feel like this pre-call to action adds any value – only that it adds to the noise.

Ultimately, I’d like to see you combine all of these into a single offer (heh, pun intended) with a clear, benefit oriented headline and copy. That way your visitor won’t have multiple things to focus on, and are absolutely clear on what they’re getting.

Overall Reaction: The design is good for what your site is about, but I want to see even more clarity from the content in the email optin area.

Website Review 4 – Dolls Kill

Online boutique for the misfits and miss legits. Let s party    Dolls Kill

First, we’re greeted with a pop-up for email capture.

The font for Join the Misfits is kind of hard to read, but if that’s your branding, it’s alright. 

While the “Get Updates… ” text here isn’t terrible, the problem is similar to the “Subscribe” language we were talking about earlier. Updates are commonly associated with spam, and there is no real immediate benefit from becoming an email subscriber.

In 6 Smart Ways to Capture Emails I use the example of E-commerce site giving a €10 welcome gift for brand new subscribers.


While it doesn’t have to be free money, it should be something extra to drive an action beyond “Get Updates.”

Also, when I click on the “Enter Email” area, the text disappears, which could have a negative impaction on conversions, if your visitor gets distracted by a tweet, and forgets what the box is about.

Sign Up

I would also test using different language than “Sign Up” as that’s a generic call to action, and is generally uninspiring. The best calls to action usually finish a thought, or puts a button on the benefit’s established in the preceding copy, so keep that in mind as you try new language.

Overall Reaction: The site itself is beautiful, using great full color images and relatively simple, prototypical design. I would test not using the image carousel, as they’re known to kill conversions. But I think if you make a clearer offer, and improve that call to action, you’ll see the lift’s you’re looking for.


If you’re not getting the conversions you hoped for, chances are, the offer you’re putting out there isn’t specific enough.

Try to use real human language and present the benefits in a way that make sense.

We’re planning on making website reviews a weekly feature on CXL, so if thought this was valuable, and you’re interested in having Peep review your website, email [email protected]  and we’ll get your website scheduled for review.

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  1. Very informative reviews peep. thx.

    Guys for god’s sake, go test these assumptions whether you agree or not. Get back to us with some test results.

    Sign up for some split testing software and start experimenting now.

  2. First, thanks for wonderful information! I always go to your blog first on my reader.

    Second, I’ve decided to focus this month on improving conversion rate for our website, instead of just getting the traffic. I’m starting with qualitative research and scheduling some interviews with our former customers. I’ve prepared a list of questions for them but thought maybe you could point me to some articles on your blog or elsewhere that will give suggestions on how to do such research and interviews. Would appreciate links and the tips :)

    Thanks a lot!

  3. Am I the only one who doesn’t like the pop-ups as on the fourth website? I always close them quickly because the backround seems so attractive and that takes all my attention.

    1. Peep Laja

      Gert – you’re asking the wrong question. “Do I like it” is not important. “Does it increase email signups” or “does it increase revenue” is the real question. For the vast majority of sites, the answer is yes.

  4. Hi,

    First i want to say thank you so much for this treasure of infos. I have 2 very important questions, and i hope if you can answer me, cause it will resolve my biggest obstacles.
    1) which is better, offering the lowest price possible, or offering slightly high price and give coupons for registering an account ?
    2) How to implement free shipping if the shipping fees are more than 50€ (i can only offer secured shipping as i sell dresses for more than 200€) ? Also, if i try to add the shipping fees to the product price, it turn very high comparing to my competitors.

    Thank you so much again

    1. Tommy Walker

      It’s all going to depend on your business.

      If you sell high quality dresses, low prices could make you look cheap, and therefore diminish the perceived value overall. I really like what does with their incentive coupon for registering, but that’s by no means the only way to capture an email address.

      You could experiment with offering daily deals or a loyalty program. If you wanted to get to know your customers even better, you could offer a personalized styling consultation, or daily style tips. Without knowing your business exactly, it’s hard to say what would work best, all I’m saying is that it doesn’t HAVE to be coupons (especially if you sell 200€ dresses)

      As for the free shipping question, your best bet would be to experiment with an “over [x] dollars” or “when you order [x] amount of items” program. Obviously you don’t want to cut into your profit margins too much, but you also don’t want to price yourself out of the market.

      I’m actually going to be publishing an article about coming up with a unique value proposition in crowded markets later today, so you might want to check that out later and see where else you might find your edge. Hope that helps!

    2. THANK YOU, you’ve been really helpful

  5. Hi Peep,

    I love your reviews. After devouring your $5 ebook, we came up with a completely new website idea. It should be finished in the next two months. I can’t wait for you to do a review when it goes live. Thanks for the quality, actionable advice throughout your work. We’ve learned a ton and highly recommend your work!

  6. Thanks Peep, so informative! Loved the video, great tips. Can’t wait for the next video to come.

  7. Boom, light bulb, marketing my website. This is just what I needed. This is the exact thing I needed to hear. Thanks for making my 2014 and it is only January

  8. Hi Peep,
    Awesome information. I’m curious about the in-field disappearing text thing. In your experience, does it really make a big difference when there is only one or 2 fields to fill? I mean in real cases split tests. Thank you!!

    1. Peep Laja

      Ive seen it lower conversions by 15%

    2. 15% ! That’s huge. I’ll stop using them right away. Thanks!

    3. Peep Laja

      That doesn’t of course mean anything for your site. Test test test

    4. Excellent info, except the form at the bottom of this post does 2 of the things you say not to do :

      1. Uses text that disappears when you click in the email field
      2. Uses both ‘Subscribe’ and ‘Updates’ in the CTA

      Sorry to be picky :) but I’d like to understand if this a deliberate result of your testing and this works for you?

  9. Peep Laja

    Great questions, Philip.

    The opt-in form here is for extra motivated people. The CTA is ‘get updates via email’ which is very specific. Specific is good. The only thing that this form is for is to get new posts over email. No other offer. So for this case this make sense. It’s not going to be a huge magnet – for that I have other offer in place here.

    The inline form label is generally fine when it’s just a single field. In order to subscribe to anything, you need to use your email. It’s a no brainer. If you have multiple fields, then it gets trickier.

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How to Get More Email Subscribers [Website Reviews]