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5 Simple Tips To Help You Increase User Sign Ups

There are plenty of simple things you can do on your website that can increase your signups, whether it’s for something like a free newsletter or a paid subscription service. Most don’t require any kind of technical or coding knowledge. And some can make a huge difference in the number of conversions you get.

The five simple actions here can all be done in a matter of minutes. When you break them down to their most basic ideas, it comes down to removing psychological barriers and offering better reasons to sign up. Keep those two ideas in mind whenever you’re working on a signup page:

  1. Does this make it easier to sign up?
  2. Does this give a better reason to sign up?

If the answer is yes, then you’re likely going to see an increase in your conversions.

1. Make Your Call to Action Obvious

The call to action is the single most important element of any signup page. Without it, the page has no purpose. And yet so many sites make the call to action nearly invisible. It blends into the background, or it’s identical to other buttons on the page, or it otherwise just doesn’t stand out.

firefox button call to action

Make sure that your call to action is differentiated from the rest of your page. Use contrasting colors, a larger font, and prominent positioning for the best results.

Test your call to action, too. Some phrasing might work better than others, and one button color might work better than another. The only way to know this for sure is to test the possible combinations. (Check out our previous article on landing page testing for more information.)

2. Simplify Your Sign-Up Form

The last thing I want to do when I’m signing up for something is fill in a long form that doesn’t seem to have much point. The goal is to get someone to sign up, right? So make it as easy and as simple as possible for them to do so. simple sign up form

The best signup forms include no more than the absolute bare-minimum required information. If there’s no financial transaction involved, then it should be limited to email and maybe name. If money is involved, then make sure you only ask for the minimum amount of information required by your credit card processor. If you need a shipping address, make sure they can auto-fill that information from their billing address.

The key here is to lower the barrier to entry as much as possible. You don’t want your visitors to think about it once they’ve decided to sign up. Every additional field is an opportunity to change their mind.

3. Offer a Guarantee

Guarantees are going to vary based on what your visitors are signing up for. If it’s a free newsletter or site updates, then guarantee you won’t sell or share their email address with other companies. If money is involved, make sure you offer some kind of satisfaction guarantee. guarantee

One tip: many companies offer a short-term money-back guarantee of only a few days, thinking it gives people less time to find something they don’t like about a product. But the problem there is that people are more likely to make a split-second decision to cancel. They don’t have much invested in your product or service after 7 or 14 days, so it’s not a big deal to cancel. If you give them a longer refund term, say 30 or 60 or even 90 days, then it gives them a chance to become invested in what you’re offering. If they’ve been using your product for two months, and have integrated it into their workflow or daily life, it takes a lot more for them to decide to change that.

4. Use Popup Forms for Signup

Psychologically, going to a separate signup page is a barrier. It’s just one more signal that this is some kind of commitment. By using a modal window for your signups, you’re removing one more barrier. It’s the equivalent of saying, “See, signing up isn’t a big deal, you don’t even have to leave the homepage to do it!” signup form example

When combined with a short form, using a modal window can increase signups by 50% or more (as it did for Visual Website Optimizer). The modal window also has the benefit of decreasing distractions on the signup page, as it shades out all content other than the form itself. This reduces the risk that your visitor will become distracted by another link or something else on the page and abandon your signup form before completing it.

5. Offer an Incentive

It doesn’t matter whether you’re offering a free signup or a paid subscription, offering some kind of incentive to sign up can really increase your conversions. Why not include a free ebook or whitepaper for subscribers? Or a phone or email consultation? If you’re selling a paid subscription, consider offering a free month when new users sign up, or a free upgrade to a better plan.

chilis website incentive example

People like to get things for free. It makes us feel like we’re getting a better value. That’s why all those infomercials on TV double your order for free, or throw in free gifts. It makes something that might seem expensive to begin with seem like a bargain, because of all the “free” things you’re getting. Tap into that same psychological drive by offering an incentive to your customers.

If you’re offering a new product or service, consider offering an incentive to early adopters. This can be a great way to get customers for a product or service that might be unproven. The incentive doesn’t even have to be that big (even something like an “early adopter” or “founding member” badge on a social network can work wonders), depending on what the primary offer is. (Obviously, the more expensive the offer, the better the incentive should be.)

About the Author: Cameron Chapman is a freelance designer, blogger, and the author of Internet Famous: A Practical Guide to Becoming an Online Celebrity.

  1. I’m actually surprised that the pop up windows work so well, my instinct is to close them as fast as possible whenever they pop up.

  2. this is not exactly a popup but a lightbox (), far less intrusive than a traditional popup (new window).
    Great and very practical post, thank you!

  3. Practical and useful reminder about the basics (but often ignored!).

    Related to point #2: Asking for names is necessary only when you plan to personalize your email messages. What’s the most wonderful word in the world? Your name. So it makes sense to get someone’s name RIGHT. However, there are 2 schools of thoughts on this:
    1) Personalize your email messages to create rapport and trust with your subscribers, makes it feel like a friend talking to you. Maybe sprinkle their names in the email so they feel emotionally connected, just like when you’re talking to your buddy. Be sure you’re willing to clean up the names through research/search engine once your list grows though.

    2) Just get the email (forget the name), since people already know that you’re just using a tool to do that anyway. Otherwise, it’d sound pretentious and insincere. And you can avoid the weird situations where the subscribers wrote their name wrongly and now they keep seeing it.

    Anyhow, just tweeted: list post always works wonders ;-)

  4. Simplifying the sign up form works like charm. Everyone’s busy and there is nothing wrong in collecting only the details that are needed.

    Even though I have heard that pop up forms work great, I am still hesitating in using them. Gotta try that one out.


  5. I think the most important thing to understand is that website visitors will never look for something so never make the assumption that someone will look for your sign up form. Simplicity and visibility are the most important things to consider.

  6. Tuan, let me know if this works for you:

  7. Usefull tips. Although most of them are kinda obvious. Number 5 (incentive) might not be possible to everybody.

  8. It would be wrong to call them pop-ups. More appropriate would be ‘lightbox’ such as jquery lightbox. By definition, pop ups open as separate windows and are less effective than using a new page itself for signup.

  9. I don’t mind signing up. What’s important is that the sign up sheet is short and it’s FREE.

  10. Why has KISSmetrics chosen not to follow the above mentioned rule of Sign up themselves?
    Since you sell a funnel-service I suppose you also test your own site and made it this way by a reason?
    I’ve read about having the Sign up/Sign in directly on the frontpage on many sites but want more proof of concept than from a company selling “optimize your website”-services.

  11. Scott Watermasysk Nov 25, 2011 at 7:26 pm

    If you want to avoid the pop-up, something that helped us ( quite a bit was to simply put the sign up form on just about every page. This way, signing up is a quick option as soon as the user decides they are willing to give us a shot.

  12. Georges Fallah Jan 05, 2015 at 8:13 am

    Interesting article.
    These practices should be done in a smart way which entice users to stick to your website and keep them engaged with your brand.
    We use a behavioral marketing automation platform that sends to users triggered pop-ups based on their actions on the website in order to retain them and increase conversions.
    Georges Fallah

  13. Saket Saurabh Apr 20, 2015 at 9:14 am

    Thanks Cameron, nice article. Pop up windows gets you a negative remarks sometimes. A slider at the bottom of the page is much better, in my view.

  14. I don’t like popups either, but if they work, it’s just good business sense to go with it! Thanks for the info!

  15. For running an online business successfully, the sign-up rate is an important factor. It defines the number of the user registering to your website. Well explained article on how we boost sign-up rate. Liked the point that says about simplifying the sign-up form, one can use single sign-on technology to remove the barriers users faced while registering themselves to the website. SSO makes the process simple and very quick.

  16. I’ll have to strongly agree with number three especially about longer guarantee periods. Only having thirty days to evaluate a online service just isn’t long enough for me. Usually, after signing up I have a few minutes to see what’s behind the curtain and then I’m off doing something else for several weeks. I won’t get back to the online service until there is just a few days left in the trial. Not enough time for me. Now, I am very picky about what free trials I sign up for because I know I won’t have enough time to evaluate them. And this goes for guarantees. If the guarantee isn’t long, I won’t bother.


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