16 thoughts on “How Many Fields Should Your Opt-in Form Have?

  1. Adrian,

    I use three fields (email address, first name, and surname). I want to get to know my readers with names, so I can apply conversational copywriting to my content.

    All the Best,

    Martin

    1. Hi Martin. Thank you for your comment.

      I like conversational copywriting. But it doesn’t necessarily involve names. On blog posts, for example, it would be impossible to use names, but you can use conversational copywriting though. Even if we’re chatting we won’t use our names too often, right? ;)

      Anyway, using first names in your messages cannot be bad. It adds to your conversational copywriting. But… surnames? What do you use them for?

      You could call your subscribers by their first names. Or, alternatively, you could call them by their surnames (unusual if you ask me). But why do you need both the first name and the surname?

      You’re consistent, right? You don’t call someone Adrian in the first paragraph and Mr. Jock in the second one. Right? So… once again… why do you need both? How does it help you? :)

      AJ

      PS “Good to know it” – it’s not an acceptable reason :)

      1. Adrian: It is “good to know” if it is a real person who has signed up for the list, or if it is a robot. ;) I want to be able to do search on the interwebs. I want to have a conversation with my readers. I understand that if it is too many fields to fill out, maybe the visitor to the site, will back out. If you don’t want to use your real name, you could write, N.N., or N/A. ;)

        M.L. ;)

        1. Martin, Martin. [Smiling] If you get a last name submitted and you find it on the internet, it doesn’t mean that your new subscriber isn’t a spam bot :) That’s your guess, but it may not be correct. The spam bots fill in these fields using keywords or names. Real names. It’s not difficult to design bots that use real names for the name field.

          Some of the spammers who design such spam bots even get Gravatar accounts in order to attach a picture to their profile (in case the fields belong to a comment area). Other spammers don’t use spam bots, they spam manually.

          Here’s a funny certain Singh who “commented” on this blog: https://www.adrianjock.com/spot-clever-blog-spam/#comment-198 The picture belongs to an American actor though. The spammer was lazy and the name didn’t match the picture :) But not all spammers are that stupid.

          The truth is that when you get a last name, you don’t get anything. If you don’t use last names in your emails, you just get an useless piece of information (you do NOT actually know whether the new subscriber is a bot or not) in exchange of dropping your conversion rates. Bad deal ;)

          If you want to find out whether a new subscriber is a spam bot or not, instead of guessing and asking for info you don’t actually need you should use proper tools that are not perfect but more accurate that your guessing style method that wastes time for no gain. Use this tool: https://cleantalk.org/blacklists?record=

          As for prospects theoretically being able to write something else such as NN, NA, or a random last name, some people may do that, others may just run away. (That’s how REAL people act. Real people don’t read your mind and don’t follow your orders or suggestions. They take independent decisions, and irrespective whether such decisions are good or bad for them, you may lose subscribers for no reason) And that’s a decrease of your conversion rate in exchange of getting… nothing.

          I’m not going to extend this topic. If what I already explained and suggested helps you, that’s great. Alternatively, if you think that it doesn’t help you, just move on, there’s absolutely no problem on my side. Not everyone has to agree with me :) Have a great weekend and thank you once again for stopping by and commenting!

          1. Adrian,

            Thanks for providing me with examples and arguments. You have helped me to “chew” on this topic. Maybe I will change to only having one field in the future… ;)

            Have a nice weekend! I hope you will drink some tea! :)

            All the Best,

            Martin

  2. Thank you Adrian, this is great information to know. I know I don’t like giving my phone # away to anyone unless I really know them.
    Giving an email address is okay and first name. I had to look at mine, just one field: email.

    Is asking for a last name a bad one to ask? Just thinking……

    1. Thank you for your comment, Lisa.

      I don’t think that asking for the last name is good. But almost every rule has exceptions.

      For example, a doctor who publishes a newsletter for the patients may not want to call you Lisa but Mrs. Sicard. And maybe that’s what you’ll prefer too. So he needs your last name. He may also ask for your phone number. If you trust him when it comes to your health, you’ll give him also the phone number, won’t you?

      In such a case as shown above, asking for more pieces of information most probably won’t decrease the conversion rates. That’s because you kind of have a relationship with the sender already.

      So the exception is this one: If it’s not appropriate to use your subscriber’s first name, and you really need the last name, you may ask for it. Sometimes that’s the case of professional newsletters (professional = related to a profession, not the other meaning).

  3. Totally agree about the phone number thing. I either choose not to opt-in, or I use a bogus number. Neither one serves the list builder well. But I think it also depends on where you are in the relationship. For cold traffic, the fewer hurdles the better. If they know you a bit – maybe they’ve visited your blog – then asking for more is probably fine. And if your name is Hubspot, well, I guess you can do whatever you please.

    1. Hi Cindy,

      Thank you for your comment :) I had a good laugh when I read your last phrase. Anyone can do whatever she or he pleases, not only Hubspot. But it doesn’t mean that it’s a good thing.

      The difference is that Hubspot can pump lots of money in that biz and offset the mistakes, while I don’t want to offset my mistakes by using more money. My money, not investors’ money ;)

      Why I actually had a good laugh? Because I remembered one of their free ebooks targeted at schools (yes, schools). Guess what you can find out on that landing page… More inappropriate fields, including their standard field “Does your company sell any of the following services: Web design, Online marketing, SEO/SEM, Advertising agency services.”

  4. Hey Adrian,
    Good to be back on your blog bro. Looks like I have not been here for a couple of months. Been away learning cryptocurrency and getting certified in it ;)

    I like the way you’ve analysed the different form fields. Personally, I get turned off from forms that make me feel like I’m apply for a a new job. First name and email should be enough if you ask me.

    However, it all boils down to strategy and business needs. I have seen some companies that have SMS system. They need phone numbers to periodically trigger alerts to members’ phones.

    Mentioning the first names makes the mail personal and for newbies, it’s even more exciting. Some may not know it’s a mass mail you sent. But for big boys, it doesn’t really matter ;)

    You linked to an article on list segmentation. It’s my next bus stop after this comment.

    Hope you are having a great week

    1. Hi Enstine. It’s good to have you back :)

      “I have seen some companies that have SMS system. They need phone numbers to periodically trigger alerts to members’ phones.”

      Members? What members? The article is about opt-in forms, not about forms used for ecommerce / membership sites :) I hope you messed it a little bit, don’t tell me that there are companies that collect phone numbers during the opt-in process to their newsletters and then they start spamming my phone for the rest of my life! (Unsubscribing from their email newsletter won’t unsubscribe me from their phone alerts, right?)

  5. Hi Adrian,
    I head for the hills if there is a phone number field. I just jump off to go to another site. I get enough of rob -calls and who wants more?
    I like to keep things as simple as possible for folks so I just ask for a name and email address. I like using first names because it just seems more “friendly” doing it that way. It is all about making things easy for the folks that want to opt in. Filling in too much information feels too suspicious to me, especially with all the hacking going on. And at the end of the day, who needs all that information anyway.
    Thanks for bringing this topic up!
    -Donna

  6. Great post Adrian,

    I agree with every point you made here especially this “Your opt-in form is not an appropriate place to play the game ‘I’m the master of my universe.’ Leave it for your comment policy or other places.” I couldn’t have agreed more.

    You see, most usually think that because it’s their blog, they are free to do anything they want without anybody questioning them. While this is true, they often forget that most of the decisions they take will in the end, affect them negatively, especially when they overdo it.

    I’ve also tried getting a short report from HubSpot many times and was presented with that long list of form fields to fill, and what did I do? Your guess is as good as mine – – I simply bounced back, who has the time to fill all that? Even though I know that the short report they’re giving is kinda valuable, I also know that I can always get it elsewhere.

    For me, having just one field for the email address is enough or at most, I’ll ask for name and email for more personalisation.

    Overall, I’ll never optin to a form that have more than 2 form fields, except maybe you’ll pay me good money to full the others :))

    Thanks a lot for sharing man.

  7. Hello Adrian

    Great advice, I am in the process of adding email sign up now for my site, and I’m just going to go with two fields; name and email.

    In response to Martin’s comment, I can say, personally if someone started cyberstalking me because I signed up for their newsletter, I would not only unsubscribe I would block them on all my social media. Depending on the aggressiveness of it I might even report it.

    That is a huge pet peeve of mine, just bc I enjoy someone’s blog, doesn’t mean I want to be Facebook friends, LinkedIn buddies, or help you become “insta” famous.

    1. Thank you for your interesting comment, Michael.

      If I don’t already know a new subscriber, I don’t research who that person is, what she or he does, what their social media accounts are, etc. I don’t do it simply because I consider such a research a waste of my time.

      I never considered your kind of point of view. Some people may disagree with it. My opinion on this issue is this… If that’s your feeling, I don’t think that someone has to agree or disagree with it. I just have to try as much as I can to respect your feeling and your wish. I can agree or disagree with an opinion, but I can’t do the same when it comes to feelings.

      Your opinion shared here is one more reason to keep doing what I’m doing – not researching the life of my new subscribers. Thank you once again for your comment!

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