Win new email subscribers – use legally compliant signup forms creatively

Sabine Kowalski
Content Marketing Managerin
Win new email subscribers – use legally compliant signup forms creatively

Use legally compliant signup forms creatively

We hope to get the hottest deals or an immense knowledge lead with them: in times of WhatsApp and Direct Messages, the email newsletter still is THE communication channel for your business. After all, (almost) every person has an email address, and if the content is valuable, they have a justified interest in receiving your newsletter.

How can you attract the interest of potential new subscribers and where can you best place your signup form to achieve maximum effect? Sabine Kowalski of CleverReach today shows you how with the CleverReach newsletter tool you create your own signup forms that convince users of your content and gives tips on how to win new subscribers for your content.

Collect new contacts

Of course, you want your newsletter to have as many readers as possible. That’s why you need a list of contacts you can send your emails to. In May 2018, the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has started to spread uncertainty among companies and lead to shrinking contact lists. Time to fill your lists again – in a legally secure way!

Collect addresses in compliance with data protection regulations

In general, you need the recipient’s permission to send them your newsletter. They have to give their consent voluntarily and explicitly. Many people still send their newsletters “secretly”, for example when customers have placed an online order or entered a give away.

In the EU, however, there is an obligation to provide evidence of the consent the recipient has given you for your newsletter. This means that as a sender, you must have written proof that your recipient has confirmed that they want to receive your newsletter. Double-Opt-In (short: DOI) ensures legal certainty when collecting new addresses.
You obtain this “double consent” by the recipient first confirming their consent on the signup form with a check mark and then confirming their consent to receive your newsletter once again by email. This prevents third parties from registering someone else in a newsletter mailing list.

Extra tip: A GDPR checkbox in the signup form informs your users about the purpose for which their data will be used. Do you track the success of your emails, or do you customize offers to meet the recipient’s interest? Then you must tell them about it. Refer to your privacy policy at this point – it describes in detail which user data is used and stored for which purpose – and to the fact that the subscription can be cancelled without any problems at any time. Finally, you as the data collector have to store and log the consent both in the form and in the double opt-in email.

Data collection via web forms offers a cost-effective, verifiable and fast alternative to the analogous method (e.g. address collection at events or in shops). If you are unsure about how to create a digital signup form in accordance with data protection law, just take a look at the instructions for creating a GDPR compliant CleverReach signup form.

Sample text for your GDPR checkbox:
I hereby agree that Company X may inform me via newsletter about current offers, new products and new posts. I can withdraw this consent at any time.
Find further information on the use of recipient data in our privacy policy.

Be on the safe side with Double-Opt-In; first ask for the consent in the signup form, and then again by email. (Source: CleverReach)

What belongs in a signup form?

It is obvious that you have to include a field for the email address of the recipient in your signup form. All other information is completely voluntary; you can’t force recipients to reveal their full name, age or home address – a point where many providers still make mistakes. According to German law, the principle of data economy applies. This means that the data processor may only collect as much data as necessary and as little data as possible from its users. This does not mean, however, that it’s prohibited to ask for the name or other things – these questions must only not be mandatory.

Therefore, it may be useful to request further information from your recipients if the information is helpful for promoting your content. For example, a recipient can tell you their date of birth and you can then send them an individual discount on their birthday. Questions on their gender can also be useful if your product portfolio is structured accordingly. You can also list this target group-specific subdivision in your newsletter.

A convincing point

Speaking of benefits: use your signup form to illustrate all the benefits your newsletter holds for your recipients. In online shops, recipients usually expect discounts, but trends and new products are also popular. Likewise, readers of an online magazine or blog don’t want to miss any new articles and are happy about the occasional whitepaper. Crisply summarize the benefits with just a few words:

Screenshot: Beauty retailer Laneige makes clear in one sentence what people can expect when they subscribe to their newsletter.


Create signup forms online with CleverReach

With CleverReach you can create signup forms (as well as unsubscribe forms) yourself with just a few clicks. Log into CleverReach and simply select “Forms” from the menu. By hitting „Add form“ you can create a new template. In edit mode, you can then simply drag all the elements you need into the form. Everything is possible: from simple signup forms that just ask for the subscriber’s email address to several check boxes that allow you to automatically segment your new subscriptions – read this post to see how it works.

In order to fully accompany your users on their “journey” when subscribing to your newsletter, you have the option of customizing the following additional elements:

  • Signup page: This is displayed to your users after they have logged in using your form. This is usually a small “thank you” and a message that a confirmation email has been sent to the address provided.
  • Signup confirmation page: After the user has clicked on the confirmation link in the email, this page is displayed. It briefly confirms that the subscription has been completed successfully.
  • Opt-In email: After the user has filled out the signup form, they will receive the confirmation email, which you can fill with further information regarding your newsletter. It also contains the link that takes the user to the signup confirmation page.
  • Unsubscribe form: In each newsletter, you ensure that the recipient can unsubscribe easily – a link in the footer is enough. The link leads to the unsubscribe form. You can decide for yourself whether you want your users to be able to opt-out with the single opt-out (they are directly unsubscribed by clicking on the unsubscribe link), or whether they are redirected to a separate unsubscribe page where they confirm their unsubscribe.

You can customize these and other optional elements in the CleverReach forms area to suit your individual requirements. Alternatively, default texts are used as placeholders, which you can also easily customize if required.

Placing signup forms online: Where can you catch your readers?

Before actually looking at how to create signup forms, let’s think about all the touchpoints you have with your users. Your homepage and social media channels are of course the first way to go, but other areas can also be filled with signup forms. If, for example, you have linked your website to Google Analytics, you can see on which pages your users stay particularly long – these pages make your signup form particularly effective!

Use all available touchpoints to reach many potential readers who can subscribe to your newsletter. The signup form can be integrated in the following places in a promising way:

1) A noticeable position on your homepage will be reserved for your newsletter form. The form should be visible at the top of your website so that a visitor can discover it without scrolling. However, the footer is also a popular place where users can find a short signup form.

2) Yes, pop-ups are obtrusive – but effective. They can easily double or triple the subscription rate of your newsletter. Especially with the Exit-Intend (with the intention to leave the page) many users can be intercepted before leaving the page.

3) Do you know which pages and blog posts on your website are visited most frequently? Then it’s worthwhile to place separate signup forms here as well. Headlines and Call-to-Actions can differ from those on the homepage and bring variety.

4) Set an own landing page for your newsletter subscription. This has the advantage that you not only have plenty of space for all the benefits and conditions of your newsletter. You can also link this page from many other places that are not on your homepage.

Bed, Bath & Beyond uses a landing page where users can see all information and conditions of their newsletter.

5) Share the link to your signup form in your social media channels! Whether Facebook post, Instagram stories or Twitter account; any area outside your website brings additional visibility and increases the chance of new newsletter recipients.

Segment newsletter recipients: Divide target groups in your signup form

If you want to address your readers with particularly diverse content, it is advisable to segment your list of recipients. This means that the recipients will be divided into different groups depending on their topic of interest. Online shops and news portals are already making use of this function in their signup forms; here readers are asked whether, for example, they would like to receive offers for men or women, or whether they are more interested in news on sports or politics. This way, it is possible to avoid recipients being bored with irrelevant content and therefore starting to unsubscribe.

Screenshot: The Financial Times offers different contents that email subscribers can choose from.

With CleverReach, you can also equip your own signup form with an option for individualization. Read here how to use data fields to create your own newsletter segments after recipients have subscribed with your signup form.

Collect addresses offline

Seminars, conferences, trade fairs and other events offer you the opportunity to personally convince new newsletter recipients of the advantages of your emails. It is also possible to win recipients for your newsletter offline. However, here too, just like online, the obligation to prove the consent of newsletter recipients applies. In order to remain on the legally safe side at events, you can pursue one of the following three strategies:

1) Take your tablet: Both at the POS and at the trade fair, it is possible to place a tablet at your stand. You can ask an employee to man the tablet, or alternatively fix the signup form on the tablet. This allows interested parties to register directly online with the tablet. A good Internet connection on site is necessary for this method.

2) Collect postcards: Your signup form in postcard size! Ask for the email address with the signature of interested parties on the back of a nicely printed card. The GDPR checkbox also finds space on the card. It is important that the stack of cards is accompanied by your privacy policy and a collection box. This way, everyone can view what their data is being used for, and the collection box is used for the anonymous submission of forms. When transferring the collected data into your email marketing system, accuracy is important to ensure the deliverability of your newsletter.

3) Use print material: Print a short, concise link or QR code in your company brochures, product flyers and other promotional materials. This way, customers can subscribe to your newsletter via smartphone or at home after the event.


It’s best to keep your signup form short and simple. It’s enough to only ask for the subscriber’s email address and you are ready to send emails to your prospects. Even as a total email marketing beginner, it’s incredibly simple to create a signup form. If you would like to advertise a particularly diverse product portfolio or have different types of content on your site, you can benefit from a signup form with segmentation in order to address recipients more specifically. A separate landing page with its own imagery and all the advantages of your newsletter underlines a professional appearance. Whether you collect addresses online or offline is entirely up to you. The only important thing is that you always comply with data protection regulations when acquiring addresses.

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