Welcome back to our MailChimp subscription service series. This is the fourth in the current five-part series. If you missed the previous posts or if you would like a review, you can find them here.
- How to Set up Subscriptions Using MailChimp
- How to Create a List with MailChimp
- How to Make a Signup Form with MailChimp
If there are other MailChimp topics you’d like us to present (or any other tech related topics), let us know. We’re always happy to consider new course clinic topics.
Now on to this week’s subject. Fine-tuning your signup form.
In the previous post, How to Make a Signup Form with MailChimp, we walked through the process to set up a basic signup form. You may recall that I mentioned at the end of that post that the basic signup form is just that–basic. Very basic. It includes the subscriber’s first name, last name, and email address. There’s no question those are necessary details, but is that all you need?
Beyond the Basics
For many bloggers, a subscriber’s first and last names and their email address will be all that’s necessary. For many others, a more fine-tuned approach will be better. You might need to know what topics the subscriber is interested in or whether they want just blog content, just an email newsletter, or both.
What additional information might you want?
Here’s the Indie Plot Twist signup form. The three basic fields are still present, but we’ve added two other categories and rearranged the layout.
This signup form is from my writing blog, Carrie Lynn Lewis Writing Well. While it has also been fine-tuned, notice the differences.
By the way, you’ll no doubt have noticed that the forms aren’t even the same color. They have been tailored to mirror the appearance of the blog to which they are attached. Not only can you do the same with your signup form; you can change it later if you change the look of your blog. How cool is that? We’ll talk about that in the next post.
So How Do I Get Beyond the Basics?
Step 1: Log into your MailChimp account.
Step 2: You will land on the dashboard page of your MailChimp account. Click in “Lists” in the menu bar across the top (red arrow).
Step 3: You will land the “Lists” page for your account. If you have more than one list, click on the list you want to work with.
Step 4: You will land on the page for the list you selected. Several options will be available to you. Click on the Signup Forms option.
Step 6: Select the General Forms option on this page.
Step 7: You’ll land on the design page for your signup form. This is the same page you used to set up the form and you’ll use this page whenever you want to make changes to your signup form.
When you make changes to an existing form, skip down to the section shown below.
Build It: This tab allows you to add or remove fields, rearrange fields, and otherwise change the layout of your signup form.
Design It: This tab contains everything you need to change the color, type style, and other features.
Translate It: This tab allows you to change the language settings for your form.
Since we want to add fields to our signup form, click “Built It”.
Step 9: On this page, you can add fields, change existing fields, or rearrange the order of fields. The left facing arrow on the right side of the screen (red arrow) reveals the list of field options.
NOTE: Your browser may show a list on the right side, instead of the left-facing arrow. If I reduce the size of the text in the window on my browser, the left-facing arrow goes away and the list appears. It may be easier for you if you reduce the viewing size of your browser for this process, since the list of fields will appear over the signup form otherwise, as shown below.
The amount of the signup form covered by the list of fields depends on your browser and the size of the content.
To reduce the viewing size, click Control-Dash (over the “p” and “[” keys).
To increase the viewing size, click Control-+.
For the purpose of this clinic, I’ll be using a larger viewer size.
Step 10: Open the list of fields, if it isn’t already showing.
I know what you’re probably thinking if you’re new to this. What in the world are all those fields? How do I know which one to choose? That was my reaction the first time, at any rate.
Text: Chose this field to add a message to your signup form. You can also include links in this field.
Number: This field is specifically for numbers. Use it if you ask subscribers a question that requires numbers, such as the number of books they’ve published.
Radio Buttons: This field allows you to give subscribers a choice. You can provide as many options as you wish, but the subscriber will only be able to choose one. On the forms at the beginning of this post, subscribers can choose to receive only notifications of blog content, only email newsletters, or both. You can also offer any other choices that apply specifically to your blog with this field.
Check Boxes: This field also allows you to give subscribers a choice, but with this option, subscribers can make as many selections as they wish.
Drop Down: Use this field if you want to arrange choices as a drop down menu.
Date, Birthday, Address, Zip Code, Phone, Website: Add these fields if you want this information from your subscribers. The more personal information you ask for, the more you risk turning subscribers away.
Image: This field allows the subscriber to upload an image when they subscribe.
With the exception of the number field, the first four or five fields are the fields you are most likely to use. If you’re adventurous or curious, it’s worth your time to explore the other fields and see what they can do.
It would also be worthwhile to take time to think about what information you need about your subscribers and what choices you want to offer them. You can change the form any time you want to, but the time you save by giving thought to these questions now save you time in the long run.
For Indie Plot Twist, we determined two things from the start. We wanted to offer a way for subscribers to receive email notification of new content on the blog and we wanted to offer them a way to receive our email newsletters. That led to our decision to give subscribers the following three choices.
- Blog content only
- Email newsletters only
- Both blog content and email newsletters
You might wonder why we didn’t offer the option of neither blog content nor email newsletters. We chose not to offer that option for the simple reason that someone who subscribed to Indie Plot Twist and chose that option would receive nothing.
We also used the radio button field for this option because it made it easier for subscribers to choose. Each option negates the other options.
So click on Radio Buttons in the list of fields.
Step 11a: A window will open that allows you to set up the information for this field. The only thing you need to do in the section shown below is to type in a field label. You have a limited number of characters for this field, so keep it brief. Also use a name that tells subscribers at a glance what the field is for. For this signup form, I used “Subscription Type”.
You’ll also want to check the “required field” box. This makes it necessary for the subscriber to make a choice before they can subscribe.
The field tag is set by default. It doesn’t appear in the signup form, but tells MailChimp what to do with the information subscribers provide when they subscribe.
Convert to Groups is an option that allows MailChimp to sort subscribers into groups. You must have set up groups for this option to work.
Field visibility allows you to hide the field if you want to. Change the setting to “hidden” for any optional fields you might set up. The default setting is “visible”.
The help text box is where you can type a brief explanation of what you’re looking for.
Step 11b: The Bottom Half of the Field Settings
Default merge tag value allows you to add or change custom merge tags to capture any missing information. This is an advanced tool most of us won’t use.
Predefined choice lists includes options such as gender, days of the week, and countries of the world. Click on the arrow in the blue square and the lists appear in a drop down menu. Click the one you want to use and the fields are automatically generated.
If you choose to use any of these fields, make these selections first because they replace any custom fields you may have set up.
You can add additional options after setting up the predefined fields. Click on the plus sign (+) to the right of each box to add another after it. Click on the minus sign (-) to remove a field.
Because there are only three choices to this signup form, we used the custom boxes and named them as shown.
These choices are fully customizable. You can have as few or as many choices as you like.
You can also use multiple radio buttons or check boxes to provide different types of choices. For example, my artist’s blog signup form includes the following choices for subscribers. Notice it uses the check box options because subscribers may be interested in more than one topic.
Step 12: When you’re satisfied with the field, click the “save field” button at the bottom. The signup form will generate the field you’ve set up and you’ll be able to see immediately what it looks like.
If you don’t like it, make changes. If you change your mind and don’t want the field at all, click the “Delete” option. If you want a similar field with different information, click the “Replicate” option and go through the same steps to change the information.
This is what the new signup form looks like.
It automatically updates, so you don’t need to copy code into all your links again.
Step 13: Moving things around. If you don’t like the order of the form you’ve created the new fields, you can re-order them by dragging and dropping the fields you want to change.
This demonstration walks you through only one of the field options for signup forms. You can add as many other forms as you need. All of the fields work in basically the same fashion as this one. Some of them are much easier, since they are pre-set. The date field, for example, has a minimum number of customizations.
It’s important to provide potential subscribers with the optimum choices without overburdening them. It’s also important that you gather the information you need to provide your subscribers with quality content and resources.
But it’s just as important to keep your signup form simple and easy to understand. That’s why I recommend taking a critical look at your blog or website first. Look at it as though you were new to it and design your signup form accordingly.
Next week, in the final post in this series, we’ll take a look at making your signup form look like your blog or website.
If you haven’t yet subscribed to Indie Plot Twist, I invite you to do so now by clicking here. You can also subscribe by clicking on the subscribe button at the top of the sidebar. Subscriptions are free and you can choose to receive notification of new blog content, our email newsletters, or both. It’s an easy process and will take five minutes or less.