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Despite the growing number of ways that marketers can now reach consumers, email marketing remains the digital marketer's highest-performing digital tactic, including as a source of qualified leads. And email subscribe forms are the most common way that marketers build their highest-performing email lists.

When consumers choose to opt-in to email marketing campaigns—usually by giving a brand their email address to receive special offers, sign up for a newsletter, and the like—they show a strong indication of intent to purchase.

Email Subscribe Form Fields 101

Email subscription forms can also be the first step toward gathering vital data that will help target customers with information that is relevant to them.

In B2B marketing, email forms can contain information fields that ask about the buyer's role in the company, company size, industry, and other key data that's vital for segmenting email campaigns.

In B2C marketing, forms can gather information so that marketers might alert customers to in-store events in their local area and to ensure they receive discounts and special offers for products they've shown a special interest in—all tactics that will increase your email campaigns' conversion rates.

The email subscribe form framework consists of three main parts.

1. Craft a persuasive call to action

On average, employees receive 78 emails a day (and that was in 2011...). Suffice it to say, they aren't in a hurry to hand over their email addresses for marketing purposes.

To motivate someone to give you their email address and spend time providing other information about themselves, you'll need a clear call to action that tells them what information you'll be sending and persuades them to sign up. Here are a few examples:

  • Sign up to be the first to know about new products and special offers.
  • Download this e-book of best-practices for improving your website conversion rate.
  • Subscribe to get updates when we publish content similar to what you've just been reading.

2. Identify how much information to request

Asking for too much information in an email subscribe form may discourage people from taking the time to fill out all of the information. At the same time, the more information you get from subscribers, the more relevantly you can market to them and the more likely you can increase the conversion rates of your email campaigns.

You have to take into account that balancing act when deciding on the number of information fields to include and the type of information to request.

Different email subscribe form tactics work for different brands and customers. Your best bet is to experiment with a few different combinations and to find out which perform the best for you.

For example, Nike asks subscribers for their email, gender, ZIP code, and age (while promising that the data provided won't be shared with others). Nike can therefore be sure to avoid accidentally marketing men's shoes to female customers, for example; it also provides clear information about how the subscriber's personal details will be used.

3. Provide a simple and intuitive form experience

Whether you're asking for just a single email address or requesting a subscriber fill out multiple fields, the email subscribe form should be easy for any person to navigate.

Here are a few examples of simple and intuitive email subscription forms...

This email subscription form for HelpScout is simple and straightforward. There is no doubt about where the email address goes and where the "subscribe now" button is:

On the other hand, the email subscription form below hides the "subscribe" button in the bottom-left corner. If the "subscribe" button is difficult to find, people may miss it and click away without subscribing.

A simple approach is best. Here are two other subscription forms from around the Web that have had success attracting email subscribers:

Buffer, the social media software developer, is famous for its transparency as well as its successful blog. As a brand, Buffer is highly conscious of creating an intuitive user experience—an approach it brings to its email subscription form. As you can see, it's easy to navigate and requires just an email address:

Another great example is from IFTTT, the app automation software company. Instead of requiring that users fill out a traditional subscription form, IFTTT uses its own automation service to enable users to subscribe to its blog. Users on IFTTT (which stands for "if this, then that") create "recipes" that connect their mobile and Web applications. In the case of its blog, a user can create a recipe that emails the user each time a new blog is published by the company:

Those are just a few examples of how brands are creating email subscription forms that convert.

Despite the popularity of social media and growth of mobile advertising, email marketing is still the number one way for brands—big and small—to reach their customers and drive conversions.

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Megan Van Vlack is a San Francisco-based writer. Her current beat, as the senior content marketing manager for SocialChorus, has her covering marketing and communications.

Twitter: @Megkv2