MailCharts is full of awesome tech but, unfortunately, a few aspects remain painfully manual. One of them is signing up for companies.

As you can imagine, having to sign up for over 1,000 companies manually, one-by-one, isn’t terribly fun. Buuuut, I’ve started noticing a few not-so-good patterns. If you have a few minutes today, go through your own company’s website and emails to see if you’re guilty of any of these.

Website functionality

Infinite scroll, when you have a footer
Infinite scroll is often used to increase pageviews and engagement. Both very valuable metrics. However, this quickly backfires if your website contains a footer with useful links and resources (such as your email sign-up form).

If your website has infinite scroll, make sure all footer links and resources are available elsewhere on the page.

Hidding the sign up button
Many companies overemphasize either the “Sign in” or the “Sign up” button. While on-page realestate is very limited, these 2 actions are likely to be the bloodline of your business. Make sure both options are prominently visible.

I’ve seen a handful of websites where visitors need to click “Sign in” and then click “I don’t have an account” to access the sign up form. Not fun.

Side note: Having an “Account” button is a nice alternative. Clicking it brings up two options: “Sign in” or “Sign up”.

Tabbing doesn’t go to the next field
Whenever I’m filling out a form I tend to navigate with the ‘tab’ key to jump from field to field. Sometimes when you press tab you end up nowhere on the page. At first I thought I was hitting a honeypot but, after further inspectin, I noticed it was just bad markup.

Don’t mess with the ‘tab’ key 🙂

B2B: Give me an option other than “contact a sales person”
I’m sure there are reasons why (and if you know them, please post a comment) but it seems as though every single B2B website relies on word-of-mouth marketing.

The website tends to have a nebulous description of what they do. There’s often no product demo, video or anything other than a “contact a sales person”.

I’d love to see case studies, understand the different usecases for your product and have a better sense of who uses your service and why.

Lead capture

Hiding your email capture form
Typical scenario: Your page is 5,000+ pixels high and alllllll theeeee wayyyyy down you have a tiny “sign up for our newsletter” field. If you have a newsletter and you’re investing time in creating quality content, then make your signup form more prominent. If your newsletter isn’t of high quality then simply get rid of it until you have more bandwidth — nothing is worst than half-assed newsletters.

Another scenario is when the email capture is hidden on the right-hand rail, burried under 3 flashing promo banners. No bueno.

Make your email capture prominent or get rid of it

Your signup form just doesn’t work
Does your signup form even work? I’d say that ~3% of websites I’ve signed up for have a broken signup form (e.g. submiting the form drives you to a 404 page).

Luckily, most of the times I can find another signup form elsehwere on the site and do manage to sign up.

Make sure all your email sign up forms works properly

Seriously, go check your signup forms right now!

Only accepting Gmail, Hotmail and Yahoo address
Doing this alienates any potential corporate email address from signing up. I’ve seen this happening both on B2C websites AND B2B websites. (Not sure how you can sell to a business if you don’t accept business email addresses…)

Allow me to signup for your blog
Some companies spend a tremendous amount of time and resources writing valuable blog posts. If that’s you, pleeeasssee let me sign up for email alerts (maybe via a weekly or monthly digest).

Post lead capture

Not sending a confirmation/ welcome email
Creating a confirmation/ welcome email should take you less than 1 hour to write and implement. Over 80% of websites (approximate stat based on my memory) I’ve signed up for do send a welcome email. I now actually find it weird not to receive a welcome email.

Sending a welcome email is the perfect opportunity to reinforce your value proposition, present your new subscriber with an offer or simply engage with them.

Sending 2 or more duplicate emails
You may offer a sign up form on your homepage, one on your blog and, also allow visitors to join by creating an account. If I sign up via all 3 forms, don’t send me 3 identical newsletters. Speak with your devs and make sure you dedup your lists.

Bad: Don’t send my password in the clear
Seriously, don’t send your user’s password in the confirmation email.

Worst: Don’t create a password for me and send it in the clear
Not but seriously, don’t create a password for them and then send it in the confirmation email.

Note: this only happened with one company (who shall remain anonymous).

Double check your confirmation message copy
You know nobody’s QA’ed the website when successfully submiting your email address fires a JavaScript alert saying “success”. Take a few minutes to display a nice success message.