MailChimp 101 - Part 2: How, Why, and When to Use MailChimp's Subscription Forms
The first rule of any online interaction, especially in response to calls to actions, such as asking people to subscribe, is to make it as easy as possible for the users. The fewer clicks and time it takes, the greater the chance your readers will subscribe.
The benefits of embedded subscription forms
Using an embedded form where one only needs to put in an email without being taken to an external site thus works best. Unfortunately, though, MailChimp's embedded forms don't work that way. Even though I recommend using MailChimp as a free and reliable email list and newsletter option, using its embedded forms thus isn't a good idea.
To see why they are not that great, try using the form below out (Note: you won't have to subscribe if you don't wish to):
As you can see, this embedded form opens a new window and thus creates an unnecessary additional step in the subscription process. That's not exactly what we want and it would thus be better to use embedded forms that come with most website builders, such as the one in the footer of this website, where you just put in your email and you are done.
In the case that you opt for that, though, don't forget to integrate your MailChimp account into your website so that the new emails you get are automatically added to your email list (that's pretty easy to do if you follow the instructions provided by your website platform).
Another downside of the MailChimp's embedded forms is that they aren't compatible with all blogging platforms - they, for instance, won't work on Medium where I blog. If you too blog on Medium, you can solve this problem by creating an embedded form in Upscribe.
Upscribe is an app that was originally created for Medium users and is highly intuitive. Simply create a subscription form and then paste the link into your Medium story. Hit return and the form will appear. Don't forget to integrate your Upscribe account with MailChimp too. Again, that's pretty easy to do, just follow the instructions on Upscribe.
Embedded forms are thus great, BUT and most importantly, they cannot be used for all purposes.
Online subscription form as a useful alternative
While they lead to better conversion on websites and blogs, embedded forms cannot be used in ebooks due to technical limitations, so that's where online subscription forms come in handy. An example of an online subscription form would be the form you were taken to if you tested my MailChimp's embedded form above.
You can create an online subscription form in MailChimp and then link the button or call to action in your ebook to it. Since it's highly recommended to have a subscription option in ebooks, I'll show you exactly how to create one in the following step-by-step guide.
How to create an online subscription form in MailChimp
Start by clicking ‘Lists’ on the main menu and then open the list for which you’d like to create the subscription form. When the list opens, click ‘Signup forms’ and then ‘Form builder.’
Note: You'll have to create at least one list first to be able to build forms. If you haven't done that already, check the instructions provided in the previous post in this MailChimp 101 series.
After opening the Form builder, you will see the options that will let you build, design, and translate your form. You will also be able to personalize all sorts of responses.
Before you get familiar and comfortable with using MailChimp, though, it's best to create a simple signup form and leave the rest as is — automatic responses are already set up by default and they will work perfectly fine even if you don’t personalize them.
When you open the Form builder, the form selected by default is Signup form, which is exactly what you need. But if you want to see what else is there, click the arrow next to it to check additional options.
Clicking the arrow next to 'Signup form' in Form builder will open an array of options ranging from different forms to response emails. For now, though, let's just create a simple signup form so that you can link your ebook subscription call to action to it.
Customize form fields
All you really need in the form is one single field for the subscriber's email. This, however, is not how the default MailChimp signup form looks like. It would thus be advisable to delete the unnecessary fields, such as 'first name,' 'last name,' and 'address' to make it more user-friendly.
You can do this in the ‘Built it’ section of the Form builder menu by either deleting or hiding the fields. Hiding the fields takes less clicks but you will still see them in a blue frame. That makes it harder to design and imagine how the form will look like, so I recommend the DELETE option.
You can delete fields in two ways — select the field and then click the ‘minus’ icon beneath it or click the ‘Delete’ option in the right column.
Whichever option you choose, don't forget to click 'Save Field' when done. This is how the customized form looks after the removal of redundant fields:
Note: The 'Marketing Permission' field you see in the form above will only appear if you opted for GDPR form, but since these are now mandatory for subscribers and users residing in the European Union, it would be wise to use it.
You can change the text and customize GDPR form field to better fit your purpose and needs by clicking it (look at the 'Field settings' in the pic below) and then editing the text in the fields that will open in the right column (again, click ‘Save Fields’ when done).
The only purpose of GDPR form is to inform subscribers how their personal information (in this case their emails) are going to be used. You can change the 'Marketing Permissions' label accordingly or even remove it and just let the subscribers know what to expect in the text.
Customize heading and text
To customize the form's title and text, place the cursor on the text you’d like to edit. If you place the cursor on the title, the options to edit the text, remove it, or use an image will pop-up.
Selecting 'edit' will open as a pop-up window where you will be able to change the size, font, color, and placement of the text.
Design the form
When you’re done with the content in 'Built in' section, you can customize the design. Click the 'Design it' option to change the colors of various parts of the form. To do that, you'll have to use HTML color codes (in the pic below, you'd insert the code in the 'Backround' field).
Test the form and use the link
Finally, scroll up and find the signup form’s URL at the top of the Form builder. Copy and paste it into your browser to test the form and see how it looks.
Now you can use this link for the subscription option in your ebook.
Go to the next post in this series.
Get You Self-Published, Now What? How to Promote Your Book for more useful tips!