This is a guest post by Greg Walker from www.ThePokerBank.com

The only thing I’m worse at than converting players is split testing and list building.

Unfortunately, I’m still horrendous at split testing and conversions, but I do have a heart-warming story about increasing subscriber rates for my list that I’d like to share.

I know Kevin does a lot with email list building, plus he has helped me out with a few handy tips in the past, so I thought his old blog would be a nice place to share my story.

What I did.

Thanks to the magic of me storing old website files for no good reason, I actually have a screenshot that I can show you of my old newsletter subscription box from June 2010:

Old Newsletter Box Design

I think this the kind of stuff that makes seasoned list-building people cringe and laugh at the same time. However, I didn’t know any better. The box was prominent enough at the top of my sidebar, right? What more could I do?

Steal Shoemoney’s idea, that’s what.

Basically, I was busy procrastinating one night when I stumbled upon the weapons of marketing page for The Shoemoney System. As you can see, he has a smart and fancy rollover/hover image thing for his email sign up box that only cool Internet marketers would think of.

I wanted something cool like that.

So, I brushed all the work I wasn’t doing to the side and started on my new newsletter box.

The new design.

New Newsletter Box Design

Ta da.

You can see it in full, uncompressed, glorious action on my sng poker rooms page. In fact, you can see it in action on most pages of thepokerbank.com, but I get to hit a few keywords by pointing to it this way.

Note: I got that green submit button from this flashy set of free css3 buttons.

How it works.

I’m not going to get in to all the technical details, as I know most poker affiliates are too busy making money to code. Plus, if you are decent with code you can just view the source and steal it all anyway.

But essentially it’s a sprite. The background position of the div shifts to the left when you hover over it. The full image looks like this:

The Sprite

Very cool.

Furthermore, this is actually better than Shoemoney’s version as well because you do not have to wait for the hover image to load. Shoe’s version requests a different background image in the CSS, which means that there is a blank space while the new image loads when you hover over it. Take that Shoemoney.

In all honesty, these really aren’t all that difficult to put together. If you don’t hate HTML and CSS then I think it would take about an hour tops to figure it out. Or, you could just head over to digitalpoint and get someone to make you one for $10. This doesn’t include the cost/time of making the image though, which might be another hour or $10.

Note: If you like the look of that ebook design, here you go.

The results.

Newsletter Increase In Sign Ups Results Chart

Comparing the monthly total subscribers for June 2010 and August 2010, you can see that I was getting almost 5 times as many subscribers thanks to this funky technique.

Or – because percentages are more dramatic – a near 400% increase.

I honestly didn’t think that this sprite be would as effective as it is for capturing emails, but it is. I guess it just goes to show how small changes can sometimes make big differences. I just wish I implemented this sooner, as I’d now be sitting on a much bigger list of emails that I don’t market to.

Isn’t this technique annoying?

Maybe just a smidgen. If it is annoying, I’d say it’s harmlessly annoying. You visitors aren’t going to hate you for it, and it’s not going to affect bounce rates.

If you’re apprehensive about using something like popup domination because you feel it’s a bit obtrusive, then this could be an ideal alternative for you. But again, I’m not a great marketer, so the more forceful popup domination may well generate even more leads.

Bonus tip: Image rollovers and mobile devices.

iPhone, iPad and other iStuff users don’t have the “hover” ability on their mobile web browser. I’m guessing that this is the same for the majority of mobile phones in general as well. Therefore, my clever little hover effect is crippled by these devices.

So, to save these users tapping a hole in their screen trying to press a “download” button that doesn’t actually work, I decided to show a different newsletter box image to them:

Mobile Sprite Version

With a little bit of PHP wizardry, you can easily deliver specific content to mobile users.

$mobile_user = stristr($_SERVER['HTTP_USER_AGENT'], 'mobile');

if ($mobile_user) {
	echo "You're on a mobile!";

else {
	echo "Not mobile :(";

To top part is the magic bit. In my case, I just needed one line of PHP (using the logic above) to place in the div that contains the background image for the sprite.

What I did was create a if statement that adds a style="background-image:url(/images/ebook_mobile.png)" attribute that overwrites the default background image on the sprite div if the user is on a mobile device. This is pretty straightforward if you’re okay with PHP, but if not, it’s probably just a $5 jobby at digitalpoint.

EDIT: I did have a line of PHP code here to show you, but I couldn’t get it working nicely in WP.

One more random tip.

Change the input type from type="text" to type="email" on your email field. When iPhone users go to enter their email address the email-specific keypad will be shown.

Here’s a screenshot of the iPhone input type=”email” screen that shows you what I’m talking about.

Don’t worry, changing the input type to type="email" won’t alter the way your form works or looks. Older browsers that do not support html5 will just treat it as type="text". It’s just a nice touch that iPhone users will enjoy.

Category : General

8 Responses to “How I Increased Newsletter Sign Ups By 400%”

Kevin May 21, 2011

Awesome post, thanks Greg.

Pokerpro May 23, 2011

Thanks for sharing this Kevin.
It would be interesting to know how much of the sign-up increase is attributable to the new design (book + download now button) and how much is due to the hover stuff. But I guess you don’t have that data?
Anyway, I’m exepriencing a similar increase in newsletter signups by offering a free ebook; I might try the hover thing and see if that further increases conversions.

Greg May 26, 2011

Hi Pokerpro,

Yeah, it would be interesting to see how much of an increase there would have been without the hover effect. I’d guess that the hover does help, but I couldn’t tell you how much.

I should really split test more.

Pokerpro June 22, 2011

Thanks Greg
I implemented your idea. What I found out on one site (not poker related) was, that having a picture of a book with a button “get it free” resulted in about twice as many newsletter signups compared to haveing a picture of a book with a form field to enter the email-address.
So it is better to take them to a sales page, rather than making it “easier” for them. My guess is that they might think that it is a “real” book at first glance. If I tell them in the sidebar to enter their email, they already know that it’s only a pdf.
I’m currently split-testing the hover-effect. I am currently at 11 clicks (with hover) vs. 5 clicks (without hover) out of 3k pageviews -> not really a sample size yet to draw any conclusion. I’ll report back.

Cool test, would love for you to report back.

Hi Kevin
I said I will report back my findings about the hover effect. Both ads for a free test (how to invest money) were shown about 90k times on one of my websites. The one without hover got 57 clicks, the one with hover 54 clicks.
So the overall CTR is very low (the ad is in the sidebar below the fold). But you will agree that there is no big differenct between “to hover or not to hover”.
I will stop the test now after more than 3 months. But I will start a new test ;-)

My guess is that an animated .gif is much better than a static gif (with or without hover obviously). So I will create an animated gif and measure the CTR. And I’m sure it will be higher than those 0.06% from my previous test. I’ll report back ;)

Interesting Pokerpro… thanks for reporting back.

Do you have a link to where the ad is we can check out?

I just wanted to report back, this will be the last time as I am stopping the test.

With a broad vs. a narrow landing page (one with sidebars), you get massively more signups for a free ebook (+50%).

However, the split tests with the different ads in the sidebar (if a visitor clicks on that ad, he will come to the landing page) didn’t bring any results of statistical significance. Probably I didn’t vary the three variants enough. They were:

a) static banner
b) animated banner (very small text animation free ebook / click here; changes every 4 seconds)
c) hover

The clicks during the past 5 months were: 242 / 242 /254. So hover was slightly better (+5%), but thats far from being statistically significant.