2017 Email Signup Benchmarks: Is Your Signup Rate Good?

The step-by-step process to reverse engineer popular content for more traffic, signups & leads.

I know you’ve wondered.

You’ve seen articles and stories about people who double their conversion rates, entrepreneurs who tripled their lists, and tools that bring in 20-50%+ more daily email subscribers.

And you’re excited to try the strategies and tools out, but you still wonder…

What is the normal email opt-in rate for the average website?

Don’t worry. You’re not the only one who has this on their mind. After all, none of us want to feel like we’re completely behind the curve.

Luckily, you’re in the right spot.

We provide tools to not only start collecting emails, but also increase your email opt-ins and traffic like crazy.

Every day, across all 313,000 sites using Sumo, 10 MILLION pop-ups are triggered, and in the past month we’ve collected over 4 MILLION emails for our users, giving us an insane amount of data on what works, what doesn't, and where you should be.

In this guide you’ll find out how your apps should be performing. Then, we’ll go into a few key ways you can make the tools work even harder for you based on what some of the pros do.

So pull up your Sumo stats and get ready to do some comparison.

The Email Apps in the Sumo Suite Compared

We analyzed the data between between January 4 and February 4, 2015 for all four list-building apps:

  1. Welcome Mat

  2. List Builder

  3. Scroll Box

  4. Smart Bar

Sumo has shown over 390,400,000 opt-in forms in that one month, and collected nearly 4,000,000 emails for our users, making the average conversion rate between all the tools 1.06%.

Since it’s easier to view in a pretty chart, here’s what that looks like over the four apps:

Average email signup rates

Keep in mind this is the average.

This includes numbers from websites that kept the generic templates and didn’t bother customizing, to websites that convert like crazy because they actually give a damn.

We’ve seen websites that convert at 20-50%+, and sites that just don’t convert.

If you’re behind - or if you simply want to increase your conversion rates to be a member of the top 10% club: Top 10% email signup rates

We've got your back.

We’re breaking it down by each of the apps to give you some helpful suggestions on how you can make the apps work harder for you, whether you’re below the average and want to reach it, or already above average and want to really go crazy.

Starting, of course, with my personal favorite...

Welcome Mat

Of all the Sumo apps, Welcome Mat holds the trophy for the highest conversions by almost 1%.

It makes sense, too. When you land on a Welcome Mat, you have to make a choice. Will you opt-in, or will you scroll down and not give up your email address?

With other opt-in opportunities, like opt-in boxes in your sidebar for example, there are other decisions for your user to make. Will they click on your “About” page? Go to your shop? Read your latest article?

Welcome Mat isolates the call to action.

As you saw in the chart above, the average opt-in rate for a Welcome Mat was 1.76%.

Over 39,000,000 Mats were displayed, and over 703,000 email addresses collected in the month-long period.

The top 10% of websites saw a nice conversion rate of nearly 7%, with the top 25% ranking in 3.67%. But the bottom 25%? Well, they were scraping by with 0.53%. Welcome Mat average signup rates

Is that last number hitting too close to home?

Let’s take you from below average to a conversion ninja with a few tweaks.

Watch Your Call to Action

You know what’s not compelling?

“Sign up for our newsletter”:

basic welcome mat example

I don’t know about you, but that Welcome Mat does not wine and dine me. How do I know I want your newsletter? What’s in it for me?

Yeah, I’m selfish.

On the other hand, a call to action that is clear, benefits-driven and actually tells me what I’m going to get out of the deal, like this excellent call to action on CityBorn.nyc?

welcome mat sale example

Now that I’m into.

Can’t offer a discount? That’s cool. Check out this sexy Welcome Mat call to action from ClickMinded.com:

simple welcome mat example

Instead of just typing any old phrase into the headline of your Welcome Mat, make the call to action compelling and benefits driven.

Always ask yourself what the visitor will get from taking the action you want them to take.

Then, communicate the shit out of that benefit.

Once you’ve made sure your call to action is strong..

Make Your Welcome Mat into a Landing Page

Remember how I said that the Welcome Mat works so well because it isolates the call to action?

There are no extraneous distractions surrounding the call to action, which leads to higher conversions. But what if you could triple your conversions from your Welcome Mat?

We’ve seen conversions increase from 20% to 50% more just by taking one small action…

Turning your Welcome Mat into a landing page.

Typically, your Welcome Mat rolls out (depending on your display rules) when a visitor lands on a certain page on your website. The visitor can then choose to scroll down, press the downward arrow button or press the button to move onto your website.

great welcome mat example

But if you remove a couple of these options, you can increase conversions sometimes significantly:

welcome mat frequency example


This creates a landing page out of your Welcome Mat, giving your visitors even fewer decisions, and isolating your call to action even further.

We’ve seen this increase conversions over and over, like it did with Nat’s opt-in on his water fasting article:

welcome mat split testing

An extra percentage point for every hundred visitors means an extra email subscriber. That might not seem like a lot now, but at the end of the month, when you’ve converted a few hundred extra people, you can thank me then.

Go try this out. Skip over to Welcome Mat and either create one of you haven’t already (?!) or make your Welcome Mat into a landing page.

Like Nat did, A/B test how your Welcome Mat performs as a regular Welcome Mat and as a landing page. Without split testing, you could be leaving valuable opt-ins and subscribers on the table (which is just like leaving money on the table - no beuno).

Create a Page-Specific Welcome Mat

Another super effective option for boosting your Welcome Mat conversions (or, if you have a competitive streak, hitting the top 10%) is to create a page specific Welcome Mat.

Instead of just displaying the same Welcome Mat on your homepage, you can add display rules to show specific Welcome Mats depending on the page and content your visitor is consuming.

This is perfect for offering content upgrades, and can increase conversions significantly.

This is what we did for our article about launching a Kickstarter campaign step-by-step:

great welcome mat example


We offered a content upgrade to help users replicate the process, and it boasts awesome conversion rates:

welcome mat daily stats example


If you can’t see the numbers, over the last couple of weeks that page-specific Welcome Mat converted between 6.45% at the low end…

To 23.08%, with most of the days falling somewhere around 14-16%.

In case you don’t want to scroll up, that’s 10 times higher (!!!) than the average of 1.76%.

Read it and weep.

To do this, create your Welcome Mat, then head to Display Rules and set it to only show on URL Paths matching the domain of your content (ie if your content was http://yourwebsite.com/sparkly-unicorn, you’d set it to only display on pages matching /sparkly-unicorn).

welcome mat display rules

You’ll inevitably see an increase in opt-ins from doing this.

Bring up Sumo and try it out.

List Builder

It’s no secret.

In fact, it’s widely known. You know it, I know it, your competitors know it...

Pop-ups work.

List Builder has helped our users double and triple their conversions, rapidly grow their email lists, and even earn a ton of money. It even made Brian an extra $82,125 per year.

Everyone stops reading and goes to install List Builder. Don’t worry, I’ll wait.

sumo computer screen meme

In the month between January - February 4, 2016, just shy of 208,000,000 pop-ups were displayed, and over 2,600,000 emails were collected, making the average opt-in rate 1.28%.

The top 10% of ya’ll are seeing over a 7% conversion rate, whereas the bottom 25% are struggling with 0.86%. List Builder average signup rates

So what if your conversion rate is in that bottom 25%? Or what if you’re doing just fine but want to be rolling in email subscribers like Scrooge McDuck?

Maybe you’re one of the slackers that just installed List Builder and want to make an extra chunk of change...

You can boost your conversion rate by trying out these strategies:

Create a Click Trigger

Have you ever heard of the “foot in the door” technique?

In case this concept is new to you, a study was done way back in the golden days of the Beatles and go-go boots by two dudes from Stanford named Freedman and Fraser. They proved that it’s easier to get somebody to say “yes” to a larger request if they already complied with a smaller request.

I’m not just telling you this because it’s storytime. This actually has powerful marketing implications…

If you can get a visitor say “yes” to clicking a link, they’re far more likely to say “yes” to giving up the goods.

(Their email address. Get your mind out of the gutter).

They’ve got that action-taking momentum on your side. That’s why two-step opt-ins work so well. And since we’re the bomb dot com (seriously), we’ve made it so you can just set up a two-step opt-in in like three seconds flat…

With Click Triggers. #boom

If you were one of the three people who read Brian’s story and didn’t scramble to install List Builder, you will be now.

Pull up Sumo and set up a Click Trigger in your List Builder app:

how to add click triggers with sumo


You can use Click Triggers for a content upgrade, or just replace your traditional boring opt-in boxes…

bad email signup benchmarks

With a Click Trigger:

sumo list builder example

To make them a two step opt-in process and skyrocket that conversion rate.

And just think of the possibilities, too. All of those places you could put a Click Trigger to collect more emails…

Your website is ripe with them.

Go create your first Click Trigger NOW. You won’t regret it.

Give Your Audience Time to Engage

Sometimes, asking for an email address before your visitor has even engaged with your website is like trying to cut straight to the .. ehem.. “chase” before even going on a date.

Depending on what you’re offering, you may want to wait before asking for the email.

If your List Builder’s mode is set to “Manual” and at just a few seconds, consider either giving the visitor more time to engage with your content, or setting the mode to “Smart” and letting Sumo take care of it.

welcome mat behavior options

Since you do have great content (right?), this builds a relationship with your visitor before they’re asked to subscribe, making them more likely to do so.

Make it Super Simple to Opt In

It seems like I’m reminding you in every guide that your visitors have ridiculously short attention spans.

It’s not just them - you do, too. 

up dog squirrel meme

That means that if you make them jump through too many hoops (or any hoops, for that matter) to subscribe, they probably won’t.

Sometimes, a hoop is even just the simple act of typing in their name. Even though it’s just a small extra step, it’s still an extra step:

basic welcome mat example

So consider just asking for your visitor’s email address in your List Builder, removing the name field completely:

sumo list builder example

Having your subscribers name may seem important, but is it important at the expense of their email address?

Since the pop-up is so effective, you can make it more effective by making it a no-brainer to opt-in.

Scroll Box

So you decided to go the polite route and set up a Scroll Box and you’re wondering if your 0.50% opt-in rate is making the cut?

Well the average Scroll Box conversion rate, with 41,000,000 boxes shown and over 387,000 emails collected is 0.94%, with the top 10% of Scroll Box users converting at 4.10%. Scroll box average signup rates

But if you’re seeing conversions of less than 0.26%, you are officially the weakest link.

Nah, just kidding. But you are in the bottom 25%. Don’t worry, that’s completely fixable.

So use these few hacks to quickly increase your Scroll Box conversion rate.

Decrease Your Trigger Percent

With your Scroll Box, the trigger percent is simply how far the user gets down your page before the Scroll Box pops up.

The default is 40% - so that means that they have to read about 40% of an article or a piece of copy before your Scroll Box appears:

email signup benchmarks

One conversion booster for your Scroll Box is to decrease the trigger percent so it appears sooner - before you’ve lost your visitor to the next shiny object.

Because humans are so easily distracted, we tend to skip off to the next thing. Your visitor might read the beginning of your content, or get a quarter of the way down the page and then click a link or move onto another page, never seeing the opt-in at all.

Find the optimal trigger percent by installing Content Analytics, and finding out what the average read is on the various pages you have Scroll Box installed.

sumo content analytics

Make sure your Scroll Box trigger percentage is far above the average read. So since mine is about 60%, I would bump it up to 30% - 86% of my visitors get at least 30% down the page.

That way, you’ll capture more emails from more of your visitors.

Adjust Your Scroll Box Size

You’ve heard that size matters, right?

Well that’s not always true, but it may be true with your Scroll Box.

If you are getting less than stellar conversion rates, try adjusting the size to make it bigger. Scroll Box is, by nature, far more polite than a traditional pop-up, so it can be easy to ignore or overlook.

By adjusting its size, you can call more attention to it, increasing conversions. Check out this bigger, better Scroll Box on the White Shark Media blog:

20 Adwords Resources all advertisers need

Of course with both increasing your trigger percent and adjusting the size of your Scroll Box, the best way to find the mix is to split test.

Smart Bar

Because of its unintrusive nature, the Smart Bar is the lowest converting tool of the four email opt-in apps in the Sumo suite.

The average opt-in percentage for the Smart Bar is 0.25%, with over 101,600,000 displays and 255,000 emails collected over a month.

The top 10% of Smart Bar users see 1.46% conversions, but the bottom 25% see 0%. Smart Bar average signup rates

If your Smart Bar is lacking opt-ins, raise the bar (see what I did there?) with a few tweaks:

Use an Action Color

One huge strength of the Smart Bar is that it is not intrusive.

It hangs out at the top of your website, rather than catching your visitors eye like a Scroll Box, List Builder or Welcome Mat.

However, that can be a limitation, too, especially if you just use the generic template. Instead of just using the canned template, set an action color that draws your visitors eye up to the Smart Bar.

Check out the difference between the example below:

email signup benchmarks

And this example with the action color:

email signup benchmarks

Which is more noticeable?

Remember, you can’t convert a visitor into an email subscriber if they don’t notice the opt-in form.

Choose an eye-catching action color to make your Smart Bar stand out on the page.

Set Your Smart Bar to Move with the Reader

Open up your Smart Bar settings for a second.

What do you see when you look at the display mode?

If your Smart Bar is converting pathetically - or worse, not at all - and your display mode is set to static, try changing the setting to Sticky.

welcome mat behaviors example

When your Smart Bar is set to static, it means that as soon as your reader scrolls down the page, they lose the Smart Bar.

And let’s be real: humans are not only lazy, but forgetful. 99.999999% of people won’t scroll back up to find the Smart Bar and enter their email address.

A sticky Smart Bar means that it will stay with the reader all the way down the page. This makes opting in easy. We like easy.

The easier you make it to subscribe to your email list, the more likely people are to take action on it.

How to Know What Your Audience Responds To So You Can Convert More

Every small change you make can have a big impact to your conversion rates.

The higher your conversion rate, the more emails you collect. The more emails you collect, the more revenue you can earn in your business.

I’ve given you strategies to increase your conversions and compete with the top 10 and 25%, but every audience is different. And if you don’t know what your specific audience responds to, you could be leaving hundreds or thousands of emails on the table…

Not to mention dollars.

So don’t just take my word for it.

Split test everything.

If Nat hadn’t set up an A/B test for his water fasting article, he wouldn’t have known that turning his Welcome Mat into a landing page would convert so much better. He would have been leaving a ton of valuable email subscribers on the table.

If we didn’t split test different action colors and calls to action, how would we know which to use to maximize our reach, impact, and profit?

With all of these suggestions, test them out and see what works with your audience. If you haven’t already, upgrade to Email Pro to set up A/B tests for all four email apps:

sumo store for tools

Once you know what works, do more of it. Then, sit back and watch the opt-ins roll in.

Stop Settling for Below-Average Opt-Ins

You know your email list is important.

Having a strong list builds rapport with your audience. It helps you get insight into what your target market wants. It acts as a revenue-generating machine for your business.

So stop wallowing in sub-par opt-in rates and take action to bump up your conversions.

Start with taking a look at your conversion rates for all the apps you have activated and identifying which app is the farthest behind the curve.

Then, make a few key changes to boost your opt-ins.

Finally, make sure you test! Set up some A/B tests to make sure you’re not letting subscribers go down the drain like a leaky faucet.

And don’t forget: these don’t work in a vacuum. You’ll see much higher conversions overall if you give your users ample opportunity to subscribe. Don’t just leave one app to do all the work. Amp it up and pair a couple of apps together and watch the subscribers roll in.

What are you starting on first? Let me know in the comments below.


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