Attracting 1-Year-Old and 113-Year-Old Subscribers

Creating Friendly Year-of-Birth Dropdown MenusBrands spend a lot of time scrutinizing their checkout process, whether they’re retailers or nonprofits accepting donations. They know that unnecessary friction in the process means frustration for their visitors, lower conversions and fewer repeat purchases. That same scrutiny should be applied to email signup processes since an email subscription is worth a lot of money.

ExactTarget examined email subscription processes of more than 160 B2C brands—including retailers, restaurants, manufacturers, travel and hospitality, and nonprofits—and found plenty of unnecessary friction. One area that is emblematic of the kinds of opportunities that brands have to make their signup process smoother is the dropdown menus used to collect year of birth.

For example, Boden’s email opt-in form starts with the current year. Clearly they don’t want 1-year-olds on their email list, so it makes sense to start with an earlier date so that older would-be subscribers have to scroll less. As it currently stands, anyone over 18 (born before 1995) would have to scroll to select their birth year—and for J. Jill that likely means that the vast, vast majority of their subscribers had to scroll.

Similarly, AutoZone’s dropdown menu started with the year 2011 and J. Jill’s with the year 2009, as if 2- and 4-year-old subscribers are acceptable.

At the other end of the spectrum, Applebee’s and Tide’s opt-in forms were deferential to the oldest living people on the planet, starting their dropdown menu with the year 1900 and making those born in 1929 and later scroll. For someone in their 30s or 40s that meant a lot of scrolling.

While those brands make would-be subscribers work a little harder to sign up for promotional emails, is clearly paying attention to the details. Their dropdown menu starts with the year 1993, the earliest year that you could be of legal drinking age. That’s smart.

And although many brands like ask for their subscribers’ date of birth for legal and compliance reasons, it’s wise to couch the request as an opportunity for the subscriber to get something in exchange for this data. DailyCandy does a good job on their opt-in form of explaining why they need your birth date while answering the question every subscriber is asking themselves: “What’s in it for me?”

While this may all seem a little picky to some, consumers get hung up on the details, so you should sweat the details. Less friction in your signup process means more visitors convert into subscribers, which means a more successful email marketing program.

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