HTML code showing that an opt-out form has been disabled.

Build your mailing list by building trust

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As website owners we have very little time to earn the trust of our visitors. Just one little slip-up can damage a fledgling relationship beyond repair. Always remember that your website visitors are only a click away from hitting that ‘back’ button and disappearing forever.

Don’t undermine user trust to build your mailing list

You’ve done enough things right to nurture a visitor towards your sign-up prompt. You really don’t want to fall at the last hurdle. Make sure they always feel in control, especially when they are submitting their personal information and preferences.

I recently signed up to a website that presented a newsletter opt-out checkbox (‘opt-out’ meaning it was ticked by default). It was quite large, so I spotted it straightaway and went to un-tick it. I then realised the site owners had deliberately disabled the form control, making it impossible to deselect the box.

Newsletter subscription checkbox ticked by default and disabled.
Tricksy Hobbitses have disabled the opt-in checkbox!

This was an arrogant manoeuvre that undermined my trust in the site straightaway. If you remove my choice as to whether I sign up to your mailing list then that isn’t going to sit with me too well.

So, being a web designer myself, I was curious. I cracked open the page inspector and started tinkering:

HTML code showing that an opt-out form has been disabled.
Code is poetry.

As I suspected. I removed both ‘checked=”checked”‘ and ‘disabled=”disabled”‘ (HTML5 has a way with words) and submitted the form. I guess I shouldn’t have been too surprised when I received an opt-in email from the site anyway.

It seems their server adds every email address submitted to this form to their mailing list confirmation queue. It doesn’t seem to matter whether the box is ticked, un-ticked, or not present at all.

Needless to say, that was one email that went straight in the bin. I’m sure many overwhelmed inbox owners would opt to mark it as spam instead. If you get enough people doing this, it will damage your domain email sender reputation.

Bad user experience damages brands

The help text beside the check box claimed that this was an opt-in process. Ultimately, that claim is true because ignoring the confirmation email meant I wasn’t signed up.

But the tactics employed by the site owners created a bad user experience and damaged their brand reputation. If I’d actually ticked the box then the company concerned would’ve been right to send the opt-in email. Think of all the unsolicited emails you receive every day. Do you really want to receive any more?

Of course, I can just go elsewhere if I don’t like what they’re doing (and I will). But this is a good example of bad user interface design and bad user experience design.

Your website is often the first thing many of your potential customers will see. It’s the first opportunity to create a good impression of your brand. Don’t throw that opportunity away for the sake of gaining a few extra newsletter subscribers. They’ll most likely end up unsubscribing anyway because they were never engaged enough with your brand in the first place.

Find out how we can help

Would you like to roll out the red carpet and improve the experience your visitors have on your website? Or are you interested in learning more about setting up a mailing list? Why not speak to us and we’ll roll our sleeves up.