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How to Increase Email Sign-ups With Better Forms (+Examples)

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How to Increase Email Sign-ups With Better Forms (+Examples)

In the last 12 months, 77% of marketers have seen an increase in email engagement. Cold prospects get to know and trust you, while you stay top of mind (or top of inbox). However, your team needs to drive signups to reap the benefits.

→ Download Now: The Beginner's Guide to Email Marketing [Free Ebook]

That all starts with your sign-up form. Better email sign-up forms can help grow your lists, increasing your brand’s engagement. See these email newsletter sign-up form examples for inspiration.

Table of Contents

What Is an Email Sign-up Form?

Ways to Increase Subscribers for Your Email List

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Email Sign-up Form Best Practices

Great Email Newsletter Sign-up Form Examples

Building Better Sign-up Forms

The best thing about email opt-ins is that you can build a pipeline of leads to nurture. Over time, your email list can turn into a valuable source of revenue. Here are our tips for how to get more mailing list sign-ups.

1. Monitor your metrics.

Your conversion rate refers to the percentage of website visitors who convert on your opt-in. To calculate your conversion rate, divide the number of conversions from that form or offer by the amount of traffic to the page or post it’s on.

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Newsletter sign-up form examples, Conversion rate formula

Let’s say you have two forms for the same newsletter. One form has a 3% conversion rate. The second converts .8% of page visitors. The form with the higher conversion rate generates more leads and produces more value for the sales team.

Newsletter sign-up form examples, Conversion rate comparisons

With 1000 website visitors, the first form would generate 22 more leads than the second. That’s why conversion rate optimization is so important.

2. Incorporate calls-to-action.

Conversions to your email sign-up form only happen if the form is seen. For this reason, you should be putting the opportunity in front of your website visitors.

Identify your highly visited pages and put your form or calls-to-action (CTA) on them to maximize visibility.

3. Investigate pipeline gaps.

If you don’t have a large amount of traffic, finding ways to increase it may be a more worthwhile activity. Conversions only happen when there’s an opportunity to convert. With no traffic, there’s no opportunity.

You won’t have the means to increase your conversion rate if the starting number is zero. If traffic is low, your conversion rates may not be statistically significant.

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4. Use contrasting colors.

The last thing you want is for a potential subscriber to miss the opportunity to convert simply because they didn’t notice it was there. Use contrasting colors to make these conversion elements stand out.

For instance, in the example below, Kiss Metrics has identified correlations between specific colors and shopper psychology. Specific hues and contrasts elicit specific responses. Using color theory can encourage prospects to act.

Newsletter sign-up form contrasting colors explanation to increase CTAs

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5. Consider placement.

Prominent page placement is a game-changer when it comes to increasing conversion rates on email sign-up forms. A form or call-to-action can go in many places, including:

  • The top of the page.
  • Within the text of the page.
  • In the sidebar.
  • At the bottom of the page.
  • As a pop-up generated from a user action.

You’ll want to test which placements work for your conversion rates. For example, if people aren’t making it to the bottom of a post, they may not see your call-to-action. Through testing, you’ll be able to determine the placements that work best for your audience.

6. Offer value and choice.

Today’s internet user knows handing over their email address may result in email solicitation or, in some cases, spam. That may not be your intention, but that doesn’t erase their caution. To overcome this caution, you must incentivize them to give it up.

Newsletter sign-up form HTC email sign-up form example

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Promising high-value content that they want, providing social proof that your newsletter is valuable, holding giveaways or contests, and being transparent about what they can expect are all ways to provide the incentive.

Another option is to offer the user the choice of what type/category of content they’d like to receive. Nothing like autonomy to keep ’em coming back!

7. Reduce friction.

“Dollars flow where friction is low.”

— Brian Halligan, INBOUND 2019

The more friction that a visitor encounters, the less likely they’ll sign up.

One way that you can reduce friction is by removing form fields to make the process of signing up faster. The number of required form fields should be proportional to the amount of value you’re providing. Too many fields will cause the user to bounce. Instead, ask for less up front and have your team gather additional information after the individual has become a lead.

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8. Try out different phrasing.

Don’t be afraid to scrap phrasing that is underperforming. Maybe the word “newsletter” fails to appeal to your specific audience. Switch it out with something different and monitor your metrics to see what happens.

9. Consider user intent.

Your website visitors landed on your page for a reason. If your offer doesn’t help them meet that need, they won’t be incentivized to convert.

For example, let’s say you have a blog post that compares your product or service to a competitor’s. The visitor arrived here because they want to see how well you match up with others in the industry.

If your on-page offer is an ebook with “Reasons Why You Should Buy [Product/Service],” you may fall flat. If the user is already comparing providers, they already know the value of the product or service. They’re just figuring out which provider to go with.

In this scenario, an offer suited to this intent, like a product demo, will work much better.

Consider the intent on your pages and craft offers that match up with that intent.

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10. Minimize the number of forms and CTAs.

As the old saying goes, “A confused mind says no.” If you present website visitors with too many choices, you run the risk of driving them away completely.

Consider presenting one offer or conversion element per page. If that’s not possible, find other ways to reduce the confusion and make it clear exactly what you want the website visitor to do.

11. Use a form builder.

Some form builders (like HubSpot’s) can remove form fields if the CRM already knows the information. This clears the friction of the user typing that information again. Creating an easy user experience will increase your conversion.

Newsletter sign-up form template from HubSpot

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12. Use pop-ups.

Pop-ups may seem intrusive. However, when used correctly, they convert! By using a pop-up tool, offering something of value, and using specific triggers (such as exit intent), you can create a pop-up experience that isn’t annoying and generates leads.

Newsletter sign-up form, kensie popup email newsletter sign-up example

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13. Test everything.

Testing has been mentioned already in a few of the tips above, but it stands to get its own section. Improvement doesn’t happen in a vacuum. By testing hypotheses and continuing to iterate improvements, you’ll learn about your audience and increase email sign-ups as a result.

A lead might provide their email address for any number of reasons — to receive details about sales, blog post notifications, a discount code, or information about your business. In any case, that makes your email sign-up form one of the most important things on your site.

Let’s go over some ways to create a sign-up form that will get more leads on your email list.

Whether you’re looking to reach ten people or ten million, you’ll need to create a sign-up form that gets people excited to sign up. Here are some best practices that will help you create a high-converting email sign-up form.

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1. Clear Value Exchange

An email address is a valuable commodity. Your offering should be worth their while. Add a short description to the top of your email sign-up form that describes what your lead will get in return for signing up and make it good.

Newsletter sign-up form 10% off incentive example

For example, instead of saying ”Sign up for our weekly newsletter” you should say, “Sign up for our newsletter to receive exclusive deals.” A strong incentive means your website visitors are more likely to convert.

Pro tip: Your leads should be able to answer the question, “What’s in it for me?” when they complete your form.

2. Double Opt-In

You don’t necessarily need more sign-ups. You need quality sign-ups. These quality sign-ups mean fewer fake leads wasting your time. Plus, there are fewer chances that you’ll end up in SPAM.

To ensure quality sign-ups on your form, consider using a double opt-in. This is the type of email subscription that confirms your lead wants to be added to your email list twice. The first time is when the lead enters and submits their information using your web form, and the second requires the lead to click an additional CTA (usually in their inbox) that confirms their submission.

Newsletter sign-up form example, email confirmation example from HubSpot

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A double confirmation means a high-quality relationship with your leads.

3. Simplicity

Successful email sign-up forms are straightforward and clear. A lead should be able to look at the form, enter their information, hit “submit”, and carry on with their lives within a matter of seconds. If your form is too complex, you risk losing the interest of your website visitors.

Remember: Your email sign-up form is just a way for visitors to sign up for emails. Your team can build from there.

4. Place and Time

The placement of your email sign-up form on your website matters. Think about how you want your website visitors to find your form. Do you want your form to pop up on the page the second someone lands on your website? Do you want them to scroll down to the bottom of your homepage to find your form? Or do they need to land on a specific page on your site?

Form placement isn’t one-size-fits-all. Think about where most visitors land on your site, how your buyer personas want to interact with your brand, and the overall user experience.

Consider questions like, “Will my target audience get frustrated with a pop-up the second they enter our site, or will they find it helpful?”

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5. Kickback Emails

Once someone completes your form, thank and welcome them.

A kickback email gives your new lead something in return for their information. In the case of an email sign-up, you’ll want to welcome your new lead and perhaps offer them links to useful content. Get them excited about their decision to give you their personal information.

Newsletter sign-up form mind love kickback thank-you email example

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This is also where you can provide your new leads with their discount codes, details on future sales, access to exclusive communities, why you value their interest in your business, and how you will support them in the future.

Now that we’ve reviewed email sign-up form best practices, let’s dive into some examples. Here’s a collection of our favorite email newsletter forms and CTAs.

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1. The Hustle

The Hustle website has an email sign-up form with a clear benefit statement. Any website visitor could look at this subscription landing page and understand what they will get from signing up in a matter of seconds.

Newsletter sign-up form for the Hustle example

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Newsletter sign-up form Welcome to the Hustle example page

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They also utilize the “Thank You” page to convey a direct statement of how the company values the subscriber’s time and will intentionally curate scheduled-themed content.

2. Blavity

When you head to Blavity’s website, the first thing you see is their email pop-up. That’s because their entire business revolves around a subscription. Blavity is an online publication that gathers top news stories from around the globe. The placement of their sign-up form fits with its offering.

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Newsletter sign-up form example, Blavity Subscribe Call to Action pop-up

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Blavity also has a landing page specifically devoted to email sign-up.

Newsletter sign-up form example, landing page for Blavity online publication's newsletter

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3. Anthropologie

Newsletter sign-up form example, anthropologie homepage with signup form at the bottom of the page above the footer

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Anthropologie places their email sign-up form towards the bottom of their homepage after users have had a chance to look around and become familiar with the site. Their sign-up form has a short description of what leads can expect once they sign up. Anthropologie also respects their visitors’ time by simply asking for an email address.

4. Lulus

Newsletter sign-up form example, lulus sign up form at the bottom of the homepage above the footer

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Lulus form is located towards the bottom of their homepage. Their email sign-up form gets website visitors excited about converting with an offer: a 10% discount code upon signing up.

The form is simple and only requires an email address. After form submission, new leads receive a kickback email that welcomes them and provides them with the code, as promised.

5. Quest Nutrition

Newsletter sign-up form example, quest nutrition pop-up window that says 'sign up now!' along with a subscription formImage Source

Quest Nutrition’s form is in a pop-up window that dims the background, eliminating any distractions. The form offers incentives like recipes, discounts, and surprises for visitors to sign up. Only an email address is required. Website visitors also have the option to bypass the pop-up and look around the site instead.

Email sign-up forms are a simple, efficient, and effective way to obtain leads, create more conversions, and increase your overall sales. You’ll reach your audience with email sign-up forms that are straightforward and embedded in a convenient location on your website.

So, take a few minutes to create your own email sign-up form and get started broadening your customer base, developing relationships with your potential customers, and increasing your number of leads today. From there, you can close the gap between lead and customer through email marketing.

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Editor’s note: This post was originally published in October 2018 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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Optimizing Zoom’s digital experience for explosive growth

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Optimizing Zoom's digital experience for explosive growth

In February 2020, Zoom had millions of weekly visitors to their site, all of whom were coming to Zoom.us to do a handful of activities. Flashforward a month later to March, and Zoom’s traffic spiked to tens of millions of visitors every week. Those visitors arrived to not only use Zoom for a couple of work calls per week, but to entirely reinvent how they interacted with colleagues, partners, teachers, students, and even friends and family.   

Zoom used this opportunity to transform its users’ experience into incredible growth and customer happiness across geographies and verticals. How did they do it?  

At Opticon ’23, Alex London, Head of Digital Zoom and Jay Dettling, CEO of Hero Digital, joined Alex Atzberger, CEO, Optimizely to share how Zoom re-built their entire digital ecosystem. 

Keep reading to learn how Zoom partnered with Hero Digital and Optimizely to transform its customer experience and drive stellar results including these early wins: 

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  • Page load improved by 60% 
  • Speed to market improved by 50% 
  • Conversion improvement of 10% 
  • Publishing time from days to minutes (reduced by about half) 

The Year the World “Hopped on a Zoom Call” — & What Came Next

In March 2020, Zoom watched as web traffic, sign-ups, users and attendees grew from millions to hundreds of millions virtually overnight. Not only did its customer base and user group skyrocket, but its core use cases did, too: online meeting rooms were now used to host weddings, game nights, and math classes. At the same time, corporate brainstorms, sales calls, and even government processes requiring the highest security clearances moved to  Zoom to continue working as normally as possible. 

To meet the incredible demand for new use cases and services, the Zoom team had to ideate, test, and ship new products and features on a timeline that the internal teams refer to as “at the speed of Zoom.” Their success meant that their brand entered a hallowed hall of exclusive brands whose names made the transition from noun to verb. It was the year of: “Can we Zoom?” 

Getting there wasn’t just about building and launching products and features;  that was only half the battle. To scale and continue delivering happiness to customers, the team needed to ensure they told the story of Zoom across all customer touchpoints. 

Their goals

  1. Reimagine and rebuild the entire digital stack (including attribution models, analytics systems, acquisition, and localization) 
  2. Move from an existing agnostic, one-size-fits-all model to a global, flexible digital experience to cater to personas, geographies, and use cases 
  3. Improve their speed to market to continue moving “at the speed of Zoom” 

The Tactical Challenges of Reimagining Zoom’s Digital Stack 

Zoom’s overarching goal was to put the story at every single touchpoint of the customer journey. Given the dramatic change in their business, building a new site for Zoom would be incredibly complicated. Yet, if they succeeded, they’d generate demand, better enable purchases, and support its users.  

So how did they do it? Before making the leap, they looked to their strategic partners — Hero Digital and Optimizely.

 

 

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Zoom needed a new digital foundation to achieve all of its goals at scale. More importantly, their new foundation needed to untangle serious web traffic complexity.

Zoom has four primary visitor types — all arriving on Zoom’s marketing website by the millions. They include: 

  • Individuals and SMEs buying Zoom online 
  • Demo requests 
  • Product support requests 
  • Users and attendees accessing Zoom’s website as part of their workflow 

To add even more complexity, the teams needed to account for multi-lingual requirements for 20+ languages across the globe. 

“How do we build for these four levels of complexity? And how quickly can we move to tell our new platform story?” – Alex London, Head of Digital at Zoom

Before anything else, Zoom needed to build a new design system, and Hero Digital stepped in to help. Together, they built a minimum versatile component library that would scale across the website, mobile, ads, and anywhere else Zoom encountered customers. The initial minimum library featured 38 components with 29 variants and 8 page templates. 

Zoom also had to untangle the domain and subdomain issues of their own making. The past choice to build their digital foundation on ‘Zoom.us’ and create new subdomains for customers (coming in north of 10k subdomains) meant speed and ranking were complicated. Essentially, Zoom was competing with 10k+ sites that Zoom itself had created.  

Resolving this problem by choosing to unify content on a single domain, Zoom, Hero Digital, and Optimizely got to work. 

Hero Digital’s Foundation + Optimizely’s Architecture = Moving at the Speed of Zoom

By partnering with Hero Digital and Optimizely, Zoom reimagined its complete customer experience and upgraded to a best-in-class technology platform that combines AI-accelerated workflows with experiment-driven digital experiences. 

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The team deployed the Optimizely Digital Experience Platform, featuring Optimizely Content Management System, Content Management Platform, and Experimentation, as the architecture to bring their foundation to life and scale faster than they could ever imagine.

Component Library + Optimizely CMS  

One of Zoom’s goals was to move from its existing agnostic model to a global, flexible digital experience to cater to personas, geographies, and use cases. To do that, they needed a modern content management system. 

In the first phase of the build, the team focused on Zoom’s marketing site, now untangled but still over 200 pages. They established a foundation on Optimizely’s Content Management System to create a foundation with a migration plan over months. 

Even in the earliest stages, the results were huge because the CMS meant Zoom can could now push global changes in just minutes. They save hundreds of hours of work across the company by: 

  • Eliminating the devops processes, which previously took days or weeks to work through
  • Reducing publishing processes by half even with new added governance steps

 

Optimizely’s Content Marketing Platform

Improving speed to market was Zoom’s third goal. With the first two goals unlocked by their phased migration to Optimizely’s CMS, they needed to not only unblock the velocity but also the creativity and collaboration in producing new content. Zoom’s teams receive 80-100 requests a week for new content across their digital properties. 

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For Zoom, the re-build of the intake process for content requests was a key component of speeding up their processes. They built in guard rails and governance processes that when used within the CMP, reduced publishing time to minutes rather than days.

 

 

Now, with the first three goals— a reimagined digital stack, a flexible digital experience, and improved speed to market—accomplished, Zoom will focus on its next digital phase: experimentation and personalization. 

How could a digital experience platform help you navigate the next phase of your business? Learn more from the experts with access to The Forrester Wave: Digital Experience Platforms, Q4 2023 report.

 

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The Role of Enterprise Mobility Management in Modern Businesses

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The Role of Enterprise Mobility Management in Modern Businesses

In today’s fast-paced business environment, Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) has emerged as a critical facilitator for enhancing operational efficiency and competitiveness. EMM solutions streamline workflows, ensuring that enterprises can adapt to the rapidly changing digital landscape. This blog discusses the indispensable role of EMM in modern businesses, focusing on how it revolutionizes workflows and positions businesses for success.

EMM solutions act as the backbone for securely managing mobile devices, applications, and content that facilitate remote work and on-the-go access to company resources. With a robust EMM platform, businesses can ensure data protection and compliance with regulatory requirements, even in highly dynamic environments. This not only minimizes the risk of data breaches but also reinforces the company’s reputation for reliability and security.

Seamless Integration Across Devices

In today’s digital era, seamless integration across devices is not just a luxury; it’s a necessity for maintaining operational fluency within any organization. Our EMM solutions are designed to ensure that employees have secure and efficient access to the necessary resources, irrespective of the device being used. This cross-platform compatibility significantly enhances productivity by allowing for a unified user experience that supports both the agility and dynamism required in modern business operations. Leveraging cutting-edge technology, our solutions provide a cohesive ecosystem where data flows securely and effortlessly across mobile phones, tablets, and laptops, ensuring that your workforce remains connected and productive, regardless of their physical location. The adoption of our EMM solutions speaks volumes about an organization’s commitment to fostering a technologically forward and secure working environment, echoing its dedication to innovation and excellence.

Enhanced Productivity

EMM facilitates the seamless integration of mobile devices into the corporate environment, enabling employees to access corporate resources from anywhere. This flexibility significantly enhances productivity by allowing tasks to be completed outside of traditional office settings.

Unified Endpoint Management

The incorporation of Unified Endpoint Management (UEM) within EMM solutions ensures that both mobile and fixed devices can be managed from a single console, simplifying IT operations and enhancing security.

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Advanced Security Protocols

Where cyber threats loom larger than ever, our EMM solutions incorporate cutting-edge security protocols designed to shield your organization’s data from unauthorized access and breaches. By consistently updating and refining our security measures, we ensure your assets are protected by the most advanced defenses available. This commitment to security not only safeguards your information but also reinforces your company’s reputation as a secure and trustworthy enterprise.

Data Protection

EMM solutions implement robust security measures to protect sensitive corporate data across all mobile devices. This includes encryption, secure VPN connections, and the ability to remotely wipe data from lost or stolen devices, thereby mitigating potential data breaches.

Compliance Management

By enforcing security policies and ensuring compliance with regulatory standards, EMM helps businesses avoid costly fines and reputational damage associated with data breaches.

Driving Operational Efficiency

In the quest to drive operational efficiency, our solutions streamline processes, reduce redundancies, and automate routine tasks. By leveraging cutting-edge technologies, we empower businesses to optimize their workflows, resulting in significant time and cost savings. Our approach not only enhances operational agility but also positions your organization at the forefront of innovation, setting a new standard in your industry.

Automated Workflows

By automating repetitive tasks, EMM reduces manual efforts, increases accuracy, and speeds up business processes. This automation supports operational efficiency and allows employees to focus on more strategic tasks.

Real-time Communication and Collaboration

EMM enhances communication and collaboration among team members by providing tools that facilitate real-time interactions. This immediate exchange of information accelerates decision-making processes and improves project outcomes.

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Testimonials from Industry Leaders

Leaders in various industries have witnessed tangible benefits from implementing EMM solutions, including increased productivity, improved security, and enhanced operational efficiency. Testimonials from these leaders underscore the transformative impact of EMM on their businesses, solidifying its vital role in modern operational strategies.

Our commitment to innovation and excellence propels us to continually refine our EMM solutions, ensuring they remain at the cutting edge of technology. This dedication not only solidifies our standing as industry leaders but also guarantees that our clients receive the most advanced and effective operational tools available, tailored specifically to meet their unique business challenges.

Looking Ahead

The evolution of EMM solutions continues at a rapid pace, with advancements in technology such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), and the Internet of Things (IoT) further enhancing their capabilities. These developments promise even greater efficiencies, security measures, and competitive advantages for businesses willing to invest in the future of mobility management.

Our proactive approach to integrating emerging technologies with EMM solutions positions our clients at the forefront of their industries. By leveraging our deep technical expertise and industry insights, we empower businesses to not only adapt to but also lead in an increasingly digital world, ensuring they remain competitive and resilient amidst rapid technological shifts.

In conclusion, the role of Enterprise Mobility Management in modern businesses cannot be overstated. Its ability to revolutionize workflows, enhance security, and drive operational efficiency positions it as a foundational element of digital transformation strategies. We invite businesses to explore the potential of EMM solutions and partner with us to achieve unprecedented levels of success and innovation in the digital era. Together, we can redefine the boundaries of what is possible in business operations and set new benchmarks for excellence in the industry.

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Lessons From Air Canada’s Chatbot Fail

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Lessons From Air Canada’s Chatbot Fail

Air Canada tried to throw its chatbot under the AI bus.

It didn’t work.

A Canadian court recently ruled Air Canada must compensate a customer who bought a full-price ticket after receiving inaccurate information from the airline’s chatbot.

Air Canada had argued its chatbot made up the answer, so it shouldn’t be liable. As Pepper Brooks from the movie Dodgeball might say, “That’s a bold strategy, Cotton. Let’s see if it pays off for ’em.” 

But what does that chatbot mistake mean for you as your brands add these conversational tools to their websites? What does it mean for the future of search and the impact on you when consumers use tools like Google’s Gemini and OpenAI’s ChatGPT to research your brand?

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AI disrupts Air Canada

AI seems like the only topic of conversation these days. Clients expect their agencies to use it as long as they accompany that use with a big discount on their services. “It’s so easy,” they say. “You must be so happy.”

Boards at startup companies pressure their management teams about it. “Where are we on an AI strategy,” they ask. “It’s so easy. Everybody is doing it.” Even Hollywood artists are hedging their bets by looking at the newest generative AI developments and saying, “Hmmm … Do we really want to invest more in humans?  

Let’s all take a breath. Humans are not going anywhere. Let me be super clear, “AI is NOT a strategy. It’s an innovation looking for a strategy.” Last week’s Air Canada decision may be the first real-world distinction of that.

The story starts with a man asking Air Canada’s chatbot if he could get a retroactive refund for a bereavement fare as long as he provided the proper paperwork. The chatbot encouraged him to book his flight to his grandmother’s funeral and then request a refund for the difference between the full-price and bereavement fair within 90 days. The passenger did what the chatbot suggested.

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Air Canada refused to give a refund, citing its policy that explicitly states it will not provide refunds for travel after the flight is booked.

When the passenger sued, Air Canada’s refusal to pay got more interesting. It argued it should not be responsible because the chatbot was a “separate legal entity” and, therefore, Air Canada shouldn’t be responsible for its actions.

I remember a similar defense in childhood: “I’m not responsible. My friends made me do it.” To which my mom would respond, “Well, if they told you to jump off a bridge, would you?”

My favorite part of the case was when a member of the tribunal said what my mom would have said, “Air Canada does not explain why it believes …. why its webpage titled ‘bereavement travel’ was inherently more trustworthy than its chatbot.”

The BIG mistake in human thinking about AI

That is the interesting thing as you deal with this AI challenge of the moment. Companies mistake AI as a strategy to deploy rather than an innovation to a strategy that should be deployed. AI is not the answer for your content strategy. AI is simply a way to help an existing strategy be better.

Generative AI is only as good as the content — the data and the training — fed to it.  Generative AI is a fantastic recognizer of patterns and understanding of the probable next word choice. But it’s not doing any critical thinking. It cannot discern what is real and what is fiction.

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Think for a moment about your website as a learning model, a brain of sorts. How well could it accurately answer questions about the current state of your company? Think about all the help documents, manuals, and educational and training content. If you put all of that — and only that — into an artificial brain, only then could you trust the answers.

Your chatbot likely would deliver some great results and some bad answers. Air Canada’s case involved a minuscule challenge. But imagine when it’s not a small mistake. And what about the impact of unintended content? Imagine if the AI tool picked up that stray folder in your customer help repository — the one with all the snarky answers and idiotic responses? Or what if it finds the archive that details everything wrong with your product or safety? AI might not know you don’t want it to use that content.

ChatGPT, Gemini, and others present brand challenges, too

Publicly available generative AI solutions may create the biggest challenges.

I tested the problematic potential. I asked ChatGPT to give me the pricing for two of the best-known CRM systems. (I’ll let you guess which two.) I asked it to compare the pricing and features of the two similar packages and tell me which one might be more appropriate.

First, it told me it couldn’t provide pricing for either of them but included the pricing page for each in a footnote. I pressed the citation and asked it to compare the two named packages. For one of them, it proceeded to give me a price 30% too high, failing to note it was now discounted. And it still couldn’t provide the price for the other, saying the company did not disclose pricing but again footnoted the pricing page where the cost is clearly shown.

In another test, I asked ChatGPT, “What’s so great about the digital asset management (DAM) solution from [name of tech company]?” I know this company doesn’t offer a DAM system, but ChatGPT didn’t.

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It returned with an answer explaining this company’s DAM solution was a wonderful, single source of truth for digital assets and a great system. It didn’t tell me it paraphrased the answer from content on the company’s webpage that highlighted its ability to integrate into a third-party provider’s DAM system.

Now, these differences are small. I get it. I also should be clear that I got good answers for some of my harder questions in my brief testing. But that’s what’s so insidious. If users expected answers that were always a little wrong, they would check their veracity. But when the answers seem right and impressive, even though they are completely wrong or unintentionally accurate, users trust the whole system.

That’s the lesson from Air Canada and the subsequent challenges coming down the road.

AI is a tool, not a strategy

Remember, AI is not your content strategy. You still need to audit it. Just as you’ve done for over 20 years, you must ensure the entirety of your digital properties reflect the current values, integrity, accuracy, and trust you want to instill.

AI will not do this for you. It cannot know the value of those things unless you give it the value of those things. Think of AI as a way to innovate your human-centered content strategy. It can express your human story in different and possibly faster ways to all your stakeholders.

But only you can know if it’s your story. You have to create it, value it, and manage it, and then perhaps AI can help you tell it well. 

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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

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