The 7 Best Optin Forms to Supercharge Your Email List

David Hehenberger May 18, 2017

All online marketers know it: the bigger your email list, the more you will sell. Email is widely regarded as one of the most effective digital marketing channels when it comes to return on investment with good reason: it works. That’s why you should do whatever you can to grow your email list.

But growing your email list isn’t always easy. To grow your email list, you need visitors to subscribe to it by filling out an optin form first.

But – which optin form should you use? Which are the best optin forms? There are many different types of optin forms to choose from, and not all of them are created equal.

Some are highly effective at converting website visitors into email subscribers. Some are not. At the same time, some optin forms are subtle and appreciated by your visitors, while others are more aggressive, disrupting their user experience.

For maximum success, you need to choose a mix of highly effective optin forms that work best for your specific website.

This article explains what different types of optin forms are available to you, how effective they are in converting website visitors to email subscribers, and what you can do to maximize your conversion rate.

The Classic Optin Form

An optin form is a form you embed on your website where visitors can leave their email address, their name and other crucial information, click a button and subscribe to your email marketing list.

Usually, you offer your readers a compelling reason to sign up: a free report, video module or tool that’s useful for them and helps them reach their goals.

You can embed this optin form wherever you want on your WordPress website through a simple shortcode or plugin. But most commonly, you’ll find them at the bottom of a blog post, or within the blog post itself like this:

best opt in forms

A well-placed classic optin form could net you quite a few new email subscribers. But as the internet matured, optin forms evolved alongside with it. Now, there are some advanced variations that are a lot more effective.

#1: The Sidebar Optin

The next most logical location to place an optin form is in your sidebar:

Many WordPress websites have a sidebar where they place menu items, links to recent posts or other useful information. We’re not the biggest fan of sidebars ourselves (because they’re distracting, and most sidebar widgets don’t help you reach your business goals).

But if you do have a sidebar, you NEED a sidebar optin – it’s that simple. It’s a no-brainer.

Your sidebar will catch a lot of attention. By placing an optin, you will definitely get more email subscribers. With a free nifty little plugin, you can even make your sidebar optin form float on the page to keep it visible at all times.

A sidebar optin is a must-have to leverage your sidebar to grow your email list. In fact: your visitors even expect to see one here! If you don’t have an easy way for people to sign up in your sidebar, you’re definitely missing out on subscribers.

Effectiveness: 😍  (1/5)

Annoyingness: 😱  (1/5)

#2: The Optin Bar

Another great location to place your optin form is at the very top of your website:

best email sign-up forms

An optin bar is a narrow bar displayed at the top of your screen (or bottom, if you prefer.) It’s always visible on your website, no matter where your visitor goes.

Yet although an optin bar grabs immediate attention from all your visitors, it’s still not that annoying. Readers see it, but it doesn’t obstruct their view like some other optin forms do. It’s just there, and always will be.

An optin bar does not hurt your visitor’s experience one bit. It’s an unobtrusive, yet remarkably effective way to get more email subscribers.

Effectiveness: 😍 😍 😍  (3/5)

Annoyingness: 😱 😱 (2/5)

#3: The Popup Optin

Topping our list of most effective (and also most annoying) optins is the popup optin.

Scroll around a website for a little while, and before you know it the background fades to black while a popup with an email optin appears. The only ways to get rid of it is click the X or… enter your email address.

Although popup optins might be annoying, there’s a good reason why you see them on so many websites : they work.

Email popus are a proven, highly effective way to grow your list. Popup optins have become the industry standard for converting visitors into email subscribers because they deliver insane results. Visitors might hate them, but they sure do enter their email addresses in them.

Be aware that not all of your visitors will appreciate them. Popups appear when your visitor is trying to read something on your site, thereby disrupting their user experience.

Before implementing them on your website, you might want to ask yourself: Should I add an email sign up pop up to my site? How hard do you want to sell? And how annoying do you want to be to get those amazing conversions?

Be warned though: Google doesn’t like them (especially on mobile devices). Popup optins might be merely a slight nuisance on desktop devices, but they can nearly make a website unusable on mobile devices.

For that reason, Google recently started penalizing the rankings of mobile websites that use popup optins on the first page after coming from the search results. (But you can still use them on other pages).

The cool thing about Optin Cat is that it comes with an advanced rule builder that lets you pick exactly when and where you want to show a popup optin. You can show them everywhere, or only on certain pages, or after visitors scroll around for a bit or spend a certain time on your page.

So you can get those insane results on mobile devices – without being punished by Google.

Effectiveness: 😍 😍 😍 😍 😍  (5/5)

Annoyingness: 😱 😱 😱 😱 😱  (5/5)

#4: Exit Intervention Popup

So, what if you could take the most effective aspects of the popup optin, while eliminating all the annoying and disruptive elements of it?

That’s exactly what the exit intervention popup does!

What website visitors find most annoying about the popup optin is that it interrupts them while they’re trying to read your website, thereby ruining their user experience. The exit intervention popup circumvents this problem by only appearing once their mouse leaves the browser window – heading for that X in the top corner to close the tab.

What’s awesome about this exit intervention popup is that it doesn’t interrupt your audience and ruin their user experience.

It only appears when your visitors are right about to leave your website. The popup shows up, grabs their attention and gives them a compelling offer – which may suck them back into your marketing funnel.

Many e-commerce websites use it precisely for that reason: a last-ditch effort with a special offer trying to stop your visitors from abandoning your website for good.

Keep in mind: 70% of people who leave your site will never return. Proven to be very effective, this exit intervention optin can be an incredibly powerful way to give yourself a second chance with those abandoning visitors and turn them into subscribers and customers.

Effectiveness: 😍 😍 😍 😍  (4/5)

Annoyingness: 😱 😱  (2/5)

#5: Slide Ins

You scroll down a page or blog post, and once you get to the bottom, suddenly an optin form slides in from the bottom right or left corner of your screen.

That’s the Slide In Optin, and it’s a small, non-obtrusive popup that converts very well.

The power of the slide in is in the timing of when it appears. Just when your visitor is done reading your article or page, the slide in optin appears from one of the bottom corners.

It stands out, your visitor’s eye is drawn to it, and they can’t help but pay attention – either clicking it away, or entering their email address.

While it still grabs their attention, the slide in is not as much of an interruption as a popup is.

Slide ins are a very effective way to grow your email list – which is why you see this being used widely across the web. Shown to boost conversions, it’s a powerful tool to ask for that email address at just the right time.

When you use Optin Cat, you can choose exactly when and where you want your slide in to appear to your readers. Whether you want to only show it on certain pages, after a few seconds, or only to new people who visit your website – there are tons of options so you can customize it exactly to your liking.

Effectiveness: 😍 😍  😍 😍  (4/5)

Annoyingness: 😱 😱 😱 😱 (4/5)

#6: Comment Checkbox

Not all optins have to interrupt your visitors. Some types of optin forms are organically integrated within the core functionality of your website to deliver a wonderful user experience.

The Comment Checkbox is one such optin.

When your visitors use the default WordPress commenting system, you can display a little checkbox. If they want to subscribe to your email list, all they need to do is tick the box and hit submit.

Since they’ve already entered their email address to leave a comment, this is a powerful, non-intrusive way to enhance your commenting system and grow your list.

Best of all, the people who comment on your website are your most engaged visitors. They like you, they like what you have to say, and they want to hear more from you. These are the people who would most enjoy being on your email list to begin with!

So, why not ask if they want to join your list and hear more from you, right then and there, when they’re leaving you a message?

Bottom line: if you use the built-in WordPress commenting system, this is a no-brainer. You capture the email addresses of your most engaged readers, without annoying everyone else.

Optin Cat lets you turn commenters into email subscribers with one single click. (You can even pre-check the checkbox by default to increase your signups! It’s that easy!)

Effectiveness: 😍 😍  (2/5)

Annoyingness: 😱 (1/5)

#7: Two-Step Optin

What if you could only show the optin form to people who are actually interested in signing up to your email list?

Well – with the two-step optin, you can.

A normal optin form is displayed to everyone who visits a certain page.

The two-step optin only displays the optin form after your visitor has clicked on a button or link. This super effective tactic has skyrocketed conversions for many bloggers and marketers by up to 700%.

There are a few reasons why this subtle tactic works so extraordinarily well.

By “disguising” your optin form as a link, it flies in under your visitor’s marketing radar. Some people have seen so many optin forms on the web, that they automatically ignore most of the forms they see on a website.

With a two-step optin, you pique their interest talking about a valuable piece of content or tool they can download, and they click the link.

Then, since they’ve already taken the first step, they want to complete the action they’ve just begun – and are more likely to enter their email address than if they would’ve seen the optin form from the start!

Best of all – only the people who click the link (and are interested in what you have to offer) will see the optin form. All the other people will only see the link. So you don’t annoy them with your optin form!

One of the most powerful ways to use the two-step optin to massively grow your list is by offering content upgrades: hyper-targeted resources like an ebook, tool, PDF or video that you give away for free.

Integrate your optin forms organically within your content, and reap the rewards by getting more subscribers and building out your list.

Effectiveness: 😍 😍 😍 😍  (4/5)

Annoyingness: 😱  (1/5)

So – Which Optin Forms Should You Add To Your Site?

Those are the types of optins you can choose from on your website.

You could use any of them. But they’re not all equally effective. Some of them will annoy your visitors a lot more than others. And not all of them are right for your website.

Here are all the different types of optins we’ve discussed so far graphed out in terms of how effective and annoying they are:

You could use any of these optins to get more subscribers and build out your list. But you need to choose carefully, try out different ones to see which are best for you, your website and your audience.

That being said, here are the optins we recommend you to put on your website (based on seeing what converted best for thousands of our customers and free users):

    • Whatever you do, definitely put at least one optin form on your website. Your email list is gold for your future business success, and you should grow it as much as you can.
    • Does your theme have a sidebar? Then definitely put the sidebar optin near the top of your sidebar.
    • If you use the WordPress commenting system, definitely enable the comment checkbox.
    • Do you regularly offer free content upgrades (download links to extra content, ebooks, PDFs, videos, spreadsheets, tools)? If so, strongly consider putting them behind a two-step optin.
    • If you want to place optins anywhere else within a page or blog post, just embed it through a shortcode.

Try it out and see what works for you!

Start capturing those emails and grow your list!

Optin Cat: Everything You Need To Grow Your Email List The Quick & Easy Way

If you have a WordPress website, the best (and easiest) way to implement optin forms on your website is by installing a WordPress plugin.

Optin Cat offers all of the optin forms discussed in this post – it comes with everything you need to grow your email list.

It’s easy to set up and customize to your liking with just a few clicks. And it works well (and looks gorgeous) on ALL devices right out of the box – smartphones, tablets, laptops and desktop computers.

You can download the free version to create all the basic, highly converting, gorgeous optin forms within minutes, (even if you have no HTML or CSS skills).

And with the premium version you get access to ALL optin forms, and can customize them until they work exactly how you want them to in just a few clicks.

Boost your conversions, take your email marketing to the next level, and start growing that list.

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