4 Types of Newsletter Opt-In Forms and How To Choose The Best Ones For Your Site

Newsletter opt-in forms can be confusing when trying to decide if/when/where to use them on your website.  One aspect is that you may not want to bombard your readers with pop-up boxes asking them to surrender their email address to you.  The decision for a reader to sign up is directly related to how much they are enjoying their time on your site.  For example, if you are on a site reading amazing content, a pop-up appearing asking if you'd like to sign up for VIP access to their exclusive community would be appreciated and welcome, but if you were on a boring site and the pop-up asks you to sign up for their email list you're probably going to close the box AND exit the site.  The ultimate goal is to get people to WANT to sign up.  As bloggers and biz owners, mailing lists are quite important because they give you direct access to your audience.  They can be used for various things such as emailing your new blog posts in a beautiful, image-friendly format, sending a monthly newsletter or sending VIP info on a weekly basis.  There are so many ways to engage through mailing lists, but before engagement comes sign-up.  Today I will be discussing 4 different types of opt-in forms and how to choose the best options for your site.


1. Pop-up upon entry/exit- This is a box that appears shortly after entering a web page or right before exiting.  This copy should be well written.  Do not use the generic default wording that comes with the box (ex: "Sign up for our newsletter"...yuck!), make it sound fun and make readers feel like they will be missing out if they don't sign up.  I have created a free list of alternate terms for "subscribers" and "newsletter" if you want to know how to spice up the copy on your opt-in forms.  Get it here!

Also, make sure that you include an image on this pop-up.  You really want this to be a beautiful sign up box and keep it on brand.  If you're a food blogger, use an image of a flat-lay with all of your favorite kitchen gadgets styled beautifully.  If you're a fashion blogger, use an image of you in your favorite outfit.  Get creative and think of it as an extension of your brand.

There is also the option to create a pop-up that appears right before a reader exits your site (aka exit intent).  This box appears when a reader hovers over the close button.  Ideally, this box should encourage readers to sign up for you list right before they exit the site.  This box is crucial because it is the last thing that a potential new subscriber will see, so put your best foot forward!  Be sure to use incredibly clever copy here because you are trying to get them to sign up when they were set on leaving.

Note: This pop-up usually places an overlay on the website background in order to emphasize the opt-in form.

This is an example of a timed pop-up:

2. Slide In Form- This pop-up appears once a reader has scrolled down the page to a particular location that you have defined in your pop-up settings.  The box will appear in a set location (oftentimes in the bottom right corner of the page, but this can be customized to your liking) and should be appealing but not too busy.  The difference between this pop-up is that it appears while a reader is already in the process of exploring or reading your page, so you don't want the box to be too intrusive because that can be an annoyance.  You don't want to deter potential subscribers, so be subtle with this box, but still design it beautifully and use clever copy.

Tip: When setting this type of form up, I would suggest adjusting the settings so that the box appears in the bottom right corner.  This location will be the least intrusive depending on your site layout.  If the meaty content is located on the left of the page, put the pop-up on the right and vise versa.

This is an example of a Slide In location specific form:

3. Top Bar (a bar across the top of your site)- These bars are nice because they stay on the readers screen until they close it.  Sometimes they can be set to scroll along with the page as a reader scrolls down depending on the service that you are using.  Keeping this is mind, make sure that you use clever copy once again, but keep it simple because there isn't as much space on this bar as it is in a pop-up box.

This is an example of a top bar:


4. Embedded opt-in form- This is a sign up form that can be placed anywhere on your site and will always appear because it is embedded on the page.  You can embed a form in your sidebar or at the bottom of each blog post by pasting special code into your site.  This box should also be on brand and can go into a little more detail of what a subscriber is to expect from being on the list.  Again, keep it clever and keep it beautiful.  You can use an image on this if the service that you are using allows it, but just make sure that the image will not make your sidebar look too busy.

So, of the four types of opt-in forms, when is the best time to use them?  I do not use all four types of forms because I think it would be overkill and potentially drive new visitors away.  I use two types on my blog, the timed pop-up upon entry and the embedded form in my sidebar.  I figure the timed pop-up will give readers a chance to opt-in from the start based on what they see on my site within 5 seconds (that is the length of time that I have set before my pop-up appears).  Because of this, my content above the fold (the initial view of a website that appears on the screen before scroll down) must look amazing as well as my layout and my latest blog post title must be intriguing because their decision to sign up is going to be solely based on those three factors at that point.

Not sure which type of opt-in form to use for your site?  I would suggest using 2 but no more than 3 types because it can become overwhelming for a reader to constantly be asked to sign up to be on a mailing list.  The top bar and slide in are a great combination because if the reader chooses not to opt in immediately, the bar at the top may still be there to remind them to sign up if they like what they are reading.  At minimum you should have an embedded form in the sidebar since it is static and cannot be closed.  If you don't have a blog but have a business website, the top bar and timed pop-up are great options, but you should definitely use the timed pop-up at minimum.  I would suggest using the exit intent form because you may want your potential customers/clients to read all of your offerings, products, etc. before they are asked to sign up for your mailing list.

Takeaways and Tips:

  • Use clever copy on your opt-in forms.  Be yourself and get rid of that generic default sign-up message!
  • Change the wording on the "Sign Up" button to something unique or use a term that directly relates to your brand.  The more custom the better.  Most of the buttons on my site say "Heck Yeah!" or "Awww Yeah!" because it reflects the fun nature of my business. (Surprise!  There is a free download of alternate terms for "subscribers" and "newsletter" that you can get by clicking that yellow button below).
  • Stay on brand, so use your company/blog colors and fonts on all of your opt-in forms.  If your brand fonts aren't available, choose ones that look most similar.
  • Yellow buttons tend to have a higher click rate, so keep that in mind.

If you want to...

  • learn even more about opt-in forms and how to set them up (the right way)
  • get your Email Engagement strategy together
  • deliver content to your list that they are itching to read on a consistent basis

...#EmailParty is your answer!  Engaging with your list from sign-up and beyond is a huge focus of the course as well as in depth tech training on the backed setup of MailChimp.  You have to have a strategy when it comes to Email Engagement, and you want to create a party in those inboxes that you are sending content to!  Otherwise, you will be the leader of an unsubscribe fest, and that's no fun :-(

Click below to learn more about #EmailParty.

So tell me, do you use opt-in forms on your website?  If so, which type(s) do you use and why?