10 Creative Places for Opt-In Forms That’ll Supercharge Your Signups

by Sarah Peterson


Let me guess.

You signed up for Mailchimp, AWeber, or Constant Contact and created an opt-in form to snag yourself some new subscribers for your blog.

Maybe you even went the extra mile and created a juicy opt-in offer to tempt them to hand over their precious email addresses.

Then you posted it on your sidebar and in your footer, and maybe you were smart enough to throw up a feature box too.

And now you can’t figure out why the subscribers aren’t rolling in.

Every morning you anxiously check your email dashboard, hoping that today will be the day you finally see a ton of new signups.

But every morning is a letdown. Just one or two new subscribers (and let’s be honest — it’s just one if you don’t count your mom).

The truth is, these tactics used to work wonderfully — but they don’t any more.

Your readers have evolved, and your blog needs to adapt.

But how?

Why Opt-In Forms Don’t Work Like They Used To

Not long ago you could start a blog, put opt-in forms in all of the obvious places on your blog and expect a pretty good signup rate.

However, this passive form of collecting opt-ins doesn’t work anymore.

You can’t just collect subscribers like a barrel collects rainwater. You have to capture them.

That means first you must get their attention. Because most readers have developed “opt-in form blindness.”

When almost every blogger is posting opt-in forms in the same places, we tend to block them out. It’s just the way our brains work.

I have an uncle who lives close to a hog farm. He can’t smell a thing, even though we suffocate whenever we visit him. He’s been exposed to “hog farm smell” for so long that he doesn’t notice it anymore.

After a while, we ignore what’s familiar. That’s why you need to think outside of the box to get your call to action in front of your visitors.

Here are eight creative places to put opt-ins on your blog to jolt you out of your subscriber-gaining rut.

1) Right Under Your Headline

Your headlines are the first point of contact between your audience and your posts. They catch the readers’ eyes, pique their interest, and draw their gaze down the page.

Leverage that attention you snagged with your killer headline by inviting your readers to subscribe to your email list underneath the headline of your blog post. That real estate is often needlessly sacrificed to name and date information.

Steve Chou from MyWifeQuitHerJob.com uses this method on his blog:

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This allows him to capitalize on the attention he has already generated with his headlines.

Do the same on your website with your opt-in form to reach readers when they’re the most captivated.

This requires some minor theme customization to add the correct link to your byline, but if you don’t know how to do that sort of coding, you can always hire somebody on Fiverr.

2) Beneath Your Comment Form

Your readers get all the way to the bottom of your post.

They’re interested, and engaged enough to want to scroll down and leave comments.

Now, imagine if each person was automatically signed up to your email list after leaving a comment.

It would be pretty sneaky, for sure, but it’s still tempting, right? After all, they’ve just typed their email address in the comment form — the piece of information you desperately want.

But while you can’t sign them up without asking (sorry kids), you can make it super easy for them to sign up if they want to — with a simple check box.

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I use this method on my blog to capture the emails of those who comment, should they be interested in subscribing. Which they usually are, if they are willing to go to the trouble of leaving me a comment.

3) On a Fancy “Welcome Mat”

Quick test:

When readers land on your website, how many choices do you give them?

My guess is you probably give them a lot to choose from — and you might not even know it.

See, every single action that your visitors can take on your website makes the decision of which one to take, harder. That means that every link in your menu, every widget in your sidebar, every headline, picture and button is in competition for your visitor’s attention.

I know better than to pull my visitors’ attention in too many directions, but I still give them 11 choices of what to do on my home page:

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That’s a lot of decisions!

Studies show that when presented with too many choices, we choose none of them. That’s why isolating your opt-in opportunity works so well — and you can do that using a Welcome Mat.

A Welcome Mat is a free tool by SumoMe that acts as a “squeeze page” or landing page by rolling down to welcome visitors to your website when they land on a specific page of your choice. This eliminates all other distractions, but it doesn’t break the readers’ attention while they’re digging into your article.

You can also use the “instant landing page” feature to make it a landing page, so visitors don’t miss it when they scroll down.

When you isolate your call to action like this, you’re removing all of the choices your visitors have to make and presenting them with only one choice: will they opt in, or not?

The Art of Charm has used this method on its home page:

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The Welcome Mat invites you to sign up for a Social Capital Tool Sheet when you land on the website. If the visitor doesn’t want to sign up, they can either scroll down, click the arrow, or click “no thanks” and the blog will re-appear.

This is not the same thing as a popup, incidentally. A Welcome Mat is like a red carpet that rolls out the moment you step up to the door; a popup is like an annoying rug that suddenly shows up and trips you halfway down the hallway.

4) In a Custom Sidebar

When somebody lands on an article on your blog, they see the same sidebar that you have on your homepage.

Maybe it has a photo of you. Perhaps it even has a freebie or an opt-in offer. But overall, it looks like a boring old sidebar for a boring old blog.

So what if you jazzed up your sidebar a bit? What if you could have a customized sidebar depending on which article your visitor lands on?

That’s right, a custom sidebar with a custom opt-in offer, targeted precisely at the people who are interested in what you’re teaching in that article.

In other words, the perfect “content upgrade.”

A content upgrade is when a blogger creates a complimentary resource for their blog post and offers it as an “upgrade” delivered via email. These can help you grow your list quickly – so imagine what you could do with sidebars like this!

The couple behind Screw the Nine to Five use custom sidebars to host an image of a content upgrade perfectly paired to the post you’re reading:

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It’s different from the normal sidebar, shown below:

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This technique will make your readers go from “Hmm, that’s interesting,” to “Whoa! I want that!”

5) In Your Main Navigation Menu

If you checked your analytics right now, chances are you’d find that your “About” page is one of the most popular pages on your website.

Usually, people will read a post on your blog, and then get curious about who you are. They’ll move up to your navigation menu and click on your “About” page.

Why not use some of that navigation bar momentum and place a link to opt into your email list as well?

Your menu is prime real estate on your blog, so use it!

Nat Eliason uses this method on his website to promote his newsletter:

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You can also promote your opt-in offer in your menu bar, like Assya Barrette does for her free minimalism and green living challenge:

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This is one of the most simple opt-in opportunities to implement as it can be done right in your WordPress dashboard under Appearance > Menus > Custom Links. You can change the color, font, and size of the link with HTML to make it stand out.

You can either add a link to a landing page that collects emails, or create a two-step opt-in process as I have with mine, where the visitor clicks the button and brings up an on-page opt-in form:

Opt-In - Image 009

You do this by clicking the “Join” button on my menu, which brings up this pop-up.

If you have a LeadPages account, you do the two-step opt-in process with a LeadBox. If not, you can do it in the SumoMe List Builder app with a Click Trigger.

This converted between 5% and 18% for me over the past week.

6) Above Your Blog Footer

If you’ve ever seen a scroll map or content analytics about your website, you’ll know that some people don’t make it to the bottom of your page.

On the plus side, you can be sure that those who do are definitely interested in what you’re doing. So grab that forward, action-taking momentum by the horns and give those people an option to subscribe to your email list at the bottom of the page.

Foundr does this by including an opt-in box above its footer:

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Everyone else puts their bottom-most email capture form in the footer itself. But remember, your Internet-savvy readers are filtering out that common stuff. To keep their attention, always put your capture form above your footer rather than in your footer.

7) On Your “404 Not Found” Page

How many times has this happened to you?

You’re browsing a website and really enjoying the content. You see a link to a post that looks interesting, and you click it…

Only to be taken to a 404 page and told that no such page exists.

Broken links can happen to the most diligent of bloggers, and when they do, readers will see something like this:

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Pretty unfriendly, right?

Most people will bounce from your 404 error page. They were running on your blog’s content like a treadmill, feeling a sense of flow. Suddenly, the treadmill shuts down. To get started again, they have to go through the trouble of resetting everything: browsing back, finding their place, and figuring out where to go next.

So they figure, why not skip the trouble and end the workout there? Their momentum stopped abruptly, and chances are they won’t return.

Turn this flop into an opportunity. Most 404 pages just tell you there’s nothing there. But why not give your reader something else to do on your 404 page? Something like subscribing to your email list?

Tor from Time Management Chef optimized his 404 page to tell readers that they’ve 404’d, but also to offer them something, so all is not lost:

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This trick helps you capture the people who were already engaged enough with your website to have performed a search or clicked around.

You can create an optimized 404 landing page with a tool like LeadPages or ThriveLeads. If you don’t have a landing page tool, you can turn any WordPress page into your 404 page using this plugin.

8) In Your Post Excerpts

I talked earlier about putting content upgrades in custom sidebars and, of course, content upgrades are not a new idea.

Many bloggers use this strategy to grow their email lists, but almost all of them incorporate the call to action for the content upgrade at the end of the post itself. This means you miss everyone who doesn’t make it to the end of the post — all the “scanners” and those who were pulled away in the middle by some distraction or another.

So instead of using the same strategy as everyone else, why not include the content upgrade in the post excerpt on your home page by placing it at the top of the post before the “read more” button?

This captures the attention of all the visitors who land on your homepage — not just those who make it to the very end of your post.

Brian Dean from Backlinko.com uses this strategy on his home page with his “Free Checklist” box:

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This entices readers to click on the blog post as they can see that it has extra value. It can also convert readers much sooner instead of relying solely on them noticing your link at the bottom of the post.

You can create a box like this by inserting an “alert” paragraph class in the HTML of your blog post and then linking to a popup or landing page within the “alert.”

9) Within Your Blog Archives

Have you ever landed on a blog that led you down a rabbit hole? You read one post, and then another post, which led you to the archives — pages and pages of them — where you found yourself spending hours reading whatever caught your eye.

If you’re impressed enough with the content of the blog to go back into the archives, I bet you’d also be far more likely to sign up for the blogger’s email list if they gave you the opportunity.

That’s where your own archives come in.

Instead of just relying on your home page to do all the heavy lifting, incorporate an opt-in form on your archive page, too.

Bryan Harris from Videofruit.com does this, as you can see in the screenshot below. His opt-in form offers a free list-building checklist, which fits right into his archives related to list-building:

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When readers are binge-reading your content, it’s a good sign. It means you’re doing something right! Don’t let it turn into a one-time-only binge; use their enthusiasm as an opportunity to capture their email addresses.

10) On Your About Page

As I was saying earlier, your “About” page is one of the most visited pages on your website, right?

And you’ve probably worked hard on it to keep your visitors’ interest and share a bit more about you and what value they’ll get from your blog. So why not harness that “getting to know you” vibe by asking them to subscribe to your email list?

Not including opt-in forms on your “About” page is like meeting somebody at a party who you really hit it off with, and then leaving without ever getting their phone number. So be sure to include opt-in opportunities at least once or twice on your “About” page.

I have a button to an opt-in box on mine that converts at 52%:

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What’s more, the subscribers who opt in from my “About” page tend to be more engaged with me, because they feel as if they already know me.

Capture the people who land on your “About” page so you don’t miss the chance to connect with them over the long term.

Don’t Let Your Blog Visitors Become Missed Connections

You know that section on Craigslist called “missed connections”?

It’s where people reach out to those they wish they had connected with in person, though usually it’s too late.

That’s the way it is on your blog when you don’t capture your readers’ email addresses. They become missed connections.

So instead of letting your casual visitors slip through your fingers, never to be seen again, grab their attention and do something with it.

Put your opt-ins where readers least expect to find them, then capture their email addresses so you can begin to build meaningful relationships.

Because there is no “missed connections” page for lonely bloggers.

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Sarah Peterson

Sarah Peterson is a co-founder & CMO at FLIGHTFUD, and an executive marketing consultant with a proven track record of driving rapid growth for eCommerce and SaaS clients.


A "cheat sheet" to making 2-5K per month as a writer, even if you're a total beginner.
Photo of author

Written by Sarah Peterson

Sarah Peterson is a co-founder & CMO at FLIGHTFUD, and an executive marketing consultant with a proven track record of driving rapid growth for eCommerce and SaaS clients.

68 thoughts on “10 Creative Places for Opt-In Forms That’ll Supercharge Your Signups”

  1. Hi Sarah,

    Wow, I’m seeing you everywhere these days! 🙂

    Good to see you here again on BBT. The content you’ve been pumping out at SumoMe the past couple months has been awesome. This new BBT post of yours is no different.

    Thanks for the great ideas. Like most bloggers, I’m always on the hunt for more ideas on gaining subscribers! Off to tweet this…

    Have an awesome Thursday, Sarah! Enjoy the flood of comments!

    – @kevinjduncan

  2. Hi Sarah – This is great information! I think the most important thing is to experiment. Because what works for one person, won’t necessarily work for you. For example, on my site, I found out that a simple ribbon was converting better than a Welcome Mat. Never would have known that if I hadn’t tested to see which got me more signups.

  3. Excellent Post!

    Would you say the feature box and welcome mat are two yet similar things?

    Since the feature box sticks at the top while the welcome mat dissapears after a you close it.

    Great stuff.

  4. Hey Sarah,

    This is really a very good post that you wrote here.

    #4 really sticks with me because I’ve always wanted to create custom content upgrades in the sidebars and make them specific to the post that the reader just read. I’ll be checking out that site you linked to and trying to do it again.

    A lot of the points you raised here have me uber interested. I’m going to look into a lot of these because you’re right, traditional methods and locations don’t work as much. Readers become blind to them.

    Great post here.


      • Hi Sarah,

        Great post, reading a lot of your stuff these days.

        I personally prefer using a welcome mat with an exit intent popup. I usually get around 20+ email signups every day on my main blog.

        Will be giving a try to other strategies you mentioned here and will let you know!

  5. Great post concept, Sarah!

    I especially liked #8, which I haven’t seen before. I’m going to go back and update my post excerpts so my CTA isn’t hidden behind the click.

    Thanks so much!


  6. Wow! Thanks for a super thorough post about opt-in locations. Since I’m in the process of reconfiguring my landing page, I’m going to put them to good use immediately. Keep up the good work.

  7. Hi Sarah,
    Thank you ever so much for this very creative post about optins.
    Its perfect timing for me as I was about to do a complete audit of my blog and in particular look at my list buildiong approaches.
    You shared so many clever and simpleto implement ways we can greatly improve our list building capacity.
    Thank you again Sarah and dleighted to have shared this post for you as well
    Best wishes rom the remote Thai village blogger come email marketer

  8. If my About page is one of the least visited pages on my site, does that mean nobody gives a hoot about me? 🙁

    Now I’m depressed. Thanks a lot, Sarah!

    (No seriously, great post 😉 )

  9. Hey!

    You have some great creative ideas here. The commentbox-optin never occurred to me, and I work with these things daily. I’ll have to try that idea in some form. =)

    I’m always trying to help our customers get the best value out of our products with articles like these, and it’s always refreshing to see other people share their views and ideas on the subject. Thanks Sarah!

    Also, when you have your opt-in form location figured out, you can do some clever stuff with the opt-in form. I wrote an article about outlandish ways to apply the opt-in form a while back. Find out how you can turn a slide-in form into a rabbit hole opt-in form!


    Thrive Themes

  10. This is just awesome – a “share” post for sure! I paused reading at #5 and added an opt-in to my navigation menu because it was such an easy one to implement. I really like how unobtrusive most of these are, but also unexpected.

    Question – I’ve had #2 on my “to do” list for a while now (under comments), but not sure how to implement it. You said you have this on your blog Sarah – did you have to use coding to achieve that or is there some kind of plugin you can recommend?

    Thanks for sharing your genius here 🙂

    • It’s SO easy to implement and mine converts like gangbusters. I hope you get similar results.

      There are plugins and tools you can use, but mine is built into my theme. I can’t recommend a plugin because I haven’t used any. Sorry!

      • Okay thanks. I’ll have to keep searching around for the comment thing (it’s going to bug me now until I get it figured out – haha!)

        Your comment about conversion brings up another question for me: how do you know which opt-in areas are performing well? Do you have a different lead box set up for each area? Thanks for your insight!

  11. This information is wonderful! Thank you for posting it. I think many bloggers and freelancers who want to get more people interested in what they’re writing about or working on miss this very helpful option. I for one, never thought of some of these great placement ideas.

  12. Great post Sarah!

    It’s been hard for me to find a perfect balance between having enough opt-in forms and not affecting the users’ experience while reading my blog. I really like the “Welcome Mat” idea, but I feel I would have to get rid of another one of my opt-in forms instead. I guess it’s true… you gotta test and test and then test again.

    Here’s an idea for an upcoming blog post, if you don’t mind me suggesting it:

    What language to use in each opt-in form depending on where it is located in a page or in a blog.

    I am sure our choice of words combined with the position of the form can make a great difference. Your expeterise in the topic would be welcome. 🙂

    Keep it up and thanks again!

    • I think you just have to be crystal clear on your goal. Is it to convert people to email subscribers? Or have people read content? Having a singular focus is important – striving for both can conflict with each other 🙂

  13. Hi Sarah,

    I am using with the comment section as you have mentioned above. It is easy, smooth and makes sense to me because it is like someone has taken interest in your writing and now they are willing to contribute. Maybe they would be interested in getting more of such informative posts in future.

    Other than that, below the heading is also a great place because people tend to start with lot of enthusiasm but if article is too long, they may just read headings and subs without giving much attention.

    What do you think of it?

  14. Hi,
    I was confused by the custom sidebar idea. I clicked both links, but neither explained how to do it. I don’t have Lead Pages; how would I do that?

    • Hey Janice,

      There are plugins and themes that will allow you to have a custom sidebar – LeadPages isn’t one of them, but just lookup “Custom Sidebar” in the plugins section in wordpress.

  15. Great suggestions! I tried the WelcomeMat (SumoMe) app before… but it didn’t work. I mean, it got me TONS of sign ups… but none of the sign ups ever received my freebie or were added to my email list (even though I correctly connected it to my ActiveCampaign account and it said it was connected). Pretty disappointing as I found that was one of the most effective ways to get new subscribers.

    Anyone else have this experience with WelcomeMat (SumoMe)? Would love to hear suggestions on how to fix the problem (I tried contacting the company and they never got back to me).

    • Hey Jen,

      Never had that problem – I’d have contacted support or made sure that it was integrated properly. You could have downloaded the signups too and manually uploaded them 😉

  16. Hi, Sarah,

    I completely agree, there is opt-in form blindness. I do it myself, I bypass many opt-in forms without even thinking about it anymore. I see Welcome Mat forms more and more, and think they’re effective.

    I like the idea of placing a line under the headline. I may have to give that one a try.


  17. Some great advice there Sarah,
    Plenty of actionable content and I’m loving that. adding a couple to todoist :o)

    Awesome to see you popping up all over the interweb.
    Glad I kept my eyes on you!

  18. Great ideas, here. I appreciate the visual representation for each tip and what it could look like on a successful site.

    I do think the “Welcome Mat” approach can get a bit annoying, though. As stated, readers will subscribe by the end of the post if they want to. The Welcome Mat feels pushy, and readers want to make their own choices.

    Putting an opt-in within the archives, at the end of the post near the comments, or any other place that guarantees readers will come back is a great idea.

    • Hey Matthew,

      Interesting perspective. My experience is that if you don’t get an opt-in in front of the reader, they probably won’t notice it – Welcome Mat (and other more prominent opt-ins) converts at a much higher level. Most people don’t even get to the end of the post – if they even land on your website from an article (but if you have an opt-in offer, or something like that, that could capture their attention without even having to read your blog).

      But again, goes back to your priorities. Is it to build your email list? Or have people read your content? No wrong answers, just means different ways of doing things 🙂

  19. Hi Sarah,

    This post comes in at the right time when I have been thinking of the same problem – how to mitigate the optin form blindness. This post is an eye-opener and a good heads up for me.


  20. Hi Sarah. Thanks for sharing the list of places to put your opt-in form. I like that in most cases the visitor is presented with a link to get to the opt-in form instead of the actual opt-in form. It makes it almost like a triple opt-in process and shows that they really want the information. I don’t care for the welcome mat method. To me it’s still a pop-up. It doesn’t matter where it is on the page or what action you have to take to trigger or dismiss it, if it pops, slides or in some other way materializes between my eyes and what I came to see, it’s a pop up. I like the rest of the methods.

    • Hey Ben,

      I’d say it’s more of a landing page or “squeeze page”, but I can see where you’re coming from. I wonder if triple opt-in actually works or scares people away. 🙂

  21. Great post,Sarah. Since email marketing is the live-blood of online business, looking for creative ways to capture email address is GREAT task that must be done. For example, Neil Patel made $43,036 by sending a single email, http://koriefusion.com/simple-email-blast/

    I think ‘ABOUT US PAGE’ is a great place to place an opt-in but I still don’t know why some people are not place opt-in their. It’s a goldmine. Thanks for this great piece. Keep doing the great job.

  22. I used to be more than happy to seek out this web-site.I wanted to thanks in your time for this glorious read!! I undoubtedly having fun with each little little bit of it and I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff you weblog post.

  23. wow these are some of the best places to increase email list, specially i like about the below of comment checkbox which will surely increase list very fast.

  24. Awesome post Sarah. I must say that Opt-in forms are very great tools to capture leads from the website but when used in right places as you have described above and too much forms you know can hurt user experience too. Thanks

  25. Hey Sarah,

    Nice share. It’s a key for any serious blogger or marketer to focus more on a building quality email list. And these are some creative ideas to increase your email subscribers without investing in expensive software or spending on advertising. I also like your examples.

    Some of the place ideas you shared in your post are ideas I never thought of before. Thanks for the info.

  26. There’s very little that’s more important than building a great email list. Sarah, these are good advice. Heatmaps are great for your stationary opt-ins. I’ve found it to be useful. A/B testing everything else. Never hurts to try something once. Thanks for sharing.

  27. Hey Sarah,

    I haven’t realize how many different places we can put our opt in forms until I read this. Right now I have a pop up and a couple of content upgrades. The idea for me is to keep my readers engaged with the content.

    But one thing I’ve been telling myself to do but haven’t done was set up the 404 pages with an opt in. There are times where I came across a few blog posts where it took me to a 404 page and they happen to have an opt in form in it. This is a clever idea.

    I also like the fact of adding a link within the menu. I never thought about this, but it does make a lot of sense and gives my audience another option to join my email list. But as you said, you don’t want to give them too many choices.

    Thanks for the list Sarah! I hope you’re enjoying the weekend!

  28. I have taken on the project of fully fledging out all things email capturing on my blog before launch and I am so happy i stumbled upon this post!

    I’m still in the process of creating juicy opt in material but since I have a lifestyle blog with 3 topics I find it hard to create one opt in on the main page that will capture readers from all 3 topics. Now that I know you can custom create sidebars for opt in’s on blog posts that solves my problem!

    It’s funny you mention how readers are blind to the basic opt in spots because I didn’t notice the one scrolling down with me while I was reading this post until half way through. Crazy how that happens but I’m glad I saw it and took that freebie!


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