In this post, I’m going to show you the 10 best places for sign-up forms on your website.
You’ll learn where to put them.
What’s their purpose and how they should look.
And by the end, you’ll have everything you need to grow your list faster than ever.
In fact, you’ll learn one of the easiest ways to get more subscribers without much effort.
Let’s dive in.
- Hero Section
- Main Menu
- Top of Blog Page
- About Page
- Bottom of Blog Post
- Content Upgrade
- Email Gate
- Blog Sidebar
- Resource Page
- Honorable Mentions
- Which email sign-up forms are best for you?
(Also called “Above the Fold” section)
This is the first section of your website, below the header.
Visitors can see it without scrolling and it’s one of the best places to collect emails.
You see, most visitors don’t scroll past this point.
If you want to get the most out of it, here’s 3 things you need to pay attention to.
Your headline should have a single, clear, compelling message.
It must grab attention, call out your audience and be benefit-rich.
Don’t get too fancy here.
Simple always works best.
Subheadlines should expand on what your visitor will get by joining your list.
Talk about benefits and tell them exactly what they will get by opting in.
Lead magnets are a great way to offer something in exchange for your visitor’s address.
If you don’t have any, explain how your newsletter will get your visitor closer to her goal.
This is where you put a picture about yourself (or the business owner).
If this doesn’t apply to your website, use illustrations.
Illustrations can be any relevant design.
If you have a lead magnet, use an image of it here.
You can also increase the percieved value of your lead magnet by using mockups:
- Make your ebook/checklist/cheat sheet look like a book
- Take pages out of these and put them next to each other
- Put your digital course/video/training material on a mockup of multiple devices (laptop, mobile)
What if you don’t have a lead magnet or a picture about yourself?
You can use just a benefit-rich headline and your form.
Extra Takeaway Did you start to wonder what "The Killer and the Poet" means? Good! This is a curiosity-based headline, and this is exactly what it should achieve. See if you can come up with something similar for your hero section!
You should only ask for user inputs that you’re going to use.
If you don’t use phone numbers, don’t ask for them.
The same goes for first names.
If you don’t personalize your emails, don’t ask for them.
It hurt your conversions.
And it doesn’t give you any benefits.
(“But but but… I might use it in the future” is not a good argument.)
This step is not necessary, but it helps conversions.
Social proof also enhances your credibility and builds trust.
Here are a few ideas for what can you use as social proof.
- Tv shows, podcast, public appearances (As seen on)
- Articles, publications that talk about or mention you (Has been featured in)
- Companies you’ve helped or worked with (Use logos)
- Amount of downloads on your lead magnet
- Amount of subscribers you have
Extra Takeaway Ramit is also using a sign-up bar above his hero section. He also use a quiz, which is not only fun, but he can segment his list using it. This allows him to send relevant specific, relevant content to subscribers. Below his hero section he uses testimonials (social proof). And he states the befits of opting in again. This is a prime example for a conversion-focused homepage!
Use your main menu to capture more subscribers.
You can do this by adding a navigation item at the end of your menu.
When your visitor clicks on these, you can either…
- Show a pop-up
- Redirect the visitor to a landing page
Let’s see two examples for the plain, navigation item-looking opt-ins.
If you want to drive more attention to this menu item, you can also use a button instead.
The same rules apply.
You can use it for triggering pop-ups or taking people to a landing page.
Extra Takeaway There are two important lessons to learn from these navigation items and buttons. 1. Stay away from generic button texts. 2. Use eye-catching, contrasting button colors that draw attention.
Are you using a tiny footer for your legal docs and navigation items?
Especially if you have articles or blog posts on your website.
Because everyone who read your entire article is highly engaged.
They’ve invested 5-10 if not more minutes consuming your content.
Imagine the value of these visitors!
How should you capture them?
By using a sign-up form in your footer.
You have two options.
Big and Bold
Use this approach to grab attention with a big sign-up section.
A headline, a subheadline, and a form are all you need.
You can also experiment with various layouts.
See what works best for you.
Small and Concise
If you want to be more low-key, put a sign-up form in one of the columns of your existing footer.
Top of Blog Page
This is a no-brainer if you have a blog.
Similarly to other sign-up forms we discussed, you need 3 things to pull this off.
- Attention-grabbing headline
- Benefit-rich subheadline
- Sign-up box
You can offer your lead magnets here.
Or you can go more general as Brian Dean does…
Extra Takeaway Track the conversion rate of your forms by adding tags or hidden fields to them. This way you'll know exactly which performs best and which needs improvement. I suggest using tags with rules and automations. This tag cloud will paint a picture of what your subscribers has done on your website. From sign-ups locations to downloading freebies. It will also come handy for segmenting your list in your sales process.
Ironically, your about page should not be just about yourself.
Let’s be real… What’s in for me to read your whole life story?
Tell your visitors how can you help them (and why you’re the best person for this).
Use social proof to support the argument.
Lastly, include sign-up forms (yes, I mean more than one!).
Because your about page is likely one of the most visited web pages on your website.
How many subscribers you could have gained if you would have a simple opt-in box there…
Let’s see how it should look.
You don’t need to copy this layout exactly.
Make sure this page focuses on your audience’s goals – not on you – and you’ll be good to go.
(And don’t forget your sign-up forms!)
Bottom of Blog Post
Like what we discussed about your footer, readers who get to this point are engaged.
However, if your blog posts are structured like mine…
- Author bio
…then some people might stop at the comment section, without reaching your footer.
So how do you capture these high-value leads?
By using an “inline” sign-up form.
Inline forms are rectangle-shaped forms, embedded on your website.
They don’t move like modals and pop-ups.
(Except for animated ones.)
You can use two types of them.
(The third would be Content Upgrade, which I’ll talk about later in this post.)
Offer a specific, short, helpful resource in your sign-up form.
Keep in mind that this has to relevant to your content.
It’s not mandatory to offer a lead magnet.
If you don’t have any, simple use a newsletter sign-up form.
Extra Takeaway Benefit-rich headlines, specific results... rings the bell? The reason why these sign-up forms work is simple: Great copy. If you want to get more subscribers and revenue... focus on copy. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of psychology driven direct-response copy. Be a student of it, and you'll go far!
Use inline sign-up forms inside your blog posts and articles.
Include a lead magnet and make sure it’s relevant to your content.
In fact, if you can create a lead magnet specifically for your post…
That would give you the best results.
Extra Takeaway Don't waste time creating a lead magnet for a fresh post. Instead, find your best post which gets the most traffic. Create lead magnets for these posts. More bang (subscribers) for your bucks (time and money spent)!
If you don’t have any lead magnets yet, don’t worry.
You can try using your general newsletter sign-up form.
(Although your results won’t be as good.)
If you’re ready for a bold move, give email gates a try.
Email gates are homepages with little to no navigation.
(Sometimes, they don’t even have a header!)
They have a hero section with a sign-up form and some testimonials.
That’s it!? Why would that work?
Because they’re engineered with one goal in mind:
To turn visitors to subscribers with the least amount of resistance.
In fact, it’s so effective that Noah Kagan increased his email sign-ups by a whopping 300% with it.
But don’t take these marketing gurus as an example.
Take a look at really big players.
Like Facebook and Twitter.
Now you may ask…
“But isn’t this too “forced”? “
“Wouldn’t it scare people away?“
Not the slightest.
Most people will find your blog posts in search engines.
Or your about page.
Perhaps some of your landing pages, especially if you drive traffic to it.
Only those will visit your homepage, who are referred to your website.
(Who already knows what your website is about.)
And frequent visitors.
(Who again, already knows about you.)
You’re offering something useful to this audience, which makes perfect sense.
Put a sign-up form on top of your blog sidebar.
Notice I didn’t say “post”?
This is because trends have shifted a lot in blogging.
Centered content without a sidebar is increasingly popular.
People are getting rid of post sidebars.
Yes, this may cost a few subscribers here and there, but it enhances the user experience.
Let’s see some good examples.
Alternatively, you can experiment using an image that takes your visitors to an opt-in page.
Extra Takeaway Opt-in pages may be an extra step, but may also convert better. Always keep testing to find the perfect formula that works for you.
Your resource page is frequently visited by your audience.
As well as being a good source of traffic from search engines.
Capitalize on this by using a well-designed sign-up form.
(Preferably, a lead magnet.)
You can also turn your whole “free tools” page into a giant lead magnet.
Like Ramit Sethi does.
These are the sign-up forms that didn’t make the top 10.
You can use them effectively.
But they also have downsides.
I’ll explain why and you can make up your mind.
If you feel like one of these could benefit you – test it!
The proof is always in the pudding when it comes to marketing.
Pin a sticky floating bar on the top or bottom of your website.
These sleek bars not only will help you get more subscribers.
You can also use it to…
- Run a promotion campaign (eg. seasonal sales)
- Welcome visitors
- Announce upcoming events (training, webinar, show, workshop)
- Offer a discount or coupon code
- Promote your upcoming launch of a product or service
The biggest benefit to floating bars outside the things above is user experience.
Yes, a well-timed popup can be very effective.
But most users are not a big fan of popups.
Floating bars can be a great alternative.
What's Wrong With Floating Bars At the time of writing this article, I have found zero floating bars on marketing blogs. Not a single one. Even the websites that other guides use as references have removed theirs. Does it mean that floating bars are useless? No. But it may very well mean that people got used to it, and they don't convert as good as before.
Pop-up (and Slide-in)
I can already hear your thoughts.
“Popups are soooo annoying!”
Here’s the deal.
Pop-ups are annoying because most people use them wrong.
Yes, if you shove it to a new visitor’s face, he won’t thank you for that.
The key to using popups is timing.
You can time your pop-ups with “triggers”.
(Most modern tools are capable of this.)
Here are a few triggers worth using:
- Timing: When visitors spent a specific time on your page/website.
- Scrolling: When visitors have reached a certain point on your page
- Inactivity: When visitors have not moved their cursor for some time
- Exit-Intent: When visitors navigated their cursor away from your website
- Adblock: When visitors are using adblocking software
What's Wrong With Pop-Ups In two words: user experience Unless a pop-up is manually triggered (eg. click on a button/link... Or it's well-timed... They do more harm than good. Make no mistake, pop-ups can be useful and they're a great tool. But if you set them up wrong, they can backfire.
Welcome mats are pop-ups that occupy the whole screen.
They are either small like a regular pop-up and the rest is blurred out.
Or they completely cover the entire screen.
They’re a great tool to focus the visitor’s attention on your best offer.
And they’re tipically used outside of your homepage.
(Since your best offer is likely already there.)
What's Wrong With Welcome Mats The same as with pop-ups: user experience How many times this happened to you? You've clicked on a blog post. A popup has been shoved in your face. You've canceled it. Then a welcome mat has been shown to you. You've canceled it, but you've accidentally moved your cursor out of the browser view... So you've got hit with an exit-intent popup. You haven't read a single word from the article and you're already pissed. Look... Pop-ups and welcome mats can be great tools. Keep user experience in mind before deploying them.
Which email sign-up forms are best for you?
This will depend on two things.
What age group do you serve?
Young adults or people in their 70s?
Older generations are less tech-savvy.
Complicated, moving elements may be a challenge to them.
For young adults, they know what sign-up forms are.
They can make up their mind to subscribe when they feel like your content is worth their time.
Think about your audience a bit and you’ll know exactly what works for them.
Extra Takeaway I do not recommend using any of the "honorable mentions" tools for an older audience.
This will determine what can you use.
Hero section, footer, main menu, email gate, and so on… all need a bit of website building skills.
So you may need to hire someone to work on your website.
The same goes for tools.
Content upgrades, inline forms, pop-ups can be created using software.
You may need to subscribe to or buy these tools.
Extra Takeaway If you're tight on budget, try working with the tools you already have. Your email marketing software should have a build in inline form and opt-in page creator. You can use these inline forms for any sign-up form types that I showed you. If you're using the "main menu" strategy, you can drive that traffic to an opt-in page. Get creative! You don't need excess amount of tools.
“Just Give Me the Damn Answer!”
Here’s a rundown on the sign-up forms we talked about and what would be the best for you.
|Hero Section||Must have|
|Main Menu||Highly recommended|
|Top of Blog Page||Highly recommended|
|About Page||Must have|
|Bottom of Blog Post||Must have|
|Content Upgrade||Recommended, but not for fresh posts|
|Email Gate||Experimental. It can work amazingly well.|
|Blog Sidebar||Good, if still have a sidebar|
|Resource Page||Good, if you have a resource page|
|Floating Bar||Can work, you need to test it.|
|Pop-ups||Can work, you need to test it.|
|Welcome Mat||Can work, you need to test it.|
Now you tell me –
What sign-up forms are you using?
Which one gave you the best results?
Let me know in the comments, I’d love to know!