No matter what type of business you run, building an email list should be at the top of your to-do list. With your list, you can share your story, promote your business, and showcase your products, all while turning email subscribers into loyal customers.
One of the best ways you can grow your email list is with a WordPress email opt-in plugin.
In this post, we’ll take a deep dive into opt-ins. We’ll cover what they are, why you need them, best practices, and look at the best WordPress email opt-in plugins available today.
What is an email opt-in?
An “opt-in” is a form of consent given by an individual, acknowledging their interest in a brand, product, or service, and granting permission to be contacted, usually via email.
“Opting in” generally refers to email communication. An “opt-in form,” aka email subscription form, is a form you might see on a website asking you to sign up for a newsletter or other marketing material. Optin forms can be displayed to users in a variety of ways, as we’ll cover below.
A WordPress email opt-in plugin can help you add opt-in forms to your website.
An example of the email opt-in MailPoet displays throughout this website.
Opt-ins (and opt-outs) are required by law
Giving users the option to opt-in and opt-out of email marketing isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s also required by law.
Spam is a big problem worldwide. In 2018, 281.1 billion emails were sent and received daily. In March 2019, spam messages accounted for 56% of email traffic. The U.S. CAN-SPAM Act of 2003, and similar laws in other countries, sets rules and requirements for commercial email, gives recipients the right to have you stop emailing them, and spells out tough penalties for violations.
Double opt-ins (which are included in MailPoet) add another step to the process by requiring users to confirm their email. It’s a practice that helps weed out fake and mistyped emails, and ensures the people who are subscribing to your email list actually want to receive your emails.
Types of WordPress email opt-in plugins
There are many different types of opt-ins, but here are the most common ones you’ll come across:
Pop-ups are one of the most popular types of opt-in. They usually display as an overlay modal in the center of the screen over the page content.
Typically, they are shown:
- Immediately when a website visitor lands on a page
- On “exit intent,” i.e. when the visitor’s mouse moves off the page to close the tab
- When a visitor scrolls toward the bottom of a page
A slide-in “slides in” from the top, bottom, left, or right of the screen. Usually, slide-ins will be displayed immediately when a visitor lands on a page or a few seconds after the page has loaded.
A bar is a type of opt-in that is displayed at the top or bottom of a page in a fixed position. Bars usually contain a small amount of text.
Sidebar opt-ins are usually found in the sidebar of a site. On WordPress sites, they are typically added to sidebars using widgets.
5. In post
In-post opt-ins are opt-in forms that are displayed within the content of a page or post. They can help break up long-form blog articles while grabbing the visitor’s attention and collecting their email.
Psst! All of these form types are now available in MailPoet! Take a look 👀
Why use email opt-ins?
Opt-ins are a popular tool for passively collecting email addresses, in effect giving site owners a second chance at wooing visitors back to convert them into a paying customer via email marketing.
Email converts better than any other marketing channel. According to Litmus, brands that describe their email marketing programs as successful generate an average email marketing ROI of $42 for every $1 spent, while average email programs report a ROI of $37 for every $1.
Most WordPress email newsletter plugins, like MailPoet, come with some kind of opt-in feature. But if you’re using a solution that doesn’t provide opt-in forms or you want full control over how your opt-ins look, there are plenty of WordPress email opt-in plugins that can help grow your email list.
You might also consider capturing emails before launching a website.
Why email opt-ins are so effective: What the research says
Interested in how the different form types convert?
You must make your signup form works hard for you. But you should also be aware that there is no hard data on this; rather, the available information and stats come from case studies as opposed to definitive research.
- Pop-up – On average, pop-ups have an average conversion rate of 3.09%, according to Sumo.
- Slide-ins – On average, slide-ins enjoy a conversion rate of 1.90%, according to Sumo.
- Sidebars – Crazy Egg ran multiple case studies and found sidebars were one of the worst converting parts of a site. In some cases, just 0.3% conversion rate.
- In post – SEO expert Matthew Woodward ran an experiment and converted 4.3% of website visitors using in-post opt-in forms.
- Floating bars – OptinMonster ran a case study where the conversion rate was 6.62%.
Overall, the form type you use will depend on your website, your visitors, and the goals you set. This is why we recommend A/B testing as many form types as possible to find the best performing opt-in for your site.
Top 10 WordPress email opt-in plugins
Ready to add an email opt-in to your site? Fortunately, you’ve got plenty of options. There are many different WordPress plugins, all with different features, and with a variety of price points.
While there are many great opt-in plugins available for free in the WordPress.org plugin repository, you’ll want to check out the premium options below if you’re serious about email marketing.
One of the most popular tools around for capturing emails is OptinMonster. This plugin has been around for a while and highly regarded as a feature-packed WordPress plugin that will help you grow your email list with high-converting opt-ins.
- User-friendly drag-and-drop builder and templates.
- Create lightbox and fullscreen pop-ups, floating bars, slide-ins, mobile, and in-post campaigns.
- Supports popular email marketing services, including MailPoet, Mailchimp, Aweber, GetResponse, and Hubspot.
- Smart exit intent technology.
- Advanced page-level targeting and behavior personalization.
- Easy to use A/B testing.
- Detailed analytics.
This is our own addition to this list, following the launch of our new form editor! MailPoet is an easy-to-use email marketing plugin that offers a wide range of functionality. If you’re looking for a solution that can also handle the design, automation, and sending of your email marketing campaigns, this is a great choice!
- Create pop-up, slide-in, fixed bar, below posts/pages, and widget forms.
- Specify exactly which posts/pages your forms appear on.
- Exit-intent technology.
- Edit and style each form type using our Gutenberg form editor.
- Ready to use templates.
- Mobile responsive.
- Unlimited forms.
- Plus full suite of email marketing features, including newsletters, welcome emails, latest post notifications, automated WooCommerce emails, and an email sending service.
3. Holler Box
Holler Box is a super simple, lightweight freemium plugin that lets you add email opt-ins anywhere on your WordPress site. It’s easy to use compared to some other complex WordPress email opt-in plugins.
- Choose between notification box, pop-up or faux chat.
- Choose between subtle notification bubble or lightbox pop-up.
- Exit intent technology.
- Supports MailPoet, Mailchimp, ConvertKit, Drip, Active Campaign, or a custom form.
- Limit to certain pages.
- Time delay and scroll triggers.
- Show to logged in/out and new or returning visitors.
- Use shortcodes and WordPress content in your pop-ups.
- Conversion rate analytics.
- Supports Ninja Forms, Gravity Forms, WPForms, and Contact Form 7.
- eCommerce buy buttons.
Check out our full review of Holler Box.
Hustle has quickly become one of the most popular WordPress email opt-in plugin, with 80,000+ acting installations. This popup plugin is user-friendly, with a simple wizard to help you get started, and tools for tracking and measuring results as visitors start filling out your form.
- Target visitors with a range of behaviors and conditions, including time-on-page, on-click, scroll, location, position, page, post, login, category, tag, referral link, and device type.
- Target visitors with smart exit intent.
- Integrates with popular email service providers, including AWeber, Mailchimp, ActiveCampaign, ConvertKit, SendinBlue and SendGrid.
- Detailed analytics, including stats on how many times opt-in forms are displayed and submitted, as well as conversion rates.
From the creators of Divi, Bloom is an easy to use opt-in form plugin that covers a range of different opt-in types and actions. It offers an impressive collection of 110+ beautifully designed templates, which you can use as-is to start collecting emails right away, or customize to match your site and branding.
- 100+ pre-made templates to get your campaign up and running quickly.
- After purchasing triggers are available so you can trigger an opt-in at checkout.
- Per page and post level targeting options.
- Impressive A/B testing features.
- Conversion reports and statistics.
Bloom is available as part of Elegant Themes’ membership, which includes Divi and other plugins for $89 per year. Read our complete review of Bloom.
6. Thrive Leads
Thrive is another premium WordPress email opt-in plugin. It offers 10 different opt-in types, but where it really shines is with A/B testing. Its advanced testing engine allows you to compare opt-in designs, different form types, different triggers, and different offers.
With Thrive Leads you can also automatically monitor the performance of your tests and once a statistically proven winner has been found, the losing variations will be hidden. This means you can “set and forget,” allowing your conversion rate to automatically increase over time without having to lift a finger.
- Multiple opt-in types, including pop-ups, ribbons, 2-step optin forms, exit-intent lightboxes, slide-ins, screen fillers, widgets, scroll mats, and multiple choice.
- Extensive library of professionally designed templates.
- Exit intent and SmartExit technology.
- Advanced A/B testing.
- Actionable reporting and insights.
- Advanced trigger and targeting options.
7. Opt-in Panda
Unlike the other WordPress email opt-in plugins in this round-up, Opt-In Panda is an opt-in “content locker.” It lets you lock a portion of content on your site by hiding or blurring it, and asks the visitor to enter their email to unlock the content.
- Supports MailPoet, MailChimp, Aweber, SendGrid, ActiveCampaign, GetResponse, Mailster, Sendinblue and more.
- Smart Targeting. For example, set lockers to display on specific high traffic pages on your WordPress website.
- Give visitors the option to subscribe through social networks.
- Export to your email service provider at any time.
- Advanced analytics.
- GDPR compliant. Supports single and double opt-ins.
- Zapier Integration.
Icegram is another freemium WordPress email opt-in plugin and offers a ton of features. It’s a handy plugin if you want to add more than just pop-ups to your site, including header and footer bars, toast notifications, and slide-ins.
- Collection of customizable and responsive theme designs.
- Supports MailChimp, Constant Contact, AWeber, Campaign Monitor, GetResponse, and InfusionSoft.
- Unique headline generator that creates engaging headlines, giving your copywriting a head start.
- Time and sequence different messages.
- Multiple display positions: top, middle, bottom, left, right, center
- Choose where and when to show your campaigns and opt-in forms: on specific pages, categories or posts, to certain users, on specific schedule, via shortcode, and more.
Sumo is a popular suite of tools for WordPress that brings together email marketing, social media sharing, and analytics. It’s been around for many years and is a tried and tested solution for creating pop-ups, welcome mats, share buttons, and smart bars.
- Supports pop-ups, welcome mats, smart bars, and other opt-in forms.
- Automate welcome emails.
- Supports WooCommerce.
- Integrates with AWeber, Mailchimp, ActiveCampaign, Campaign Monitor, MyEmma, and Drip.
- Analytics, including stats on impressions and emails collected.
Convert Pro is a premium WordPress email opt-in plugin that offers a powerful set of features. But what really sets Convert Pro apart from the competition is its user-friendly drag and drop form builder. Much like a page builder, it lets you create eye-catching forms visually without the need for shortcodes or CSS.
- Drag and drop opt-in form builder.
- Huge library of ready-to-use templates.
- Behavioral Triggers for timing the display of your opt-ins, such as after content, exit intent, user inactivity, after scroll, and welcome trigger.
- Multi-step pop-ups.
- Supports MailPoet, Mailchimp, Mailster, Campaign Monitor, ActiveCampaign, SendInBlue, GetResponse, Zapier and more.
- Advanced A/B testing.
MailOptin stands out because it uses the WordPress Customizer, which is part of WordPress core. Easy enough.
This plugin is well maintained and is currently used on over 20,000 websites. It grows your MailPoet list by displaying targeted email signup forms across your WordPress website with popups, slide-ins, notification bars, inline, sidebar widgets, and lots more.
- Tons of professionally designed and mobile responsive templates to choose from.
- Page level targeting to build hyper segmented email list.
- Display triggers includes exit intent, time on site, pageviews, scroll trigger, adblock and referral detection, device targeting etc.
- 30+ built-in CSS3 animation.
- MailOptin’s easy to use A/B split testing tool helps you make data-driven decisions that will increase your conversion rates and eliminate guesswork about what drives site visitors to convert.
- Analytics with actionable reporting & insights to improve your lead-generation strategy and make data-driven decisions that will increase your revenue.
What to look for in a WordPress email opt-in plugin
As you can see, there are many different WordPress opt-in plugins available, and the 10 we’ve covered are just some of what’s available!
It can be tricky working what’s the best option for you. So to help you out, here’s what we recommend looking for in a quality WordPress email opt-in plugin.
- Features – Check that any plugins you’re interested in using have all the features you need.
- Types of opt-in – Make sure the form type you want to use is supported. Even better, if the plugin contains multiple form types you’ll have greater flexibility should you want to use a different type of opt-in.
- User experience (UX) – It’s important the plugin you choose is user-friendly and easy to configure, based on your skill level.
- Analytics and statistics – It’s essential that you can measure the performance of your opt-in and, even better, if you can A/B test variations automatically.
- Support – Opt-in plugins can be tricky to set up and you may need help making sure it works with your theme. This is why support is an important factor, especially if you’re getting started with opt-ins.
- Regular updates – Ideally, whichever solution you go with should have been updated within the past 3 months.
- Number of active websites – While not exactly indicative of the quality of a plugin, a higher install count such as 10,000+ usually means the plugin won’t be abandoned by its author so it’s going to be more reliable.
Best practice tips for using WordPress email opt-in plugins
The success of your email opt-in will be directly connected to how you design and word it. Visitors won’t waste time before deciding to either subscribe or close our opt-in form, so you have just seconds to persuade them to give you their email.
Here is where the challenge lies: how do you convince visitors to subscribe to your list without hampering their user experience?
Here are some best practice tips to ensure your list building opt-in works effectively.
- Use as few fields as possible on your opt-in form. Opt-ins with two fields for name and email perform better than any other combination
- Be respectful of the visitor by not breaking their flow. For example, if you use a pop-up, don’t display it as soon as the visitor lands on the page. They’ll most likely want to read your content and get to know you and what you’re offering before subscribing to your email list.
- Avoid needy language that reads like begging, such as “please don’t go” pop-ups. This is a tactic Norman Nielsen Group says is a demanding website design pattern.
- Avoid negative wording in your opt-in copy. Keep the tone friendly and positive to encourage interaction.
- Let visitors easily close your pop-up. If the visitor doesn’t want to subscribe, the opt-in should be easy to remove. Never try to hide the exit of a pop-up or opt-in to force a sign-up.
- Avoid loading multiple opt-ins in quick succession. We’ve all been on those sites that load a pop-up, followed by a slide-in and then to top it off an exit-intent pop-up loads. Instead of bombarding your visitors with opt-ins, place your form in the sidebar for easier accessibility and less annoyance.
- Avoid opt-in and pop-up animations such as “shakes.”. Having something in the middle of your screen is attention-grabbing enough. There’s no need to have an annoying animation to go with it.
- The best place to get more email subscribers is within the most engaging pages of your website, e.g. your best performing blog posts. Put together a list of your top 5 most visited pages on your site and visit each one of them, asking yourself: “What is the goal of this page?” If there’s no clear call-to-action for these pages, consider them a golden opportunity for a well-crafted opt-in form.
Final thoughts and recommendations
Ready to get started adding an email opt-in to your site? Here are our recommendations:
- Do you need a simple and free opt-in plugin for adding an opt-in form to a pop-up or slide-in? Try MailPoet, Holler Box, Icegram or Hustle.
- Do you need a complete solution for attracting and nurturing leads? Give OptinMonster, Thrive Leads or ConvertPro a go.
- Do you need a plugin with analytics so you can track and measure list growth? Check out Sumo, OptinMonster, Bloom, Hustle or ConvertPro.
- Are you looking for an opt-in solution with split testing capabilities? Try Bloom, ConvertPro, OptinMonster or Thrive Leads.
One last tip: when it comes to list building with an opt-in plugin, always work towards a goal. Aim to convert at least 1% of your visitors. Through testing and experimentation, you’ll be able to gauge the effectiveness of your opt-ins and work out how to get the most out of them to collect more emails.
Have you had success with opt-in plugins? Maybe you have a WordPress opt-in plugin to recommend? Let us know in the comments below.