Signup Forms (Part1: Passive Acquisition)

I called them “passive” because they don’t jump out of the screen to get on your visitor’s face, like a popup or a scrolling box. They act as part of the content on the screen, almost blending in.

But this doesn’t mean they don’t convert, in fact, if you do a good job with your offer, these signup forms can be very powerful acquisition machines.

Let’s take a look at them.

Hmm… Yes, I said “them.” Don’t tell me you only have one signup form on your site…

Here’s how we’re structuring this lesson:

  • First, we’ll list all the forms you should have on your site and why
  • Then we’ll go into what takes to actually get them on your site
  • And then I’ll make it painless, and maybe even enjoyable, to set all this stuff

Let’s go!

1) Sidebar

Sidebar opt in form

Let’s start with the obvious choice, the sidebar form.

If you’ve done a good job with your offer and call-to-action, the form on the sidebar should be best performing of the passive forms.

This chart shows how my signup forms perform (I’m excluding the aggressive forms here).

Sidebar form performance

But, if I’m making the same offer and giving away the same free course on all my forms, what’s the reason the sidebar performs better?

It’s simple: Location, location, location.

The top right is the hottest piece of real estate on the screen.

I will go ahead and say this:

  • The sidebar form should be the first one you set up
  • If this is not your best performing form, you need to optimize it now

How to install a signup form on your sidebar

You have 2 options, but since the sidebar is a widget area, they’re both fairly easy

The first option is to simply grab the piece of code provided by your email service and use a text widget.

But, if you don’t want to deal with any code at all, you can always use a plugin.

Here is a list of some of the available plugins for sidebar signup forms:

Free plugins


2) Bottom of the Post

Bottom of the post

Bottom of the post opt ins are great for one reason: Not every single person get to be exposed to them, but the ones that do are the ones that read your entire post. That’s why they’re at the bottom of the post.

So, I read your entire post, chances are I liked it. What now?

  • Do you want a comment?
  • Do you want me to go to one of the other posts?
  • I know, you want a share…

People that scrolled all the way to the bottom are more likely to be ready to take action on something. The problem is, the bottom of the post is often a crowded place, we’re throwing all kinds of CTAs to our visitor: Share, comment, related posts, author box, etc.

Quick tips to make this signup form work:

  • Have a clean CTA to sign up
  • Eliminate the noise
  • Make it pop with contrasting colors
  • Position before the author box

How to install a form at the bottom of the post

Signup form at the bottom of the post are not as easy to install as the one on the sidebar, simply because the sidebar is a widget area where you can drag and drop and insert all kinds of things, and the bottom of the post is not. It’s actually part of the content area.

So, I made this video to show you a couple of options:

  • If you use a framework like Genesis or Thesis
  • Or using a plugin like Bloom or ThriveLeads

There is one more plugin I want to mention for bottom of the post forms, it’s called Optin Forms and it’s a free plugin that allows you to

  • Create custom forms
  • Connect to Aweber, Mailchimp, iContact, GetResponse and Madmimi
  • Position the form after the first paragraph, after the second paragraph or after the post

Optin Forms

Here is the link if you want to take it for a spin: Optin Forms.

3) Header

Header signup form

You’ll find the header form very similar to the “featured box,” which we are going to cover in the next lesson. The difference is that the header is more subtle, after all, you can’t make a huge display on every page on the site, right?

I like this form only on the blog page, if you have a separate homepage.

4) Footer

I have to be clear about this one. This is different from the bottom of the post, this is the footer of the actual site.

Also, this is not a 3-widget footer. This is the footer of the site dedicated entirely to the form. Here it is:

Footer signup form

This form is displayed on my site on the homepage only, it’s not displayed on posts because I already have the bottom of the post form there.

I understand not everybody will go through the trouble of creating a signup form like this on the footer. For SocialMouths, it represents 4% of the total subscriber acquisition (that’s higher than the form I have on the about page and any Facebook tab I ever had).

Since the footer is a widget area, just like the sidebar, positioning a form there it’s pretty easy.

Widget area

5) Byline

Probably the most passive of them all, the byline.

The little line below the headline of your blog post displaying information like the date, category and author. Some people (like me) have eliminated this years ago, in my case with the intention to eliminate everything on the screen that is not working to drive conversions.

But another option is to turn it into a call-to-action.

Look at this example:

Byline cta

Visitors are redirected to a landing page after clicking.

You can’t expect this to compete with other, more aggressive forms, but like I said before, my footer forms contributes with 4% of the total lead generation on my blog and that’s enough to keep it alive.

How to get a byline like this?

You have 2 options:

See if your theme has the option to change the byline. This image is from a Genesis site:

Genesis byline

Ask your programmer to add it for you. You can even hire someone for Fiverr to do it, this is a 5 minute task for someone that knows.

How do you measure each form?

And that, my friend, is the million dollar question…

How to see how many signups each form had? This way, you know which forms are performing better, right?

Well, turns out not every provider offers this. This is actually one of the reasons I moved to Aweber a few years ago.

Aweber allows you to create independent forms while with most providers, you create one and use it in different locations. This allos Aweber to track each form independently, as you can see in this chart:

Aweber form tracking

But even this is still not ideal, Aweber only tells you how many subscribers each form got and then it gives you a percentage of the distribution. You still don’t know which forms performs better in terms of conversion.

For example, the signup form on my about page gets only a fraction of the signups on the sidebar form, but you don’t know how many impressions it got, so there is no way of calculating the conversion rate. It’s obvious that the sidebar form gets many more impressions and that’s why it gets more signups.

How is this solved?

Some of the newer plugins like Bloom or ThriveLeads solve this problem. As you can see in the following image, these plugins track:

  • Number of impressions
  • Number of conversions
  • Conversion rate

From tracking

If you have access to this kind of metrics, you can see which forms are not performing in terms of conversion and you can work on optimizing them.

The signup form on my about page could have a higher conversion rate with fewer impressions, and that makes it okay.


Homework is a little more elaborated for this lesson, you need to…

  1. Plan which forms you are going to display on your site
  2. You need to decide which tools to use
  3. We’re assuming you already have something designed in terms of the offer (from the previous lesson), now you need to see how you’re going to turn that into different kinds of signup forms
  4. Determine how to track their performance
  5. Go live

Once your signups forms are live, come back to this lesson and share a link where we can see them.

  • Denise

    Hi Francisco, my question is related to creating the new form for the sidebar. Should each form be connected to a different list with the idea of tracking each form independently? Does that mean I need to copy the auto responders for every list I create associate it with the same leadmagnet? I am using Aweber. Thanks!

    • Denise, Aweber allows you to create multiple signup forms for the same list. There is no need to create separate forms.

      There are situations where you might want to consider using separate lists, but the signup form is not one of them.

      • Denise

        Ok, thanks.

        • Denise

          Francisco, here is the link to the page where I have the new signup form. It’s linked to an image on the sidebar:

          • Awesome! I’ll give you my thoughts…

            1) Great idea to use LeadBoxes
            2) I think it will be better if the button looks like a button, the way it is now gives the impression of a banner
            3) I’d add a headline with a strong benefit. What’s the outcome for them? Maybe “Como usar tu web como una herramienta de ventas” should be the headline and right now it’s so small and all the way to the bottom that gets lost

            Thanks for sharing this! =)

          • Denise

            Thank you for your suggestions. I made the changes. You can view them here: ttp://

          • Awesome! Wow, you’re quick.

          • Denise


  • Hi Francisco. So here’s my question: Is there a free plugin/way to track email newsletter forms that are in different locations on a site?

  • Just set up a brand new landing page yesterday trying to apply some of the lessons here. It is a single purpose landing page, with plenty of passive options for opting in, so I didn’t see a need to shove a pop up or any “aggressive” triggers in there.

    Everything was created and written in one day, with three different opportunities to sign-up. The first, for the eager, skimmer who may not make it far enough down to get to the longer description of why to sign up (the second), and a third, final attempt at the end “so what are you waiting for?” type form.

    I haven’t directed any traffic to the page, but I can monitor each form to see which is converting the best, although I haven’t set up any A/B tests yet, but I will.

    Any initial thoughts before I start attempting to get some traffic?