How do I add an email list opt-in to my website?

Adding email opt-in forms to my website

So we’ve talked a bit about why you’d want to grow an email community (you might also call this growing your list). 

Today we’re going to look at how you can take action on that and add the sign-up form for your email community to your site (we’re talking website or blog) to actually get people signing up so you can keep the relationship going over in the Inbox.

Firstly, where are some good places to put your sign-up form?

The main answer to this is wherever people will be on your site!

There’s no real wrong answer (except maybe for those intrusive pop-ups!). Here’s the highlights:


Front and centre on your homepage is always a good option. The slider/header area (which includes your navigation and above) is one of the first things people will see when they come directly to the homepage of your site. And giving people an attractive reason to sign up to your list right from the start is a good use of this space.


The sidebar of your blog posts or general pages is also a highly visible spot. People will get to your site in many different ways, and not everyone will see your homepage, but often times they will be coming to read your blog or news content.

Keeping this as high in your sidebar as possible is a good strategy, since ultimately signing up is one of the key actions you want people to take when they come to your site. So make it prominent.


It never hurts to repeat the sign-up in the footer, for those people who get through a whole post, or page on your site, they are also more primed to hand over their information, since they obviously thought it was worthwhile reading right to the end.

End of post

The same is true of your blog posts. Often those readers who get to the end of your post will be perfect candidates for your email community, as they obviously found what you were saying useful, and so it stands to reason that they’d be interested in a way to keep the conversation with you going. By offering them something valuable, related to what they’ve just read, you are giving them a great incentive to sign-up.


A little more controversial, the pop-up is loved and hated around the internet. However, when done right it can be a useful way for you to remind your visitors that you’ve got a great community they should be part of.

Often this means setting your pop-up to display when people are about to leave your site, so they’ve had a chance to get to know you a bit through reading some of your content, rather than popping up as soon as they arrive at your site.

Note: this may not always be the case, depending on your site’s purpose. For example, on an eCommerce site, that offers a discount in exchange for an email address, displaying this pop-up at the start of the visit could be an incentive for people to buy from you. It will just depend on your type of product or service.

Take action:

We’ve created a template to help you visualise these places on your site, and to choose the ones that might be most relevant to your audience. (Note: you can use all of the above, it’s not overkill, it just being in the right place at the right time. And don’t forget, not everyone will see every place on your website when they visit.

Use visual template to identify at least 2 places on your site where you could add a sign-up form for maximum exposure.
  • Take a look at your own site and see where the opportunities are to get details from people.  
  • Look at things like your About page, your key services or products page, your call to action pages. You’re looking for pages on your site that people:
    • are most likely to visit (based on what they come there to do),
    • will get to know more about you and come to like you more, and
    • will find out more about your experience and expertise, and so will be starting to trust your advice and knowledge more.
  • Check your usage stats to see the places that people visit the most, and don’t neglect these.
SEE ALSO:  Planning what to create for your first (or next) lead magnet

Now let’s look at how to add the sign-up form to your website.

For this example we’ll showing you how to do this using Mailchimp and WordPress. This is not the only way to do this, but this is a nice easy way, especially if you’re not too techy.

Add a sign-up form to your sidebar (posts/pages)

To add the sign-up form to your WordPress site you’ll first want to add a plugin to WordPress to help you link the two.

1. Install the plugin

A useful (and free) plugin for this is called Mailchimp for WordPress. So go ahead, install and activate it now. Here’s how:

  • In the dashboard go to Plugins > Add New
  • Search for Mailchimp for WordPress
  • Click Install Now
  • Click Activate Plugin

2. Get your API Key

You’ll now be asked for the Mailchimp API Key. Don’t worry if that sounds too scary, it’s easy to create and get. Here’s how:

  • Go to Mailchimp > Account > Account Settings > Extras > API Keys
  • Create a key
  • Copy the key
  • Come back to WordPress and paste in the key

See? Easy 🙂 You’re roaring through this!

3. Add a new widget

Still in WordPress go to Widgets and you should now see a Mailchimp Sign-up Form widget.

  • Drag it into position on your sidebar (the top of the side-bar is great for this).
  • Leave the Title field blank for the time being.
  • Click Save

Now go take a look on your site!

The form will display your default sign-up form from MailChimp, including your call to action, the fields you selected, and the Subscribe button text you chose.

If you want to make any changes to this you can on the MailChimp Sign-Up Form plugin (MailChimp for WP). You’ll now see this listed in your WordPress toolbar.

Want to add your sign-up for somewhere else?

You can add the sign-up forms into different places in your website, either by placing the widget, using a shortcode to put it in the relevant spots, or if you want to get a bit more advanced (and have more control over the look and feel) you can use the Embedded Forms option in MailChimp.

But this is the basics that will let you get the sign-up form in to your site.

You might want to get a bit fancier teaming the look to your website’s theme, but with this you are now good to go.

Get your Visual Template to see some of the prime places you can put an opt-in form on your site, to help you plan where to put it.

Come back and show me where you put it and I’ll take a look & give you any feedback on the set-up.

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  • Sue

    Hey Nadine! I’d love to add sign-up forms at the end of blogs and my About page. Could you please tell me where to find the “short code” you mentioned. Thanks! 🙂

    • Nadine McMahon

      Hey Sue! Great idea 🙂 From memory you have the MailChimp for WP plugin? If you go into the forms section you’ll see a “Get Shortcode” button. Just copy the shortcode and paste it at the end of your post. This may or may not be suitable, depending on the look of the default form.

      Another option is the one above to embed the form. To do that just go into MailChimp > Lists > Sign-up Forms > Embedded forms > then choose one of the options there that suits. Once you have that right you can copy and paste the code from below (don’t worry if it looks quite complicated), then paste that into the bottom of your post. You need to be on the Text tab, not the Visual tab when you paste.

      Ok, and actually another option is just to add the link to the sign-up form at the bottom of the post. You can be as simple or s fancy as you want with that. My sign-up link at the bottom of this post is essentially that. To get that link go to MailChimp > Lists > Sign-up Forms > General forms > and copy the Signup form URL. Then you just use that like a link.

      There are also plenty of other ways to do this, and I can think of a few other options that might be great for you. And this comment is getting uber long, so I think I’ll bung out a post on this for you, showing a few other ways. (Including how to set-up a style to easily format your link, like I’ve done above.)

      I’ll let you know once that’s up, but one of these options should get you going for the interim 🙂

      • Sue

        Thank you so much, Nadine! I was able to trial all three and have opted for copying and pasting the URL for now. Wonderful!