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7 Minutes To An Irresistible Opt-In Box

  |   Business Tips, Email Marketing, Olyvia TV, Website Design   |   41 Comments

How to get more email subscribers in 7 minutes or less (a smart video tutorial for bloggers + entrepreneurs)


Today I have one simple question for you.


Do you have an email opt-in box in your sidebar that nobody seems to notice?


Trying to encourage people to subscribe to your newsletter can feel a lot like trying to herd cats, even if you have an excellent free opt-in gift (aka: “lead magnet”) that you’ve spent weeks carefully crafting and designing.


(You hear me, right? I mean, let’s be really, completely, 100% honest here. At times growing our email lists can be excrrrrruciating.)


But WHY? What’s going on that makes sidebar opt-in forms so notorious for blah performance?


1. First of all, everybody has those little boxes in the sidebar of their website. They’re easy to ignore because they’re nearly all the same. Common layout elements condition people to be “opt-in blind.”


2. In an effort to be pretty, too many people try to blend the opt-in box into the rest of their theme by choosing neutral colors and making it diminutive. As a result, the opt-in area doesn’t compete for anybody’s attention. Rather than saying, “Look over here!” it says, “Oh, don’t mind me…”


3. Even in the event that the opt-in box (and image of the free item) is larger and bolder, some people will resist because the trust factor is lacking. Entering their name and email into any old form on the interwebs is still a risky proposition.


(How many times have you got caught in those icky “free gift!” traps where you THINK you’re going to get some great thing simply by popping in your email, and then it turns out that not only do you NOT get what you were offered, but you end up subscribed to 20 different email lists?)


The good news? There are absolutely things you can do to get better results.


What I’m going to show you today will help you create an opt-in for your sidebar that helps resolve all these problems.


It won’t cost you a cent, you can do it in well under 10 minutes, annnd (wait for it…) you don’t need to have ANY fancy coding skills.


(If you can copy and paste, you can make this sophisticated opt-in box. I promise!)


For this tutorial we’ll be creating an opt-in widget using the popular selling platform Selz and the email marketing program Mailchimp. (If you don’t use Mailchimp, don’t fret; you’ll see in the video how you can do this with a different program, ie: Aweber.)


Your finished product will look like the widget I have in my sidebar that features my own e-book, The Classy Entrepreneur.


The Classy Entrepreneur sidebar widget using Selz


So let’s stop talking and get doing, shall we? We shall!





Click to tweet: Design your own pretty, pro opt-in form in under 7 minutes with @Selz + @Mailchimp + @OlyviaMedia!




The benefits to using the Selz widget as your opt-in:


- It’s unique.

- It’s noticeable.

- It looks professional.

- It creates added perceived value.

- It encourages trust because it’s being “sold” through an authoritative source.

- It gives your subscribers instant access to your opt-in.

- It’s mobile-responsive + customizable.

- It’s crazy easy to create and install.





The drawbacks to using the Selz widget as your opt-in:


- Currently you can’t have a “double opt-inbefore someone receives your giveaway. (You can send out subscription confirmation requests, but this isn’t ideal since people can download your item immediately. Meaning they will get your item…but may not get on your list.)


- People who sign up via the widget won’t receive any autoresponse sequence you have set up if you don’t choose to send out a confirmation email.


- It requires a first and last name with their email. For some people this will feel like too much information to give out for a free gift.





In the first month after installing the Selz widget in my sidebar, I saw a 239% total increase in sign-ups over the previous month.


As you can see from the graphic below, I’ve continued to have good success in growing my email list with the widget in place.


(Not all of it is due to the Selz widget, as I also did some Promoted Pins campaigns, but each month I’ve continued to see better results via the widget than the last.)


The Olyvia List Growth Stats With Selz Widget


Others have also seen benefits to using Selz for featuring their lead magnet: Kristi Hines used the widget and achieved a 139% increase in opt-ins over her standard opt-in box.


Do you have a sidebar opt-in box that you think works well? Are you going to experiment with the Selz widget on your website? Share your experience + links in the comments!



Erika Madden

(Chief Olyvia)




This post is part of the Design Your Own (Lovely) Blog Tour!


Run by Marianne of Design Your Own (Lovely) Blog, the blog tour is a movement that is aimed at supporting women around the world to create lives they love by giving them confidence when it comes to their own blog designs.


Marianne’s goal is to provide economical DIY ways for women to build a business, large or small, and help them feel better about who they are + what they have to offer.


Follow all of the other fabulously smart posts on the tour by clicking here. The tour runs until Nov. 20th!


Read yesterday’s post:  


julia-blog-tour-SMALLJulia Sydnor

5 Places to Put Opt-In Forms on Your Blog




Coming up tomorrow:


kim-blog-tour-SMALLKim Doyal



The free 21 day ecourse that creates pro online impressions for business owners!

  • Wow! I never knew about Selz before and what a great option to get something up and running quickly! And you make some really good points too about making the opt-in stand out more.

    Thanks so much for participating!!

    • You’re right, it’s just effortless + quick — which I love. 🙂 And thank YOU Marianne for having me! It’s been so fun.

  • Wow! Love that you included your stats of how your opt-in box has helped your blog.

    • Thank you, Kristie. I do wish I had tracked it more intentionally when I put it up. 😉 Ah well, next time!

  • designwithjulie

    I’ve never heard of Slez before! I’ve been using Magic Action Box by Prosulum,LLC. It’s been pretty great so far, but I’m with you on wanting to make a sidebar statement and not just have another item that blends into the rest of your site, loosing opportunities for potential listers. I love the use of your list statistics. Really shows the difference a good Opt-in can make! I’m definitely going to look into this…

    Thanks for the great new resource, Erika!!! Delightful and insightful as always 🙂

    • You put it so perfectly, Julie. “A sidebar statement.” That’s really what it takes to get people to notice an opt-in these days! Of course the people who have visited you many times and like what you do will seek out the opt-in form, but for others who may initially be interested (but would otherwise click out after awhile and (potentially) not find their way back), it’s super helpful.

      I like that you put an image with your box. It helps it stand out a lot more. At some point you may even want to consider moving it a bit closer to the top of your sidebar. I think that would help it get even more attention! (Don’t you just love unsolicited advice? haha Feel free to tell me to butt out. 😀 )

  • I’ve never heard of Selz before. Sounds like an amazing tool! Thanks for sharing!

    • I enjoy it, Allyssa! I found it when looking for a good online payment gateway; so many neat features!

  • Gee I’ve never heard of Selz either! Looks like they owe you one!
    Thinking about doing this on my soon to be revamped website….hmmmm….
    keep up the good work

    • And here I thought everyone knew about them! Hahaha. I’d love to see what you do decide to do. Keep me informed. 🙂

  • I recently installed the HelloBar atop my blog along with offering a “giveaway” printable for the first time and have been seeing MEGA-huge email sign-ups. I need to go into my MailChimp analytics and see what percentage increase it has been…but it has me kicking myself for not doing something like this sooner. Thanks for sharing about Selz! Love how sleek it looks on your blog. It certainly enticed me to sign-up a few weeks back! {Also, loved seeing your beautiful face in the vid. Keep up the great work!}

    • You make me smile. 🙂 I love your encouragement; you’re so great Lauren.

      I’ve heard from others that the HelloBar really helps! I really like that option because it’s not a pop-up, but it does get attention. It does a good job at combatting that “opt in blindness” I talked about, but in a nice + clean way.

      And I’m sure your free giveaway helps, too! We’d all like to think people are just jumping to sign up for our newsletters on their own, but the fact is that it often does take a little encouragement. Or “thank you” as a like to call it. 🙂

      Thanks for commenting!! I love me some comments, especially when they’re as thoughtful as yours.

  • Wonderful tutoriall on how to design a sign up box. Would you use the same coding for the top sign up box in header? Any suggestions on where to go or how to create the 3D magazine/ebook pictures? Thanks this was fun and informative!!

    • Robyn, thank you so much for watching and commenting! To answer your questions, I personally would not use the same coding for the header sign up form. (The widget they provide would likely not work well in the header.) Now, if you were a super whiz at advanced code you may be able to work a custom option out! But unless that’s the case, I prefer to stick with a regular opt-in box that links to your email marketing program — in my case, I use Mailchimp so I use the Mailchimp for WordPress Lite WordPress plugin. 🙂 I also like it that way because then I have two different options for people, and over time I can track which one performs best!

      The 3D magazine cover is a PSD (Photoshop) template that I downloaded free from

      Thanks again, Robyn! I hope that helped. 🙂

  • Fantabulous post and tutorial, Erika!

    Marianne is a real sweetie (not to mention brilliant) and I’m so grateful she asked you to participate in her blog tour. Like so many others here, “Selz” is new to me. And after being online for over a decade, you’d think I would have heard of everything by now. 😉

    I recently signed up for a Mail Chimp account so I’m anxious to give your suggestions a whirl for creating an opt-in box. Your teaching style is delightful, by the way.

    Happy Blogging!

    • Aww thanks Melanie!! 🙂

      • Well-deserved, Marianne. Kudos and cupcakes for a smashing blog tour! 🙂

    • Melanie, wow! Thank you so much! Your comment is wonderful. I’m glad I could introduce you to something new. 🙂 Selz is becoming quite competitive as an online payment gateway, so it’s useful in many ways!

      Take care, and have a wonderful week!

      • Keep crankin’ out the good stuff, Erika! Love your writing style. 🙂

  • That does look extremely professional and attractive. And you’re great at narrating the video! Very smooth. 🙂

    • Thank you so much, Skye. 🙂 I appreciate your encouragement!

  • I was not familiar with Selz - can’t wait to check it out! Thanks for the great tips and extremely helpful post!!

  • Great advice - just had my website upgraded and been toying with optin freebies…. Thanks!

    • Your site is so fun, Sara! I’m really digging the whole feel of it; the big pictures, clean design… I’m so glad you took the time to comment so I could check you out! Thank YOU.

  • I added this to my site AND am changing my opt-in buttons to be more outside of my usual blues in my branding to make it pop and say, “Notice me!” 🙂

  • That was soooo easy and it looks so nice! Thank you

    • You are welcome, Christine! I just love how it looks on your site. Beautiful. 🙂

  • This is one thing my clients often struggle with. I had not heard of Selz before, but it certainly makes things easy for them. Thanks, Erika!

    • I agree, it is a significant struggle for many. This is one good option! Thank you so much for commenting, Julia. 🙂

  • Love it, love you! It looks great in my sidebar. Thanks so much <3

    • Wow, Jess…it looks amazing! Your giveaway design is so gorgeous, too. In fact, what am I saying? Your whole website is looking awesome. 😀

  • That sounds great! I think that in Canada you need to have a double opt in by law now, so that’s out for me unfortunately! I’ve had my email list grow 5x over this month by adding a timely freebie for subscribers. I’m hoping by swapping out the freebie next month I’ll be able to continue the growth!

  • I really LOVE my new opt-in subscribers side bar box!! i finally have a nice looking opt-in with a free bonus gift and seamlessly connected to Mail Chimp. Now that this looks so nice… I have website compare/despair and am planning to make an overhaul soon 🙂 My Biz is Sarah Saint-Laurent’s Keying-In: Soul Purpose Coaching website is Thank You!!!

    • That is awesome, Sarah! I’d truly love to see your site when it is up and running. 🙂

  • Okay - I just discovered your blog and I’m already super impressed! I loved this tutorial and set up my Selz widget just now. Now I’m scouring through your site to get more ideas on making my blog more delightful!

    Here is my blog with the brand new opt-in widget in the sidebar:

    Thanks for making such a fun and easy video!

    • Jessica, it looks GREAT. Wow, thanks so much for taking the time to let me know you did it! Now I’m off to explore YOUR site. It looks fabulous!

  • I’ve been looking for a good option to use as a opt-in and this looks perfect! Free and simple, but also attractive and customizable. Yay! Thank you so much for the post and the video tutorial! Pinning this - and I’m sure I’ll return to it for reference.

  • Alyssa Davidson

    It took me a year after reading this post to write an email opt-in book and set this up on but I finally did it! Thank you so much for this youtube video; I probably account for at least 50 views.