Marketing Automation Platform  

How to maximize your email list signups through form placement

  • On 09/09/2019

Email marketers and UX designers have largely figured out where to embed email signup forms and where not to, but many websites still design and place their email list signups in ways that don’t convert. Read on to discover some examples of effective placement for email signup forms that you can test on your own sites.

There are many elements that you can manipulate to increase the percentage of visitors that sign up for your email list, including your call to action, the value you offer to your subscribers, and countless other factors.

Among these other factors is the placement of your contact form on your website. We’re going to take a look at a few websites that have found the most effective ways to embed their email list signup form so you can figure out what’s likely to work best for you.

A/B test your signup form with several different placements

There’s no magic strategy when it comes to maximizing your email list signups. What works for one website will completely fall flat on another. Different websites have different audiences that visit for varying reasons, and their reasons for signing up to your email list will vary significantly.

The only way to determine what works is to test it.

The most common way to test contact form placement consists of creating two versions of your page, each placing the signup form in a different location. Visitors will be directed to the different versions, then you compare the signup rate.

You’ll need to identify some email signup placements that work with your layout before you can test them.

See how placing your email signup in your website’s hero section works

If the primary purpose of your website is to capture emails, this is a pretty safe bet.

There are several things that make this email signup effective:

  1. The signup form is front and center. Since the main goal of the home page is to get people to subscribe, it makes sense that the dominant element of the home page is the call to action and email signup.
  2. The call to action tells you exactly what you’re going to get. It would be far less effective if it stated something like “sign up for my email list,” which is all too common with ineffective email capture landing pages.
  3. It only asks for one thing: your email address. Adding more fields requires more typing on behalf of the person visiting your site. Keep in mind that every field you add to your form will likely reduce the number of people that end up submitting it.
  4. The layout isn’t busy at all. The call to action is set against a solid green background, and the navigation only has three items in it (one of which leads to another email signup). Even if a visitor’s eye goes straight to the navigation and they miss the signup form in the hero section, he or she will still have a chance to be prompted to sign up for the newsletter in the nav.

However, this type of email capture doesn’t work for every kind of website. In the case of Backlinko, the home page exists for the sole purpose of building an email list. Be sure your goals are clear if you decide to make this design choice.

Use popups but be cautious

Just be careful in how you deploy them.

While popups can be annoying, good ones can work. The internet is full of studies showing how effective they are, but here’s just one example. This image from Dan Zarella outlines the impact of disabling an email signup popup on a site he had:

Here's a graph showing how email list signups and popups increase subscriptions.

Disabling the contact form on this website resulted in a drop in conversion rate of around 50%, which is impressive. While this data is from several years ago, it reflects what any email marketer knows—popups do convert.

While they may be annoying to the end-user, they’re likely worth testing on your website, especially if you have a busy website that can’t pull off the method shown in the Backlinko example.

Be careful of interstitial penalties.

In its quest to drive website owners to offer the most optimal experience to internet users, Google rolled out a penalty for websites that use interstitials on mobile devices.

Google described the offending websites as:

  • Showing a popup that covers the main content, either immediately after the user navigates to a page from the search results or while they’re looking through the page.
  • Displaying a standalone interstitial that the user has to dismiss before accessing the main content.
  • Using a layout where the above-the-fold portion of the page appears similar to a standalone interstitial, but the original content has been inlined underneath the fold.

It doesn’t cover the entire screen, and the site is still accessible without dismissing the popup. A popup like this won’t trigger a penalty.

Have a site-wide form in your footer

The footer is probably the most common place that email signup forms are placed, but it’s not always the ideal location to place a call to action because the footer is an often-overlooked part of a website. Most website heatmaps look something like this:

This is a heat map that shows where people view a webpage most

Image courtesy of HumCommerce

Placing a contact form in the lower-right part of the page isn’t ideal, considering that it’s the least-viewed part of a website.

At the same time, the footer is displayed on every page of a website. This is particularly attractive if people are entering the site from somewhere other than the main page, which is common with e-commerce sites or blogs.

If you’re generating traffic to your blog, having email signup at the top of the footer, just below the end of the blog, might make more sense than having a popup.

Imagine you landed on a cooking website; you’re looking for a specific recipe and a popup blocks you from reading what you came for. You’d probably quickly close it out, read through the recipe, and then see the email signup at the bottom of the article.

In this scenario, the footer email signup is likely to perform quite well in comparison to the popup.

The prominence of the signup form in the top bar also helps the signup form to be seen on all product pages. This is a particularly attractive option for a website that gets blog traffic. If someone’s engaged enough to make it to the footer, they may be interested in signing up.

Don’t place your form alongside content

This is a very common option for embedding an email signup form, but it’s very easily missed.

There’s a good possibility that an engaged reader won’t even notice the form on the sidebar, resulting in a missed opportunity to reconnect with an engaged visitor.

If you do decide to place it in the sidebar, be sure to place it in the footer as well or employ an exit popup.


When you’re trying to get people to sign up for your email list, you need to drive their attention to your form. You can do this by:

  • Minimizing the amount of content that’s competing for attention with your signup form
  • Using popups when appropriate and in a way that won’t incur a penalty
  • Placing the form in areas that visitors are likely to notice

Hopefully, these three signup placements will serve as a starting point for you to deploy A/B tests so you can identify the parts of your website that’ll get people signing up for your email list.

Let us know below in the comments what your experience has been with these different tactics.


1 Comment

You really make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this topic to be actually something that I think I would never understand. It seems too complicated and extremely broad for me. I am looking forward for your next post, I will try to get the hang of it!

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