7 Cunning Ways to Use Opt-in Forms and Make Your Website Unforgettable

It's a scary thought, but this might be happening to you.

You've worked your ass off to make your site stand out, but following the latest design trends and conversion strategies has inadvertently lead you to the polar opposite:

You've become... just like everyone else.

In the blogging world, and in the business world of today, it's a cardinal sin to blend in. Nobody cares about ordinary.

Nobody remembers ordinary.​

You need to stand out to succeed.

Thankfully there's one element on your website specifically designed to stand out:

The opt-in form.

Could there be a way to use opt-in forms to leave your reader with a lasting impression of your site? Let's talk about that.


This Isn't Even my Final Form​!

Years ago, a pop-up lightbox was considered the newest advancement in digital marketing. The mere existence of such a form was enough to stand out from the pack.

These early opt-in forms were nearly impossible to customize, leaving most users no choice but to use the bog-standard form templates and the email sign-up motif. Results were more than satisfactory, and it soon became an industry standard.

Since then, lead generation solutions have matured and you no longer require an advanced degree in six programming languages to customize your templates. Yet, even with the vast amount of custom templates out there, the purpose is always the same: get the visitor's email address.

The early technical limitations had blinded people of the massive potential of what is essentially "attention grabbing technology". Something that should not have been forgotten... was lost.

History became legend. Legend became myth. For the longest time, a pop-up was merely a synonym for intrusive and annoying.

But now, we have the technology. We can rebuild it.

A cutting edge drag&drop builder, like the one in Thrive Leads, provides endless design and customization possibilities for anyone who can hold a mouse.

You no longer need to settle for the cookie-cutter opt-in form that everyone and their grandmother is using!

You can choose from any form type and customize it endlessly. Let me show you how.

Seven Ways to Rethink the Opt-in Form

Here are seven examples to get your creative juices flowing:

Example 1: Create Irresistible Curiosity

Enticing, isn't it?

Curiosity and humour are great ways to engage your reader. This opt-in form doesn't even mention any sort of benefit, but you'd be hardpressed to not click the button.

Combine this small bit of drama with a landing page and a captive storyline, and you're suddenly looking at a perfect opt-in offer. Yup, it's true! A brilliant opt-in form can easily become your lead magnet.

It's human nature to be attracted to stories and legends. It's no coincidence that the best copywriters are also brilliant storytellers.

Andre Chaperon, the dude behind such awesomeness as 'Autoresponder Madness' and 'Affiliate Bully' is famous for using captivating storylines in his copy.

Imagine a landing page with no apparent sales text, but a curiously intriguing story-intro that makes you nod your head and think "Yes? What happens next?". Before you know it, you're deeply invested in a piece that eventually cuts short and leaves you hanging on a blatant cliffhanger.

To hear more, you need to sign up. Devious or entertaining? You choose.​ After investing so much into becoming involved in the story, you'll be compelled to subscribe to hear more.

Example 2: Put a Whole Landing Page Inside Your Lightbox

Instead of a small signup box, how about popping up a complete landing page?

Why would you do such a thing? Perhaps you have a seasonal special offer or promotion that could use a bit more copy than fits into a small box.

Rather than having to drive traffic to a separate landing page, you can just pop this up on a page that's already getting good traffic. You'll get easy exposure and it's quick to remove once the offer ends.

Also, you don't risk losing your visitors by sending them elsewhere. If your landing page doesn't interest them, they simply continue on to your site.

Example 3: Temporarily Replace Your Entire Page

Here's the opt-in form that pops up on Neil Patel's blog.

First time I saw this, I had to stop for a second and think to myself:

“Well. That's different.”

I'm not sure if it's effective (Hey it's Neil Patel. It's probably effective.) but it definitely made a lasting impression. I wasn't ready to opt-in to his mailing list yet, but boldly asking to Like on Facebook? Sure, I can do that.

Besides asking for a Like on Facebook, you could use the screenfiller to offer a quick survey, a quiz, a challenge, an easter egg, or any number of things that challenge your visitor to take part. This is another opt-in form that works great as a lead magnet.

Here's a quick quiz from Buzzfeed about different coffee drinking habits. Quizzes like this are light entertainment at best, and huge productivity sinkholes at worst.

But could a quiz be more useful? What if it popped up on a screenfiller? Think about browsing a site with interesting articles, and suddenly you're presented with four cups of coffee on your screen. Could you resist choosing?

I'd click it. And I don't even drink coffee.

The screenfiller might then offer you a coupon for coffee at a local establishment, or a choice to opt-in to an email newsletter about coffee products. Entertaining and effective. Definitely my cup of tea coffee.

Example 4: Get More Social Shares

Your primary focus should be on getting new subscribers to opt-in, but once they've done that, you can ask them to share your articles. ​Social sharing buttons often go unnoticed in the footer or sidebar, but what about a pop-up?

Imagine reaching the end of a brilliant article, and then being asked to share it. It just might be enough to get you to share, even though you originally weren't planning to.

Besides, you'd share great content anyway. Right?​

Obviously you'd only want to show this sharing pop-up to readers who have already subscribed. Smartlinks makes showing different content to subscribers and new visitors effortlessly simple.

​Example 5: Display an Unmissable Call to Action

The simplest alternative to the email signup form rarely used. Rather than simply asking for your visitor to opt in, why not present them with a call to action?

Often it makes sense to have the mailing list opt-in as your secondary objective, and promote something different before that.

Perhaps you have a topical landing page you'd like to promote?

Perhaps your guest post was recently published in ​a prestigious magazine or blog?

Perhaps you're thinking of launching a product?

A great way to highlight this content is through a lightbox pop-up. After the content you would of course have an email opt-in, to eventually get your visitors onto your mailing list.

Example 6: The Highly Relevant Redirect

​Have you ever read an article and still been hungry for more? Wouldn't it be convenient if someone suggested an article relevant to the one you just read?

How about a slide-in form that appears once you've read the article? As a reader, you'd surely appreciate the gesture.

As a website owner, you could promote a product or landing page relevant to the article. Your reader would appreciate the relevant offer and you would appreciate the increased sales.

Example 7: Get More Webinar Registrations

You've just created a webinar to get more exposure and subscribers. Wouldn't it be just dandy if that webinar was available to every visitor on your site?

You could show a webinar registration form on your homepage, or pop up a call to action and send your user to a separate webinar funnel. Check out our nifty guide on creating the perfect webinar funnel here.

Thrive Landing Pages now integrates with WebinarJam and GoToWebinar, so your visitor can register without hassle directly through the form.

Spice up Your Opt-in Form Life Today!

Can you imagine being "that one site with the inventive opt-in forms"? Can you imagine people returning to your site just to see what you've come up this time?

Your website no longer needs to be cast in that dusty pile in the corner with the other “ordinary” sites.

All of the opt-in forms in this article were created using Thrive Leads. With just a little imagination and a decent toolkit, you too have all the power to make your website stand out as memorable and impressive as it should.​

Go wild. Unleash your opt-in forms.

What are some interesting opt-in forms you've seen or ideas you've come up with? Share in the comments below!

Author: Jay Pitkänen

Jay has an affinity for red wine, Monty Python-references and content marketing.

  • Kim says:

    LOVE LOVE LOVE this post!
    Thanks for the great ideas… I love the first one (and of course am watching it in action as I type this).
    Awesome idea on the webinar registration too.

    Thanks Jay!

  • Jane Travis says:

    As usual, great post! Love the first example, how would I do that?

    • Jay says:

      Hey Jane!

      Thank you very much! I had fun writing this one. =)

      There should be a slide-in form appearing at the bottom of this post with instructions on how to create your own rabbit hole opt-in form. Did you see it?

  • Tufail S says:

    I am going to give the 1st and 5th one on different pages to checkout the results.

  • Dante Crescenzi says:

    Awesome info! Many thanks!

  • Jonathan says:

    This is pretty cool!
    Just recently purchased ThirveLeads, so exactly how do you do #1?

    • Jay says:

      Hey Jonathan!

      That’s awesome, congrats on your purchase. =) There should be a slide-in form appearing at the bottom of the post with instructions on how to create your own rabbit hole opt-in form. Did you see it?


  • Bruce says:

    Superb. I will be trying some of these, and you are really getting my brain working again, thank you.

  • Rob says:

    I was just looking through the site and contemplating buying ThriveLeads.. you sealed the deal for me.. My site is in need of a major upgrade in this department…. THANKS…

    • Jay says:

      Hey Rob!

      That’s great to hear. Even though I’m a bit biased here, I gotta say it’s one of the best investments you can make for your business!

      Major upgrade? Can’t wait to see what you come up with! =)


  • Jeffrey L says:

    Hi Jay! A previous member Jonathan earlier posted the same remark as I’m about to. That first option with the rabbit hole opt-in form looks so cool to have on a website. You stated in answer to his question that instructions in learning how to do this would appear on the bottom of this post.
    I never saw it. Is there anyway that some sort of link to the directions could be posted so that indeed interested people like myself could actually learn how to do this?
    Thank you,

    • Jay says:

      Hey Jeffrey!

      It’s a bit confusing, but the slide-in appears when you scroll down to the absolute end of the page (past the comments.) Sorry about that, we’ll get it fixed asap.

      In case you still need it, here’s a direct link:



      • Jeffrey L says:

        Thank you Jay for providing the link. Now I’m going to go about implementing this very clever form onto my website Thrives Lead plug-in following the directions in the tutorial!
        Thank you again,

  • Nancy says:

    I love that little survey that popped up via Hotjar! Is that considered a poll, a survey, or what?

  • Jonathan says:

    SO weird.. can’t see “the rabit hole” even though I go to the very bottom. Tried refreshing browser and everything.

  • Todd M says:

    I couldn’t find the rabbit hole link as well. I read all of the comments and scrolled to the bottom of the page.

    Is it not working now?

  • joe says:

    Scrolled down to bottom of page and still find nothing about how to do this yourself. Please advise or give us the link

  • Gerard says:

    Very Extensive contents and usefull .. So thanks! … However, most of these are so incredibly annoying that I would never put them to use on my website. I know the sales and aesthetic perspective can (and do) conflict in these matters. Where could I look for criteria to what solutions go better with what kind of products? .. Running a dutch hosting company, and however good websites lend themselves to be sold online. I reach more new customers talking to them face to face… Thanks again .. Hope I gave you some food for thought! 😉

    • Jay says:

      Hi Gerard!

      You’re very welcome.

      Regarding annoying – an opt-in form that brings results is by design .. annoying. I tried to make these forms stand out with curiosity rather than pure annoyance, but there’s always going to be that annoyance factor in any marketing. I think that’s perfectly fine, as long as you make it worthwhile for the customer.

      Solutions for any particular product is a tough one. I wouldn’t really begin with trying to match a particular product with a lead gen solution, but rather try and match a lead gen solution to your audience. As in – what sort of person lands on your article or landing page? What are their thoughts throughout? When would they be expecting a call to action?

      If you’re stuck with too much choice, try limiting yourself to the lightbox. It’ll force you to think simple and effective.

      Hope that helps!


  • Marion says:

    Love the first one. Is that a gif? Where can I find the instruction?

  • Marion says:

    Am I blind or where at the end of the post can I find the instructions? Can you please post the link? 😉

  • Lynn says:

    Hi Jay, thanks for this, you’ve given me a lot of food for thought. You even got me to read although at the moment poorly done opt-in pages are making me nuts 😉 Especially on my smart phone when they’re not optimized for mobile!

    • Jay says:

      Hey Lynn!

      Glad I could give you something extra to think about. =) Opt-in forms are going through that mobile responsiveness-phase that websites went through some years ago. They’ll catch up eventually.

      Before that, we have Smartexit. =P


  • Mark Tong says:

    excellent Jay, I’m bookmarking this for sure. Love the psst!

  • Joe says:

    Hey jay 2 things:

    1) on the ipad, not all the effects you mentioned appeared (no slide out, for example)

    2) we have thrive themes, and it is great, BUT you guys need to reconsider how you handle fonts. You are using google fonts in several places, and our testing showed that one pages using the thrive leads forms, page display time, particularly on mobile devices, is delayed by several seconds. It would be faster to use fonts loaded locally instead of @import type loaded from google, which requires a dns lookup and load over the net ( we once had a set of pages that locked and never completed loading for several hours one day back in July because the google source servers had an issue)

    Joe C

    • Shane Melaugh says:

      Hello Joe,

      Just a quick note concerning your second point: web standard fonts are already supported. You can change any font in any opt-in form, theme or landing page to a web standard font.

  • Great post Jay – Thanks a lot!
    It opened my mind. Can’t wait to implement some of these on my site.

  • Edin says:

    You guys are amazing! Thank you!

  • Welly Mulia says:

    Awesome post Jay! Some good ideas to test out.

    Thanks for writing it!

  • Jonathan D says:

    Love this post! It’s so informative. I do have a question, how do you do what Neil Patel is doing using Thrive Leads?

    • Jay says:

      Hey Jonathan

      Thanks! Had a lot of fun writing it. I’m glad you’re finding it useful.

      You’re referring to Neil’s welcome mat? You can do that with the Scroll mat-type form in Thrive Leads. Give it a try, it’s easy to use!


  • >