The Easiest Way to Increase Conversions With Multi-Step Opt-In Forms

Shane Melaugh   33

Updated on December 22, 2019

When you create opt-in forms to build your list, there's a simple psychological trick you can exploit, to increase conversions.

In this post, you'll see a new set of templates we've released in Thrive Leads and uncover the uses of 1, 2 and 3-step opt-in processes.​


The Simple Multi-Step Form

The type of opt-in form we're examining today is what I call a "simple multi-step" form. Here's an example of such a form:​

As you can see, the form initially shows a button and on click of that button, the opt-in fields are revealed. This happens instantly, without reloading the page or the lightbox.

This is what our newly released templates have in common: they have an initial state and an opt-in state that appears after the visitor clicks on a button.

Here's an example of one of the new templates:​

And here's another example (same principle, different design):

I call this a simple multi-step form because it's almost identical to a regular opt-in form. The design, copy, size etc. of a form like this is pretty much the same as it would be for any opt-in form. The only difference is that in the initial state, there are no opt-in fields.

Here's why this makes more of a difference than you might initially think:​

Cults, Clicks & Micro Commitments

Have you ever read a story about some weird cult and wondered how anyone could seriously believe in ancient alien souls or space messiahs?

Part of the reason people can arrive at screwball beliefs lies in the commitment bias.

It works like this: if you've already made a commitment to something, you're more likely to follow that path of action and less likely to change your mind about it. ​

So, if someone tells you a loony story about magic underpants, you're more likely to go along with it if you've already believed in a series of less crazy stories that came before it and if you've already invested time and money into these beliefs.

What does all this have to do with opt-in forms?

In opt-in forms we can tap into a related psychological principle: micro commitments.​

When you see a form like this, it simply presents a benefit and asks "do you want this?":​

When you click on the button, you confirm that you do indeed want the thing that was advertised. And that click is a small commitment.

Having made that micro commitment, you are then more likely to fill out an opt-in form when presented with one.

Who is Asking from Whom?

One way to look at multi-step is through the question: "who is asking from whom?" When a visitor sees an opt-in form, they see you asking them for their email address. With a multi-step form, they ask you for something first (by clicking on the "yes, I want this thing!" button) and only then are you asking for their email.

Mind Your Steps

With these new templates and all the other options in Thrive Leads, you have a wide range of options, for showing opt-in forms to your visitors.

Depending on how you combine different form types and triggers, you'll be presenting your visitors with different numbers of steps towards opting in.​

1 Step Example

If you show a regular opt-in form in your content, the user scrolls down until they see it and at that point, they are only one step removed from opting in:

The same is true for an opt-in form in your sidebar or any automatically triggered opt-in form, such as a lightbox pop-up that shows on exit intent.

2 Step Example

​If you use a ThriveBox, your visitor clicks on a link or a button and is shown an opt-in form in a lightbox pop-up as a result.

In this instance, the user is two steps removed from opting in to your list:​

Using a multi-step form that triggers automatically is another way to present a 2-step opt-in to your visitor.

3 Step Example

​If you combine a ThriveBox with a multi-step template, you're adding another step to the opt-in process. In most cases, asking for two separate buttons clicks just to get to an opt-in form doesn't make for a good user experience.

However, in some cases, it can make sense. For example:​

Here, we're asking the user to make a relevant choice in the second step, so it's more than just a confirmation or an ask for a commitment. In this case, the 3 step process will still seem natural to your visitor.

By the way: we call this a multiple choice opt-in and you can read more about them here.​

No Right Number

Keep in mind that there's no "right" or "wrong" number of steps in an opt-in process.

In some cases, making your visitors jump through hoops is a good thing. ​In other cases you will achieve higher conversion rates by keeping the process as short and simple as possible:

As always, there's really only one reliable way to find "the best" solution for your website: test!

Keeping it Simple

With the above, I hope you've gotten a good overview of micro commitments and how they relate to lead generation.

The reason we made the simple multi step templates for Thrive Leads is because this type of opt-in form is the easiest way to make use of micro commitments. Unlike a multiple choice form, it doesn't require multiple opt-in offers. In fact, it doesn't even require a different design, layout or much different copy.

If you can create a regular opt-in form, you can create a simple multi step form!

I encourage you to test this form type on your site, to see what results you get.

If you have any questions or feedback about this post, please let me know by leaving a comment!​


by Shane Melaugh  October 15, 2015


Disclosure: Our content is reader-supported. This means if you click on some of our links, then we may earn a commission. We only recommend products that we believe will add value to our readers.

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Leave a Comment

  • Right!
    I knew about this one, but reading about it again made me realise I can use this at the bottom of the posts as well as on the main lead-gen landing page.
    Do you think it can work in a sidebar widget too? Are Thrive widget ready for it?

  • Great post Shane – I noticed airbnb using micro commitments – First they ask how likely on a scale of 1-10 you are to recommend airbnb then they actually ask you to share your experience on social media (or something along those lines) right after

    • That’s a great example. That thing is known as the net promoter score and is a contender for “oldest trick in the book” in the online game. But it’s so popular because it works so well: after someone says they’re highly likely to recommend it… well, they’re probably going to recommend it when you ask them to. 🙂

  • Good stuff. I used your previous post about having the optin take-over at the very beginning of site visit and my optin rate went from 3 to 8%. That’s double what I was getting. It’s awesome! Thanks for sharing these tips.

  • I was wondering. If I want more than my users first name and e-mail is there an opt-in for existing members. so when i come with something free it covers new members who just have to fill out first name and e-mail, and my old members to fill out more demographic informations. an example i got a free report – when a new visitor come along he will be met by an opt-in that ask him to join my list to get the report. i will offer the same report to my old users for more information about them. if they have filled out their personal informations, they just get it for free. what do you think – do you already have this in your arsenal or is it an idea you will consider?

    • Hello Henrik,

      Currently, that’s not possible yet. That would be quite an intricate setup, since you’d still have to pass subscriber information into the new form. Not impossible, though.

      • I have seen Hubspot’s forms pre-populated with my information. I am not sure if they track my browsing from email click throughs or my IP address. Somehow they manage to know who I am even though they still require the same info as brand new subscribers. Any thoughts on this?

  • Hi Shane!
    I’d like to acknowledge your commitment to ever implementing/improving new tactics and strategies. I appreciate you for that, and recommend your products whenever possible. Thanks brother.

  • This lovely feature come with Leads, right? I have Landing. Is it an option to step up to Theme – as I seem to remember that theme includes all: theme landing and leads. How does one ´upgrade´?

    • Hello Jolanda,

      The templates shown are part of the Thrive Leads plugin, yes. If you purchased a theme, you can upgrade to the Thrive Membership to get all of our products (including Thrive Leads). You can also purchase Thrive Leads separately.

      If you need help with any of this, please let our support staff know and they’ll help you swiftly.

  • and would it be possible to let me know whether you’ve answered? I lose the thread all the time.Thanks, Jolanda

  • Hi Shane!
    Interesting post, but you talk about WHAT and do nothing about HOW. I am missing a tutorial in the post.

    • Hello Diego,

      Thanks for your feedback.

      If you’re a Thrive Leads user, applying this technique is extremely simple and just a matter of selecting one of the multi step templates.

      You can also create these types of opt-in forms from scratch and to learn how to do so, you can read this article.

      Now, if you DON’T use Thrive Leads, then creating opt in forms like this is going to be very difficult. As far as I know, the only two options are:

      1) Custom code something yourself.
      2) Hire a developer to code it for you.

      There’s no simple way to do this if you don’t use Thrive Leads. Not to my knowledge, anyway.

  • Thanks Shane.

    Your product range is awesome both from a webmaster point of view and more importantly from a potential subscriber/customer point of view. I am always intrigued and enticed to follow whatever it is you deliver. That surely must be a good thing.

  • {"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}