One of the best ways to grow your email list is to add a feature box to the homepage of your site. A feature box is a full width email opt-in box. It usually offers some kind of lead magnet to incite people to sign up for your list.
Here’s an example of a feature box below. Everything inside the blue box is the feature box:
Resistance to Feature Boxes
Now, some of you might be a little uncomfortable with feature boxes. Usually, this is because of one of two reasons:
- The feature box is going to take up the most valuable real estate on your website.
- It seems invasive and pushy to ask for an email address right when people get to your homepage.
Here are two ways to change your perspective on both those issues:
1) There’s no denying it: The feature box will take up the most valuable piece of real estate on your site. It’s on the home page above the scroll line, for goodness sake. That’s about as valuable as you can get.
But here’s the deal: The feature box is worth using the best real estate on your site. Remember why you wanted to build an email list in the first place? Remember how most of your website visitors come to your site, and then never come back again… unless you can get their email address? Remember how email marketing earns $28 for every dollar spent?
Unless you’re offering a free trial of your software, or some other core business functionality in that space, adding a feature box is actually the best use of this real estate. You’re going to get far more returns by using this space for an opt-in box, compared to, say, using it to announce your latest blog post.
2) If it feels like you’re being too pushy to ask for an email address in this space, take a look at what you’re offering in exchange for that email address. Take a look at your lead magnet.
If you’ve got hesitations about adding a feature box, the real underlying problem may be that you don’t feel like your lead magnet is good enough. So really, what you’ve got hesitations about is your lead magnet. So change that – make a better lead magnet, or offer something truly extraordinary in exchange for people’s email addresses. But don’t shy away from using a feature box because it’s too invasive.
Remember – the world needs what you’re offering. What you’re offering is going to help people, and make their lives better and easier. If you don’t believe that, you’ve got bigger problems than what to do with the space on your home page.
Feature boxes get higher opt-in rates – and more emails – than any other form on your site
Here’s a chart showing where the email opt-ins for the Social Mouths blog come from. The feature box has the highest opt-in rate of any other opt-in form, though the Facebook tab does come in at a close second.
This graph shows what percent of email opt-ins each form on the Social Mouths blog gets. I see similar rates to what Social Mouths gets on my sites. Here’s a feature box on one of my smaller sites:
The opt-in rate for this feature box is more than three times the opt-in rate of the upper right hand opt-in form on the same site, and with the same opt-in offer, copy and button.
The opt-in rate for this feature box is more than 3 times the rate of the opt-in box I have in the upper right hand corner of the site, in the navigation bar. The right top navigation opt-in has all the same copy, and the same opt-in button. But because of where the upper right opt-in box is on the page, I think people tend to tune it out, and not see it, like banner ads near the top of a page. That’s one of the reasons feature boxes work so very well: People don’t tune them out.
How to add a feature box to your site
If you have enough skills with WordPress, you can edit the home page of your website to create a full-width feature box. Some WordPress themes are pre-designed to create a feature box, like Marketer’s Delight, which works on the Thesis framework, or the Generate Pro Theme from StudioPress if you’re using the Genesis framework.
The Generate Pro theme from StudioPress includes a “built-in” feature box.
But what if you don’t want to change your WordPress theme, and you don’t want to spend hours editing the template of your site? No problem. Just use a plugin to create your feature box.
If you’ve got no budget to spend on yet one more plugin, there’s a great option:
This is the free version of the PlugMatter opt-in box WordPress plugin. This is a free, easily customized feature box that you can get set up in less than an hour. It is considerably more intuitive to use than other feature box plugins I’ve tested.
Plugmatter Lite will also adjust itself to mobile devices (i.e., it’s “responsive”) and it comes with a couple of different feature box templates. It works seamlessly with GetResponse. If you want more features (like A/B split-testing), you can upgrade to the paid versions.
This is the dashboard of a Hybrid Connect set up on a live site. Hybrid Connect is a paid plugin that lets you create feature boxes and almost a dozen other kinds of opt-in boxes quickly. It’s $49 for a single site license. I’ve used this plugin on two different sites and been very happy with it.
If you want to do A/B split-testing, it’s great (and the $49 you’ll pay for Hybrid Connect is cheaper than the $57 you’d need to spend for the Plugmatter plan that gives you A/B split-testing). The video tutorials make configuring it super-easy and support is quite fast. If you’ve got a little bit of budget to spend on your site, this is a good choice. Oh yes – and of course it works with GetResponse.
A sample pop-up made by the OptinMonster plugin.
Optin Monster is very similar to Hybrid Connect, and the two are basically each other’s fiercest competitors. Their prices look almost identical – Optin Monster is $49 for use on one site, just like Hybrid Connect – until you check what opt-in forms you’ll get. Then Optin Monster becomes almost four times as expensive. However, many email experts rave about this plugin, and it certainly converts well. If you’ve got the budget, it’s a solid choice. The Exit Intent feature is particularly interesting.
So that’s the 404 on feature boxes – what they are, why they’re great and how to set one up. Do you have a feature box on your site? How’s it converting compared to your other opt-in boxes? Or if you’re still holding back on adding a feature box, what’s giving you cold feet? Let us know in the comments.