There are probably hundreds of options when it comes to having a method of subscribing visitors to your mailing list (which you can then use to directly market your wares to those visitors).
I do not believe it’s possible to emphasize the importance of having newsletter subscription options for your site. After all, if you plan to use your site to sell things then the only thing that can possibly help you sell when someone is not visiting your site (which is 99.999% of the time if they visit your site once in a month) is by subscribing them to your newsletter.
[I highly recommend using Mailchimp for your newsletter subscription service because it’s free to start and if you don’t have the time or inclination to subscribe a lot of people then at least you didn’t have to pay to find that out. However, if you are to use Aweber or other services that do charge each month then that would be a different story. In addition, Aweber forms are exceedingly difficult (impossible at the moment for someone like me) to integrate into a website without their forms; this is truly the only reason why I do not recommend Aweber.]
I’m going to say that those hundreds boil down to four basic types and I will provide illustrations of each below. The four types I have identified are Unobtrusive, Direct, Flashy and Bribe (also called a freemium or an autoresponder).
Unobtrusive Newsletter Subscription Options
These are not always the most effective means, but they are the least flashy and the least manipulative and so they often allow their website owners to feel like they are asking for emails from visitors while also not being too salesy.
Here are two examples:
Button or Menu Item
Take a look at this example in the upper-right-hand corner. If you click on Subscribe, then you go to a new page where you can subscribe. Of course they also will ask you to pay for a subscription to their premium service, but they will put your on their email list if you merely subscribe.
The benefit of this one is that if you are looking for the subscription, it’s easy to find and it’s not in the way.
If you look on the right below the header (the right-side widget area) you’ll see a very simply widget to subscribe the visitor to Mailchimp.
Again, this is nice because it’s out of the way and if you are looking for it you will find it easily.
Direct Newsletter Subscription Options
Direct options are more effective while still not being too flashy. They force the visitor to read the subscription request and so the visitor must at least consider subscribing. This isn’t too much pressure and is probably just right for most blog owners who want to leverage their site to grow their mailing list.
This is a great example where the subscription is above the fold (meaning that you don’t have to scroll down to see it).
As “Top of Bottom” implies, you can also have this loaded at the top instead.
Keep in mind that if you use Aweber, you cannot use this type of integrated form as you are forced to use theirs.
You’ve seen plenty of these types of subscription tools where you are presented with nothing but a choice to subscribe. It’s either this or go back or somewhere else. These are a bit risky, so in this example, the Landing Page subscription offer is below the fold (meaning it reveals itself when you scroll down). This is one my wife’s site and it magically appears as you scroll down. Check it out for yourself at http://youglowgirlfitness.com.
Landing Page subscription offers that are the ONLY content you see will often turn people away from your site altogether so be careful how you use this one.
Flashy Newsletter Subscription Options
Pop-Up Domination and Other Paid Subscription Tools
This and other tools are indeed flashy. They can sometimes give you much higher subscription rates but they don’t always work for more quality-driven sites.
The great thing about these kinds of tools is that they have lots of features like time-delays and entrance effects and they come with support but that’s not possible without paying something for it.
I have paid for a development license to use this so my customers get to use it for free.
This is a really great free tool that does come with a time-delay and other separate features and, for me, strikes the right balance of being flashy and also not being too obtrusive. After 30 seconds, it appears on-screen. So someone who is actually reading this article will see it appear.
Again, it’s free and my customers can activate it easily and start using it.
Bribe Newsletter Subscription Options
I know “bribe” sounds like such an awful word, but every freemium or autoresponder is a bribe. It assumes the visitor isn’t going to subscribe without an offer of some kind like a free PDF or a series of emails that contain valuable information. That’s really pretty common on the web, so “no harm, no foul” is the way to look at this.
The thing to note is that all the previous options for subscribing can include the bribe (freemium or autoresponder). It’s just a way of adding some value to that subscription offer.
If you look below the logo where it says “Free 7-Day Guide…” then that is the bribe. Nothing wrong with this at all as this is one of my clients who was smart enough to use the unobtrusive approach to putting this offer on her site in a hot spot for her site. She reports that it’s working really, really well.