Hey everyone. Today I want to follow up on something I talked about a couple of weeks ago – creating a sign-up process on your site.
Now, this might not work for everyone as I know people build their sites on different platforms. Some website owners use Squarespace. Others use WordPress – and that can be tricky too. I use WordPress.com and, in my experience, I’ve discovered that almost any tutorial involving WordPress.org is useless for me as the .org and .com sites have different available plugins and customization features.
So just bear that in mind as you read this.
Also, I use two themes with my site that make everything work as well as it does. And I know what some of you might be thinking. Two themes? How can you have two themes? Well, it works like this…
The first theme I have installed is called GeneratePress and it is basically the foundation of the site. It doesn’t have much in the way of visual customization options but it allows me to run secondary themes that do. GeneratePress is available for free but there’s also a premium version of the theme that has extra features. I paid for a year’s subscription to the premium version because it allowed me to disable elements on certain pages and I wanted the ability to disable the top menu on a landing page. Your mileage may vary with the premium version though. US $50 a year is a bit much and I’m not a fan of subscription models. Thankfully though, is seems the subscription is mostly for continued updates and support. So I was able to do what I needed to do with the one year subscription I purchased.
Next up, I installed Thrive Architect (US $67 as I write this and I think that’s probably what I paid too). By memory, I had to install it as a ‘child theme’, which means it runs in conjunction with the main theme used on a site (which in my case is GeneratePress). You can find how to install a child theme on WordPress with a simple online search. And as for Thrive Architect, there are a lot of tutorials you can find that will help you with miscellaneous tasks that you might want to do… including this one.
Finally, I use MailerLite for managing my email newsletter. Again, I’m not an affiliate but I like it as well. I managed to figure out how to use it, which is always a plus, and it’s free to use for the first 1000 subscribers. Which means I don’t have to worry about any additional costs there for quite a while.
For my newsletter, I have a process that goes like this: Users who want to subscribe go to a landing page on my website and click on a button to subscribe. This opens a small window where users enter their email address and tick a box to give their consent to their email address being added to the subscriber list. Once they do this, they’re added to the list and MailerLite will automatically send them their welcoming email. However, before they even see that, they’ll be redirected to another page I’ve set up where they can download some free eBooks.
It sounds simple but I wasted a lot of time trying to work out how to pull it all off. So you can learn from my experiments and mistakes and save yourself a bit of time and effort.
- Link your email service to WordPress. In my case, I had to install a MailerLite plugin. Then I needed to get something called an API key from MailerLite (by logging into my MailerLite account) and enter it through the plugin on my WordPress site.
- OPTIONAL. If you don’t want to go to the trouble of creating a beautiful landing page with a nice window that opens up when people click the button to subscribe, you can just create a sign-up form in your email service of choice and paste in a regular WordPress page. I had that option too but I wanted to make things look a bit nicer than the MailerLite form.
- If you want to create a special page where subscribers visit after they have subscribed, this is the point in the process where you should do it. I chose not to give mine a title because I didn’t want to see a title on the actual page and I don’t want it in the main menu anyway. After all, it’s only intended for people who’ve subscribed to my newsletter. My one has a graphic that tells people that they have successfully subscribed and underneath it, I have links to free eBooks for them. I store them all on WordPress and just added them by using the ‘add media’ function. For .mobi and .epub files, you need a plugin to allow you to upload them though. But it’s free and you can find it easily due to the genius simplicity of its name, ‘Allow ePUB and MOBI formats upload‘.
- Create a Thrive Lightbox. This will be the window where people can enter their email address and consent to being on your subscribers list. You can find the link to do this on the main WordPress menu on the left of your screen (assuming you have Thrive Architect installed). Now Thrive Architect is a visual editor. You click on elements that you can see in order to change them. Start by adding a new lightbox and then open Thrive Architect to edit it.
- You’ll then see a little box saying ‘drag and drop content here’. Go to the right side of the screen and click the + button to reveal the content you can add and drag across the one title ‘lead generation’. You’ll now have a box for a name and a box for an email.
- On the left hand menu, select ‘Connect form to service’. Click on the service you wish to connect to, choose your mailing list group and set your fields. I choose to delete ‘name’ here because I don’t think its necessary for users to provide their names to be on a mailing list. An email address is really enough. Then you can select your post opt-in action. I chose to redirect subscribers to a page where they could download free eBooks. However, this is really important. You must include the full URL with the http:// or it will not work. I can’t stress that point enough. I didn’t do it at first and when it didn’t work, I wasted several hours trying to work out what was causing the problem.
- Next, in the left hand menu under ‘Edit form elements’, click ‘Enable Checkbox for explicit consent’. This is also very important as it’s a requirement for compliance with a new set of laws that came out of Europe this year called the GDPR. And no matter where we are in the world, we’re still required to comply with them. So let’s comply. After all, they’re all about protecting people’s privacy and that’s something we all support anyway.
- After that, your lightbox is pretty much finished but you can click on various elements to edit them as you like. You can change the wording of certain things, along with the font and colors and you can turn it into a work of art. Go wild if you wish.
- Create a landing page. You can give it a title like ‘subscribe’ but like that other page I mentioned earlier, I didn’t give this one a title either. I also made sure that the page was not added to my menu. And speaking of the menu, I used GeneratePress Premium to disable to menu on that page as well. This is easily achieved in the normal WordPress editor. The reason being is that on a landing page, you don’t want links to other parts of your website to distract people. That way, people who visit your landing page will be able to do only one of two things: subscribe or leave.
- You can edit this page in Thrive Architect and put whatever graphics you want on it. But you will definitely want to add a button. You can do this by clicking on the + button on the right side of the screen and dragging the ‘button’ element across to where you want it. Again, you can customize this. You can write your own text and play with the color and font. Link this button to the lightbox you made earlier and then you’re done.
After you’ve finished all this, make sure you save your landing page and then you’re almost – but not quite – ready to give yourself a pat on the back. Because, you see, there is one more important step to take. And that is to test drive your subscription process.
Log out of WordPress. Go to your subscription page, just like any other visitor would, and complete the subscription process yourself. Check that the lightbox opens up properly when you click the button. Check that it has everything it needs (the space for the email address, the consent checkbox and, of course, the subscribe button). Check that it successfully redirects you to the correct page afterwards. Then go to your email account and see if you received your welcome email.
If you need to fix anything, you can still test the process again using your same email address. When you subscribe to your list, you can add +1, +2 etc to the end of your email address and your email service will treat you like a new subscriber. It’s like this:
Subscribe to your list using firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you encounter issues and you need to make changes, you can test things afterwards by subscribing again using email@example.com.
Then if you need to make further changes, you can test them too by subscribing using firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Although you might want to go to your email service afterwards and delete your multiple addresses from your subscription list).
And that’s it!
Hopefully, if you’re trying to create a sign-up process on your site for an email list, this comes in handy. Or if someone you know might find it useful, share the link with them. After all, ’tis the giving season.