How To Make A Lightbox Newsletter Sign Up Box

Last week, Darren Rowse at showed how he increased his newsletter sign up for his Digital Photography blog by installing an Aweber Lightbox Hover sign up forum. I knew that Aweber offerred this option but had never thought about adding it until Darren showed his results.

Adding a Lightbox newsletter sign up box is pretty straight forward. I’ve made a screen cast on how to do it. So far, I’ve gotten a few comments about the sign up form but no real complaints because I set the Lightbox to display only once per visitor. In other words, if you’ve been shown the Lightbox, you’ll never see it again unless you delete your cookies.

My results with the Lightbox has been pretty impressive. I was getting 20 to 30 new sign ups per day using my newsletter form at the top left of the blog. Since adding the Lightbox, new sign ups have jumped to as high as 100 per day. The key to getting more subscriptions is to keep experimenting. Aweber offers a ton of options to control how often the Lightbox shows up and when it is shows up. Give it a try and watch your newsletter sign ups go through the roof.

70 thoughts on “How To Make A Lightbox Newsletter Sign Up Box”

  1. Gyutae Park says:

    It’s a more obtrusive way to get people’s attention, but it definitely gets the job done. Considering that everything grays out and the Lightbox popup is highlighted, there’s no question why your signups would increase dramatically. Nice find, John. I’ll have to try it out on my blog as well…

    1. I wouldn’t recommend this method. I had my Entrecard account deleted last week after implementing the lightbox Aweber option. It’s seen been restored, but it also breaks a number of other terms laid out by publisher programs, such as AdSense.

      1. Ryan McLean says:

        Hmm, thats wierd. It seemed to work VERY well for Darren, but not so well for others. I think they’re annoying, but hey, if they help ya out, who cares. As long as it works keep doin it.

        1. I’m not disagreeing it doesn’t work as a method to gain subscribers, but it breaches numerous terms set out my publishers who your blog may be dealing with.

        2. Tushar Dhoot says:

          I don’t find them so annoying. I just click cancel once and it’s good until at least a week. Plus, I’d rather have an eye-candy lightbox than some of the flashy pop ups I find on other sites.

        3. I agree with Ryan, they are annoying, but whatever works. I wonder what the impact maybe on losing readers due to the annoyance.

    2. YA great video and great post John, you should do more “How to Video’s”

  2. impNERD says:

    Pretty cool, Chow. I’ve noticed Aweber getting really popular lately. They seem like a pretty solid company, but their prices seem a bit steep for blogs just starting out, imo.

    1. You’re right. The prices are far too expensive. Seems only the John Chows, Shoemoneys and Probloggers can afford it.

    2. BusinessX says:

      I also use Constant Contact and joined Aweber when I saw all the main bloggers using it. They both are comparatively priced. I do not know of anything cheaper, as it seem the market dictates pricing.

      BTW- Aweber has much better options than Constant Contact.

  3. Keral Patel says:

    I will give it a try today. My visitors will love it 🙂

    I had done this before but with thickbox and with feedburner email subscription form in it.

  4. TheBusyBrain says:

    I’m not a big fan of this technique (it reminds me of the ridiculous Pop-up days of previous years) because it is overly obtrusive. Of course, I do see that it has the potential of increasing your subscriber base simply based on the numbers game. Because of the obtrusive nature, do you think it is worth the inconvenience and potential negative portrayal of your site to get a few forced subscribers? Personally, I don’t think so!

    1. John Chow says:

      You get it once and then never get it again. How overly obtrusive and inconvenient is that? As long as you limit the Lightbox to once per new visitor, you shouldn’t have any problem.

      I will let the number speak for itself: Up to 4X increase in subscription sign up with no effects on traffic.

      1. Kok Choon says:

        I agree with you John, despite the annoying pop up, your subscription rate up 4X proves it works!

        To make money online, we should always look for proven technique, even if we don’t like it…

      2. BusinessX says:

        I agree with John. If there is no decrease in other blog revenue, and an increase in subscribers, where is the downside? The obtrusiveness isn’t effecting the bottom-line, that’s why we are here right?

      3. TheBusyBrain says:

        I guess I missed the part where you mention that it only pops up 1x. I agree, that’s not overly obtrusive!

  5. I have been struggling with the idea of doing the lightbox sign up box. My gut is telling it would carry too many negatives. However with you doing it John and Darren over at Problogger, I am thinking I may try it.

  6. techdude says:

    This is a very good way to draw attention to subscription (or to anything else), if used wisely. Show it more than once and it will start to annoy people.

  7. edhitok says:

    I have to try this one and hope my visitor will enjoy.

    1. Kok Choon says:

      If you have a lot of good content and add value to your subscribers, I am sure they will be happy 🙂 !

  8. SlamBlogger says:

    I think this really depends on the niche you’re in. I don’t feel that this has any effect at all on the “make money online” niche. You sort of expect it. Just as long as you limit it to once per visitor (via cookies) – as John has done.

    Now, if you’re in a more mainstream niche, I’d argue that you’re doing your brand a lot of harm. It will give your site a spammy impression, and that impression will stick.

    1. SlamBlogger says:

      Adding to this…that’s not to say you can’t live with the negative effects. A lot of very large and very well known brands are now throwing full page ads at you before you even hit the content. The difference though, is that they know their brand is powerful enough (alone) to keep you coming back, and chances are you’ll give them another chance to impress you in the future.

      For the poor blogger who’s trying to get his first subscriber, throwing popups at your visitor before they even have a chance to see what you’re all about…….that’s just stupidity.

    2. Kok Choon says:

      m…I don’t think so, although technical oriented niche might not like opt-in method, I bet if we can provide valuable e-book and frequent updated trend information, your subscribers will be impressed!

      Email is the best relationship builder online, I use them to provide values to my subscribers and they seems to love it!

  9. i read problogger’s post on this as well, and Aweber seems like a must-have for every blog. though i’m not going to be able to do any upgrades, configurations or enhancements under after the election, and i suspect i’m not alone in that.

  10. Suzie Cheel says:

    Tempted to try it too- can see aweber is really setting a high standard

  11. BusinessX says:

    I have never joined a highlight box on my first visit, because it is my first visit. What do I know about this site/blog on my first visit. If I could set it for third visit or so, yeah, I am going to have try it. Probably give it a trial on one of my lesser sites before I use it on my main site.

    1. John Chow says:

      This is where the incentive comes in. By offering something that is targeted to their emotions, you greatly increase the chance of them signing up. Who wouldn’t want a free ebook on how to make $30K a month from blogging? 🙂

  12. mrkbsm says:

    “In other words, if you’ve been shown the Lightbox, you’ll never see it again unless you delete your cookies.”

    Or if you switch browsers, or virtual machines, or reboot back into another OS… 🙂 That’s ok though – I’ll have all my browsers cookie’d up soon!

  13. I’m 100% against traditional popups, but I’ve used something like this on a static website once before and I was very impressed with the results.

    The only reason I would use it is because you can set it to only display the first time someone visits your blog.

  14. Alberto says:

    I’ll definitely be giving this a shot once I get more traffic coming in. I really do want to up my subscriber count.

  15. I don’t really like those hover boxes, they’re a pain, but I guess if you get more newsletter signups it’s probably worth using.

    1. I tend to not like them as well – may implement it sparingly just to test it out to see what my audience thinks.

  16. Sales Tips says:

    4 x subscribers for only once per user has definitely got to be worthwhile, and outweigh a small number of slightly & temporarily disgruntled readers

  17. Jim says:

    I’ve been doing this for a few weeks now and have found the same results. The hover works! I’m a new site, so my signups aren’t as impressive but I think aweber might just be the best $20 I’ve spent on promotion to date.

  18. I ve done it for one of my sites and it converts well

  19. We ll now see this on all blogs 🙁 ……who has already installed it after reading this review ?

  20. Ben Tremblay says:

    Coming form you John is OK because we know you are evil. I was surprised to see that on ShoeMoney though and I hated it.

  21. Tom says:

    Woot! I’m implementing this right now.

  22. Rich says:

    John, I have a question: your sign-up box (and other sign-up boxes I’ve seen) don’t mention that you are signing up for a newsletter, just an e-Book. Isn’t that misleading? Why *don’t* you mention it? Would sign-ups go down?

    1. John Chow says:

      I can answer that with an old advertising proverb: “Sell the sizzle, not the steak.”

  23. Mike Panic says:

    It works, sure.. but at what expense? It is annoying and a disservice to the reader. Moreover, it may push readers away from reading your actual website because they will get the newsletter which doesn’t have this “pop-up” in it and is nearly 100% ad-free, thus causing you to have lower page views, thus dropping how much you earn from advertisers.

    1. John Chow says:

      If you think that is going to happen, then you have a lot to learn about marketing.

      1. Mike Panic says:

        Marketing is one thing, but at what expense? Have you really considered what the user interface is? I’m willing to bet that 90% or more of the readers of this blog are very tech / blog savvy, and we expect these things to happen, but what about the super tech blogger guy who writes “soccer mom daily” blog who’s target audience is non-techy soccer moms who don’t want to deal with a pop-up on their screen?

        1. John Chow says:

          Simple. They hit the “Close” button on the lightbox and never have to worry about it again. Sign up are actually higher for a non-tech audience than a tech savvy audience. As a matter of fact, the less tech savvy the audience, the higher the sign ups.

          Just try it and see it for yourself. Put away your personal assumptions and let the numbers speak for itself. Going with your gut feeling is fine but it’s not always the best business decision.

  24. Joey says:

    Its supposed to only show to new users? but what if old viewers use firefox and have cookies and cache cleared on exit…pops up everytime !!!!

  25. Thanks for posting this video John; great instructional. OK, so I installed Aweber lightbox forms on 2 of my sites and it works fine on 1 of them but on the other, which has a Javascript slide show on the home page the lightbox form appears UNDER the flash so you can’t see it. Anybody here have that problem or know how to fix it by chance? Thanks.

  26. Mike Huang says:

    I’ve said this before, but thought I would say it again. If users didn’t want to sign up in the first place, this method is just like “spam”. There are a lot of users that delete their cookies once a week or even once a day.


  27. Sohail says:

    @Mike Huang you are right

  28. Tushar Dhoot says:

    Isn’t this against the TOS of many websites, including adsense?

    1. Only if you’re using it to place adsense or other affiliate marketing ads on. If you’re using it for your own ebook, or other things not related to ads, then it’s fine.

  29. great thanks for this info ill give it a try

  30. Double says:

    Pop-up newsletter ad is bleeping annoying. You may lose this reader.

  31. John

    Will this work on any site? I have a subscription based site that this would work great for I think

  32. Sharon says:

    I used the lightbox and my conversion was 3.6% which is pretty good

  33. Interesting.

    Personally, I don’t mind it, since I clean my cookies every few weeks.

    Would I try it on my blog? Yes. But only when it grows bigger.

  34. I don’t think it’s THAT obtrusive seeing as it only pops up once per visitor.

    1. Ben Pei says:

      yup agreeable.. but it also depends on the content.

  35. Rich Page says:

    Hey John – while this is a great idea to get new subscribers, there is still a big problem with the blog broadcast for aweber feature. I mentioned this to you at the blog world expo. Basically, aweber can’t pull in the description of the post. Just the title. And you can’t do much with what you can pull – its preset. Just the title and date. This makes it hard to provide anything but the blog post title when trying to automate a ‘newsletter’ going out. Which isn’t that great for trying to get someone to click through.

    I started using aweber blog broadcast, but because of this issue, I actually use their regular broadcast email, put my own links in and do my own teaster descriptions. I do this manual newsletter once a month and has worked well for me.

    Anyone else noticing this issue?

    Rich Page (a web analytics fanatic)

    1. John Chow says:

      My blog broadcast uses blog title and description of each post.

  36. I have been struggling with the idea of doing the lightbox sign up box. My gut is telling it would carry too many negatives. But now that so many probloggers are doing it, I think I might give it a try.

  37. Dfunda says:

    i cannot afford that but i use free one zookoda newsletter

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