When I was researching and planning this post, I rediscovered a lead capture guide I had downloaded from CoSchedule, the social media management tool.

The guide reminded me why the Web Designer Beauty School, and especially the Support School, exist. So often we download these incredibly valuable documents only to end up with our head on the desk wondering how the hell to actually implement the advice. Don’t get me wrong — I love learning all I can. It’s just that so many of these recommendations sound simple, but they’re not.

Take this line for example:

“Grab signup form code from MailChimp and work with your website or blog theme to embed it above the fold.”

Above the fold? Does that mean you have to embed it at the top of every page or post? Do you have to embed it in the header area of the website? Do they expect us to know how to access the header area?

While you may already know how to do this, for most of us it’s quite challenging.

Today we’re going to work through some of the tips that CoSchedule recommends, and actually share some plugin ideas to help you put the advice into action.

Here is their advice:

“If you want to build a serious email list, this has to be the #1 goal of your website:

  • You need some form of compelling lead magnet
  • Above-the-fold email opt-in CTA
  • Email opt-in popup
  • End-of-content email opt-in”

Step No. 1: Place an Email Opt-In Above the Fold

CoSchedule recommends that you:

  • Grab signup form code from MailChimp, and work with your website or blog theme to embed it above the fold.
  • Install SumoMe’s Welcome Mat.

SumoMe is a great tool, but I really believe you need a pro account ($20+ per month) for each website, which allows for up to 5,000 visitors per month and gives you features you need. In my experience, I didn’t have enough control over the free versions.

Another plugin you could use is What Would Seth Godin Do. This plugin displays a custom welcome message to new visitors and another to return visitors. Targeting your opt-in to your visitor helps them feel like you are really paying attention to them.

In recent posts on this blog and on my own blog I have been sharing a lot of MailChimp and Gravity Forms tutorials. I realized that the tools I was using in the past did not track exactly where subscribers sign up (e.g. which website, page, or specific form), and did not funnel those users to groups in MailChimp so I can then send relevant email campaigns to subscribers.

For example, I have traditionally used (and LOVED) Nathalie Lussier’s PopUp Ally for (polite!) pop-ups on all my clients’ websites as well as for click-to-pop-up links and even notification bars, but it requires MailChimp’s sign-up HTML embed code, which can be limiting when it comes to tracking (or requires some extra, potentially intimidating HTML code). I still love and use this plugin all the time, but I had to go searching for a plugin that would let me do a better job of tracking leads.

Notification Bars

My go-to notification bar is usually BoomBar by iThemes (which I have access to as part of my developer license to all iThemes plugins, most notably Backup Buddy and Security Pro).

BoomBar is similar to another reputable plugin, HelloBar, but I never took to HelloBar. First, it is a pay-per-lead plugin (last time I checked), and I found customizing it to be challenging. I tend to abandon plugins quickly if they don’t suit my needs, and I often don’t go back to revisit their worthiness.

Sample ithemes BoomBar at the top of a page.

I like BoomBar because:

  • It’s quick and easy to create new bars that stick to the top of the page.
  • You can customize the background color and fonts in the bar easily.
  • You can choose to make a bar ‘global’ so it appears on every page of your site
  • You can add additional bars and designate them on certain pages of websites.

I love using BoomBar to display a notification bar that is fixed to the bottom of sales pages with “Buy Now” buttons so that when you present a really long sales page to people on your website, they don’t have to scroll forever to the very bottom of the page to take action.

Sample ithemes BoomBar at the base of a page

Sample ithemes BoomBar at the base of a page

The downside of the BoomBar plugin is that you can only add text and a button. You can’t add a form. If you’re aiming to capture leads, you could link the button to a landing page in your website where you embed a form and a short sales pitch like we do on this page for Web Designer Beauty School.

But what if you want to reduce the number of clicks?

WPFront Notification Bar is a great free plugin with one downfall — it only allows you to add one bar site-wide, or you can add a bar to only one page in your website (such as your home page). Hey, it’s free. The settings are going to be a little limited.

The reason I recommend this plugin is that you can embed a Gravity Forms sign-up form in it because it allows for shortcodes (which is how all Gravity Forms are embedded throughout your website). You can also add as much text as you like, using a WYSIWYG editor, so you can customize the text with your own headlines styles and such.

That means it doesn’t have to function like a notification bar but, rather, as an above-the-fold lead capture form.

Features of WPFront Notification Bar:

  • Display a message with a button (optional)
  • Button will open a URL or execute JavaScript
  • Position the bar on top or bottom
  • Can be fixed at position (Sticky Bar)
  • Set any height you want
  • Set the number of seconds before the bar appears
  • Display a close button for the visitor
  • Set the number of seconds before auto close
  • Colors are fully customizable
  • Display a Reopen Button
  • Select the pages/posts you want to display the notification
  • Select the user roles you want to display the notification

If you want to get a lead capture form above the fold quickly and cheaply, and if you want it to be larger and more prominent than a notification bar like iThemes BoomBar or HelloBar, try WPFront Notification Bar.

Step No. 2: Create an Email Opt-In Popup

Next up, CoSchedule recommends a pop-up form.

“They really, really, really work. In fact, I doubt you can find a single, high-track marketing blog that doesn’t currently use popups.”

A few fabulous pop-up plugins include:

Sample pop-up using Nathalie Lussier’s Pop-up Ally plugin.

Sample pop-up using Nathalie Lussier’s Pop-up Ally plugin.

But if you’re looking for a free plugin — and one that optionally allows you to use your Gravity Forms for the lead capture forms — then check-out Popup Maker.

Popup Maker is highly customizable, mobile responsive, can take any content, and lets you use an exit intent popup. It’s versatile, easy to use, and highly rated.

Step No. 3: End-of-Content Email Opt-In

“Your visitors to your post will not read the full post. If they do make it to the end of your post, they want more. Don’t waste this opportunity.”

Essentially, CoSchedule suggests to embed form code, say from MailChimp, at the end of your posts.
Another quick way to do this is to write a blog post and simply insert your Gravity Form shortcode to the end of each post.

When you embed the Gravity Form shortcode, you have the option to use the Gravity Form title and description as part of the form, plus you can direct the user to any page in your website (or even to an instant hidden message).

Why is this handy?

Let’s say you embed the form at the base of 10 of your posts that have content relevant to a particular category of posts on your website. For example, on our site we have opt-ins at the end of posts leading to a page with free email scripts you can use to handle difficult client situations; and on other posts we have a form that leads to our free e-book all about finding and signing new clients. We can create a Gravity Form to use as our lead capture form for the scripts, and another one for the ebook.

By using Gravity Forms, we can funnel subscribers to specific groups in one MailChimp list (or tag them if we are using ConvertKit).

But let’s say you want to change the opt-in to a new offer at some point.

 If and when we want to stop sharing our e-book and present a new one, we don’t want to edit every single post that the Gravity Form appears on. That would be a monumental time-consuming task.

If we use the Gravity Form title and/or description field to introduce the new offer with the form, rather than offering it within the text of the blog post, we can update the title and description in Gravity Forms, as well as the confirmation page or message that we direct subscribers to after they fill out the form, and voilá, every version of that form on every post is updated in one hit!

Step No. 4: Bonus! Nav Menu Links

In the BoomBar section I mentioned creating a landing page to capture leads, like we do on this page: https://courses.webdesignerbeautyschool.com/subscribe.

 If and when you create a lead capture page, it’s a great practice to add a link to this page in your main navigation menu. 

You can do this simply from your Appearance / Menus page in your WordPress dashboard.

Sample subscribe navigation menu links.

Sample subscribe navigation menu links.

Here are some more examples:


These plugins will help you optimize your websites so that more of your ideal clients and customers stay engaged with your content. In the Web Designer Beauty School, we teach you how to customize these tools exactly as you want them to be so that your site looks — and feels — just as you want it to. If you are a control freak like me, you like to customize your website so that your clients have an amazing experience when they interact with it. And if you are a web designer, you want the same for your clients’ websites. Web Designer Beauty School shows you how.

Here’s a checklist of what we covered and what you can add to your site:

  • Subscribe page containing a Gravity Form to capture leads
  • Notification bars and/or above-the-fold lead capture forms
  • Pop-ups
  • After-post lead capture forms
  • Menu links
Watch a free "how to" lesson from the MailChimp Masterclass showcasing these plugins (and a few bonus ones) to help you capture more leads in your website...



  • Stefani Harris October 7, 2016, 6:27 pm

    This is an extremely valuable post! Thank you for your knowledge and wisdom – as always! 🙂

  • Veronica November 4, 2016, 10:41 pm

    Awesome, thank you Katy!

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