Grow Your Email List 99% Faster: How One Site Did It

What would you do to increase your subscriber growth by 99%? What if it just required a quick addition to your website?

What would you do to increase your subscriber growth by 99%? What if it just required a quick addition to your website?

Michael McCarthy’s investor relations site QualityStocks has a large subscriber base with consistent growth, but Michael wanted to find ways to continue increasing those numbers. We talked with him about strategies aimed at increasing his subscriber growth, and after some testing and review, found just a small change can yield huge results.

This lesson can be applied to all email marketing campaigns. If you’re looking for an easy way to bring in more subscribers, read on to learn what Michael did and why.

How QualityStocks Built Its List

QualityStocks connects their email subscribers with companies that they evaluate and determine have huge potential to succeed in the short and long-term future. There is a form on the site where people can sign up to get daily updates:

They also have other pages on their site that talk about the mailing list and invite visitors to subscribe. The forms he’s using are called inline forms, as they are on the page itself. Michael does a great job explaining his mailing lists and what subscribers can expect, and this has created a great foundation for his campaign.

The Change That Increased Subscriber Growth

When you have a successful campaign with consistent growth, it makes it difficult to justify implementing any changes. However, some changes rarely disappoint, and can even lift a campaign to a higher level of success. Adding a pop-over or lightbox form is one of those changes, as other AWeber customers have discovered in the past.

Michael added a lightbox form on his site. His home page has a good section dedicated to information about the mailing list, so it was decided it would perform best on the “About Us” page, which gets a lot of visitors.

The “About Us” page contains important information about the company and what’s offered, but their invitation to join the mailing list is not as prominent as it is on some of their other pages. The lightbox now allows that invitation to stick out on the page, bringing in more subscribers:

Adding the form on that page was a good move; it caused a 158% increase in subscriber growth compared to the previous month without the lightobox:

This monthly new subscribers chart shows the six months before and after when the lightbox form was introduced. There is a temporary drop in new subscribers during the holiday months before rapid growth resumes.

In the six months since the lightbox form was added, Quality Stocks has seen a 99% increase in subscriber growth compared to the prior six months.

Other Changes to Increase Subscriber Growth

Already have a pop-over on your site? Make sure you’re utilizing these tips so you aren’t losing potential subscribers:

  • Make sure your form is accessible- You can place your form “above the fold” which means that it will be in the upper half of your page. Your subscribers will be able to see it upon landing on your page, so they won’t need to scroll through your page to reach the sign up form.
  • Put an inline form on every page- Visitors may click through to different pages on your website. You want to make sure that a form in on every page so that no matter where they are, they have the option to sign up to your mailing list.
  • Utilize social media- Facebook has become a very popular social media platform and a great source for collecting subscribers. You can add a link to your web form on your Facebook page so visitors can become subscribers.

Add a Pop-over On Your Site

You can easily see what results you get by adding a pop-over form to your site, and you can always remove it if it’s not something you want to keep up on your site. Most find a pop-over is a great addition to their web site.

What have you done to increase subscriber growth? Do you think pop-up forms are effective on your site? Have you tried putting your pop-ups on different pages?


  1. Aaron Schulman

    6/7/2011 9:59 am

    Great post-

    Thanks Crystal. . .

    We recently added a hover to every page of 1 site and are waiting for more results. . .

    I also installed the form on my Facebook account- but have found that it is obscure and hard to find –

    Any suggestions on making the form on Facebook more noticeable?

    I think you have to click way over on an obscure links on the left side to get to my “business page” then once you are there- the form is still not the first thing present- you have to dig for it on facebook-

    I think Facebook’s setup for the Aweber optin is really poor because it is obscured twice – unless I am going about it wrong. . .

    Please advise on this Facebook optin (It is up and working – just nearly impossible to find for someone who does not know it is there)


  2. Christina Sponias

    6/7/2011 12:50 pm

    I don’t know; it may be effective, but I personally hate websites with the ligthbox. I think that it is too annoying. I always close it. When I open a webpage I want to see what it is about. I don’t want to be obliged to subscribe from the beginning.

    Now, if the lightbox appears only in the “About Us” page, it seems to be acceptable. However, most websites use it on their homepage. Many times I simply give up visiting a website because when I open it, and a lightbox appears. I don’t like to be forced to subscribe.

  3. Crystal Gouldey

    6/7/2011 1:15 pm

    Facebook does allow you to change the landing tab, but first you need to get your page authenticated. To do that you need to either have over 10k fans, or contact a FB rep.

    You can check out their forum for more info.

  4. Glenda Watson Hyatt

    6/7/2011 6:26 pm

    Besides being annoying, my concern with popovers and lightboxes is: are they accessible, particularly to people using scene readers? Has aWeber does any accessibility testing with these features? I’m just curious.

  5. Margo Ruark

    6/7/2011 10:01 pm

    Do you have the easy html code link to create the popover form? Or “to create your popover form now go here!” Thanks!

  6. Crystal Gouldey

    6/9/2011 8:52 am

    Christina- AWeber lightboxes do allow you to close out the form if you don’t want to subscribe, so nothing is forced. I’m sure others feel the same though, which is why we suggest testing putting up a lightbox form to see if it works for your site.

    Glenda- It would depend on the screen reader. We do recommend you keep an inline form on your site to supplement any popover type forms you have.

    Margo- Click here to see our article on how to create a popover form. Once you’ve created your form, you’ll get a JavaScript snippet to put on your site.

  7. Sameh

    6/9/2011 10:49 am


    I used to think that my visitors would be annoyed by the lightbox until I decided to give it a shot for at least 48 hours. I went from 2-3 subscribers a day to 30 subscribers and everything else stayed unchanged (bounce rate, ads ctr, returning visitors, etc..). Later on I removed all other forms I had on the website and let lightbox do it’s magic. Now I got a couple of free spots to use, faster loading pages and finally, more subscribers.

    PS: I set the lightbox to only load on inner pages (no index or categories). I also set it to load one time for each visitor.

    Give it a try, you wouldn’t lose anything. In fact, you might gain a lot and if it didn’t work, at least you tried it. right?

  8. Paul Profitt

    6/9/2011 11:25 am

    I have been using the light box sign up for quite a while now. And I know for a fact that it performs far better than the in line sign up form. I have my light box set to show only to new visitors on my home page.

  9. Aaron

    6/9/2011 12:34 pm

    Adding a lightbox to my sight got me ban from ppc on google and bing!

  10. Martin

    6/9/2011 9:22 pm

    @Aaron. That’s bad luck – popups on landing pages have been against the terms of service for Google Adwords for many years now though. It’s apparently ‘bad for user experience’ (although that doesn’t entirely seem to agree with the fact more people opt-in when you use them… but hey, it’s big G’s decision).

    Did you get banned completely or just those ads disabled? The former is of course way too harsh, but the latter is fair.

  11. Gidon

    6/10/2011 2:18 am

    @Sameh said:
    I also set it to load one time for each visitor.

    now THAT’S a good feature!

    @Crystal, I assume it is clearly documented in ?

    Now here’s my question – I am pushing three Aweber lists. Can I program it so each visitor sees listA’s popup once, some time later listB’s, then listC’s, each only once?

    I really want everyone to sign up for list C (and in fact, people who sign up for C are automatically subscribed to A and B if they aren’t already), but lists C and B require more info on the part of the subscribers, while list A is a simple name/email/how did you hear of us job.

    Hmm. Sorry for hijacking this thread, but here’s another question that can be very helpful:

    Hmmm. I interrupt my question for this possible answer:-):

    On the one hand, we want to make it as simple as possible for our subscribers to subscribe. That means as few as possible fields on the form. OTOH, we *want* that extra info! So, what do you think of the following practice?
    Advertise list A, with minimal sign up burden of name and email.
    In a follow-up message on list A, invite subscribers to join list A+, for free, with [a little] more quality content, we just need some more info.

    Then, when they subscribe to list A+. they are automatically unsubscribed from A.

    That way, you get the low-commitment list A people with just their name and email, AND the higher commitment people who are willing to give you more info!

  12. Richard

    6/10/2011 5:01 am

    The lightbox on that page is keyboard accessible, but one of the problems with lightboxes in general and keyboard access, is that all the background links are still active so tabbing through goes through them all. Fortunately in this case the form gets focus first but if you tab beyond the end of the form you then have to tab multiple times to get back to it and it isn’t possible to see where the focus is on the background part of the page.

    Also, as Glenda has pointed out elsewhere this comment form isn’t keyboard accessible because the tabindex jumps from the website field straight to the submit button. As you recommend in this post “make your form accessible” you should do that with your own site.

  13. Crystal Gouldey

    6/10/2011 10:20 am

    Gidon- Yes, that FAQ page will detail how you can create a pop up type form in your account.

    There is not currently a way to set it up so a specific sign up form will display depending on the visitor.

    Asking subscribers on list A to provide more info, and when they do having them join another list, would be a way around this. I agree that it will ensure you have people that are more committed on those lists.

  14. Tony

    6/11/2011 5:10 am

    Good post, I definitely need to use the lightbox form.
    I also should start using the Facebook form, that’ll help out alot.
    Thanks for the tips, they were helpful.

  15. Dr. Michael Haley

    6/12/2011 6:18 am

    The pros for the box are the increased sign-ups. The con is the annoying “pop-up” like qualities. If a frequent visitor has his computer set to delete cookies often, he gets the light box nearly every visit.

    But it seems that some commenters missed the placement of the lightbox that this story highlighted… the “About Us” page. That is a page that visitors are likely to click through to on the first visit… but rarely after that. It makes me think about what I have been doing.

    One of my sites, has an annoying “pop-up” lightbox on every page. I can’t stand it myself when I visit my own website! It is time for me to re-think that and see if I can make it attractive to click through to an “About Us” page or something like that, for the light box.

    Great article. Thanks for helping me improve my websites.

  16. Justin Premick

    6/13/2011 10:30 am

    Dr. Haley,

    Have you considered setting your lightbox form to only display once per visitor? Or once per X number of days? (say, once every 60 days)

    This can easily be done when creating or editing your form:

  17. Dr. Michael Haley

    6/14/2011 7:40 am

    I have set my lightbox to display once per visitor… however, I think the problem is when people delete their cookies which typically happens when they delete temporary internet files and the like.

    Some have their browsers set to do this automatically every time they close their browsers. I might be wrong… possibly very few people actually do this. I am one of those that does… so I probably notice is more than most.

  18. Gina

    6/14/2011 11:37 am

    Hi Aaron and Crystal.

    To Aaron’s question, you can indeed have your landing page display the Aweber form if that is what you choose. All you have to do is change the settings on your page and there are no requirements about fan count etc. Once the tab is set up, you can reassign where you want someone to land when they visit. In this case I have it set to show a welcome page when someone lands on the page. If you look to the left, you will see that I have created other tabs that a visitor can click on, including one that has a sign up form on it.

    In this example, I have it set so that when a visitor lands on this page, they have to like the page to see other details listed in the landing page but, I have also included a tab at left that clicks through to a sign up form whether they like the page or not

  19. Sue

    6/15/2011 5:22 pm

    I use both a lightbox and an inline form (the lightbox appears only once per visitor). Even though I hate pop-ups, apparently other people don’t…I’m always amazed at the number of people who sign up using the lightbox version of the form!
    I have a question though. I really like the simple inline form featured in the ‘Quality Stocks’ example, above. Which template was used to create this form?
    Thanks for your help

  20. Sue

    6/15/2011 5:29 pm

    What I’m specifically asking is how do you get the name and email fields to appear BESIDE each other rather than one on top of the other?

  21. Crystal Gouldey

    6/16/2011 9:39 am


    They’re using a custom designed form to do that. Unfortunately we do not currently have templates that do that. You can check out our web form template galley to see what we do offer.

  22. VirtualGina

    6/16/2011 12:00 pm

    Hi Crystal: further to Sue’s question- how do you link a custom form to your Aweber list?

  23. Crystal Gouldey

    6/16/2011 12:58 pm

    It requires some work in the HTML of your page. We have some instructions that can help you out with it, but you may want to consult with your web designer.

  24. Sue

    6/16/2011 1:17 pm

    Thanks Crystal,
    I just realized that if I go to the Quality Stocks page I can view the source code which I could copy and modify for my own use. Do you think this would work?

  25. VirtualGina

    6/16/2011 1:24 pm

    I do my own web designing. Thanks. I’ll check it out.

  26. Crystal Gouldey

    6/16/2011 1:48 pm

    Since we did not create that HTML code, we can’t recommend using it for your own site. I would recommend looking at the instructions I mentioned above for using our HTML with your own.

  27. Gidon

    6/18/2011 6:26 pm

    Sue 6/16/2011 1:17 pm,
    I like your thinking, and I understand Crystal’s hesitance to endorse it.

    Crystal, wouldn’t it be a possible idea to open up Aweber forms to designers, like WP widgets and plugins and themes etc.? I know that I have hired a programmer who is int he middle of creating a great form for me, and it would benefit the Aweber community if she and other talented people like her could offer their wares for fun or profit.

    I will post the page with that form here when it is finished.

  28. Crystal Gouldey

    6/21/2011 8:49 am

    We do have an API now, so hopefully that will be option in the near future.

  29. Charles Forell

    7/2/2011 8:04 pm

    I have one question. Not knowing the aweber offerd such an option I placed a list building tool called popup domination and it worked great. There was only one problem, I was banned from Google adwords since they do not allow popups on any page of my site. Will this get me baned from them again if I add it? I would hate to add this to only go througg the 5 day process of getting my account unlocked again.

  30. Crystal Gouldey

    7/6/2011 8:26 am

    I’m not familiar with any penalties for adding an AWeber popover to your site, but I can’t speak for Google so you may want to check with them.

  31. Soumitra

    9/11/2011 10:36 am

    @aaron :-

    Yes , You need to create a more professional page , which will take you to the aweber form when “like”.
    @ Tony

    Yes , aweber-FB is good one , but if you mean business , Be more professional.
    @ Gina – I agree with you fully , you can change tha landing page settings very easily. Just edit page —> change landing tab —-> make the form tab the landing tab , that’s it.

    But it is much over this to have a better professional page.

  32. James

    11/6/2011 10:03 am

    Hmm, I’m very new to this idea and have only just opened an aweber account. Have to say that the whole lightbox idea sounds good to me, especially the idea of putting it in the ‘about’ page.
    I’ll be giving it a try out.

  33. Hanns

    11/15/2011 10:33 am

    Interesting article. I was against pop up forms, because I find them annoying on sites I visit, but I will now give them a try.

  34. Mrs. S

    12/14/2011 1:14 pm

    Interesting article, I found this e-mail marketing service on a carpet cleaning discussion form. I’m a little scared to use a lightbox. However, it might work on the “contact us” page of our web site.

    I’m starting to get sold on this idea. However, many of our customers are older, and I’m wondering would they know how to exit or would they just hit the back button. I would like to see the pros and cons of this. Rather than just the pros.

  35. Steve

    5/27/2012 11:51 pm

    One thing I don’t like with the Aweber Lightbox subscription popup form is that users need to check the X in order to close the window and I’ve seen this force users in most cases to fill in the form in order to make it go away.

    99% of other lightboxes allow you to click anywhere on the screen to have it vanish.

    Can you please add this as the default behavior for the form please or release the code to allow this functionality please.



  36. Rebekah Henson

    5/29/2012 9:56 am

    Hi Steve,
    Thanks for your feedback. I sent your comment along to our development team.

  37. Isaiaha

    2/9/2013 11:52 pm

    Love it!

    Nice to see people are getting results – still new at this and I’m looking forward to playing around with the settings.

    My favorite thing about this is the testing… as they say Marketing is all about Trying, Tweaking and Trying again – very fun!