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How To Easily Capture Email Subscribers For Free

If you’re a blogger or business owner trying to grow your email list, then you’ve probably seen or heard how amazing Leadpages is.

They have researched tested drag-and-drop landing pages and easy to make LeadBoxes that allow subscribers to sign up to your list fast. All in a gorgeous popup lightbox.

But with all that fancy tech comes a big price tag for those just starting out.

We’re talking $37 PER month or $300 per year!

So if you’re ready to ditch Leadpages for a FREE alternative, this post is going to walk you through it.

While it takes a little setup time, it will save you time and money down the road, so I think it’s worth it!

LeadPages Alternative

As a web designer who has used LeadPages, I still hate the LeadPages interface. It can be hard to customize sometimes and is counter intuitive.

So, I’d much rather build landing pages on my own website with my easier to use tools.

One of Leadpages selling points is that they have researched their templates for conversion rates. So you can view and choose the template with the highest conversion rate.

However, anyone can view these templates and sort by conversion rate without needing to purchase Leadpages.

LeadPages template list sortable by conversion rate
So if you like the look and statistics of a page, you can recreate it on your own!

To create a landing page, you’ll need to make sure your theme allows full-width sections. If it doesn’t, you can custom code it to do it, but if you’re unfamiliar with CSS, it might be a struggle.

Full Width Page template for WordPress theme
Assuming you do have full-width sections, I recommend getting the FREE page builder plugin, Elementor.

It’s easy to use once you learn how and it allows for much more customization than Leadpages.

If you like and are comfortable using your own page builder plugin, then by all means keep using it.

But for those just starting out, Elementor is an easy way to go.

Elementor
It includes easy to add features you might want to include like videos, photos, social icons, etc. And you can pop in shortcodes for any other plugins you may have, like countdown timers.

I’ve recorded a video demonstrating how to recreate a LeadPage with Elementor on the free GeneratePress theme.


LeadBoxes Alternative

Now’s the fun part!

If you browse my website, you’ll see buttons that are optins to my courses, freebies or newsletter lists.

If you click them, it opens a popup window that has an optin form.

Here’s an example:
Get All my Freebies

Before the button would be a LeadBox, where Leadpages would create its own form in its popup. And you would integrate everything in the Leadpages backend.

So to recreate this, we’re going to replace Leadpages with the free Popup Maker plugin.

You can create timed popups or ones that only open on click, just like LeadBoxes.

Note:

While this alternative works the same way as LeadPages, it doesn’t include analytics, split testing, or exit intent popups. For me, this isn’t an issue, as my optins pretty much look the same except for the words and I hate exit intent popups. BUT, if it’s something you want, Popup Maker offers extensions for Analytics ($45/year) and Exit Intent ($35/year). Still cheaper than Leadpages

My email marketing provider is ActiveCampaign, so that’s what this tutorial is using. It should be fairly similar for other email marketing programs.

Here’s the video walkthrough, or you can read the steps below:




1. Create a Form

The first thing I’ll need to do is create a form to go on the popup.

With ActiveCampaign, I have several different forms:

Note:

For my Lead Magnet form, I only use ONE form for ALL my Lead Magnets in ActiveCampaign, instead of doing a form for EACH, which I had to do in Leadpages. With the use of hidden fields, I’ve set it up so that I just change some of the default code in my popup, and the email that delivers the freebie will automatically prepopulate with the Lead Magnet name and URL to download. It used to be a real pain to change the look or wording of my lead magnets in Leadpages, because I would have to change EVERY. SINGLE. LEADBOX. Now, I can just change 1 email or form and it is updated across the board for all freebies. Saves me a lot of time and frustration!

So to get started, you’ll need to create a form you want on your popup.

Let’s do my standard Newsletter subscription as an example.

You go to Forms, and click the “New Form” button (or else duplicate an existing form to keep its style).

ActiveCampaign forms
Then, you’ll name this Form and drag in the fields you want, like Name and Email. Or any other fields you may want.

ActiveCampaign form builder
Adding fields to your ActiveCampaign form
Now you can customize the look of your form in your email marketing provider. There will usually be settings to help you do it, which can get it looking pretty good.

And ActiveCampaign is awesome as you can further customize your form as it allows custom CSS.

Custom CSS for your forms in ActiveCampaign
And if you can’t get it exactly how you want, you can reach out to a web designer to help you design the look of your forms.

Note:

Once you have the look of your form the right way, you can just duplicate the forms for all future ones.

You’ll want to make sure you have your form settings done correctly too, like the Thank You Page redirect, any tags, double optin enabled, etc.

Ok, so now we have our form and it’s looking good. Yay! That’s sometimes the hardest part!


2. The Popup “Theme”

The next step is to go to your website and install and activate the FREE Popup Maker plugin.

Popup Maker plugin in WordPress
Once it’s activated you can see its settings on the sidebar. Let’s go to Popup Themes.

Popup Maker Theme list
This plugin comes with a few pre-made themes for how your popup will look (or you can create your own).

You can look through them in the preview and if you like one of them just the way it is, that’s great. You can move on to the next step.

Popup Maker light box theme with preview
But, I like a very clean look, so I wound up wanting to customize the Light Box template.

It was good, but I wanted to make it more similar to the LeadBox look, so a lighter background, no dark shadow around edges, etc.

But what’s great is that you can customize the look within the plugin, so no CSS or HTML knowledge is needed!

If you like the look of my popups, here are the settings I used:

Ali Rand Popup Maker Light Box Theme Settings

Note:

If you ever make changes to the theme, any popups which use them will automatically change. This saves a lot of time!

Ok, so once you’re happy with the the look of your popup theme, it’s time to create an actual popup!


3. Popup Settings

So go back to the Popup Maker settings and click Add Popup.

You can give it a name of what the popup is for.

Add title for Popup Maker
Then, you can check the sidebar and choose which theme the popup will be, like your preferred one.

And there are settings below to further customize this popup.

Popup Maker settings for individual popups
Triggers
You can choose when the popup will open – whether automatically or on click.

For a LeadBox type optin, I’ll choose Click Open, with no other settings needed.

Click Trigger settings for Popup Maker
Display Settings
Now you can further customize how the popup will look or perform, with the easy to use settings.

For my Popups, I only chose these settings:

  • Size: Small – 40%
  • Max Width: 700px

Display Settings for Popup maker

Close Settings
You can choose how this popup will close. I want it to be easy, so I check marked all the options.

close settings for popup maker


4. Popup Content

Ok so now we have our popup ready, we just need the content.

The first thing you’ll want is to add any text for your popup, like a teaser to get them interested.

I do that here…

PopUp Maker teaser call to action
Then, we need the form.

So if you go back to ActiveCampaign, you can click the Integrate button.

They give you a simple code or the whole code for the form.

ActiveCampaign integrate form with script
The simple code works for things like my course optin, general subscription, service forms, etc.

But for my lead magnets, I need to use the FULL code, as there’s a few lines that I have to manually change for each Lead Magnet.

Note:

One reader was having a problem with her MailChimp form not submitting. We had to remove all the spaces between the code after the end of the “mce-responses” section so it would submit responses correctly. Message me if you need any help with this!

So you’ll copy the right code and paste it into the Popup Maker window – in the HTML tab.

Popup Maker popup with ActiveCampaign form

Note:

I’ve disabled my Visual tab as it can cause you to lose all the custom HTML classes you put in there.

And I like to add a disclaimer, so I’ll add that in a smaller font size after the code.

Of course, your popup will look different depending on email marketing provider, form customizations, theme inherent fonts and spacing, etc.

Anyway, now we have our popup and we’ll click Publish.

When you go to All Popups, you’ll now see your Popup and there are things to note.

It gives you custom CSS classes for your links.

Popup Maker popup CSS classes
So go to where you want your popup to display on your page.

If you want a popup from a straight link, you’ll need to switch to HTML mode in the window and find
<a href=”http://yourlinkhere.com”>Click Me</a>

Now you have 2 steps to do.

The first is to replace the old link with “#” and then add class=”popup-maker-class”.

So it’ll look like this:
<a href=”#” class=”popup-maker-class”>Click Me</a>

And if you preview your page, when you click the link, it’ll show your popup!

Click Me

This also works with buttons, so you may have something like this.
<a href=”#” class=”red-button popup-maker-class”>Click Me</a>

Click Me

Note:

If you’re using a page builder plugin with buttons, there is usually a section that allows for custom CSS classes for buttons. That’s where you’ll type in your “example-popup-maker-class,” but without quotes. Then it should work!

You can then test your form to see if it’s working, by actually filling the form out and checking to see if you’ve been added as a contact in your email marketing provider, or more in-depth checking to see if you receive an email, get added to automations, etc.

And once you’re happy and the form is ready to be live, you can reset the open count to not have your clicks count in the analytics.

Just go back to Edit Popup, and click “Reset Click Count” in the sidebar.

Reset open analytics for Popup Maker

Note:

To make more popups, without having to redo all your settings, make sure you have a “post duplicator” plugin installed. That way, you can just clone your popup, and change the title and code. And if you’re using the Duplicate Post plugin, go to settings to check clone “Popups.”

Conclusion

Now you can easily make your own “LeadPages” and “LeadBoxes” without the expense and hassle of Leadpages!

While making your own landing pages is fairly easy, you’ve seen how with a little initial effort in setting up popups, you can save yourself a lot of time and money in the long run (around $300 per year!).

P.S. Interested in getting your own awesome website? Learn more here!

Some of the links contained in this post are affiliate links. This means that I may receive a commission if you click on the link and make a purchase from the affiliate. I only recommend products and services that I know or trust to be of high quality, whether an affiliate relationship is in place or not.

About the Author

I create beautiful and conversion-focused WordPress websites for service-based entrepreneurs and businesses. Because websites should sell for you, not just look pretty. And if you’re interested in learning how to maintain your website (so you can fix those pesky issues!), then click here.


16 thoughts on “How To Easily Capture Email Subscribers For Free

  1. WAY cool stuff Ali. I doubled my list over 3 months and used only free forms, guest posting and blog commenting to do it. The list building was in the value for me, versus feeling I needed a sleek, cutting edge, premium form. Simple Mail Chimp pop up and sidebar form, along with a Mail Munch sliderr and a PUSH sub pop up to, at the top of the page. See you later, Blogging Booster 🙂

    • Thanks Ryan! That’s awesome you’ve had so much success with free tools, as you’re totally right that you don’t need to invest in premium ones. Thanks for commenting and good luck with your blog!

    • Thanks Ryan! That’s awesome you’ve had so much success with free tools, as you’re totally right that you don’t need to invest in premium ones. Thanks for commenting and good luck with your blog!

  2. Wow, such great information. I love to read the word “free” so you had me intrigued. I just took a email marketing course and I’m still working through it. I will be book marking this post to come back to. Thanks for sharing!

  3. This is seriously so helpful! I feel like I just keep dishing out money for different tools that end up not being quite right for me, so I’m always up for a little elbow grease if it gets me exactly what I want.

    • So happy you’ve found it helpful, Trisha! And that’s also how I feel too…I’d much rather do it myself for free (even if it takes some initial setup) than be stuck with costs down the road. Thanks for commenting!

  4. Thank you so much. I’m pretty much stuck on a step, but going to see if I can power through it. I use mailchimp and I’m confused on the part where you copy the form in. I’ll have to figure it out. I’ll pin this to pinterest. Thanks for sharing!

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