Perhaps the number one way to engage with visitors to your website is to include a highly visible opt-in form that allows readers to sign up for updates or a newsletter. Blogging experts say that email lists beat out every form of social networking. Why? When someone follows you on twitter, they make no commitment. They may or may not be on Twitter when you make a post, and Twitter users often scroll very quickly through updates. Likewise with Facebook. Someone who likes your facebook fan page may visit it only once. The beauty of an email list is that readers have chosen to opt in. They have provided their email address to you, which means they are interested in what you have to say.
I’ve tested a number of plugins for opt in forms, and the one I’m happiest with by far is OptinSkin. Not only is it easy and pretty, it also has proven to be very successful at generating signups. On my first day using it, I had 33 signups. Prior to installing it, I’d had a signup form on my site for years and had never gotten more than a hundred subscribers, total.
I think the success has to do with the fact that OptinSkin just looks prettier and is far more visible. It’s very easy to set up, and can be used in sidebar widgets, in posts, in pages, or as a popup. The big rectangular box at the bottom of this post is an optin skin. So is the small signup box to the right of the first paragraph in this post. I also use optin skin on my author website to do a monthly book giveaway. See it in action at http://michellerichmond.com