Quick Tip: Boost Opt-ins with Contact Form 7 for WordPress

By Ian Chandler
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You might have heard the saying, “the money is in the list”. Your email list, to be exact. Email marketing is widely considered to be the most powerful form of marketing today, and there are plenty of stats to back it up.

A big email subscriber base gives you a lot of power. You have an audience at your fingertips who like your brand and are ready to invest in it. If you have any sort of product or service, an email list is invaluable to you.

The problem? It can be difficult to get email addresses. Some people hate popups with a passion and won’t give them the time of day. Even if you offer something great in exchange for an email address, some people may not be interested.

One particularly effective method of getting email addresses is to include an auto-checked box in your contact form. Whenever someone contacts you through the form, there will be a pre-checked box that automatically signs them up for your newsletter. Of course, they can uncheck it if they want to, but many people don’t.

In this article, I’ll show you how to use the free and highly versatile Contact Form 7 plugin for WordPress to create an auto-checked box that will help your email list grow by leaps and bounds.

I’d recommend checking your local spam laws and regulations before implementing this. I’d be interested to hear more about your thoughts and preferred approach in the comments below.

What you’ll need:

Contact Form 7

Contact Form 7

Contact Form 7 MailChimp extension

Contact Form 7 MailChimp extension

How to Create an Auto-Checked Optin Box

1. Create a New Contact Form

In your Dashboard, navigate to ‘Contact’ > ‘Add New’. You’ll see a text field where you can code your contact form. The plugin conveniently provides several handy choices. All you have to do is click on the element you want (a drop-down menu, for example), modify it to your liking, and then click ‘Insert tag.’

Add New Contact Form 7 Form in WordPress

After you’re done creating the form itself, you can head over to the ‘Mail’, ‘Messages’, and ‘Additional Settings’ tabs to further customize your form.

2. Integrate Your MailChimp Account with Contact Form 7

Next, click on the ‘MailChimp’ tab. You’ll see four fields here: ‘Subscriber Name’, ‘Subscriber Email’, ‘MailChimp API Key’, and ‘MailChimp List ID’.

MailChimp Add On Contact Form 7

In the ‘Subscriber Name’ field, enter [your-name]. In the ‘Subscriber Email’ field, enter [your-email]. In the other two fields, you simply enter your MailChimp API key and List ID. (Here’s how to find your API key, and here’s how to find your List ID.)

3. Enter the Checkbox Shortcode

Finally, head back to the ‘Form’ tab. You’re going to insert one simple line of shortcode wherever you want the checkbox to appear. Here’s the shortcode:

[mc4wp_checkbox "Sign up for the email list!"]

You can replace the text with any message you’d like, and I recommend replacing it with a compelling phrase that’s targeted to your audience.

Save the form, and you’re all done! Now, whenever someone contacts you and doesn’t uncheck the box, they’ll be signed up for your list.

NB: If you have double optin enabled on your MailChimp account, the sender will still receive an email asking them to confirm their subscription.

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  • Did you release that in Australasia the ACMA Anti Spam policy prohibits the auto checking of opt-in boxes on online forms? They must be left unchecked. It might be wise to include that information in your article since I assume your audience includes many Australians.

    • Ian Chandler

      Great tip, Jason! Thanks for the heads up.

  • SamAdamsCW

    I can’t imagine SitePoint hosting an article that describes how to con your visitors into putting themselves on your mailing list. Worse than that, it goes beyond coning them, it does so absent their explicit indication of a desire to do so. There are lots of ethically questionable (to be polite) behaviors on the web. I would expect not to see any of them demonstrated on SitePoint, maybe as a ‘what not to do’, but at least not as a ‘how to.’

    Of course, as mentioned by Mr. Rhodes, there are spam policies that specifically prohibit this behavior. If ISPs are prohibiting this as policy (as mine does), there isn’t any question really as to the ethics of such practices. (despite my politeness above)

    And no, the existence of an opt-in confirmation message does not make this okay. The very sending of that opt-in confirmation by such deceptive means could itself be considered “unsolicited e-mail” and thus, spam.

    • Ian Chandler

      Hey Sam, sorry you disliked the article. (I put a lot of hard work into it!) Neither I nor SitePoint is encouraging conning or scamming anyone. Obviously, the box can be unchecked (or left unchecked) by anyone using the form. And if someone doesn’t follow the double optin, they won’t be subscribed.

      This is simply a helpful way to integrate email marketing into a contact form. It’s not unsolicited email at all––the sender is agreeing to receive the confirmation email. It’s not a way to spam people; it’s a way to make it easier for people to join a list. Not ethically questionable at all, if you ask me.

      Now, if you were to make the font really small to try to trick people, that would be more along the lines of the behavior you’re describing. This is a common functionality that you’ll see across the Internet.

      That said, if you have any further problem with the article, I’d be happy to talk with you about it.