What are exit-intent opt-in forms?

You’ve undoubtedly seen them, the little pop-up forms that appear if you decide to navigate away from a website that you visit – the browser detects that you intend to exit (hence the name) by you moving the mouse cursor outside of the main browser window frame.

I should state something before I get into the details – I personally do NOT like visiting a website and you get bombarded with pop-up and/or slide-in forms, I find them annoying, especially the ones that appear after a set amount of time – you’re in full-flow reading an article and then – BANG! – a pop-up appears! 😳

That’s why I don’t use those interruptive pop-ups, but do use the exit-intent forms. My reasoning for these being acceptable is that when a website visitor indicates an intention to leave the website, then they’re not in the middle of reading or watching something that I’ll spoil with a pop-up offering something of value.

Below is an example of one of my exit-intent forms, perhaps one that you’ve experienced yourself if you visited my website;

When the screen pops up, the visitor can either complete the form and submit it (i.e. click the button), or click the little ‘X’ that appears in the top-right corner of the screen to remove the pop-up.

How to create an exit-intent form in Convertkit

Once logged into the ConvertKit app, navigate to the menu option, ‘GrowLanding Pages & Forms‘;

You’ll then see a red button, entitled ‘+ Create New‘ – click on that.

This will present you with two options to choose from; you want to select the ‘Form‘ option;

Clicking on the ‘Form‘ option will bring you to a page of possible form display formats – you want to select the one entitled ‘Modal‘. A ‘modal’ form is one that, when invoked, will take pop to the front of your screen, covering the web page behind it.

When you select the ‘Modal’ form, you’ll then be shown a list of available templates that you can choose from – pick the one that matches your preferences/requirements;

Once you’ve chosen your form template, you’ll now have a ‘blank’ copy of that template, meaning you can add (or edit) whatever elements you want on the form.

Configuring the form settings

To edit the settings for the modal form, click the ‘Settings’ button at the top-right corner of the screen;

This will pop the window containing all the settings that you can edit for your form; the ‘General‘ button gives these option;

Firstly, choose whether to display a message to subscribers who submit your form (“show a success message:”) or take them to a URL that you have created for them. If you create a page to take them to, you can place content on that to either collect more personal data or share more about what they’ve asked about (e.g. the downloadable guide).

Next, you’ll see there are 3 display options – choose the ‘Exit intent‘ option.

After that, choose which devices you want your exit-intent to display on; you can choose mobile-only, desktop-only, or both.

Finally, decide on how many days you want to wait until displaying the form, with it having been shown to someone already – e.g. ‘7 days’ means website visitors will only be shown the pop-up once every 7 days, at most.

Now click on the ‘Incentive’ button

This is where we tell ConvertKit what to include in the ‘incentive email’ – an email that gets sent to subscribers, asking them to confirm their email address (this is known as a ‘double opt-in’ subscriber policy – if you want to learn about opt-in policies, check out this article).

Click on the ‘Edit Email Contents‘ button and edit the email with your content for your subscribers. Below is one of my incentive emails;

Next, you need to tell ConvertKit what to do once the subscriber has confirmed their email address; you have 2 options; either direct them to a URL or take them directly to a downloadable file that you will upload to ConvertKit.

In my example, I uploaded a PDF document that ConvertKit delivers to each conformed subscriber for me.

Time to publish your form

Once you’re happy with all the settings, you need to save and publish the form. ConvertKit will produce several ways in which you can publish your form on your website – the one I use is the WordPress option since that’s where I have my website hosted.

Once you’ve inserted your form onto your website, your visitors will now be presented with your pop-up form whenever they trigger the intent-to-exit action on their browser window, and will look something like this;

You can see that the ‘focus’ has been taken away from the main website page and placed on the pop-up form.

Your website visitors now have 2 options, either close the form using the ‘X’ at the top-right corner or complete the form and submit it to your email list.

Modal form placement

It’s worth noting that you can make your pop-up form appear on every page on your website (best done by adding it to a consistently loaded element, like your footer), or individually, on a page-by-page basis – this is a personal decision that you can make for your website.

I know some people who use a different exit-intent form for different web pages, so making their lead magnet more relevant to the page they are exiting.


Exit intent forms can be very helpful in growing your email list. Quite often a website visitor may leave your website without having come across your best free resources – this specific question on your exit-intent form can focus their mind on something that they will benefit from having (in my example, a free guide on email marketing).

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John Bellingham
Email marketing strategist for aspirational freelancers.

If we haven’t already done so, let’s connect on LinkedIn.

The Freelancer’s Guide to Email Marketing gives you everything you need to know to design, launch, and run an effective email marketing system in your business.


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John Bellingham
John Bellingham

Starting out as a software engineer over 30 years ago, I began working for large corporates before realising solopreneurship was my 'thing'. I've had many businesses over the years, which have taught me many lessons.

I now spend my time helping other solopreneurs to implement the strategies and tactics that worked for me, whilst avoiding all my expensive mistakes.

If you're a solopreneur who's either starting or running a business, then connect with me and let's have a chat.

I love Formula 1® so that's always a good conversation starter if you need one! 🏁 🏎

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