How The Feature Box Increased Our Blog Subscription Rate by 51.7%

by Derek Halpern · 51 comments

This has nothing to do with the Thesis Theme Feature Box, but yes, this is exactly how it feels

Over the last few months, I’ve preached about the power of the Feature Box for building an email list.

And while I used one with great success on Social Triggers, I never had one on the Thesis blog.

However, last week, that all changed. We added a Feature Box, and we’re now kicking ourselves for not adding it earlier.

The results have been amazing, and now I’d like to share those results with you.

How The Feature Box Increased Our Blog Subscription Rate by 51.7%

If you haven’t visited the blog, here’s what the Feature Box looks like:

As you can see, all we did was add a Feature Box above both the content and the sidebar on our home page only.

Yes, we could have added it to the article pages, but we didn’t want it to be too obnoxious, so we left it on just the home page.

Inside that feature box, we offered our free ebook Nonverbal Website Intelligence as a bribe, and that’s it…

…And as you saw from the subject line, our blog subscription rate skyrocketed.

Literally overnight, our daily new subscribers to the Thesis blog shot up by 51.7%, and has stayed that way ever since.

What If We Don’t Have A Free Ebook To Give Away?

I wouldn’t worry about it.

On Social Triggers, I don’t have a bribe in place, and it converts extremely well.

The last I checked, around 10% of the people who visit the home page turn into an email subscriber.

Not bad, right?

And when you consider the fact that some home page visitors are probably already email subscribers, the real conversion rate is likely much higher than the 10%.

See the box here:

How Do You Create A Feature Box?

If you use Thesis, a few months ago we published the mother-of-all tutorials on how to create a Feature Box similar to the one you can find on both DIYthemes and Social Triggers.

For the exact way to set up a Feature Box similar to ours, all you have to do is go into your Thesis options panel, set your Feature Box options (Thesis > Design Options > Feature Box > Placement > Full-Width Above Content and Sidebars), and then paste this code into your custom functions file:

function static_welcome_message() {


<div id="welcome-message" class="format_text">

     <h2>Hello! This is a large welcome headline.</h2>

     <p>This message and the headline above are coded directly into the custom_functions.php file.</p>


add_action('thesis_hook_feature_box', 'static_welcome_message');

And if you’re not using Thesis, you should either start using it, or I’m sure you can find someone on eLance to code you up a Feature Box for $100 (more than the cost of Thesis).

What Are You Waiting For?


We’re kicking ourselves over at DIYthemes for not adding this Feature box months ago.

What’s holding you back?

About the Author: Derek Halpern ran marketing at DIYthemes, and is the founder of Social Triggers. To get more tips on how to be confident, sign up to his list here.

If you enjoyed this article, enter your email below to get free updates!


Eric @ Debt Snowball Calculator

Hmmm.. Derek, I’ve never really thought of it that way before. I’ve been a subscriber to Social Triggers for a while and I opted in… using the exact feature box you wrote about.

Great thought! Most people just list their products there, but I believe that’d be the best route to go. Get them on the list first and foremost.

Me likey!

Derek Halpern

Funny how that works, right? People use the Feature box… obviously… and then forget that’s how they signed up to a site, without thinking they can do the same thing.

Ari Wahyudi

Sometimes I wonder why there was so many emails from internet marketers in my inbox. Now I know why 🙂

Sarah Arrow

Hmmm, think it will work for a service based business? I have a slick, very useful ebook. I use a light box at the moment.

Anyone tested it on a in real life service and not a web based product?

Derek Halpern

I haven’t used it for a service, but I’m sure it would work just the same.

Martyn Chamberlin

Great job and cool beans. Just one thing that’s been bugging me.

The image for your byline is inside the same <p> element as the byline prose. This isn’t a problem on the site, but it puts the opening sentence on the same line as the image in the emails.

Instead of saying <p class=”bio”> why not put everything inside a <div> with an identical class, and give the image its own <p>?

That would make my day. 🙂

Derek Halpern

I don’t control all of that, but I see what you mean. I’m thinking we should take the image out of the byline for the email broadcasts actually.

Martyn Chamberlin

Why? I’m curious.


Great case study on the feature box. Thanks for sharing. Now that vacation season is out of the way in the states it’s well time I update my own blog and add the feature box. Been meaning to start a little more content creation so I’ll be sure to include the feature area.

~ Corey Bornmann

Derek Halpern


Rob @ Atlanta Real Estate

I may slap one of these on my site. Low profile right above my Multimedia Boxx.

Derek Halpern

If you do, would love to see your results.

Tom Coleman

Hi Derek,
I was wondering how you did that on Social Triggers, now I know. Also, I didn’t connect you with which I have been following for some time. You absolutely rock it out with your blogs. Keep up the great work. Thanks

Derek Halpern

Thanks Tom 😀


Hi Derek – I really want to do this but I’m afraid it will look scammy. That is what is holding me back.

Derek Halpern

I mean, scammy? Does ours look scammy? Does the one on Social Triggers look scammy?

Gregory C.

I don’t understand this at all, asking people for updates is pretty common, and most people that read blogs know what’s going on with all of that, so how can this come across as “scammy”? (Strange word choice as well)

It’s better than those stupid Pop-Up Domination lightboxes you see on every other site, and it’s not like your forced into doing ANYTHING, you can simply scroll down.

Derek Halpern

That’s what I’m saying.

Brenda Svoboda

I’ll have to take a closer look at this. I’ve only used Thesis for one client website and found the documentation hard to follow. And yes, I had to hire some outside help.

Thinking about giving it another try – with the Feature box.




Okay, okay. I’ve been thinking about it. What’s holding me back is figuring out how I want to use the feature box. Email conversion? Focus on (billable) service? Highlight other goodies on the site? Not all three I’m sure. Think you would say the first. Oh I could offer the introduction of my book for free. Hmmm.. (nothing like thinking by writing) Hmmm..

Derek Halpern

You’re on the right track.

Ryan Biddulph

Hi Derek,

Heady numbers, here.

I can see why though. The Feature Box grabs your attention without being obnoxious about it. Perfect combo.

Thanks for sharing.


Derek Halpern

Exactly Ryan.

It’s a way to grab attention without being obnoxious.

Wes Man

Very nice! This is going to be tried at once!

To be honest, I almost stole your opt-in page about the the free report and I have to say, It’s working flawlessly! My first opt-in page and its got 12% conversion!


I added the feature box on a couple of my sites that there is no comparison. It totally drives in email subs.


Just added mine. Let’s see if my subscriptions rate increases. 🙂 Thank you for the tip.

Vijay Sharma

Do you think it would work for a e-commerce website. I want users to signup for special coupons and deals.

Nancy Hendrickson

Hey Guys,

Would you be willing to share the code you used to create the look you’re using, i.e. the image on one side, and the headline and bullets on the other? I’m kinda crummy at coding – and not sure how to get a look like this. Thnx!


Basically you need to create div classes or id’s in the php for each element and then float them in the css.

The forum could help getting the code for you.


Thanks for coding! I’m off to try this at my blog, hope to see some result. Thanks again.


When I open your blog page, the feature box takes all the visible area in my browser, and I have to scroll down to see that there are post excerpts available. This is not a good idea. A user who has never visted your blog page could very well assume that there is no content available. The feature box should have a smaller height. Also, the HelloBar on top should be removed, as it is a duplicate of the feature box.


H i Derek!
Have you a contest or something in which the price is a free Thesis theme just like Ana Hoffman has so that I could could lay my blog posts on it? I couldn’t afford to buy one! LOL!


What do I add in the code for my aweber form? Thanks

Ron Kirchner

Thank you for your passion and support with the Thesis theme. I do like using it a lot and always look further to use the full potential of it. The feature box will be the next thing to integrate!


Awesome Stuff

Quick question, I use the feature box feature on all my pages. But on some pages like sales pages, I want that switched off. I am using this solution to switch of everything else: – but I do not know how to switch of the feature box…

Help please


Derek, are there any examples that touch on how to style the contents of the box after it’s up? I’m not versed in that area and could use some pointers. My main interest is adding an Aweber opt-in box of some sort.

Gail Richardson

Derek, Thanks for the tutorial of how to add the feature box. I plan on doing this and seeing how my conversions go. I have already cleaned up my blog and it looks so much better than it did all cluttered up. Thanks for sharing the tips on the cluttered sidebar.


Chukwuka Okwukwe Chukwuka

Hi! Derek,

Out of the three options for the placement of the feature box in thesis, one didn’t work which I think should be the most important – full content width above content and sidebars.

When I choose this particular option, the feature box gets divided into two. Do you know why this is so?



Hey Derek,

on my private Blog i tried your suggestion to put a feature box in with email subscription.

Funny whatever, just telling the people they will get updates somehow obviously is not enough.. i am getting no subscriptions before featurebox and not after 😉 So nothing did improve in respect of mailing list.

Anyway this is a private blog and to me there seems nothing to be given away instead of actuality. The blog updates are between 12 & 20 articles a year.

Do you have any ideas on improving this? Do i have a blind spot not be using some potential to make visitors want to subscribe?

Thanks a lot

Ed Turner

I followed the Feature Box directions you gave and it will not install.

Please advise.


Anton Amoto

Hi Ed I’m using Thesis Feature Box Example 2 – Editable Welcome Message
it’s much easier and you can simply access it in your WP dashboard.

You can find more tutorials in this post:

I hope that helps 🙂

Ruan | Ebook Tutorials

Derek you nailed this!

Funny thing, I just came from the post on triggers you posted earlier today, and although numbers are a bit low for me at the moment which I’m working on at present, a feature box will help me out until I get to those numbers I’m sure.

Another thing you ABSOLUTELY nailed was to refer me to the “mother of all tutorials on feature boxes” you referred to earlier, so you definitely got me triggered on this one…

No wait…I got triggered since I started using Thesis, so I’m trigered anyway I guess!

Keep’em coming!


I am finally ready to start using the Feature Box on my site. The switch to Thesis and the learning curve it would take had been holding me back, but now I am ready to start using it. Thanks for the linked tutorial!


A question: how does the form collect emails? I just began using eWebber. Can this form be linked to my eWebber list?


Meant to say aWeber.

Sergio Felix

Hey Derek,

I think the super big feature box is an awesome way to capture sign ups and an increase of 51.7% on the optins is a LOT.

Congratulations on the great improvement!


Tomas Jochmann

Hi Derek,

Thesis feature box is great! Do you know how to disable feature box on sales page (all pages)?


I took the media box off of my home page and my optin is still below the fold. I’m going to try this it looks really clean too.

Thanks for sharing.


I’m not getting one single conversion on my website ( I’m getting traffic, I mean not much compared to you guys. I’m getting about 50 – 100 visitors a day however, the thing that is concerning me is I have not gotten ONE SINGLE conversion in a little over a month and a half. Do I just have to wait? Because if so I’m not sure exactly what I am waiting for.

Casey Hunsaker

I am having a problem getting the Feature box to show up… I have it set to be “full width above content and sidebar” as well as “sitewide”… I have a page created with that exact same name and slug, and I copied and pasted the code exactly as it is between the…

// Have custom functions to add? Put them below this line! //

areas… This IS where it goes correct?

Any other tips or advice would be greatly appreciated! Thank you!!

– Casey


Never thought that Feature Box can have that impact over Conversions – I have just dropped one on my site. Thanks for that Great article, Derek 🙂