Do Pop-Ups Work & Should You Use Popups To Grow Your List?

In the world of online marketing, there is no strategy more controversial than using popup opt-in forms… so the question becomes “Do Pop-Ups Work?”

If you visit blogs, especially those of top marketers, you’ll find more and more of them using popups – and for good reason. They work.

Even the least trafficked sites will get more new subscribers via a popup than they will complaints about the popup itself. The majority of people are becoming more and more accepting of them, especially now that the designs have become more sophisticated and the offers for new subscribers have become harder to refuse.

Whether your goal is to increase the number of subscribers to your blog or leads for your business, you can accomplish it using popups.  In this guide, we will tell you how pop-ups can help you grow your email list, and which type of pop-up is best for your purposes!

Let’s Get On The Same Page: Why You Need an Email list

Your first question going into this pop-up discussion might be why you need an email list in the first place.

You may be thinking that you already have hundreds or even thousands of Facebook fans, LinkedIn connections, Tumblr followers, and RSS subscribers … So why do you need another channel?

The truth is, none of the channels we just mentioned except for email are truly yours.

If you were to accidentally break one of Facebook’s rules, your page could be gone, along with your followers.

The same goes for LinkedIn, Tumblr, Twitter, Google+, and any other social network.

As for RSS subscribers, you’ll never know who they are if they just have your RSS feed in their Feedly. They could remove it one day, and you’d never be the wiser.

Facebook organic reach is declining continually to push businesses towards advertising, and no one has even bothered to measure what the reach is on other social networks. But there’s a good chance that reach is low elsewhere too.

Just because you have fans and followers on your social networks doesn’t mean you can actually reach them.

With an email list, you have the ability to put your message in your subscriber’s inbox. By having an email list…

  • You won’t have to fight social media algorithms to get your message seen.
  • You have the ability to download your email list at any time and move it to another service, so the fear of losing your contacts because a platform closes no longer has to worry you.
  • You can backup each new subscriber on your email list to something as simple as a Google Spreadsheet instantly with tools like Zapier.

As you can see, having an email list is a powerful way to ensure you can connect to your readers and potential clients. Now, let’s see how popups can help you capture those subscribers.

Do Pop-Ups Work? Yes, If You Know How to Use Them

When considering where to place popups, you have to consider your conversion goals. If someone’s on your blog, then your goal is likely to capture new blog readers and leads.

If someone’s on a product page, however, your goal is likely to have them buy the product, not distract them with a popup.

This is why most people put popups on their blog pages. Your blog is a place where people may not be ready to buy your products and services, but they do want to make sure they don’t miss out on your future content.

Types of Popups & Their Effectiveness

Now, let’s look at the different ways you can implement popups on your website, and how each pop-up works.

1. Entrance Popups

Entrance popups are those that come up immediately when you start browsing a website. These are the ones that are considered the most rude as they prevent you from getting to know the website before committing to becoming a subscriber.

It’s like entering a store for the first time – you don’t want someone to walk up to you and ask you to buy something until you’ve had a chance to peruse the goods.

2. Timed Popups

Timed popups are just that – those that appear after a visitor spends a certain amount of time on your website.

These are better as the person has had a chance to get to know your website’s content and may be ready to make an informed decision about whether they want to subscribe or not.

3. Scroll-Activated Popups

Scroll-activated popups are those that appear when a visitor reaches a particular portion of your webpage. For example, if you are reading a blog post, instead of the popup appearing mid-post, it appears when you reach the bottom of the post. This way, your visitor has had ample time to get to know your website, and they are likely ready to make a decision to become a subscriber.

4. Reader’s Choice Popups

Reader’s choice popups have nothing to do with timing, but more to do with the way the popup is presented. Instead of asking someone to subscribe to your website, it asks questions related to your website. For example, if you were on Neil Patel’s blog, this popup might greet you during your visit.

When you choose yes, you will be able to sign up for his Step-by-Step Traffic Guide. If you choose no, you would continue browsing the website.

5. Exit Intent Popups

There’s nothing worse than losing a visitor that will never return to your website again. The exit intent popup was created specifically to convert people who are preparing to leave your website into email subscribers.

These popups are triggered when a visitor’s mouse cursor moves towards closing out the window or tab.

Returning to the store analogy, think of it as having someone ask a customer if they need help right before they leave the store or offering them a postcard about a future sale.

The worst-case scenario is that the customer leaves the store. But by having someone approach them, there’s a better chance the customer will ask a question, get help, and make a purchase or, at the very least, take that postcard and return for the next big sale to make a purchase.

How to Supplement Your Popups

Popups don’t have to be the end-all to your strategy for increasing email opt-ins. As a matter of fact, you should always offer additional options for your subscribers so that if they choose not to subscribe with your popup, they still have the option to subscribe shortly thereafter. These options include the following.

  • Horizontal Opt-In Forms – You’ve likely seen horizontal opt-in forms at the top or bottom of a website. These help increase subscribers as they typically scroll with the content throughout the duration of a visitor’s time on your website.
  • Embedded Opt-In Forms – These are opt-in forms that are statically embedded on a page. Great locations for these include your header, your sidebar, and at the end of each piece of content. No matter where a visitor might choose to subscribe, your form will be there for them.
  • In-Page Opt-In Forms – These are opt-in forms embedded into specific pages on your website, such as at the end of your about page description or within the thank you page a visitor is brought to after submitting a contact form.
  • Squeeze Pages – These are landing pages specifically designed to capture new subscriber emails. They are good for any place you would offer someone a link to become a subscriber, such as in an author bio on a guest post or an ad on Facebook.
  • Lead Generation Cards – Twitter advertising offers an option to offer your Twitter followers a way to subscribe to your email updates without leaving Twitter itself. Twitter users can click one button that will add the email address associated with their Twitter profile to your email list. Learn more about this feature here.

While it might seem like overload, the truth is that not everyone will be ready to subscribe to your email list at the same time. By creating a variety of opt-in options beyond your popup, you will cover all of the bases where visitors may be ready to subscribe.

Popup Case Studies: Proof That Popups Work

We can talk to you all day long about how great popups are when it comes to increasing email list subscribers. But we would also like to share some data that actually proves how popups can help your business gain more leads.

1. How Social Media Examiner Grew Its Email List by 234% in One Year

Michael Stelzner, the founder of one of the top social media blogs, attributes 70% of their email subscriptions to their popup form. He specifically notes in the study that, “Without it, the list would be much smaller.”

2. My Data Shows Email Popups Work and Don’t Hurt

are popups annoying

Dan Zarrella, the well-known social media scientist, studied the bounce rate (percentage of visitors who exit a website on the same page they entered) on his website with and without a popup form for email opt-ins. He found that the only thing that significantly changed was the number of email subscribers, which doubled with the popup.

3. How to Raise Your Email Opt-in Rate: Three CRO Case Studies on Overlays

can popups work

In this post, Econsultancy shares three CRO studies on overlays (popups). The first shows the importance of A/B testing on the popup headline for Reebok, the second shows the difference in conversions based on size (smaller won at the time, but the company now uses a much larger version), and the third shows the best timing for conversions with a delayed popup (15 seconds).

4. The Easy Secret to 1,375% More Subscribers

do popups still work?

Comparing the effectiveness of a popup to a static sidebar widget opt-in form, the popup was the clear winner. While the sidebar widget brought in 643 subscribers out of 178,282 visitors (0.4% conversion rate), the popup brought in 7,473 subscribers out of 135,821 visitors (5.5% conversion rate). Hence, the popup drove 1,375% more subscribers than a static widget.

5. How to Increase Signups by 50% with Popup Forms

do pop-ups really work?

Visual Web Optimizer, a leading A/B testing tool, saw a 50% increase in signups for their platform when they switched from just having a call to action button on their homepage to having a popup free trial offer. Granted, this isn’t an email opt-in form, but it still shows the power of the popup.

Popup Best Practices

Last, but not least, we would like to close out this guide to popups with some best practices that should help to demonstrate that popups are nothing but a good thing!

Offer something your audience wants via popup.

Popups alone are not going to increase your email list subscribers. It’s what you offer in the popup that counts. And for your business, it’s important that you offer something that appeals to your target customer base, not the general public at large.

Think about it like cute kitten videos. Sure, if you post one, you’ll probably get over a million views. But if you sell car insurance, you’re not going to get a high viewer to customer conversion rate.

The same goes with popups and your email list. You can offer something free that everyone will love, but the subscribers you end up with may not ultimately convert into customers.

So think of something that your target customers really want. If you’re selling an analytics tool, your best bet is to offer something for free to your new email subscribers that show them how good analytics can improve their bottom line.

Not everyone will be interested, but those who are will be more likely to sign up for your analytics platform.

Test your popups on mobile.

People are browsing more and more websites with mobile devices. This is why you need to make sure that your popups display correctly on smartphone and tablet browsers. They need to not only work, but they need to be easy to close as well for those who are not ready to become a subscriber.

Only use one popup at a time.

When we as marketers experiment with different tactics, we sometimes forget to turn one tool off when testing out another. If you do choose to install a popup plugin, be sure that you only have one popup running at a time. Otherwise, your visitors might encounter more than one popup on a page, and even the most popup-tolerant visitor might be upset if this were to happen.

Include a privacy policy.

People are wary of having their email address shared or sold to others when opting in to a new email list. Some people are even using special email addresses so that they know when their email address has been sold and who sold it.

This is why it’s important to share your privacy policy on your popup. It can be a short piece of text that says their email is confidential and will not be shared, or it can be a link to your privacy policy where you go into great detail about how your subscriber’s information is safe with you.

Use no more than two fields.

The easiest way to convert popup viewers is to make the process of opting in easy. Aim to capture just a first name and email address or, better yet, just an email address. The simpler you make it, the better.

If you’re worried about the fact that you won’t get enough information about your subscribers to know whether they are qualified, don’t worry. There are plenty of tools that can analyze an email address and tell you more about the person associated with it.

If you have a confirmation email sent to your email address each time a new subscriber is added to the list, and you use Gmail, then you should consider trying Rapportive. This free tool allows you to hover over an email address in Gmail and see any social profiles it may be linked to.

You can also try platforms that will match your email subscribers to their social profiles and let you sort them by Klout as well as see their latest social status updates.

Ignore The Haters

Occasionally, depending on your niche, you might run into that one person who really, really hates popups. Hates them to the point that they send you a message that could border on being offensive.

In our experience, this happens maybe once a year. Compared to the number of email subscribers you receive, this is like buying 10,000 lemons and finding one or two bad ones in the batch. You shouldn’t stop buying lemons because of the one or two – you should focus on the other 9,998 great lemons instead!

Get Ready to Grow Your List

We hope we’ve shown you the benefits of popups! If you thought about trying them, but worried they might be too aggressive for your audience, then you will want to check out PopupAlly Pro – the polite popup solution. We created it for you, the marketer who wants to grow their list without annoying your audience. Get Started Now