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  • Are Email Subscription Pop-ups Worth The Risk?

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    Note from Oli: It’s controversy time. Read the post and let’s get a good argument going in the comments. You know you want to.

    Pop-ups are irritating at the best of times, and the majority of people don’t enjoy them. Even I am guilty of being a hater. This was until I saw some trusted blogs and bloggers using them and I couldn’t help but wonder why they were using pop-ups. And more importantly how successful they were.

    Turns out, pop-ups actually have some impressive results so I decided to give them a chance. (Editor’s note: Peace got a chance, so why not pop-ups, right?)

    The results shocked me…

    The Power of Pop-Ups

    Pop-ups are probably one of the best ways to increase your email subscribers. And fast.

    The following image shows the results of my current pop-up:

    Pop-up conversion rate

    It converted 14.47% of the people who reached my blog.

    The Downside of Pop-Ups

    Pop-ups are powerful tools, but they’re a double-edged sword. Before you decide if pop-ups are right for you, consider the following:

    1. Pop-ups are annoying

    As I said before, people generally hate pop-ups. But you can bypass this problem by using the right techniques.

    There are some pop-ups that have options allowing you to choose when they are shown on your page.

    For example, I chose to show my pop-up to each person only once in 30 days – this allowed me to increase my email subscribers and not disturb my readers on a consistent basis.

    2. Email subscribers via pop-ups have lower engagement

    Sad but true: I found that people who subscribe via pop-ups aren’t as engaged as those who subscribe from a form on your website or landing page.

    Here you can see an example:

    Email subscribers by pop-up
    This screenshot, shows all of the people who signed up via a pop-up. Notice the bottom group who haven’t confirmed their subscription.

    3. Bad use of a pop-up can damage your brand

    If your pop-up appears too often, people will start to have a negative perception of your brand. Throwing interruption marketing in your face all the time, is likely to make them devalue the purpose of your site, and that it’s all about list building.

    Takeaway: Use a well filtered pop-up – or don’t use a pop-up at all.

    How to Optimize Your Email Subscription Pop-Ups

    Now that you know what you can expect from pop-ups, let’s talk about the practical aspects: pop-up optimization.

    If you don’t optimize your pop-ups you’ll get poor results.

    There are some general rules when it comes to optimization, but to get outstanding results, you need to test to find the threshold of your visitors.

    1. Timing

    Timing your pop-up is the most crucial aspect to get the results you want. The best time to show a pop-up is 60 seconds after your visitors enter your site.

    If you time your pop-up before 60 seconds, there will be a significant drop off in conversion rates. However, if you wait too long, your pop-up will miss a large number of visitors.

    2. Page views

    It’s obvious: if a person reads more pages on your blog, they are more likely to subscribe.

    If you decide to show your pop-up after your first page view, you’ll increase your conversion rate, but you’ll receive fewer impressions.

    A pop-up that appears after 4 page views gets fewer impressions than a pop-up that shows after 2 page views.

    Notice that some visitors will open multiple pages within a few seconds upon their arrival (in order to verify if they found what they’re searching or not). Keep both page views and time as filters: in this way only people who read your content will see your pop-ups.

    3. Show your pop-up at the end of posts

    People who read your post(s) from start to finish are usually engaged by your content. You can take that chance to get email subscribers.

    The conversion rate that you’ll get using this strategy depends on your post quality. If your posts are brilliant, your conversion rate will be quite high.

    Personally, I don’t use this strategy because I already have an opt in form at the end of my post. If you don’t have an opt in form, use a pop-up.

    4. Headline

    Like landing pages, your pop-up needs a powerful headline to make people provide their emails.

    Your headline must grab the attention of your visitors.

    Use your headline to make an offer that your visitors can’t refuse. And remember to test them to see which gather more subscribers.

    5. Benefits

    You have very little time to communicate to your visitors, and on a pop-up you also have limited space to get your message across. With this in mind, write them as succinctly as possible so they are easy to skim.

    Don’ts of Pop-Ups

    All the previous stuff doesn’t work if you ignore the following don’ts.

    1. Don’t show your pop-up too often

    If you show your pop-up too often you will be perceived as spammy, and people will leave. I suggest that you show your pop-up at maximum once per week – and preferably only once in 15-30 days.

    2. Don’t try to keep people on your site

    You’ve no doubt encountered those nasty pop-ups that don’t allow you to get away from a page. Don’t ever use them, as people will never come back.

    3. Don’t ask for too much information

    Pop-ups work like opt-in forms: if you ask for too much information your conversion rate will decrease.

    Ask for name and email – or even just the email.


    Pop-ups are great to increase your email subscribers, but you have to use them well to avoid the negative impacts. Remember that to get interesting results you have to test and optimize them.

    The use of pop-ups is an extremely controversial topic. So let’s hear your opinion in the comments. What do you think about them? Have you ever used pop-ups?

    — Mauro D’Andrea


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    About Mauro D Andrea
    Mauro D'Andrea is the founder of Blog Growth, a blog that helps people reach their internet marketing goals. If you want to sell more and grow your income, take Mauro free guide “Increase Your Conversions”.
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