Should You Use Email Pop-Ups? Do Pop-ups Actually Work?

Some of you are going to hate me for this.

You’ll think I’ve really screwed up.

You’ll think I’ve finally crossed over to the dark side.

But what actually happened was I finally put a real pop-up on my site. Yes, you read that right. I added a big giant box that pops up in your face and encourages you to sign up for my email newsletter.

And doing so was one of the best decisions I’ve made in a while. I know it’s a controversial subject, so let’s decide. Should you actually use pop-up forms? 

Absolutely. Let’s look at some facts.

Why Email Is So Powerful

First, let’s look at why you should actually be building a list. I’m sure you’ve heard it a million times, but incase that wasn’t enough…

Repeat after me: “The money is in the list. The money is in the list. THE MONEY IS IN THE LIST.”

Your email list is where you can get all personal with your potential customers. Where you build real relationships with them. Where you chat one-on-one. This is where you turn your traffic into buyers.

My regular readers know that I’m a realist, no-nonsense kind of guy. So here’s the truth. This blog exists to act as a tool to get people onto my email list. That’s where the business is so to speak – and is why I offer so many great reasons to sign up. Yes, I love helping people through my actual blog. I love meeting people and hearing their stories. And I hope they’ll love their experience here enough to opt-in to my mailing list.

Because even if my blog disappeared today, I could still make a consistent income just through my list.

Pop-Ups Work. Here’s Why.

realist

If you want people to get onto an email list, they have to fill out an opt-in form. To fill out an opt-in form, they have to see the opt-in form. To see the opt-in form, you have to make it noticeable to them.

If you look around, you’ll notice I have a TON of opt-in forms on my site. The top of my sidebar. The Hello Bar at the top of your screen. The big box below each post.

I deliberately make these ugly and bright to draw attention to them. Yet, people still scroll past them without even noticing they exist. But you know what people can’t possibly miss? The huge pop-up in the middle of the screen that screams, “Read me!”

And people do. It’s been one of the highest converting opt-in forms since I placed it on my site. No surprise there, of course. These results are typical. If you added a pop-up to your site today, I’m willing to bet that you’ll experience the exact same thing, and see a boost in opt-ins almost immediately.

Pop-ups Don’t Have To Be Annoying

If you’re a regular reader, chances are you won’t run into one of my pop-ups for a while.

Why?

My pop-ups aren’t annoying – at least not as annoying as the majority of them.

Rather than popping up on every page you visit,  you’ll only see a pop-up here once every 30 days. That’s it. This means my regular readers don’t get annoyed by having to close a pop-up every time they visit my site.

Additionally, the pop-up only appears when you reach the bottom of the article. This is incredibly effective because it gives the reader something to do next, and it doesn’t disrupt your visitors from reading your content.

Since adding my pop-ups to the site, I haven’t received a single complaint, nor has my bounce rate changed. The only difference is I’m collecting more emails and building my list faster. Which, you know, is one of the primary goals of my business.

James, You’re A Liar. Pop-Ups Are Annoying No Matter What!

“…and I’m never visiting your website again.”

Cool. Bye!

Like I said, I haven’t received a single complaint about my pop-ups yet. But if I have, that’s exactly what I’d say. Because those people, quite frankly, are not worth my time.

And although it may appear as so, I’m not being rude. Not at all. Because if somebody is  seriously going to complain about me offering them valuable free stuff, they don’t deserve it. Not like they would’ve subscribed anyway, but that doesn’t matter. I don’t even want them as an email subscriber. As Derek Halpern would say, think about all of the other headaches they would cause…

I sometimes come off as harsh because I don’t chase after people when they start to walk away. Sorry, but if you’re a new reader and don’t like what I have to offer, I’m going to let you leave. I’d rather use the time I’d spend chasing you to improve my content so far less people bounce in the future.

And if you vow to never return to my website because I showed you a pop-up, that’s your problem, not mine. If clicking an X once a month isn’t worth seeing all the valuable information I have to share than go ahead and leave. Nobody’s stopping you.

Again, I’m not being rude nor egotistical. I’m being truthful. I value every person that visits my site but it’s not worth my time or effort to chase after the whiners.

You should apply the same idea. There are pros and cons to everything you do, and the pros of having a pop-up far outweigh the cons (if there really are any.) Look at this from a time perspective – would you let one person go if it meant 50 new people would stick around for the long-term? Which would be a better use of your time? Think about it.

So sure, maybe a pop-up will anger somebody, sometime, but you’d be foolish to believe all of the extra opt-ins aren’t worth it. There are far more people in the world who will not mind your pop-up, actually fill it out, and become a long-term member of your community.

The choice should be clear.

But in case it’s not, let’s clear up some myths.

Pop-Up Myths:

Myth #1: My Readers Will Hate My Pop-Up

Most people don’t mind pop-ups so long as they aren’t annoying. Set your pop-ups to appear every X amount of days. Problem solved.

Myth #2: People Who Subscribe Through Pop-Ups Engage Less

Not true – at least not exactly. Engagement rates from people who sign up through pop-ups are only slightly lower than other types of opt-ins.

Not that it matters. When you use a pop-up, you get all of the people who were going to sign up anyway along with the ones who were not. 

Myth #3: Using A Pop-up Means I’m Putting Money Before Viewers

If the content you’re offering is helpful and your email newsletter is helpful than this isn’t true. Of course, pop-up haters will scream this at you to make you feel bad because they expect the world for free. They’re the same ones using Adblock and then complaining when sites get shut down.

Let me share a story with you. I worked on a site for two years that hardly made any money. I was fully a content creator and not a good marketer. I still got traffic, and I got tons of comments and emails thanking me for my hard work. Once I even got an email from a teacher saying they were using my site in part of their lesson plan. I felt great. But I was making no money.

I eventually stopped working on the site.

Because you’re operating a business, you should be doing what’s guaranteed to make you money without hurting user experience. If your pop-up isn’t annoying and your content is good, a pop-up doesn’t hurt your user experience in the slightest. End of story.

My Tools

There are a lot of great tools out there that will help you create awesome pop-ups. Here are the two I’m using.

GetResponse

First up is the email marketing service itself. I use GetResponse. I’ve used both Aweber and GetResponse and prefer GetResponse because it’s easier to work with and has more features that I actually use. If you aren’t already using a paid email service, I recommend signing up for their free 30 day trial. 

Pippity

GetResponse offers its own built in pop-up forms, but I didn’t have the time or the patience to make them look good. I chose to invest some money into a pop-up tool called Pippity, and have been pleased with the results so far.

I chose Pippity because the cost was low and it had all of the features I needed, including:

  • A/B split testing.
  • Attractive opt-in forms.
  • Easy integration with GetResponse.
  • Pop-up triggers (only pops up at end of article, after X seconds, X amount of days etc.)

I considered OptinMonster for a while but didn’t feel the extra features were worth the price to me. Maybe I’ll change my mind in the future.

For now, a combination of GetResponse and Pippity have been awesome for me. Adding a pop-up was definitely worth it.

Yell At Me

I know that the facts I’ve written are hard to accept for some people. I’d love for you to yell at me in the comments and let me know why I’m wrong. Seriously.

But unless you’ve tried and tweaked pop-ups on your site and saw WORSE results than before, you don’t really have an argument. And if that was the case I can almost guarantee you did something seriously wrong.

I’d still love to hear your opinions anyway, though. 🙂

If you haven’t used a pop-up before, perhaps this article has encouraged you to do so. Even if you’re skeptical, I encourage you to try it out.

Your only regret will be not using them sooner.

LEARN HOW TO TRIPLE YOUR WEBSITE TRAFFIC IN 7 DAYS!

About James McAllister

James is the owner of Help Start My Site. He started his first blog at the age of 11, and has since gone on to start several successful businesses. Here on HelpStartMySite.com, he shares his knowledge that brought him to where he is today. If you want to connect with James, like him on Facebook .

Comments

  1. Hey James,
    Pippity is great and goes well with INinbox, my auto responder
    I actually forget I had developer license. Your Post has just reminded me and I just set it up and it’s working.

    Thanks for the beautiful reminder

      (Quote)
    Enstine Muki recently posted…How I made a quick $200 with help from Google Analytics!My Profile

  2. Hi James,

    First off, you are not rude! You are truthful. And yes, If anyone doesn’t like it , go away! That’s my motto. I don’t understand why anyone would complain about a pop up. Some people use them and they are the annoying kind, but as long as I can x it out, what do I care?

    I’ve read the stats and know quite well that pop ups do work well. I personally am on the fence about it but who knows? I just may include that one day. And as long as they are not annoying, it’s fine!

    I come from the school of thought that if someone doesn’t like what I’m doing just go away and leave me alone. If you like me…swell! I rather have quality followers than quantity anyway.

    -Donna

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    donna merrill recently posted…Look Back To Move ForwardMy Profile

  3. Hi Donna!

    I’ve done some thinking recently and I feel like I’m starting to take a new approach with the way I structure things. When I was starting out I read a lot of fabricated lies designed to make me feel good so I’d spend more money on whatever the bloggers were promoting. If I had been told the truth from the get go I’d be a lot further along now. That’s fine though because I learned a lot from my screw ups.

    So instead I tell the truth instead of what people want to hear. I’ve always been this way but I’m now applying it to my online work as well. And the way I see it people can either accept the facts or they can not, but that’s their choice.

    If you do end up installing a pop-up let me know it turns out for you. I’ve found the pop-up is best at capturing organic traffic and first time visitors, others tend to use one of the other opt-in forms.

    In any case opt-ins almost always go up so it’s a good decision, in my opinion.

    Good to talk to you again!

      (Quote)
    James McAllister recently posted…Are You Updating Your Old Blog Posts?My Profile

  4. Hi James

    You had me in a panic there – but you answered all my objections.

    The pop-ups I hate are those that appear in front of your face within 5 seconds of starting to read. I wouldn’t stop following a blog because of them – as you say, I can just x-out. But there’s no way I’m going to sign up to the list of anyone before I’ve read what they have to say and decided if I like their style of writing.

    But a pop-up at the END of the post is excellent, just at the point when you’ve read the article. I mean it’s so obvious I don’t know why everyone doesn’t do that. I use an exit pop-up, although truth told I’m not sure if I know how that technically differs from what Pippity does. Probably something subtle 🙂

    So, I won’t see your pop-up for another 30-days. I’ve set my “non-see-again” pop-up-option to 3 days, and so now you’ve got me thinking that my 3 days is way too short an interval. (I think I set it when I was blogging daily, which I no longer do.)

    Perhaps I’ll change it to 14 days – I feel maybe your 30 days is a little too long, given that it’s a not a horrid in-your-face pop-up.

    Anyway, I’m still here, and didn’t find your new pop-up remotely disagreeable. Great idea and I’m glad it’s building your list.

    Enjoy the rest of your week, Joy

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    Joy Healey recently posted…Work Life BalanceMy Profile

    • You make a good point. Why would I want to give my email away before I even know if their content is good? I can’t imagine those convert well in the MMO market because there’s so much competition.

      Pippity has an exit pop-up as well, I’m currently A/B testing that one along with the end of article popup. I’m not sure which plugin you’re using but Pippity pops up the pop-up when the mouse cursor leaves the browser window (right before people hit the back button or close the tab).

      I’ve been considering lowering it down to something like 14 days but I’m still not sure. Right now it’s been best at capturing organic visitors who wouldn’t otherwise return so I don’t know how big of a difference it makes. Another thing I’ll have to test for sure.

      Thanks Joy!

        (Quote)
      James McAllister recently posted…From Social Media Beginner To Expert In 33 Days Book ReviewMy Profile

  5. Hey James – I’ll be honest, I typically hate pop-up’s on most sites that I visit. I stress the word most. I’ve been on sites where I’ve seen one pop up after another, and it can frustrate the heck out of me.

    With that said, I have seen the data that seems to justify the use of a pop up, especially if you are trying to build your email list, and you implmentation of this seems to confirm that.

    I do like the way you have this implemented. It doesn’t get in the way, and I don’t mind the pop up after I’ve completed reading the article. I also like the option of only having this show every x day’s for your repeat readers. The pop up also doesn’t seem to get in the way of your other opt-in forms, it’s simply another option to grab the readers attention.

    Implementing a pop up is on my list of something I want to try in the coming months. I’ve looked at OptinMonster but the cost scared me off (at least for now). I have not heard of Pippity before, so I’ll need to check that out.

    Thank you for the great review James!

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    Craig recently posted…Bloggers It’s Time To Pay It ForwardMy Profile

    • Hey Craig, good to see you again!

      The way I see it, there’s no harm in trying it out. It doesn’t hurt and it does help. Our email lists in my opinion are our biggest asset (even more so than the site itself) so it’s so so important to do what you can to get people onto them.

      I too looked into OptinMonster for a while and almost ended up going with it, but I couldn’t see the extra features justifying the cost. Maybe it would be worth it if I had triple the traffic I do now, but with my current numbers it just wasn’t worth it.

      Pippity offered every feature I needed and then some so it was the next best option for you. I’d recommend looking around and seeing what you like best.

      And if you have any questions about Pippity or anything related to popups feel free to send me an email!

        (Quote)
      James McAllister recently posted…If You’re A Jack Of All Trades, You’re Bound To FailMy Profile

  6. Augustus
    Twitter:
    says:

    Hi James,
    I would love to take a slightly different stand on this, Pop up box are great, but if I would be using one, it has to be very intelligent.

    As a blog reader (before becoming a blogger) I find it very annoying to see pop up box on my first visit, especially when am yet to know what your blog is all about. Submitting my mail address has a lot to do with me trusting the blog. And I think the blogger should focus on earning readers trust before asking for their email address.

    The idea is to solve their problem and ask them to opt in for future sake.

      (Quote)

    • Hi Augustus,

      I’m with you there. Nothing more annoying than landing on a site and being slammed with a pop-up before you get the chance to read anything!

      That’s why on my site I opt to use the pop-up after the reader has already read through the article. That way they have time to judge my content before I ask them for their email.

      Now Pippity has the ability to wait for repeat visits or multiple page views before the pop-up is shown, but it doesn’t seem like a smart idea in my opinion. Most search engine traffic that bounces won’t be back for a long time, if ever. Most other traffic sources opt for one of the other forms anyway so the pop-up on the first visit is pretty vital in my opinion.

        (Quote)
      James McAllister recently posted…The Real “Secret” To Making Money Online (The Answer May Surprise You!)My Profile

  7. Hi James,

    Yes, I’m using popup and it really works like a charm for me to collect more emails.
    Getresponse is fantastic.

    Sometime popups are very annoying for most of our visitors. But, the reason is because of immediate action of popup at every page of blog.
    To get most advantage you should use it wisely so your readers will love to sign up.

    -Mustafa

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    Mustafa Gaziani recently posted…How to Monitor Website Traffic Using Smart ToolsMy Profile

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