Recently at Incomediary they did a 9-week test making 5 available email signup methods compete with each other. As it turned out their popup was responsible for bringing in the most subscribers: 63.9 %, whereas squeeze pages and sidebar signup forms ended as the bottom two, with 6.4 % and 4.5 %, respectively. Despite their annoyance, popups work!

Pop-ups of course are those windows that appear over the top of the websites you’re reading and that normally ask you if you want to sign up to a mailing list. Sometimes they’ll appear on top of the page you’re reading and cause the background to go dark, or in other cases they may open in a new window. Either way, pop-ups are very effective at drawing attention to themselves and force the user to interact with them.

Now of course this has a danger of being irritating and if you’re like most users then you may have been annoyed by them in the past. In fact, you may even have a somewhat bitter feeling towards them…

Well, what you really have to ask yourself is why so many other sites use them. Visit pretty much any big blog online and at some point you’re likely to see a pup-up. What does this tell you? That they must work.

And work they do according to the statistics. According to a study reported by Shopify, pop-ups can increase email captures by a whopping 1,357%. So if you’re currently getting 10 leads a day from your website, that could be increased to as much as 1,000 or more.
And as every digital marketer or business owner should know by now, collecting e-mails is incredibly valuable. On a website, the vast majority of your visitors will leave and then never come back. On the other hand, if you manage to collect their e-mail addresses you’ll be able to continually market to them long into the future giving you more and more chances to make conversions.
E-mail marketing allows you to strengthen your brand, to build your relationship and in short it’s generally considered to be one of the most powerful tools in any blogger or webmaster’s arsenal.
What’s more is that a pop-up doesn’t have to be irritating. In fact, if you use it correctly, it can actually add to the experience for your visitors. That’s where this post comes in – here we’ll go over everything you need to know to start using pop-ups effectively so that you maximize your conversions and minimize frustration. Time to take a highly effective tool and turn it up to the max!

Types of Pop-ups

The term ‘pop-up’ is actually quite a broad term and can mean several things. An in fact, the term ‘pop-up’ can even be considered a bit of a misnomer… Often you see, when we use the term ‘pop-up’ we are actually talking about a ‘pop-over’.

A pop-up normally opens in a separate window that hovers above the browser. A lot of browsers block these now however and they are generally considered an irritant for users. You want to avoid this type of ‘pop-up’.

Generally then, when we say pop-up we are talking more specifically about ‘pop-overs’ which are also known as ‘lightboxes’. These pop-ups do not open in separate windows but rather open over the top of the page inside that browser window. They’re called lightboxes because they will normally make the rest of the site darker while they remain light.

This brings even more attention to them. Not only do these sorts of pop-ups not get blocked by browsers but they’re also less annoying (because the user doesn’t have to hunt them down to close them) and they actually are even more effective at forcing interaction – if the user wants to see your content, they need to acknowledge and close the pop-up. Even then, you can still categorize your pop-ups further by when and how they appear. Here are some more distinctions:

Pop-up 'On Load'

This pop-up appears as soon as the page loads and acts almost as a gateway to your content.

Delayed Pop-up

This pop-up appears when the user has been reading for a few minutes. These are very effective because they allow you to demonstrate your knowledge and value before they appear. Why would someone want to sign up to your email list before they even know what you have to say and whether or not you have anything to offer?

Smart Delayed Pop-up

This is a pop-up that only appears once for each visitor and that uses cookies to avoid the same message to users time and again.

Exit Pop-up

This pop-up appears when someone tries to leave your site. This is another smarter way to use pop-ups because now the user's experience isn't being interrupted as they try to interact with your content. Look at this way: you're losing this customer now anyway, so what can it hurt?

Intelligent Exit Pop-up

This type of pop-up appears before the user tries to leave by looking at mouse position, timing and other factors.

More Types of Pop-ups – And Choosing the Right One

Click Pop-Ups

A click pop-up is a pop-up that appears when someone clicks on it, as the name suggests. This is a great way to engage with readers that are already showing an active interest in your content and according to split tests conducted by the likes of WishPond, it's more successful than using separate landing pages.

To use these, consider adding a banner to the bottom of your best articles that launches a pop-up to collect e-mails/make sales. Make it eye catching!

Scroll Pop-Ups

Scroll pop-ups work very similarly to timed pop-ups but with one major difference – they look at how far the user has scrolled, versus how long they have been on the page. These are more effective because they don't appear when the user has, for example, left to make a cup of tea. Now only those who are engaged in your content will see the pop-up. And you can even orchestrate the pop-up to appear at an opportunity point doing your content.


Remember how we mentioned that 'pop-overs' were more effective than opening in separate windows? An interesting 'compromise' option is the 'pop-under'. This is a pop-up that opens in a separate window but instead of going ontop of the browser, it goes underneath. These are less obtrusive because they don't get in the way and often will go unnoticed until the end of the user's browsing session. This gives them a similar potential use to exit pop-ups.

Choosing Your Pop-up Type

So now you know what types of pop-up, popover and popunder are available, the next step is to decide which one you actually want to use. Of course there's no right and wrong answer here and there's no single type of pop-up that is 'better' than the rest. The answer is going to depend instead on the type of website you own and what your goals are for your business.

For instance, if you're making affiliate sales and you don't care as much about building trust for your brand, then you can afford to be a little more forceful with your ads – perhaps showing a pop-up 'on load' will work best.

On the other hand, if you're a trusted blogger and you want to maintain a good relationship with your readers, you might consider something a little more subtle such as a scroll pop-up that only appears once for each user.

The best way to decide if you're unsure is to run an 'A/B test'. That means trying two different types of pop-up for a short while and then recording the results. Which option brings the most leads while deterring the least traffic? Now you just adopt that choice!

Uses of Pop-ups

So far we have looked at pop-ups largely in the context of e-mail marketing. This is indeed one of the very most powerful and effective uses for pop-ups and it's what a lot of the top bloggers rely on them for. But then again, there are also many other uses for pop-ups. For instance…
  • Market Research

A great use for products is to conduct market research. If you want to conduct a survey of your visitors, get user feedback or otherwise try and engage with your audience, then you can place a quick survey here to grab their thoughts and to hear what they have to say. This way, you can now change your web design or your marketing strategy to be more effective for future users.

  • Selling

Of course you can also use your pop-ups to directly sell your best products. If you have an ecommerce store, then you can use this to show off your top products. If you have an e-book, then you can use an exit pop-up to tell people about that after they're done with your content. Again, they're leaving anyway so why not take one last stab at converting them into paying customers?

  • Upselling

Upselling is the process of taking someone who is buying a product and getting them to buy another product. This is a highly effective strategy because it targets people who have already opted to become paying customers. This is a key point because it means they've already overcome the psychological barriers to sale and are more likely to be willing to increase their order. What's another $10 to them? It's a lot to you when multiplied by the number of visitors you're receiving!

  • Promoting

Even if you don't make direct sales, you can use a pop-up just to raise awareness for a product, service or special offer that might otherwise go unnoticed.

  • Visitor Retention

Sometimes a simple but effective use for an exit pop-up is just to say 'don't leave'. Show a reader something else they may be interested and you might be able to hang onto them a little longer.

  • Overlay

Another option available with the WP Kumulus plugin, is to have a popover that completely covers the page. This then allows you to use impressive multimedia or more in-depth design to make conversions.

  • Thank You

One of the big challenges with pop-ups is that people are getting too used to seeing them (we'll talk more about this later). Owing to their obvious effectiveness, more and more people are now starting to use pop-ups in their marketing and as such, some users are becoming cynical.
How about bucking the trend then and giving your visitors a nice message simply saying 'goodbye and thanks for reading'? This is the sort of nice little touch that can make a real lasting impression on your traffic and which can help to build brand loyalty.

Are YOU Breaking EU VAT Laws?
Now, EVERY digital sale made in ANY EU country has to include VAT – and the rate charged (in case you didn’t you know, every EU country sets its own rate!) is now based on where the customer is, not where the supplier is like before.

This applies to all digital product sellers - even if you are in the US!

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About Me
My name is Johanna, Dutch-born and Mexican-imported. I've been living in Cancun for twenty years now. I work as a tour guide which is an awesome "job" and on off-days I make my living online.

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