How to Use Pop-Up Boxes to Boost Email Subscriptions

By Susan Payton

3 min read

We’ve come a long way since the early days of webpage pop-ups. Initially, there were flashy ads we all quickly learned to ignore. But now there’s a new generation of pop-ups, designed to encourage readers to subscribe to your email newsletter, and you might be surprised at how effective they can be. The numbers vary from case to case, but overall, pop-up boxes can increase conversion rates by 1,000 percent or more. Here are some guidelines to follow if you want to start using email subscription pop-ups on your website.

Start with the Right Pop-up Tool

There are a number of tools that help you better design, manage, and test pop-ups on your site.

Brett Farmiloe, founder of Markitors, says his company uses HelloBar to collect visitor email addresses on its site. The unobtrusive 50-pixel bar across the header of the website provides a 5 to 10 percent conversion rate.

“It’s free to use (with HelloBar branding), and besides collecting email addresses, you can also use it to point visitors to your social media channels and drive more traffic to a specific URL,” says Farmiloe.

There are also WordPress plug-ins you can use if your site is built on that platform. David Waring, co-founder and editor of FitSmallBusiness.com, recommends the OptinMonster plug-in. The basic account costs $49 a year.

“OptinMonster allows us to have specific pop-ups for individual pages, which is key to our strategy, and my number one tip for generating more email opt-ins is with pop-ups,” says Waring.

Sometimes using a combination of tools gets best results, the way it does for Justin Kerby, co-founder of digital marketing agency CAVE Social. He uses two apps from SumoMe, both of which are free.

Scroll Box presents itself to your website visitors after they’ve scrolled past a certain part of your website and offers a direct call to action,” Kerby says. “You can customize the tool … as you please. List Builder is a great tool as well. It allows you to gate content and offer it to your visitors in exchange for their information.” Together, these tools have helped Kerby increase CAVE Social’s email list tenfold.

Give Subscribers Content Options

Every person who visits your site is unique with his or her own particular interests, so offering just one flavor of newsletter can undermine your efforts. Rob Manning, content marketing manager at Offerpop, says offering relevant content is key to boosting subscriptions.

“Give audiences options for the types of newsletters to opt into based on the products or messages they might prefer,” he says. “It’s best to deliver specific, relevant newsletter content to the right audiences.”

Get Them When They’re Ready to Leave

Having a pop-up appear as soon as someone arrives at your site can be off-putting. Brittany Berger, digital content supervisor at eZanga.com, suggests it’s better to have it appear after a visitor has scrolled down a given page or spent a set number of seconds on the page. If you present the pop-up later in their visit, she says, it won’t interfere as much with the user experience.

Optimize Pop-Ups for Mobile Devices

If you’ve taken strides to make your website mobile-friendly but overlooked your pop-ups, you’re could be missing out on potential subscribers. Making sure your pop-ups have been optimized to function properly on mobile devices with easy-to-find “close” and “submit” buttons is essential, according to Michael Kahn, owner of Frog Stone Media.

“Not only are websites losing subscribers,” Kahn says, “they are losing out on visitors due to a frustrating experience.”

Make an Offer They Can’t Refuse

People are more willing to share their email address if there’s something in it for them. Depending on your business, consider offering a free download, consultation, product sample, service trial, or other freebie to anyone one who signs up for your newsletter.

“Offer something compelling to them in return for their email address,” advises Tammy Lenski, founder of Myriaccord LLC. “I offer three downloadable handouts that blog readers and clients have really liked.”

Information may be abridged and therefore incomplete. This document/information does not constitute, and should not be considered a substitute for, legal or financial advice. Each financial situation is different, the advice provided is intended to be general. Please contact your financial or legal advisors for information specific to your situation.

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