This is a guest contribution from Abrar Mohi Shafee of Blogging Spell.
Do you build email lists in your website? If your answer is yes, the chances are high that you are using a pop-up to collect emails.
Why is that and not anything else? Because pop-up is proved to be one of the high converting methods for building list and seems pretty everywhere.
You don’t have to look further; our own Darren Rowse made a huge jump up in email opt-in rate by using a pop-up that raised from 40 new subscribers a day to straight 350 subscribers a day.
But over the years, pop-up has started to have a profound impact on user experience and turned into a very controversial topic itself.
If we ask the visitors, 95 out of 100 of them will say pop-ups are annoying. But if we ask the same to a marketer, he will confess that but must be thinking how he could miss the great conversion by pop-ups.
It looks like we are trapped between two choices. But there is a third choice that we usually miss out, and that can get us a good relief. That is simple:
Pop-up should be polite but converting enough.
So here my task is to guide you what are the mistakes that annoy people and how you can solve them to achieve that prestige for your pop-ups.
Mistake #1: Solely depending on pop-up
Is using pop-up itself a big mistake? Well, it can be literally.
To tell the truth, a pop-up can silently kill your blog if that is not well-optimized.
Matthew Woodward ran an experiment how pop-ups affect blog’s bottom line. He set up the pop-up to show up after 7 seconds. He noticed significant drops in the following three factors:
- Pages per visit decreased by 9.29%
- Average visit duration decreased by 10.20%
- Bounce rate increased by 9.02% (lower is better)
Subscribers generated via pop-up forms are not stable and have very low engagement rate that are no good for your website except just increasing the number of subscribers.
So if you decide to autopilot your list building solely on pop-ups and do not use any other method, you will not be collecting all genuine subscribers who could benefit your website.
Solution: You should not wholeheartedly depend on pop-ups and use some other methods to collect engaging and stable subscribers, and eventually reduce the annoyance.
A lot of working list building methods are available of which you can choose yours. According to Social Triggers, here are some of the high-converting placements for your opt-in form (excluding pop-up):
- Top featured box
- Top of sidebar
- Bottom of post
- Site footer
- About page
- Top sticky bar
In fact, you can grow your email list amazingly fast using the following formulas of list building:
Mistake #2: Triggering pop-ups too fast or too slow
Timing is another big factor for your pop-up. If it comes too fast, it will greatly annoy the visitors, and if it comes too slow, it will lose a number of subscribers.
So what is the perfect timing? Some will say 5 seconds converts the highest and some 10 seconds, if not some other will say 30 seconds is perfect.
But my opinion is different. To turn a visitor into a loyal subscriber, you need to give him enough time to understand your website. Five seconds, 10 seconds and sometimes even 30 seconds is not sufficient to comprehend a site correctly.
What would happen if you pop-up between this times? You will experience relatively high bounce rate and low user engagement.
Solution: Unbounce suggests that a perfect user-optimized pop-up should come at 60 seconds after a visitor enters your site.
If it comes before that, you will significantly lose conversion. If it comes after that period, you will miss a large number of audiences to show your pop-ups.
So the best time for pop-up is 60 seconds which will allow a visitor has fully understood a website and make him commit genuine interest to become a subscriber, after all, reducing the risk of annoying by more.
Mistake #3: Not using any improved pop-up technology
Although timed pop-ups could be optimized for not to make annoyance, it still retain some percent of chances to annoy visitors.
Because it appears suddenly and could behave like a barrier to reading up a content. No one would appreciate seeing a barrier in their way, especially when reading something online.
What would happen if a pop-up distracts visitors from reading a content? The chances are high that they will leave the site, if not it will hurt their attitude towards the site.
Solution: Thinking about this matter, some user-improved pop-up triggering technologies has come out. The main prospective of these technologies is adjusting with user’s behavior and triggering the pop-up in the safest time.
Here are a few pop-up technologies that can be found in the latest marketing tools, and what you can replace with your timed pop-up to potentially take the annoyance level close to zero:
- Pop-up when a user intends to exit (aka exit-intent)
- Pop-up when a user reaches the content end
- Pop-up when a user reaches a particular element
- Pop-up when a user scrolls a specific percent of a page
- Pop-up when a user scrolls down and goes back up
Mistake #3: Not controlling pop-up showing frequency
How many times do you show up your pop-up in a browsing session? Well, you are of the belief that the more we show up pop-ups, the more we get signups, right?
But this time it won’t go along your perspective because the more often you show your pop-ups (for example, show up on every page), the more you annoy your visitors.
If you trigger your pop-up in every page in a browsing session, it will feel real over promotion, and you will get significantly low subscribing rate.
So what’s the best frequency?
Solution: You don’t have to push hard to get the better conversion rate. You just need to understand your audiences and trigger pop-up at the right time.
Asking a visitor to subscribe multiple times in a browsing session might not work well and feel irritating. So first you should limit your pop-up to maximum once each browsing session.
And how often to repeat the pop-up after someone closes that? Concerning the user experience, you should not show pop-up more than once a week to the same visitor, and more preferably once in every 15 or 30 days. (Prove)
Mistake #5: Tricking visitors to get stuck on the pop-ups
You know what, you can attempt to get unbelievable email opt-in rate just doing a few tweaks. How? Here is what you need to do exactly:
- Trigger pop-up just when someone enters your site
- Remove the close button from the pop-up
- Don’t leave any option to skip the pop-up without subscribing
But the thing I forgot to tell you is that after doing these tweaks, don’t expect your visitors ever to return and the bounce rate will be apparently around 90%-100%.
Intentionally trying to stick people to a pop-up form is the worst practice and result into losing those visitors for forever.
Solution: If you are serious about building up your email list, be clear and transparent. Display the close button and make sure that can be easily seen.
You do not have to be tricky to increase email opt-in rate, but you have to optimize the following three elements of your pop-up:
- Convince people at first sight using the pop-up title. Use power words like Free, Secret, Discover, to create good impression.
- Be visually attractive because visual elements can convince someone to subscribe faster than anything else.
- Optimize your pop-up’s call to action and tease the visitors to subscribe using text and buttons.
Here is a sample of pop-up how to play with pop-up contents to hack readers mind for subscribing to your email list without doing anything tricky:
Source: Social Triggers
Do you know the hardest truth about pop-up? It converts the highest, and it irritates the highest as well.
The best approach with the pop-up is attempt to convert high but staying safe. Before doing anything with it, just ask yourself will you personally love it as a reader? If yes, just go with it and if no, configure it to be likable.
So what’s your opinion about pop-ups and how you safely use them without hurting the user experience? I am pretty much interested to know it.
Abrar Mohi Shafee is from Bangladesh, an inbound marketer, blogger and founder of BloggingSpell. His areas of interests are content marketing, social media marketing, and seo. Need his help to be more productive in blogging? Grab his personal blogging toolkit.
I refuse to use them on any site I manage. There’s a reason pop-up blockers are so popular, after all. When I think of the frame of mind I want my visitors in, “annoyed and frustrated” isn’t on the list. The conversions are data you can measure, but what you can’t measure is what you’ve lost by irritating the visitor. For example, waiting 60 seconds and interrupting me while I’m reading something isn’t going to irritate me less, it’s going to irk me even more. It’s like a spoiled child whining for attention. I’m trying to read something, leave me alone or at least use your manners.
Use good content marketing and other real skills, and you won’t need to throw acid in someone’s face to get their attention. If a site impresses me I’ll actively search for the newsletter & social media links because I want to hear more. Make them easy to find and you’ll convert just fine. The way I see it anyway :-).
I could not have said it better. Once in a while in doing a google search I’ll come across a site that has a pop-up that can’t be closed or will pop-up repeatedly. I close it down and look for my answer elsewhere.
I use to hate popups and I vowed that I would never use it on my blog.
Well, some years later I broke that vow and found them to be higher in conversions than the other opt in boxes that I’ve used so far.
There are ways to optimize them enough to get more subscribers. I have my popups show up after my readers read my post and before they comment. Just from doing this, my opt ins increase. But I do have to admit that they can be better.
I like the idea of having one opt in form on the side, at the top, below the my content and content upgrades. I’ll definitely have to implement these!
Thanks for sharing Abrar! Have a good one!
I have yet to meet a pop-up that works on any of my mobile devices. I’m can’t get rid of them and I click away. Even on the desktop pop-ups leave a bad taste in my mouth. No matter how they are timed or optimized, they appear before I’ve had a chance to read a post and get to know the site. It’s like selling your product to window shoppers.
Striving for blogging excellence is possible for anyone.
What a great article. I notice a little pop up that scrolled along as I read this page. That’s kind of pop up isn’t too annoying and lets me read the post. What a great (even if unintentional) example of a pop-up.
I’m still struggling to understand how to use the email mailing list concept of promotion. I’m attempting to build up my blog with great content. I’d love to reach more people and would be interested in sending emails but I suppose frequency of ‘newsletter’ and what to include in the newsletter is what keeps stopping me cold in the tracks.
Once I can wrap my head around that, this post will certainly be useful with requesting email signups.
This post was really helpful. As a reader I hate pop-ups. So as a blogger I’ve been struggling with the decision: pop-up or no. I’ll definitely be taking some of these ideas into consideration for my helpful, hopefully not annoying pop-up strategy. Thanks!
Super helpful tips here.
I jumped on the pop up bandwagon 2 weeks ago. I spotted a quick 20 subscriber increase a day or 2 after adding the pop up. We run into a blogger’s block sometimes; if we feel something annoys us it MUST annoy our readers. Not so. Think of our preferred websites. Most of us would readily invite pop ups and would love to join these email lists.
So yep, most of our readers do not mind pop ups because they enjoy what we have to offer and look past the pop up. Example; when I scrolled down to leave a comment I noted Darren’s pop up; loved it. I didn’t mind about it 1 bit because I enjoy his content, and the guest bloggers who share their wisdom here. No probs. No fuss.
The blogger must get clear on using pop ups though because if you feel PU’s are annoying, they will stink for you. That’s a joke :) Seriously though, get clear on your content. Do you feel like you’re helping your audience? If so, don’t hesitate to add pop ups because being clear, obvious and direct is a fun, fulfilling way to grow your list and to build relationships and to boost your blogging income.
Just get clear on the pop up and realize that your readers won’t mind, and in many cases, they won’t even recognize it. If a reader gets annoyed at a simple pop up they weren’t your reader anyway.
I’d add: the timing thing is 1 aspect of pop ups. Creating a clear, benefits-driven pop up copy makes or breaks your PU. I stress exactly what my readers will get for offering their email: free eBooks, 99 cent eBooks, practical blogging tips laden posts, fabulous pictures of paradise and 1080 HD videos. So when I sent out my newsletter a few hours ago I included more than a few of these promises. Didn’t want to overload them in 1 newsletter.
Make your promise generous and relevant. Stay on topic. Also, brand that sucker. I had my developer craft snazzy looking banner for my newsletter, based on my brand, my smiling mug and my overall blogging feel. I’ve no doubts that the pop up branding and copy clarity added a handful of subscribers to my email list.
More than anything though, if you create relevant, focused, helpful content, readers will sign up via your pop up or through any opt in forms. Don’t fear annoying people. They weren’t your readers anyway. Cater to folks who love what you have to offer. They can X out a window in a second. As for timing issues I pop up my PU – haha – right away. When you visit, sign up if you dig my content. If you have yet to read my content, read some and sign up via my top bar.
I also include a neat looking Slider form to sell my eBooks. That’s another option for folks who hesitate to go the Pop Up route.
Good points dude.
Thanks for sharing.
Hi Abrar, Superbly described here with stats and charts, great to read.. It helps us alot.. Thanks for sharing :)
This post was truly useful. As a peruser I abhor pop-ups. So as a blogger I’ve been battling with the choice: pop-up or no. I’ll without a doubt be taking some of these thoughts into thought for my accommodating, ideally not irritating pop-up procedure.
Hello ProBlogger, This article was really helpful, I am too hate popups and currently I am not using it on my blog. But I am not familiar with email list, would you please help me to build the mailing list for my readers. Nowadays I put just feed burner for email subscribers. I would love to reach more and more peoples via email subscriptions. Cheers, Hira
I refuse to use pop-ups on my own sites because I find them so annoying on others! And you are so right about mistake #5. If I come across a site and I can’t look at the content without subscribing, I will always just leave the site. I don’t want to subscribe to a site without even seeing the content first! Also, if you’re going to be annoying and not let me click off your popup then how do I know your newsletters won’t be just as annoying?!
I don’t know if anyone has mentioned this to you, but none of the pictures in this post shows up in the Bloglovin app on my iPad.
Thought you might like to know, because if I’m having this problem, others will too. And you do make your living blogging, so…
Pop up ads are quite annoying and cause site viewers to quickly lose interest.
Great article I like what you said about pop-ups being high converting but also highly annoying – this is true. People say they dislike them, but the proof is in the numbers – what readers say is not necessarily what they do. I had nearly a 400% increase in email signups just by installing a pop up so I know they work. Anyway thought I’d put my two cents in there :)
Exactly what i have been looking for.,