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One of our clients recently asked an interesting question about pop-ups. She simply wanted to know if pop-ups can help her capture more leads on her website or turn visitors away. Given the prevalence of pop-ups on most sites today, we think it is a good idea to discuss the effectiveness of opt-in pop-ups or the lack of it in this blog post. The question we are trying to answer in this post is whether opt-in pop-ups do more harm than good and are there ways you can make them more effective and less annoying.

Judging by the comments on a good number of websites today, pop-ups are not a favourite for many users. In fact, we can safely assume that you too are not a big fan of e-mail subscription pop-ups on websites. However, top internet marketers, including big names such as Neil Patel, indicate that they are still getting great results from pop-ups.

Do Opt-In Pop-Ups Have a Negative Impact on Conversion?

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Email subscription pop-ups are not bad. It is the marketer’s ignorance and failure to use these options effectively that makes visitors complain about pop-ups being excessively intrusive and annoying. It is true that some users find the interruptive behaviour of pop-ups annoying but when you consider the benefits that these conversion tools have, you’ll agree that their benefits far outweigh the inconvenience.

Findings from a SeeWhy study, among many others, indicate that close to 99% of people visiting e-commerce sites don’t buy on their first visit. The study further showed that 75% of visitors who leave have the intention to return in the future and complete the buying process.

So, how do you reach out to these potential buyers for a second time or third time?

Get to know them better, build a relationship, and promote your offers via their e-mail inbox. Like it or not, a bigger e-mail list means more sales and conversions. Sticking a pop-up in your visitors’ face is an effective way of getting their attention and e-mail. Pop-ups work. The trick is to know how to make them less annoying and more effective.

Why do pop-ups work?

There’s a persuasion technique called “pattern interrupt” which, in the internet marketing content, means that readers will respond positively to an “interruption” proposing a solution to a problem their brain is currently tuned into. This is why the number one rule in opt-in pop-ups best practices is to have pop-ups that are relevant to the content of your web page. You wouldn’t want to pop up an offer for dishwasher discount coupon in exchange for the visitor’s email address on a web page discussing the value of backlinks in SEO. That’s where the visitor’s annoyance is rightfully justified.

Data from an ExactTarget survey shows that e-mail is still the most preferred permission-based channel of marketing among a majority of consumers. The survey found that 77% of consumers globally prefer e-mail over other marketing channels. Using pop-ups to get visitors’ e-mails is not a bad idea after all.

Common Types of E-mail Capture Pop-Ups

Generally speaking, the level of effectiveness and annoyance depends on the pop-up’s relevance, design, position, and pop-up times.

To drive this point home, let’s look at some of the most popular types of pop-ups today along with their pros and cons:

The Fearless Opt-In Pop Up

We’ve taken the liberty to call this type of opt-in pop-up fearless because it happens to be the most annoying yet the most effective. It is the type of pop-up you encounter when you land on a page and before you know it, the entire background has faded into a black shadow leaving you with a brightly coloured opt-in pop-up stuck in the middle of the page. Your only way of escape is by clicking the visible X on the pop-up’s top right corner or provide your e-mail address.

The fearless pop-up is annoying but there’s surely a good reason why most websites still use it. The reason is that these intrusive and often annoying pop-ups work. Although many visitors simply “X” them, some will actually enter their e-mail address to get what you are offering. However, before you implement a fearless opt-in to your site, consider the type of readership you have and how much you really want to get their e-mail. The question is how annoying are you willing to be to get amazing results?

The Exit Intent Pop-Up

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The exit intent pop-up goes to great lengths to eliminate the annoying and disruptive behaviour of pop-ups. It helps you reap maximum benefits from your pop-up without interrupting the visitor. The pop-up only appears when the visitor shows signs of leaving your web page. The pop up is designed to show up once the visitor’s mouse leaves the browser en-route to the “X” or close tab in the top corner.

The exit intent opt-in pop-up does not interrupt your visitor and is, therefore, more effective and less annoying. It helps to get their attention and present your offer in exchange for their e-mail before they exit. The pop-up is quite popular with e-commerce websites as a last-minute effort to retarget the consumer via e-mail.

The Slide In Pop-Up

This type of pop-up slides in from the bottom right or left of your screen once you’ve reached the bottom of a web page. It is a non-obtrusive pop-up that delivers good results. However, you need to be careful about its timing to ensure that it only appears after your visitor has read your content. With an eye-catching slide in opt-in pop-up providing great value for the visitor’s email, you can have great results with this type of pop-up. They are not disruptive and effective.

Final Thoughts

Opt-in pop-ups are good for your business if done the right way. The goal is to make them as unobtrusive as possible while providing value in exchange for the visitor’s e-mail address. You can brand your pop-up to make it relevant to your site or have different pop-up segments tailor-made for specific user interests. Most importantly, whichever type of pop-up you use, don’t deny your users a way out. They’ll hate being held prisoners and will probably never come back again. Make it easy for users to exit the opt-in pop-up when they feel like.