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Opt-in Pop-ups: Yes or No?

November, 2014 by, Sebastian Maier


Website and blog owners know that an e-mail list is of vital importance for marketing their own products and services.

In recent times, the opt-in pop-up, also referred to as a Lightbox or Overlay, has established itself as a successful method for expanding e-mail distribution lists on an ever increasing number of websites. But, at the same time, the irritated voices of Internet users who are feeling annoyed by these pop-ups that keep blocking their view of the website, even if briefly, are becoming louder. Does this then mean a “thumbs up” or a “thumbs down” to opt-in pop-ups?

Just What Are These Opt-in Pop-ups?

In this graphic, you can see the same opt-in pop-up that people visiting American Internet entrepreneuse Marie Forleo's website get to see. An opt-in pop-up is used which consists of a contentbox with an invitation to subscribe to the newsletter. The user must then respond one way or another. Once the user has either subscribed to the newsletter or closed out the box by clicking on the “X,” he can once again resume his interaction with the website.

Opt-in-Pop-up Marie Forleo

Are Opt-in Pop-ups Effective?

Definitely! All of the studies and experience-based reports that I have read about them confirm this. For example, Unbounce, an American expert in digital marketing, tested out opt-in pop-ups on its own website, and was thus able to persuade 14.7 percent of all blog visitors to subscribe to the e-mail list. That is a truly remarkable figure.

Likewise, an American food blogger named Nikki McGonigal tested out an opt-in pop-up for eight months, and compared the results that she achieved by doing this with the amount of newsletter subscriptions that were prompted by a banner on her website. Using the opt-in pop-up, she achieved a conversion rate of 5.5 percent, while the “normal” method only yielded 0.4 percent.

There really are even more examples of this, and they all arrive at the same conclusion: opt-in pop-ups are worthwhile.

Adapt to the User’s Expectations

Opt-in pop-ups are nevertheless not a universal “miracle cure,” but rather, they should be adapted to the user’s expectations. For instance, timing plays an important role. An opt-in pop-up should ideally appear 60 seconds after the user has “set foot” in the website.

Or the pop-up one can be set up in such a way that the user sees it after he has read a post all the way to the end – which ultimately indicates that the content has captured his attention, and he is potentially prepared to subscribe to the e-mail distribution list.

A call to action, and the additional value that is being communicated to the interested party through the use of a pop-up box also play an important role. In order to subscribe to the e-mail list, the user must perceive that there is an obvious personal benefit involved.

Opt-in-Pop-up Neil Patel

For example, online marketing specialist Neil Patel uses this promise to advertise in his opt-in pop-up: “Give Me Three Months and I’ll Open the Floodgates to Consistently Profitable Traffic for Your Website”. Who could possibly resist, and NOT leave his email address?

How Not to Do It

Obviously, when it comes to opt-in pop-ups, there are also a couple of clear “Don'ts”: they should not be displayed too often, because they otherwise get on the visitors’ nerves quickly. In addition, they must not, under any circumstances, prevent the user from leaving the website. Requesting too much information in the box will likewise cause your conversion rate to go down.

What do you think about opt-in pop-ups? Do you use them and/or do you recommend them to your customers?

(Headerpicture: Photo from Martin Fisch, flickr.com/Creative Commons License)

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