You’ve seen it before—you visit a website expecting to read something interesting, shop this season’s shoe styles, watch a funny video or find out the latest celebrity gossip, and BAM!—something pops out at you asking to collect your email address, while blocking out the content you were expecting to see.


While this may seem annoying and distracting, the truth of the matter is…it works.

Online marketers and website owners all over the world debate back and forth on the idea of having an email pop-up form on their website. Some feel it’s rude while others feel it’s pertinent to growing their list, and I have to say, I agree with the latter. And, so should you.

Here’s why…

Email Pop-ups Work

The purpose of the pop-up is not to distract the reader or to push them away. The purpose is to provide a very strong call-to-action that may let them know about other things going on in the website, which would likely convert them into a customer. You may choose to display announcements, product sales, about videos, etc.

But, the true mission of the pop-up is to turn a reader into a customer—or rather, to get their email address so you can engage them later.

Studies show:

In a study done by AWeber, an email marketing service provider, they found that one business drove 1,375% more email captures by using a pop-up vs a sidebar opt-in form. Both forms went up on the site at the same time, and the results were the sidebar opt-in form captured 643 subscribers while the pop-up captured 7,473 subscribers.

Email Popup

Sidebar Opt-in

Email Popup


In another study by Shopify, a website was receiving only 10 to 15 subscribers per day despite getting over 44,000 unique visitors each day. After implementing a popup with a 60 second delay, they began receiving 100-150 emails per day.

The fact of the matter is that if you can collect a user’s email address, then you have a much higher chance of turning them into a customer. And, it’s been proven time and time again that email has a higher sales conversion rate and ROI than any other online marketing tactic—SEO, social media or blogging.

According to the Direct Marketing Association, email marketing yields a 4,300% return on your investment! That number speaks for itself.

Which is why you need to start collecting email addresses now, if you haven’t already.

How to Make Pop-Ups Work for Your Business

If you’ve decided to add a pop-up to your website, there are 2 things to consider to make it effective for your business.

  1. The Timing of Your Pop-up
  2. The Content (or the Message)—I’ve provided some good examples below. Plus, here are recent examples of my pop-ups.


This is one of THE most critical components of any pop-up. In fact, this could actually make or break your conversion.

There are a few different options when it comes to timing, and in order to make the best decision, you need to think about your customer. Put yourself in their shoes and decide which pop-up would be the most effective for your customer.

You could hit them as soon as they visit your website, after a certain amount of time has passed, when they are about to leave your website, when they click on an element (link or image), or when they view a particular page.

You could also think about the web page flow and the actions your customer will take to view each page. Based on this, maybe your pop-up is best on a particular page versus as soon as a visitor hits the site.

Here are a few different types of pop-ups…

OnLoad or Time-Based

This pop-up is set at a certain time interval from when the visitor first lands on one of your web pages. For example, you can set the time to 0 seconds for an immediate pop-up or you could set the time to 60 seconds to grab a more engaged user. This type of pop-up can be used on all pages or only on select pages based on the page’s content.

Studies have shown that the longer you wait to run your pop-up, the higher quality of customer you’ll get, as they have had enough time to peruse your site and make sure your product or service is something they want or need.

It has also been said that immediate pop-ups will grab more email addresses, but they will likely be lower-level leads and could lead to a higher unsubscribe rate.

So, would you rather have a larger email list or a higher quality email list?

OnExit or Exit-Intent

An exit pop-up is another popular option in the pop-up world. If an immediate welcome pop-up isn’t your cup o’ tea or you feel it can be slightly intrusive, then you might want to opt for the exit pop-up. This works based on the location of your visitor’s cursor—the pop-up software will determine when someone is about to close a web page or navigate away from the web page and will automatically pull up the pop-up in an effort to catch the user’s info before they leave the website.

OnScroll or Scroll-Based

This option is another great runner-up if you don’t like the OnLoad (immediate) pop-up. OnScroll is activated when a user scrolls down the web page and hits a certain target (or web page percentage).

For example, when a user visits a blog article, as they read they will need to scroll down the page. Once they read 50% or 75% of the article, a pop-up may occur, and since they were already engaged in the article, they may be more inclined to sign up. Better yet, if the pop-up offered something very specific to what the article was about, then they are even more likely to sign up, as they are already interested in that particular topic.


This is the least intrusive of all pop-ups. This type occurs when an element on your web page is clicked—a link or an image. More than likely, the user is interested if they are clicking, so this is an easy way to convert users to customers, without being annoying or distracting.

The Message

The other factor that determines whether a user will convert or not is the message or the content in your pop-up. You should make this as specific as possible by using catchy headlines, impressive numbers or interesting facts to pique the visitor’s interest right away.

Think of your pop-up like an ad. You only have a split second to “sell” them on it, so make sure you provide compelling-enough benefits in an eye-catching way.

Again, you’ll have a higher conversion rate if the content in your pop-up matches the content on the page. If a user is already engaged on a particular topic, then they are likely to convert via your pop-up on that same topic.

Great Examples of Pop-ups at Work

Email Popup

Email Popup

Email Popup

Other Ways to Use Pop-ups

One of the main uses for pop-ups is to collect email addresses so you can convert a visitor to a customer, but there are some additional ways you can make pop-ups work for your business. And, they all don’t have to sell!

Here are some examples…

  • To snag a free download.
  • To redirect them to a specific page based on a yes or no question.
  • To provide a discount on their first purchase.
  • To display your contact form.
  • To ask them to follow you on social media.
  • To display an informational video.
  • To showcase a new product or service.
  • To register or log in to your website.
  • To collect additional data from them (i.e. demographic data).
  • To lock out content until a user subscribes.
  • And, the list goes on. Get creative!

Email Popup  Email Popup


Now that we’ve covered the benefits and the different uses of pop-ups, what do you think? Do you use them in your business? Comment below to tell us how you use pop-ups and how effective (or ineffective) they have been for you. I’d love to hear your feedback.