I'm doing it you guys. I'm bringing up the oh so controversial topic of Email Pop Ups. You know, those (sometimes annoying) windows that pop up while you're browsing a website asking for your email address? Yeah those things.
Why are these controversial you ask? Well let me tell you, people have some SUPER strong feelings about email pop ups. Like super strong. Lots of people hate them, so much so that they'll completely boycott any website that uses them. I'll even admit that I've been frustrated from time to time by quite a few email pop up experiences I've had myself. But, if almost every company out there are using email pop ups on their websites, then there must be something good about them right?
When done right, email pop ups work.
Throughout my career as a professional Email Marketer, I've seen the impact email pop ups can have on growing an email list firsthand and it's incredible. AWeber shared the email pop up results of one of their customers, a full-time crafter and blogger, and found that her email pop up drove 1,375% more email signups than her static sidebar signup form! Here's a screenshot of the difference between the two email capture forms:
Notice above that I said "when done right" email pop ups work? Well before we dive into how to create the perfect email pop up, let's first talk about the different types of email pop ups there are.
Types of Email Pop Ups
Scroll Based Pop Up
A Scroll Based Pop Pp is only shown to users once they've shown some engagement with your website through the act of scrolling. You can specify how far done the page your visitor has to get before they receive the pop up (ie. after 30% of the page has been viewed). Scroll based pop ups are more targeted than say, entry based pop ups but are similar to time based pop ups as they're only shown to your visitor once they've shown a particular level of engagement.
Time Based Pop Up
A Time Based Pop Up is only shown to the visitor after a they've spent a particular amount of time on your website (ie. pop up is triggered after 60 seconds of browsing). Time based pop ups are tricky to master as you don't want to trigger the pop up too early and shock your reader but you also don't want to trigger the pop up too late once the reader has already left your site. There are some tools out there that help you test which times work best for your audience as this will change across every website.
Content Based Pop Up
Content Based Pop Ups are only used on particular pages throughout your website. For example, the pop up may only trigger once someone has reached your "Services" page or your "About Me" page instead of being active across your entire website.
Entry Pop Up
Entry Pop Ups appear as soon as a website or landing page has fully loaded which for the most part will be as soon as you land on the website. These are probably one of the least used types of pop ups as they're the most dangerous and aggressive pop ups. Since they trigger before your visitor can even view your website content, it can result in higher bounce rates and low quality emails as they haven't had a chance to show any form of engagement yet.
Exit Pop Up
Opposite to entry pop ups, Exit Pop ups appear just before someone is about to leave your website. This type of pop up uses cursor tracking and is typically triggered when someone is on their way to hitting the 'exit' or 'back' button on their browser. Exit Pop Ups are a less intrusive way of capturing a visitors email address and wait until you're visitor has finished what they came to your website to do before asking for their email address.
Click Pop Up
Click Pop Ups only appear once a visitor has clicked on a particular image, word or link on your website. Because these pop ups only trigger after a visitor has taken a specific action, they're the least intrusive of them all and almost expected as a result of the action they took. For example, imagine a website with a banner on their homepage promoting a free webinar. When someone clicks on that banner, likely in the hopes of signing up, a pop up would appear asking them for their email address as their entry into the webinar.
Pop Out Pop Up
Just like it sounds, a Pop Out Pop Up typically pops out from the bottom of your screen while your browsing a webpage. Unlike the pop ups mentioned above, this type of pop up doesn't actually interrupt someones browsing but instead appears off to the side, hopefully catching their eye, and will remain their as they browse the website until it's dismissed.
The Downside of Email Pop Ups
Like I mentioned earlier, some people hate email pop ups. And I mean REALLY hate them. I get it. If they're not done well, they can be so frustrating. Here are a couple of reasons why people might not dig the idea of email pop ups:
They interrupt their session
Your website visitors have come to your site for a reason and email pop ups can get in the way of them doing what they had originally intended on doing. Depending on the type of email pop up you use, they can completely interrupt their session on your website or at the very least distract them from what they came to do. This can sometimes result in a frustrated visitor as well as higher bounce rates.
They can slow down page load times
Depending on the type of pop up you're using, especially those that run scripts, they can slow down your page load times which can be a frustrating experience for your visitors and even more frustrating when they're prompted to provide their email address after waiting for the page to load.
They can increase your website bounce rates
As I mentioned earlier, some people just HATE pop ups. Regardless of how well you craft your email pop up, they'll hate it anyways and immediately leave your site as soon as the pop up appears. Keeping an eye on your bounce rates while you have your email pop up on is always a good idea to make sure it's not pushing your bounce rates through the roof.
They can damage your brand identity
If email pop ups are not done well, they can completely damage your brand identity and leave a bad taste in the mouths of your website visitors. We've all come across one or two of these god awful email pop ups that make us want to scream "WHAT ARE YOU THINKING?! WHY WOULD I EVER GIVE YOU MY EMAIL NOW?!". A lot of thought and strategy needs to go into creating an email pop up. It's not something that you can just throw up on your website and hope for the best. You want to do everything in your power to deliver the email pop up at the right time, in the right place and with the right message in order to capture the email of your visitor and provide them with a good experience at the same time.
Email Pop Up Best Practices
Alright, now that you're up to speed on all of the different types of email pop ups out there and know what makes for a bad email pop up experience, let's talk about some best practices for creating email pop ups.
Timing is everything
You know your audience best. Choose an email pop up that agrees with your audience and their typical session on your website. Do you have the kind of website where people come and leave quite quickly? Or do you have a website where people come and spend more than a couple minutes? Based on your typical visitor behaviour you can choose an email popup that would be served at an ideal time for your visitor. Test some different options with your audience to find what works best for your business.
Make it worth it
If you're going to interrupt or distract a visitors session, then you better have something good to say. If you're simply going to pop up and ask for their email address without giving them a reason as to WHY they should give you this information, then you can expect some pretty shitty results. Offer something extremely valuable and unique in exchange for disrupting their session and asking for their email address, like a freebie or a discount. And while you're at it, be sure to keep your messaging clear and concise.
Don't ask for too much information
Since an email pop up is essentially interrupting a visitors session on your website, you want to make sure you get in and get out as quickly as possible. Make sure you're not asking for too much information in your email pop up so that the exchange of information can happen quickly and your visitor can get back to doing what they came to your website to do. In your email pop up you should be asking for their email address and their email address only.
Make it easy to bypass
Don't be an asshole and try to trick your website visitors into providing their email address as the only way to dismiss your email pop up. That ain't cool. I've seen some pretty awful email pop ups where the exit symbol is essentially hidden and it just ends up leaving a bad taste in my mouth and results in me leaving their website altogether. So ya, don't do that. Make sure your email pop up has a very clear dismiss button to make for a good experience for your visitor, even if they don't want to provide you with their email. Because hey, just 'cause they didn't give you their email on that visit, doesn't mean they might not share their email with you in the future. Make sure the experience is good to avoid them from boycotting your website altogether and never returning.
Capturing an email is just the beginning. Don't be one of those marketer's who are purely obsessed with numbers and are just collecting email addresses to say your list is a certain size. Following through on your promise to this new subscriber is so much more important than capturing their email in the first place. You must set up your systems to promptly deliver whatever you just promised them in your email pop up (freebie, discount code, etc), set expectations for what's to come and consistently nurture that new subscriber by providing loads of value through your email communications for as long as you have them.
How to Tell if Your Email Pop Up is Working
If your bounce rates start to go through the roof as soon as you implement your email pop up, this is a red flag that your email pop up is not sitting well with your audience. Take this as feedback from your audience, take down your email pop up, work to improve it (ask for customer feedback if you can) and try again. It will take some trial and error and testing different things to find what works for you and your audience.
Average Time Spent on Page
This metric is similar to an increased bounce rate, in that a decrease in the average time spent on page since you launched your email pop up is a sure telling sign that the pop up is deflecting people from your website instead of encouraging them to stay on your website and engage with your content.
# of Email Subscribers
This is pretty straightforward but I feel like I should mention it anyways. If you find the # of email subscribers you're getting on a daily/weekly basis has increased since launching your email pop up then this is a good sign! Make sure you look at your numbers prior to launching your email pop up so you can easily identify if you're subscriber rate is increasing or decreasing as a result of the pop up. Now, you may notice that their level of engagement with your emails is lower at the beginning but this goes back to my point that capturing their email is just the beginning. If you work hard to ensure you're nurturing these subscribers once you've captured their email then before you know it, their engagement rates will be right where you want them to be.
Pages Per Visit
If you find the pages per visit has decreased since you launched your email pop up, this could be an indication that the email pop up has deterred your visitors from visiting other pages on your website after seeing the email pop up.
Alright, I think you're all ready to take this information and run with it and start testing whether or not an email pop up works for you. I encourage you to share your email pop ups with me by shooting me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, I'd love to see them!
Ciao for now,