Email popups: Do’s and don’ts to get results and not annoy

To many consumers, email popups are nothing more than a bother. 

Because unfortunately, many poorly designed popups simply appear at random intervals and are challenging to do away with. 

Like email marketing, the trick to a successful email popup is having it appear at the right time with a clear call-to-action (CTA) that encourages subscriber action. 

But if so many people find email popups a nuisance, are they really worth integrating into your website? 


examples of CTAs

Source: Campaign Monitor

When it comes to obtaining new customers from your website, you’ll want to include several options for subscribing to your email newsletter. And while you’ll want to have a dedicated landing page for that process, you can also consider adding it to an email popup.

When done right, email popups can be an effective method for growing your email list. Before you can start designing effective email popups, you first need to understand what makes them so irksome to consumers. 

Why people despise email popups

People commonly find email popups annoying or disruptive. 

What’s considered “annoying?” A recent case study showed that there are several reasons why consumers dislike popups.

case study for reasons people dislike popups

Source: G2 Learning Hub

This study showed that consumers highly disliked popups because:

  • “They’re everywhere.”

  • They appear too soon, not giving people enough time to see what’s on the page before being asked to sign up for a newsletter or other opt-in.

  • They aren’t attention-grabbing and have a boring design.

What this research tells marketers is that people view email popups as nothing more than a marketing tool. Sure, while that statement isn’t entirely false, email popups on your website need to be viewed as a method of engagement, not another marketing tool.

The key to making email popups work on your website is to use them as a way to further communication between you and your visitors. People on your website don’t want to be sold to – they want to be informed (39% of consumers feel this way, in fact). 

Now, that doesn’t mean you can’t incentivize your potential new leads. In fact, you need to be providing them with a reason to fill out that opt-in form. But there’s a difference between coming off as “annoying” and providing actual value. 

5 email popup must-haves

So, what makes an effective email popup? There are quite a few pieces, although a few stand out more than others. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of five essential email popup elements to consider when designing them for your website. 

1. Context is everything

Gary Vaynerchuk said it best: “Content is king. Context is God.”

Context is the message surrounding your content. To provide context, you need to provide the content – which is why so many people find popups annoying. If your popups appear before the reader has a chance to read the content, why would they care about whatever you’re offering?

This example from Elegant Themes displays for those reading up on WordPress themes and plugins. As the reader moves through the blog, they get a taste of what the brand has to offer. So, when the following popup appears on their screen, they have an idea of what content they’ll be receiving should they opt into the newsletter. 

Elegant Themes exampleSource: Wishpond

If the brand has provided some great tips in the article, then the consumer is more likely to want to opt in for more quality information. 

2. Clear and direct information

Just like in your website and email content, you want the information presented in your email popups to be both clear and direct. There should be no question as to the intent of your popup. 

In the example below, our friends at Campaign Monitor make a clear request and divulge what the consumer is getting in return.

Campaign Monitor website example

Source: Campaign Monitor

What makes this popup even better is that it immediately gives new leads the option to customize their subscription. They know exactly what to expect once they hit that subscribe button.  

3. Providing value to the reader

We mentioned earlier that you don’t want to focus heavily on promotional content. But there’s a time and a place for promotional email popups. Retail brands often use this method to incentivize shoppers into subscribing to their newsletters. However, other B2B and B2C brands can still provide value to their readers through the use of email popups. 

The following example from Baublebar incentivizes shoppers to “give them a try.” The value in this email popup is clearly defined.  

BaubleBar pop-up example

Source: Pinterest

Other examples of exchanging value for an email signup could be offering free templates, access to gated content, and more.

Pinterest example

Source: Pinterest

4. Delivering on a promised value

When you’re promising a certain level of value to potential new leads, you must deliver on those. 

Think about it: Imagine you were promised a free downloadable template, but when you go to use it, you couldn’t customize it to your needs. How frustrating.

If you don’t deliver, you’re risking your brand’s reputation. Unhappy customers have no problem turning to the internet to talk about their bad experiences with brands. 

If you promise an e-book, make sure it’s simple to download and formatted for easy accessibility. If you promise access to a webinar, make sure the link works and is accessible to those who’ve opted in. 

5. Choosing your timing wisely

One of the most annoying aspects of email popups is that they appear at the least appropriate time. In most cases, as soon as a consumer lands on a website, a popup displays. This is inappropriate because your potential lead has had no chance to see what you offer. Why should they give you any of their information?

Instead of bombarding visitors with popups, consider adding them as an exit intent. These appear when a reader reaches the end of a page or moves their cursor to the “back” button.

Wrap up

Many marketers believe email popups simply put off visitors. Not so. 

It’s not the popups themselves, it’s how they’re used. 

Remember: Don’t try and sell something to visitors. Share content that addresses their needs and ask them to join you for more.

When building email popups for your website, make sure you keep these five components in mind:

  • Include context, not just content

  • Present clear and direct information

  • Provide value to the reader

  • Deliver on the promised value

  • Make sure they appear at an appropriate time 

Ready to start building a site that works for your brand? Schedule your live demo with Emma today.

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