This depends of course upon the purpose and objectives of your website. Different strokes for different folks, we don’t all want the same things. Or do we?
If building your email list is anywhere at all on your list of priorities, then YES, you should have an email opt-in popup or overlay on your website. Without any doubt whatsoever.
And if building your email list isn’t the most important thing to you at the moment, then think again because it probably should be.
Why is building my email list SO important?
Here is a shock:
Your email list is the ONLY thing you have on the web that belongs to YOU.
- Your Organic Search Engine traffic does not belong to you and can be taken away at any time
- Your Facebook traffic, Likes, and Pages do not belong to you and can be taken away at any time
- Your Paid Search traffic doesn’t belong to you and can be taken away at any time
- Your links from other people don’t belong to you and can be taken away at any time
In fact there’s not a whole lot you can rely on out there.
Except your list.
Your list belongs to you. It’s free for you to use as often as you like and nobody can take it away from you. Ever. So straight away that puts your list in a different category from every other revenue source out there.
But more than that…
Your customers prefer it.
A recent study by Exact Target showed that “a staggering 77% of consumers prefer to receive permission-based marketing communications through email”.
So this is the method your customers would like you to use. And if you communicate with them the way they want they are likely to be more receptive, and give you more of what you want.
But I don’t like those annoying popups
Nobody does like them because they force us to make a decision. They interrupt us, stop us from doing what we want to be doing (reading the page) and ask us to make a decision — do we want to subscribe or not?
That’s annoying right?
Well yes it is a bit (if you’re easily annoyed), but think about it. If you are reading something that is useful and valuable to you, and somebody asks would you like to get more like this — without you having to come back and look for it — how annoying is that? Not very really. In fact it’s helpful.
There are without doubt some people who will always HATE popups and will as a matter of principle, stop reading and click away if a popup appears. Even if what they were reading was really helpful, even if more like that would be even more helpful, they feel so strongly they will just go — even if it is cutting off their own nose to spite their face.
You’ve just got to accept that. It’s their right to choose and you can’t please everybody all of the time. You will lose some people if you put a popup on your site.
However, if they won’t even give up an email address when asked politely, and when it was to their benefit, how much do you think they would have bought anyway? So are they much of a loss…
So why do you think popups are worth the risk?
Well it’s not just me. They are proven to work.
A study by econsultancy showed that sites with a popup opt-in (also called an overlay) typically increased their opt-ins by 400%.
That’s huge, and it can often be even more than that. You’ll find that virtually every big, important, or successful site does this nowadays. There is a reason why they all do it — it works.
Up to 70% of people who visit your website will never come back.
Not because you’ve done anything wrong necessarily, or because they didn’t find what they want. There is a huge amount out there — the web is full of distractions and diversions, and quite simply they forget. And go somewhere else, like a butterfly flitting from flower to flower in a meadow. So the person who left in a huff when you asked for their email address would probably never have come back anyway…
If you’ve got their email address you can bring them back. Or talk to them offline. They are no longer gone forever.
You know that they are interested in your product or service because they’ve taken the time to subscribe. You can now develop a relationship with them which will hopefully benefit both parties.
Why do popups work?
Quite simply because they ask the question.
“Would you like more like this?” (or whatever the question is for your particular application).
Even if the answer is yes, most people won’t answer unless they are asked.
So pop-ups work just because they ask the the question. Simple, obvious and effective. In sales this is called ‘closing’ or asking for the order. If you don’t ever ask for the order, you’re less likely to get it.
What is the best way to setup an optin popup on my site?
Having said that optin popups are a good thing, it’s important to point out that they can be implemented well or badly. A bad popup is indeed a grievous thing and will rightfully drive people away and maybe even decrease signups. You’ve got to do it properly.
The first thing is to be sympathetic to your visitor. Try and construct things in such a way that opting-in to your list will be a real benefit to them. You can’t go too far wrong if you keep your customer’s needs at the forefront of your mind in everything that you do.
Secondly give some thought to the implementation of your pop up. Is it going to slam in their face the second they enter your site? Or is is going to quietly appear after they have been reading for a certain length of time? If they have been reading for a minute or two then it looks like they are interested in what they are reading and are more likely to sign up. You can also set pops to appear on what’s called ‘exit intent’ — as soon as it looks like they are about to leave your site.
Your popup should allow the visitor to decline to opt-in but still remain on the site.
There are some very aggressive brute-force pop ups that appear after a couple of seconds and won’t let you see anything until you’ve opted in and if you don’t say yes, you don’t get in. These may work in some situations but in general I would avoid these and anything else that appears aggressive. People don’t like aggressive marketing.
Thirdly, test. And test again. Try different pop-up designs, different delays, different wording, different offers (if you have an opt-in ‘bribe’ which is a good idea) and see which works best. Some things will work better than others and every situation will be different — what works for somebody else may not work for you. The great thing though is that you can test everything and make decisions based upon data and knowledge rather than guesswork.
My personal favourite Opt-in tool for WordPress is Thrive Leads. That’s what I’m currently using on this site, having tried many others. I find it gives me not only the best results, but also the most control over how, when, and where the opt-ins appear. It also allows me (a non-designer) to make really nice looking Popups and Opt-in forms very easily. And at $59 (£39) it’s very good value too.
As always, any questions, comments or feedback about this article (or anything else) please drop me a line in the comments box below or contact me.