Some of you are going to hate me for this.
You’ll think I’ve really screwed up.
You’ll think I’ve finally crossed over to the dark side.
But what actually happened was I finally put a real pop-up on my site. Yes, you read that right. I added a big giant box that pops up in your face and encourages you to sign up for my email newsletter.
And doing so was one of the best decisions I’ve made in a while. I know it’s a controversial subject, so let’s decide. Should you actually use pop-up forms?
Absolutely. Let’s look at some facts.
Why Email Is So Powerful
First, let’s look at why you should actually be building a list. I’m sure you’ve heard it a million times, but incase that wasn’t enough…
Repeat after me: “The money is in the list. The money is in the list. THE MONEY IS IN THE LIST.”
Your email list is where you can get all personal with your potential customers. Where you build real relationships with them. Where you chat one-on-one. This is where you turn your traffic into buyers.
My regular readers know that I’m a realist, no-nonsense kind of guy. So here’s the truth. This blog exists to act as a tool to get people onto my email list. That’s where the business is so to speak – and is why I offer so many great reasons to sign up. Yes, I love helping people through my actual blog. I love meeting people and hearing their stories. And I hope they’ll love their experience here enough to opt-in to my mailing list.
Because even if my blog disappeared today, I could still make a consistent income just through my list.
Pop-Ups Work. Here’s Why.
If you want people to get onto an email list, they have to fill out an opt-in form. To fill out an opt-in form, they have to see the opt-in form. To see the opt-in form, you have to make it noticeable to them.
If you look around, you’ll notice I have a TON of opt-in forms on my site. The top of my sidebar. The Hello Bar at the top of your screen. The big box below each post.
I deliberately make these ugly and bright to draw attention to them. Yet, people still scroll past them without even noticing they exist. But you know what people can’t possibly miss? The huge pop-up in the middle of the screen that screams, “Read me!”
And people do. It’s been one of the highest converting opt-in forms since I placed it on my site. No surprise there, of course. These results are typical. If you added a pop-up to your site today, I’m willing to bet that you’ll experience the exact same thing, and see a boost in opt-ins almost immediately.
Pop-ups Don’t Have To Be Annoying
If you’re a regular reader, chances are you won’t run into one of my pop-ups for a while.
My pop-ups aren’t annoying – at least not as annoying as the majority of them.
Rather than popping up on every page you visit, you’ll only see a pop-up here once every 30 days. That’s it. This means my regular readers don’t get annoyed by having to close a pop-up every time they visit my site.
Additionally, the pop-up only appears when you reach the bottom of the article. This is incredibly effective because it gives the reader something to do next, and it doesn’t disrupt your visitors from reading your content.
Since adding my pop-ups to the site, I haven’t received a single complaint, nor has my bounce rate changed. The only difference is I’m collecting more emails and building my list faster. Which, you know, is one of the primary goals of my business.
James, You’re A Liar. Pop-Ups Are Annoying No Matter What!
“…and I’m never visiting your website again.”
Like I said, I haven’t received a single complaint about my pop-ups yet. But if I have, that’s exactly what I’d say. Because those people, quite frankly, are not worth my time.
And although it may appear as so, I’m not being rude. Not at all. Because if somebody is seriously going to complain about me offering them valuable free stuff, they don’t deserve it. Not like they would’ve subscribed anyway, but that doesn’t matter. I don’t even want them as an email subscriber. As Derek Halpern would say, think about all of the other headaches they would cause…
I sometimes come off as harsh because I don’t chase after people when they start to walk away. Sorry, but if you’re a new reader and don’t like what I have to offer, I’m going to let you leave. I’d rather use the time I’d spend chasing you to improve my content so far less people bounce in the future.
And if you vow to never return to my website because I showed you a pop-up, that’s your problem, not mine. If clicking an X once a month isn’t worth seeing all the valuable information I have to share than go ahead and leave. Nobody’s stopping you.
Again, I’m not being rude nor egotistical. I’m being truthful. I value every person that visits my site but it’s not worth my time or effort to chase after the whiners.
You should apply the same idea. There are pros and cons to everything you do, and the pros of having a pop-up far outweigh the cons (if there really are any.) Look at this from a time perspective – would you let one person go if it meant 50 new people would stick around for the long-term? Which would be a better use of your time? Think about it.
Most people that leave from your site aren’t coming back anyway. That’s just the nature of blogging today.
So sure, maybe a pop-up will anger somebody, sometime, but you’d be foolish to believe all of the extra opt-ins aren’t worth it. There are far more people in the world who will not mind your pop-up, actually fill it out, and become a long-term member of your community.
The choice should be clear.
But in case it’s not, let’s clear up some myths.
Myth #1: My Readers Will Hate My Pop-Up
Most people don’t mind pop-ups so long as they aren’t annoying. Set your pop-ups to appear every X amount of days. Problem solved.
Myth #2: People Who Subscribe Through Pop-Ups Engage Less
Not true – at least not exactly. Engagement rates from people who sign up through pop-ups are only slightly lower than other types of opt-ins.
Not that it matters. When you use a pop-up, you get all of the people who were going to sign up anyway along with the ones who were not.
Myth #3: Using A Pop-up Means I’m Putting Money Before Viewers
If the content you’re offering is helpful and your email newsletter is helpful than this isn’t true. Of course, pop-up haters will scream this at you to make you feel bad because they expect the world for free. They’re the same ones using Adblock and then complaining when sites get shut down.
Let me share a story with you. I worked on a site for two years that hardly made any money. I was fully a content creator and not a good marketer. I still got traffic, and I got tons of comments and emails thanking me for my hard work. Once I even got an email from a teacher saying they were using my site in part of their lesson plan. I felt great. But I was making no money.
I eventually stopped working on the site.
Because you’re operating a business, you should be doing what’s guaranteed to make you money without hurting user experience. If your pop-up isn’t annoying and your content is good, a pop-up doesn’t hurt your user experience in the slightest. End of story.
There are a lot of great tools out there that will help you create awesome pop-ups. Here are the two I’m using.
First up is the email marketing service itself. I use ActiveCampaign. I’ve used both Aweber and GetResponse as well and prefer ActiveCampaign because it’s easier to work with and has way more features that I actually use. If you aren’t already using a paid email service, I recommend signing up for their free trial.
ActiveCampaign offers its own built in forms, but I didn’t have the time or the patience to make them look good. I chose to invest some money into a pop-up tool called Thrive Leads, and have been pleased with the results so far.
I chose Thrive Leads because the cost was low and it had all of the features I needed, including:
- A/B split testing.
- Attractive opt-in forms.
- Easy integration with ActiveCampaign.
- Pop-up triggers (only pops up at end of article, after X seconds, X amount of days etc.)
I considered OptinMonster for a while but didn’t feel the extra features were worth the price to me. Maybe I’ll change my mind in the future. (Update: I since have, used OptinMonster for a long time! Unfortunately, they suddenly decided to massively increase their prices, so I now use Thrive Leads instead.)
For now, a combination of ActiveCampaign and Thrive Leads have been awesome for me. Adding a pop-up was definitely worth it.
Yell At Me
I know that the facts I’ve written are hard to accept for some people. I’d love for you to yell at me in the comments and let me know why I’m wrong. Seriously.
But unless you’ve tried and tweaked pop-ups on your site and saw WORSE results than before, you don’t really have an argument. And if that was the case I can almost guarantee you did something seriously wrong.
I’d still love to hear your opinions anyway, though. 🙂
If you haven’t used a pop-up before, perhaps this article has encouraged you to do so. Even if you’re skeptical, I encourage you to try it out.
Your only regret will be not using them sooner.