Do Pop-Ups Still Work?

We’ve all been there… We’re surfing around the net looking for something – or perhaps just checking up on some of our favorite sites. You click onto a website which looks promising and – BAM! You’re greeted with a big-ass popup asking for your email address. And odds are that I can guess your next…

We’ve all been there…

We’re surfing around the net looking for something – or perhaps just checking up on some of our favorite sites. You click onto a website which looks promising and – BAM! You’re greeted with a big-ass popup asking for your email address.

And odds are that I can guess your next move. 🙂

Close it, right?

You probably don’t even bother to read what’s on the pop-up. You just close it because it gets in the way. You probably even find it mildly annoying.

So, the question is… if there’s a good chance that you’re doing this, is everybody else doing it, too? And, do popups even work anymore?

The Dirty Little Truth (with proof)

The truth is… popups do work. If they didn’t work, people wouldn’t use them.

Plus, one has to take into account the target audience. When you’re dealing with a group like bloggers or online marketers, the effectiveness of such tactics are likely to be different. That’s because that demographic is likely hit with pop-ups all the time. To them, your popup is just… another damn popup. But, to an audience who isn’t subjected to “internet marketing” every day, the story is entirely different.

But, let’s look at even the audience here at Blog Marketing Academy.

I recently re-instituted a pop-up invitation to join the 30 Day Blog Transformation Challenge. It is cookied to only display on a person’s first visit – this way I don’t piss people off with repeated distractions.

The popup opt-in as it sits today.

My primary requirement was that I did NOT want to use Popup Domination. 🙂 It isn’t that I think Popup Domination is a bad plug-in. But, in my view, too many people in my niche use it now and use the same basic selection of templates. For that reason, I believe my audience is going to be more likely to dismiss a Popup Domination ad because a good portion of them probably recognize it (or even use it themselves). So, I ended up going with something customized.

So, does it work? I haven’t done any split-testing or anything yet, and as of now the opt-in rate is about 2%. Is that awesome? Well, no, but its higher than most other opt-in forms on blogs perform. But, look at the screenshot of the raw subscriber list to the right? I use the “ad tracking” feature of Aweber to track where subscribers are coming from. Overwhelmingly, they are coming in from the popup.

So, is it working? Without a doubt, yes. And, I bet I can pretty easily get that opt-in rate even higher with some solid testing.

About Running Pop-Ups On Your Site

There is absolutely no getting around the fact that pop-up opt-in forms work.

But, I know a lot of folks will still refrain from using one because it leaves a bad taste in the mouth. You don’t want to annoy people. That’s understandable – and noble.

But, let me make two points here…

First off, it is YOUR website. Not theirs. You can do what you want with it. And, if you’re not seeing any return for your effort in providing information on your blog, how is that doing you any favors? If people are coming to your site every day and you’re not using EVERY opportunity you have to get them to join your email list, get real value from you, and solidify a relationship… then you’re dropping the ball big-time. And you can’t run a business with an apologetic attitude of not wanting to bother anybody.

Secondly… just because you’re using a popup doesn’t mean you have to eye rape people. Be respectful. ALWAYS use a cookie to ensure that people will only see the opt-in once. I think that’s more than fair. At the same time, test the content of the opt-in form. The closer you can make the pop-up align with what they were looking for when they came to your site, the higher the likelihood they’ll opt-in. Plus, they’ll be getting what they want.

You can also play around with timing of the opt-in form. Maybe you want it to delay a bit and not pop up right when they arrive. Perhaps you want to trigger it only as they scroll. There are a number of ways to do it.

It is about balance. Find it. And practice it.


What are your thoughts about pop-up forms? Do you use them? And if you do, what kind of results have you seen?

I expect, with my audience, most of you probably close them. But, the numbers don’t lie. Some don’t. 🙂


  1. They definitely still work! One of the issues with most popup software though is what happens when you’re visiting the site on a different computer than the one you got cookie’d on. For example, if you’re clicking on a link from the newsletter you subscribed with on your phone… you’re going to get the popup again. Not cool!

    We created a new popup plugin for WordPress that we’re calling the Polite Popup, you can see it here:

    Keep up the awesome work, and love this discussion – I know popups are such a hot topic!

  2. “Do Pop-Ups Still Work?”

    No, and they never did. That’s why misguided marketers have to use lighboxes these days instead of actual popup windows. Because that earlier implementation of the exact same crap idea caused every major browser to have a popup blocker installed by default. These days, savvy web users employ add-ins like YesScript to quickly disable Javascript on sites that misuse javascipt to present popups. Or they just give a fake email address. Either way, using popups to annoy users is as stupid and ineffective an idea as it was back in the 90s.

  3. I had a similar anxiety regarding whether or not to use a popup but it used to work so well for me I have decided to add it back to my site. You’re right that their success definitely elates to the type of market you are in and also it’s important to make sure it’s congruent with what visitors to your site actually need.

  4. Nice post, David.

    I have been scouring the web trying to get some honest, balanced opinions regarding whether the use of Popups for Newsletter subscription still work(and how well do the work)!

    Like many here, I have been in two minds about using popups, mainly as I know how they can at times drive me loco, when they are sometimes so in your face! So, we worry if this will be the same experience for our visitors…

    You cleared that up partially, by stating that “WE” who frequent similar or related industry blogs(sites) may just instinctively close popups(after giving them a quick once over–some eye time)….though, the target audience are less likely to do this, and will probably be primed to go to the next step….(sign up)….

    Another thing that can skewer peoples decision to use a popup system, is the excessive hype that has at times been generated around the benefits of using them….

    You hear Massive%%%%% jump in subscriptions( optins) huge %%%%% rise in conversion rates…etc

    That is what I just read somewhere(pushing the sale of their popup plugin) and didn’t my eyes light up like a pair of High beams!

  5. I get about the same conversion rate out of mine David. I feel like as long as I’m giving people the option to close it without blocking them from my content, then it’s not detracting that much from the experience. I do feel like that conversion rate could be quite a bit better though, at least double. I’ll have to check that out.

    Normally, I will close them myself. Probably because, as you say, I’m numb to them. I tend to interact with sidebar opt-ins or header opt-ins much more. Probably because I like to experience a good amount of content before getting on someone’s list, and usually those are the available areas to do so at that point. 🙂

  6. Yup, they definitely do work. I resisted using pop-ups for a long time, but I finally installed Pippity – like you, I set it to display only once. After playing around with the design a bit, my current one is converting at 9%. I am thrilled 🙂

    1. Nice. 🙂

      Yeah, it occurred to me that my opt-in rate is probably higher than I said. Reason being that the opt-in form is actually being loaded up all the time, even when it isn’t being seen. I think the tracking image is loading up on every visit, even when the user doesn’t see it. Skewing my opt-in rate. Need to figure that out.

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