Can Opt-in Pop-ups Get You 42 Times More Leads? (And How to Do It Yourself)

Everyone hates pop-ups, right? Ever since I’ve been connected to the Internet back in 1995, people have been cursing them and complaining about how annoying and useless they are. Yet, almost 20 years later, pop-ups are still part of our daily life. Popovers, pop under, light box pop ups etc.

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As an Internet marketer and webmaster, I’ve rarely seen online marketing practices last for this long. So I came to the only possible conclusion: they probably work very well. This is when I decided I needed to give these a shot on my own site, to see if the benefits of running them outweighed the annoyance they cause.

Since I’m mostly running authority sites, I decided to make these opt-in pop ups to try and grow my list and transform one-time readers into rabid fans. 1 year later, I’m collecting hundreds of daily leads, using a combination of Getresponse and opt-in pop-ups on my various sites.

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Initial launch

When I first launched opt in pop-ups on my sites, they were very simple pop ups, offering people to join my newsletter. At first I went at length about the benefits of joining my newsletter, trying to highlight every single thing I give to my subscribers hoping my conversion rate would be higher.

Pro tip: it wasn’t. After A/B testing the text heavy versions against simple headlines generally stating one main benefit, I saw a 30% uplift in conversion rate.

This made me realize one thing:

It’s not really about the offer and exactly what people get when signing up to your newsletter. It’s about what they already know about you and their experience with your brand/site.

Therefore, if you make a complicated offer with numerous points, it’s going to be more confusing and people won’t necessarily opt-in. However, if you emphasize the good experience they’ve had on your site and make one compelling offer, they’re more likely to opt-in.

I also set my pop-up to pop on every page of my site without any specific rules after 20 seconds. The results were already much better than when I was not running an opt-in pop up. I was getting around 0.6% conversion rate at the time and collecting a few dozen leads a day.

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Refining the strategy

After the first implementation, I was collecting more emails than ever, but I kept hearing about successful marketers getting above 3% conversion rates from their pop-ups and to be honest, I was far from it.

Was my traffic wrong? No, not really. The issue is, the other marketers were bribing people to subscribe to their list. “But I can’t afford to pay people to join my list!” Don’t worry, I’m not talking about that kind of bribe.

Successful email marketers tend to give something for free to people. Something that literally costs them nothing to produce an extra unit of – something like a free e-book or video course. It’s something that you produce once and it serves you forever. Thanks to the autoresponder function in Getresponse, the delivery can be completely automated as well.

So, following that idea, I worked with my copywriters to put together a free e-book with breakfast recipes to offer to our readers in exchange for joining our mailing list.

Here’s what the pop up looked like:

Cereal pop-up

Instantly, my opt-in rates jumped to 1-1.2% depending on the pop-up variations I was using. That’s almost double the rates! I’ve since repeated the experiment on several sites with the same kind of results.

Bribing people and offering them a freebie works in opt in pop ups.

Pro tip: One thing I’`ve done recently was brainstorming different ideas for freebies, then followed by a/b testing these in opt-in pop-ups. When people opt-in, send them to a page explaining it’s not ready yet but will be emailed to them soon. After you’ve identified which freebie gets the most opt ins, build it and send it to everyone that opted-in.

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The winning strategy

Over 1% of people opting-in, now that’s amazing considering most people get under 0.1%. Yet, I was still way behind the email marketing gurus and their 3%+.

One thing to note is that the site I was experimenting with has a broad spectrum and that created a hurdle to jump: the offer wasn’t always well matched to the content people were consuming.

I therefore, decided to match the content and opt-ins closer by creating a different pop-up for every category on my website.

Here’s the example of what the juicing category pop up looked like:

Juicing pop-up

As you can see, nothing special. I’m no designer, but the good news is that you don’t have to be one to succeed! This pop up got me over a 3% opt-in rate, pretty much 3x more than the site wide pop-up! I finally caught up to those other marketers.

I was also able to add people to different lists, so I could email them things and offers that are more relevant to what they’re interested in via Getresponse. This increased engagement as well as revenue for us.

All of my sites use pop-ups one way or another these days. I just try to make sure the offer matches the content and that they only pop-up on strategic pages, not throughout the entire site, and the offers are very targeted. This allows us to collect a huge amount of new leads while not being too annoying to our visitors.

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Gael Breton is a co-founder of Authority Hacker, a website helping people build authority sites out of their passion and pay their bills with it. He specializes in Inbound marketing and conversion rate optimization.