Make successes "Pop Up" in your email marketing program!

Emily Keye

If you are like all of the other online retailers out there, one of your most important goals is list growth.  There are a number of ways to organically grow your email list.  For example, optimizing the sign up process on the site, offering an incentive for sign ups, giving buyers the option to sign up in the checkout process, including an email sign up form on your Facebook page, and the list goes on and on.  Now is the perfect time to make sure all of your opt in methods are the best that they can be.  You’ll probably be seeing increased traffic to your website during the Holidays and you’ll want to capitalize on this traffic and capture as many high quality email addresses as possible.

In this post, I’ll be discussing the “pop up” method that is being used more and more across top online retailers.  When most people here the word “pop up”, they think of those annoying windows that open when they are simply trying to browse a website.  Improvements to browser security has largely killed the pop up window, but many email marketers have remained reluctant to use “in your face” website sign up forms that in any way resemble those pop ups of the past.

But times and technology have changed and online retailers are seeing some great successes when it comes to “pop ups”.  First of all, these sign-up forms are not popping up as new windows or browser tabs.  They appear as a box that fades into view or slides in from one side of the screen, usually overlaying a central part of the current web page.  This format is commonly known as the “popover”.  If the page being viewed is darkened to highlight the popover box even more, then people often talk about a “lightbox”.

You’ll want to make sure that you are applying best practices to the “popover” or “lightbox” that you are using on your website. 

Consider these recommendations:

  • When should the “popover” or “lightbox” appear?  Immediately, after 5 seconds, 30 seconds, after a click, etc?  The challenge is to find the point of time when a “popover” is most valuable and least disruptive.  You’ll need to do some testing around this as it can be different for different websites.
  • I would highly recommend tracking site traffic through cookies and only show the “popover” or “lightbox” once per site visitor.  Having a “popover” appear every time you visit a site can be frustrating for those that are not interested or for those that may already be on your email list.  You may want to show the pop up again after enough time has elapsed from the initial visit.  The definition of “enough time” depends on the average frequency and regularity of visits.
  • As with any email collection method, you’ll want to make sure that you are explaining the benefits of joining, setting proper expectations, and “selling” the sign up.  If you offer an incentive in your welcome message, make sure you tout that here too.  Have a clear call-to-action button and don’t forget to provide your privacy policy.
  • Make it very clear what a visitor needs to do in order to close the “popover” or “lightbox”.  You’ll want to have the well know “X” in the upper right-hand corner and you may also want to include a “No Thanks” button next to your main call-to-action.

Check out these examples:

Urban Outfitters has a nice "lightbox".


Philosophy has a "popover" that slides down from their header pushing the content on the page down.


So is a “popover” or lightbox” right for your site?  Normal inline subscription forms and links are easily over looked.  The purpose behind the popover is that its “unexpected” appearance draws attention to the benefits of your email program.  If relevant and timed right, it can become a useful and successful interruption.

I’ve worked with a few clients recently who’ve been able to implement "popovers" and "lightboxes".  One particular client implemented a simple “popover” that called out the incentive they were already offering in their Welcome Message and saw a 2,671% increase in the average number of new subscribers being added per month from the “popover”.  Needless to say, the “popover” is still on their website

Have you implemented a “popover” or lightbox” on your site?  Did this list growth method attract new subscribers?  What did you learn from your testing experience?

Emily Keye
Marketing Strategist at Bronto

  • Erin Schwartz

    Thanks for the great idea regarding using the popover to highlight an offer already used in the welcome email. I’m excited to get that implemented myself!

  • Emily Keye

    Erin, I’m so glad you found this helpful. Keep me posted and let me know what type of results you see once you implement the pop up. Good luck!