9 Tips for Creating an Email Popup that Works (and Doesn't Annoy Users)

9 Tips for Creating an Email Popup that Works (and Doesn't Annoy Users)
Colin Newcomer
Colin Newcomer Sep 29, 2022 — 9 min read

Building an email list is important, and when it comes to growing that list, your first thought is probably those email opt-in popups you see on what seems like every website on the Internet.

So… do email popups work?

The short answer is yes, email popups work.

Our research shows that email popups convert an average of 6.57% of visitors on mobile, and 3.77% of visitors on desktop. And when you switch from a static signup form to a popup, the average increase in signups you may expect is around 100%.

So, love 'em or hate 'em, they can help you grow your list much faster than embedded signup forms.

In this post, we're going to help you achieve those results — or better — by sharing seven tips for how to create an effective, conversion-hungry email popup that, most importantly, won't annoy your visitors.


Then, we'll show you how you can start implementing these tips today with Getsitecontrol – an easy-to-use website popup builder.

9 Best practices for creating an email newsletter popup

Below, we'll cover nine tips for creating an email newsletter popup that will get you more subscribers:

  1. Use personalization
  2. Offer a lead magnet
  3. Add a relevant image
  4. Create an opt-out button
  5. Launch your popup at the right time
  6. Use proper targeting rules
  7. Create a clear headline and call to action (CTA)
  8. Match your popup design with your page
  9. Try less aggressive popup types

1. Use personalization to create a relevant email popup

When it comes to creating an effective email newsletter popup, personalization is one of the best techniques you can apply. By “personalization”, we mean displaying a popup that's relevant to the user in some way. The popup could connect with:

  • The content a visitor is engaging with
  • Where a visitor came from (like a referring site or a social network)
  • Information about a visitor, like whether or not it's their first visit

For example, if you’re displaying the signup form at the end of a blog post, the message may look something like this:

Based on our data, contextual signup forms perform times better than a generic “Join our newsletter” call to action, so investing a few extra minutes in crafting your message is worth it.

While personalization can get deep, you don't have to get too technical to reap the benefits. Some ways to get started with personalizing your email popups are creating special email newsletter popups for your:

  • Most trafficked content – try creating unique, relevant popups for each piece of high-traffic content.
  • Top referrers – if you get a lot of traffic from another site, consider creating an email newsletter popup that's personalized to visitors from that site. Or, you can create special popups for visitors from social networks.
  • Returning visitors – give them the 'ole “Welcome back” message and tie it in with subscribing to your list.

As you find out which types of personalization work the best, you can focus your efforts on creating personalized popups with the best ROI.

2. Offer a lead magnet to give visitors an incentive

Using an email popup can be a bit of a one-sided affair. You're asking for a visitor's email address, but what are you really offering in return? “Updates”? Sure, that might work for some, but most people want a clearer vision of what's in it for them.

That's where a lead magnet (or content upgrade) comes in.

A lead magnet is essentially offering something in exchange for a visitor's email address.

Now it's not a one-sided transaction anymore — you're in a real quid pro quo deal.

A lead magnet can be anything from bonus resources, checklists, videos, etc. If you’re an ecommerce brand, you can use discounts, free shipping coupons, and points as your lead magnets. Basically, it just has to offer extra value to your visitors.

Here's an example of a newsletter popup offering access to a webinar in exchange for an email address:

Does it work? You betcha. Our stats suggest that adding lead magnets can increase signup rates by 155%. Another research, conducted by Brian Dean, shows that content upgrades can increase signup conversion rates from 0.54% to 4.82%.

If you want to go even further, you can combine lead magnets with personalization to create separate resources for your high-traffic posts that are directly connected to each post's content.

For example, if you were creating a post on “how to launch a custom t-shirt store with WordPress”, you might offer a checklist content upgrade that helps people follow along with the steps. Or, if you’re displaying your signup form on a product page, you can offer a free shipping coupon for the next purchase.

3. Add a relevant image

Our data suggest that images can increase email signup rates by over 63%. So if you want to create a more efficient newsletter popup, you should add an image. Not only will it capture your visitors’ attention better than a plain popup, but it can also help you convey your message or evoke the right emotion.

Email popups with images convert better than plain email popups

Unsure what kind of visuals to use? Resist the urge to use stock images right away. Consider using your own photos, photos of your products, or even relevant GIFs.

4. Create an opt-out button

Another often overlooked detail is a second button, also known as an “opt-out button”. Opt-out buttons are designed to make visitors reconsider your offer before rejecting it, and there’s evidence that they can help you slightly increase signup rates.

Email popups featuring an opt-out button convert better than email popups with a single button

Here are several options for what to write on the opt-out button:

  • No, thank you
  • Maybe next time
  • Thanks, I know enough about [topic of your newsletter]

Whatever you choose to put on your rejection button, remember that your goal is not to make your visitors feel bad about their decision, but rather to delay the impulse to close the popup without reading your CTA. For example, there’s no need to use phrases like “No, I’d rather pay in full” or “I don’t like discounts” unless this tone of voice or humour align with your brand.

5. Use the right triggers to launch your popup at the right time

Have you ever landed on a website only to be met immediately by an email opt-in popup? It's annoying, and not a very good way to get people to sign up.

These people haven't even engaged with your website yet — why would they be willing to give up their email addresses?

Instead, a much better approach is to be patient and wait for the right time to display your popup.

For example, our customers report that waiting to display a popup until a visitor saw two pages had more than double the conversion rate compared to displaying a popup on the initial landing page:

Time-delayed email popups – statistics

So, what are some good triggers to experiment with?

Consider the following:

  • Time on site – wait X seconds to display your email popup.
  • Page views – wait until the second or third page view to display your popup.
  • Exit intent – wait until a visitor looks like they're going to leave to display your newsletter popup.

If you want to get scientific with your triggers, you can use the Avg. Session Duration metric from Google Analytics to see how long an average visitor spends on your site and then set your popup to display a little before that amount of time:

How to choose the right timing for a newsletter popup based on average website visit duration

6. Avoid annoying visitors by using proper targeting rules

Triggers are one half of the puzzle when it comes to the behind-the-scenes parts of creating an effective email newsletter popup — targeting rules are the other.

We already mentioned one type of targeting rule in the personalization section, but targeting is about more than just matching content with an email popup. Your targeting rules also affect:

  • How often visitors see your email popups
  • Who users see your email popups

Let's start with that first one. No matter how great an email popup you create, most visitors are still not going to subscribe — that's just the nature of the game. Long story short, you're going to have a lot of people clicking that “X” button.

So here's what you do not want to do — keep displaying popups on every new page view.

Instead, you need to hide the popup after a user closes it. At an absolute minimum, you should wait a full day before displaying the popup again. And ideally, you'll push things a little further and wait 2+ days before showing a popup to that visitor again.

Second, be aware of mobile visitors. Popups are proven to work very well on mobile devices, however, when designed poorly, they can be jarring. That’s why you might want to use a different approach for designing mobile-friendly popups.

7. Create a clear headline and call to action (CTA)

We're five email popup tips in and we still haven't even talked about the text on your popup!

There are a few things that go into effective email popup copy.

First — keep it simple. Most people are going to move for the close button quickly, so you need to catch and hold their attention as fast as possible. That starts with your headline. Your headline is what grabs people and convinces them to read all the other stuff. In your headline, you want to:

  • Clearly communicate your value position
  • Offer a hook to keep them reading

Ideally, you'll do both. But sometimes one is all you need.

For example, check out this one from Shinesty Blog:

Creative call-to-action example on a signup form

That definitely grabs your attention, right?

Once you grab them with your headline, your email signup call to action (CTA) is another opportunity to push people to give you their email addresses. Skip the generic “Subscribe” button and use something more descriptive. You want it to:

  • Describe a clear action (e.g. Send me Insights)
  • Use the first person. This helps further highlight the value and push action — Unbounce saw a 90% increase in CTR just by changing from “your” to “my”.

If you nail your headline and CTA, you'll give your email popup the best chance to convert.

8. Match your popup design with your page

If you want to avoid annoying your visitors with your email popup, it's important that your popup feels like a cohesive part of your site, rather than a random intruder.

To wit, make sure that your popup's design fits with the rest of your site. Use similar/complementary:

  • Fonts
  • Colors
  • Images
  • Etc.

By harmonizing your email popup design with your website, you make sure it's an authentic element of user experience, rather than making it feel like an intruder.

9. Experiment with less aggressive popup types

When most people hear “email popup”, they think of an aggressive modal popup. However, there are other types of popups you can use that are a little less “in your face”.

Consider experimenting with:

  • Slide-ins
  • Sidebars
  • Bottom bars

Sometimes, these popup types can offer you similar results with a lower risk of annoying visitors.

If you're using Getsitecontrol, you can easily A/B test different popup types against one another to find out which works best for your audience.

Speaking of Getsitecontrol…

How to create an email popup with Getsitecontrol

Ok, now for the million-dollar question — how can you create an email newsletter popup that follows these rules?

In order to implement personalization, triggers, and all the other tips, you need a tool that will let you actually create an email popup with those features. With Getsitecontrol, you can do just that.

Step 1. Select a popup template

To get started, log into the dashboard and select a premade template from the gallery:

These templates already have a layout, screen position, and targeting pre-designed, which means all you need to do is adjust the headline, CTA, and the rest of the content – including the image and the follow-up email that will be automatically sent to your new subscribers.

Step 2. Customize the copy and image

For starters, you can edit the title, description, field names, and the text on the button:

Getsitecontrol popup editor interface

Then, you can customize the color theme, switch to a different font, and change the image:

Replacing an image on a popup in Getsitecontrol

Step 3. Fine-tune targeting settings

From there, move on to the Targeting tab to select the trigger for your popup and make sure it appears at the exact right time. Premade templates in Getsitecontrol already include suggested targeting settings, but you can tweak them by using additional controls like:

  • time delay
  • scroll depth
  • exit intent
  • page views
  • and more

You can also limit how many times a visitor sees your popup after closing it or submitting the form:

Getsitecontrol popup targeting settings

If you want, you can use add all kinds of targeting rules to personalize your popups by content, referrers, device, browser, language, etc.

Step 4. Create a follow-up email

Finally, it’s time to work on a follow-up email that will be automatically sent to your new subscribers.

Once in the Follow-up tab, you can create an email from scratch or use the suggested template. We recommend the latter route because it’s easier and faster.

How to create a follow-up email in Getsitecontrol

The follow-up email contains a brief welcome message, a GIF, coupon code, and a button – everything you need to thank subscribers for joining your newsletter and suggest further actions. Adjust the email and its style to your taste, then use the right-side menu to edit the email subject, preview, and the remaining parameters.

Getsitecontrol’s built-in email editor

When you’re done working on the follow-up email, proceed to save your email newsletter popup and activate it on your website by following simple steps.

Create your email newsletter popup today!

And with that, we've come to the end of our guide on how to create an effective email newsletter popup.

Putting in the time to implement these tips will help you achieve a higher conversion rate for your email opt-in efforts, while also creating a more cohesive, less frustrating experience for your visitors.

And for the tool that lets you implement all these tips, check out Getsitecontrol and build something awesome today.

Now that you know how to create a perfect popup, check out the ultimate guide on newsletter design prepared by our friends at Moosend.

Colin Newcomer is a freelance writer with a background in SEO and affiliate marketing. He helps clients grow their web visibility by writing primarily about WordPress and digital marketing.

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