Pop Up Domination: What I Really Think About Pop Up Ads on Blogs

By: Ramsay | 47 intelligent opinions, add yours

Imperial Art Appreciation: Yellow
Photo: JD Hancock

So I’ve been using Pop Up Domination here on Blog Tyrant for a few months now and decided it was high time I did a review. A lot of people ask me about how well it works and whether I would recommend it to my readers.

Let me start by saying that in the last two months the pop up ad you see on this site has landed me 1663 subscribers. Nothing to laugh at.

In this review I am going to show you how Pop Up Domination works, its features and tools and then tell you what I really think about pop up ads on blogs.

NOTE: This is not a paid review. I have never done and will never do a paid review on Blog Tyrant. I only recommend things to you if I really believe in them. The links in this post are affiliate links so if you purchase after clicking here I will earn a small commission.

The proof of my subscribers

pop up domination stats

This is a screen shot from my Aweber account that shows you the stats for the pop up ad that is displayed on this site. Now, this is actually not as accurate as it could be because I reset the stats quite regularly. In truth the pop up normally performs a lot better.

So, you can see the pop up has been displayed 63,813 times and been submitted (meaning someone signed up) 1663 times.

The next number is 2.6% which shows you the conversion rate. Normally that conversion rate is between 6% and 10% making it one of the highest converting forms on Blog Tyrant.

Let me also remind you that these stats are only for the last two months since I rest the stats and changed the form copy.

ANOTHER NOTE: I blanked out the other stats for two reasons. Firstly, to emphasize the relevant pop up one and, secondly, because I am publishing a huge article about the rest of those stats and how to increase conversions early next year.

What exactly does Pop Up Domination do?

Pop Up Domination is a plugin that works on WordPress blogs and HTML websites that allows you to create beautiful pop up ads that you then use to capture more email subscribers.

Let me start by showing you a few of the features that you get with this plugin:

1. Super simple, beginner-friendly set up area
The first thing you will notice about this plugin is that there is no coding or anything like that. Once you install it you get a little editor area where you can add your text, eBook images, choose your theme, etc. I was actually quite surprised at how easy this thing is to set up.

2. A bunch of themes and colors to choose from
The next cool thing about this plugin is that you get a bunch of well designed pop up ads to choose from. You don’t have to do any designing yourself, you simply select one of the ones that are built in and away you go. Here are a few screen shots of the designs that you can choose from.

Sign up area on the right with an image of your eBook. Dot points work well for attracting interest.

No eBook image but a smaller and more streamlined design.

Sidebar sign up area but no eBook image.

My weapon of choice! A super large pop up area with the eBook and a lot of room for information.

Once you select a design template that you like you can then change all of the text, images and even color scheme. For example, on Blog Tyrant I use a gold color because it fits in with the branding of my scepter and headings.

3. Works with Aweber and Mailchimp
One of the big questions people ask me about Pop Up Domination is whether or not it works with both Aweber and Mailchimp.

Now, as you know I am a big fan of Aweber and use them to deliver my free eBook as well as all the blog updates and newsletter items. Recently, however, I had to use Mail Chimp for a client and found it totally amazing, fun and easy to use. I fell in love with their service. I finally see what all my readers were on about!

So yes, Pop Up Domination allows you to use your sign up code from either services. No dramas at all.

4. Ability to schedule the pop up
Now, this is the most important feature in my opinion; the ability to tell the pop up when it is and isn’t allowed to appear to your readers. This is so important if you don’t want to piss everyone off.

Basically what it let’s you do is choose a time delay for how long a reader has to be on the site before they see the pop up. I have chosen 10 seconds for this because I like to let first time readers see a bit of my content before I whack them with the advert. Some bloggers, however, like to set this to appear straight away. Darren Rowse over on DPS has it set to almost 30 seconds I reckon. He says it works well.

You can also tell the pop up to appear again after a certain number of days if they didn’t sign up the first time. I like to set this feature to 30 as I think the pop up can become annoying if it is shown every week or even twice a week. The point here is that you have the ability to change and test all of these settings for yourself.

5. Inbuilt statistics
The latest version of this plugin also has inbuilt stats that let you see a whole bunch of data about what is working and what is failing with your pop up design. This is really important to me because, like I have said a million times, the money is in the mailing list. The more people you can capture with powerful tools like this the greater chance you have of making that full time living from your blog.

6. Ability to show different ads to different pages
Now this is where the word sexy really isn’t strong enough. As a group of budding young internet marketers I am sure you will appreciate this feature.

You can show different pop ups to different parts of your site!

This gives you the ability to tailor your messages to the audience at hand. For example, if you have a popular page about mailing lists you might want to give a free eBook about growing your mailing list on that page. However, on another page about Aweber you might want to give away a free eBook about Aweber.

This is a feature that will truly skyrocket your subscribers.

Prefer a video tour?

I thought I would make a quick video tour of the WordPress dashboard area of the Pop Up Domination plugin. This might give you a slightly better idea about how it all works.

This is actually a tour of the old Pop Up Domination area – the new one released this week (December 2011) has a lot more cool features.

What I really think about pop up ads on blogs

pa_kermis_duo
Creative Commons License photo credit: rhodes

Okay so this is the part you have all been waiting for. What does the Blog Tyrant really think about pop up ads on blogs?

I love them and I hate them.

I love them because they work so well
Here’s the thing that really kind of annoys me about Pop Up Dominationit works so damn well. Part of me wishes it didn’t work at all so I could turn it off and go back to my old beliefs about pop up ads being annoying.

But I can’t.

This simple plugin as brought me almost 2,000 subscribers in the last two months alone! And in that time do you want to know how many complaints I have had about it?

Zero.

Not one single person has told me that it pisses them off.

I hate them because…
So what do I hate about them? Well, I guess I hate it when I see them pop up on other sites that aren’t my own. But as I write this and think about my experiences with pop ups lately I realize that they don’t really bother me that much. I think it is one of those things that you hear about as being annoying and then sort of tow the party line (so to speak).

I think what annoys people is when they are set to be invasive and annoying. We all know those pop ups that are impossible to close and that pop up again and again as you try to leave the site. Those thing suck. But a beautifully designed pop up ad like is being offered here is totally different; especially if it is designed to be part of a good user experience.

Whatever you think about them, its worth testing
Whatever you think about pop ups (Jen I know you aren’t convinced) it is really worth giving it a shot. This pop up will cost you around $50 and potentially make you hundreds of thousands of dollars over the course of its lifetime.

And if it doesn’t work for you the guys at Pop Up Domination are offering a full 100% money back refund. So, if you purchase this plugin and it doesn’t increase your subscriber rate they will give you all your cash back straight away. That is the type of risk-free offer that really works for me.

You can buy Pop Up Domination for $47 for this week only.

Getting the most out of Pop Up Domination

I wanted to end this article by giving you a few tips on how you can get the most out of this plugin. If you know of any other tips please drop a comment.

  • Set it to appear later
    Set the pop up to appear after at least 15 seconds so your readers will have a bit of time to see how good your content is. If they don’t last 15 seconds you don’t want them as subscribers anyway.
  • Make it brand-friendly
    Make sure the colors and layout of your pop up match your blog. You want people to be sure that the pop up belongs to you and not a sponsor.
  • Test different ad copy
    Spend time tracking and tweaking different ad copy. Sometimes even a few words like “sign up” vs “submit” can make a huge difference in conversions.
  • Give away the free eBook
    Giving away a free eBook is nothing new but it works extremely well. Check out my post on how to make an eBook if you need some tips.
  • Cross your heart and hope to die
    Make sure you include the little statement that promises that you won’t spam your readers or sell their email. Trust is a must.

As I mentioned, this pop up ad usually converts at around 6% for me. If you can get anything higher than that I would really love to hear about it.

What do you think about pop ups?

So what do you think about pop up ads on blogs? Will you give this one a go or are you still to afraid of annoying your readers? Lastly, have you had any success with a pop up advert on your blog? Please leave me a comment and let me know.



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47 Comments

  • Lisa

    OK, hate to break your streak but…

    These pop ups only piss me off when I’m reading posts on my iPad, which accounts for most of my reading, including just now on this blog.

    It would be great if user agent detection scaled and displayed them properly for mobile, or not at all, rather than all the zooming, panning, pinching – whatever I have to do to get them out of the way.

    I’m less likely to complain, and instead, just move on. If opened from within another app, after all this maneuvering, sometimes I’ll lose the post and have to start over. Many times I decide it’s not worth it.

    Something to consider.

    Any developer out there with a fix for this?

    • the Blog Tyrant

      Lisa…. nooooo my streak!

      Just kidding.

      I have been talking over on my Facebook Page with a few of the guys and we were thinking that maybe a “slide out” version might be less invasive? Thoughts?

      • I’d buy it if helped the user experience on the iPad. Mostly, I’d like everyone else to!

        Seriously, I’d like to beta test this.

        Thanks!

        • the Blog Tyrant

          Well someone may have already developed it. ;-)

          Coming soon.

      • There is a way to do a “slide out” style pop-up, although I don’t even know if I’d call it a pop-up.

        I’m covering it in my next post, but if you want the tool itself, it’s called KISSinsights.

        • the Blog Tyrant

          Is that a slide out with a subscribe area?

          • It’s a slide out that is a “click to subscribe”, it’s hard to explain, but I will go over in the post.

            To see it in action right now, check out blog.kissmetrics.com

          • Oops, I should mention that the thing I’m referencing is in the bottom right corner.

  • It’s not a matter of being unconvinced, it’s a matter of being inconvenienced. For whatever reason, my router automatically resets the IP address every so often, so I’m stuck having it pop up in my way every single time I visit the site. I’ve considered unsubscribing and resubscribing, but that’s only a temporary solution.

    On roughly 90% of the sites I visit with pop-ups like that, I don’t complain; I just go away and get my information elsewhere. (On principle, I won’t list a site as a reference that makes people click through pop-ups.) No reason to make a scene over it with the site owner. They probably wouldn’t care anyway.

    • the Blog Tyrant

      Jen! Its so good to see you again! Its been a while.

      All it took was a mention in the post. Ha ha.

      Have you been well?

      I don’t know about other site owners but I definitely care what my readers (especially long time ones like you) think about the way the site functions.

      I think what happens is that when you (or someone else on your computer) deleted your cookies it doesn’t recognize you as having already visited.

      What do you reckon about a less invasive “slide out” version?

      Tyrant

      • Naw. I actually tried to respond to something about post length on Thanksgiving while we were driving to my in-laws, but my iPhone kept auto-correcting things and seemed to have trouble getting the site to load. Rather than making myself carsick, I just gave up.

        Things have been chaotic. Business exploded, going out of the country in a few days, holiday stuff, final edits came back on my first manuscript…So, good. Just gearing up to release four series novels in 2012 and, hopefully, a stand alone for the summer beach read season. Barely leaving me enough time to watch Dexter every Sunday night, much less keep up with blogs.

        Slide out? Do you mean like the one I have on the left side of the screen at: http://www.yourlittlestsin.com/ (Except probably a nicer)? If not, I’m not sure what you’re talking about.

        • the Blog Tyrant

          Congrats on the business success! I hope 2012 is a good one for you!

          I’ll try and get an example of what I mean about slide out. Think it could be good.

          Glad to see you around here again.

      • I’m sure you do care about your readers, in fact I’m convinced you do and also that it would be foolish not to be.

        However, a pop up is almost entirely a selfish act for the site owner. There is no getting away from that, it isn’t to improve the reader experience, it is to increase the list of subscribers. It can of course be argued that they will benefit from being on the list, which is true for me, but pop-ups are used to ultimately make money for the site owner.

        I’m maybe a bit like Jen on this and quite possibly a large number of readers who don’t express an opinion … maybe the 94% who don’t convert :-) … I find them annoying and Ieave some sites because it tells me that the site owner is really just after getting something from me, in exchange for the information being given.

        They undoubtedly convert well they make business sense, they are more sophisticated now, but they don’t necessarily make for happy readers. I get mild annoyance every time I visit your site, because of the pop-up, I’m one of those who has a changing IP address.

        Patrick

        • the Blog Tyrant

          Hi Patrick.

          You make some good points there. Thanks for taking the time to share that.

          I guess it is a hard balance being in this type of business because I walk a fine line between wanting to help people and needing to make a living. At what point do I sacrifice my earnings for my readers?

          For example, I would never promote something I didn’t believe in or cheat my readers in any way. I am totally aware that my success here depends on how much I help you. And I do genuinely want to help people.

          So my question to I guess would be: are pop ups totally out? Do you think readers hate them enough that it affects their feeling towards the site and the brand itself?

          I’m not convinced.

          Thanks for your excellent and thought provoking comment. Looking forward to the follow up!

          ;-)

  • Your affinity for the stormtrooper. Is. I had intended to shoot you a link to one of my favorites but I see that you have really struck gold with the collection by JD Hancock. Bravo! Inspirational :)

    I’m very glad that you also included a mention about MailChimp and that Popup Dominator plays nice with it. The guys at MC have put such a lighthearted spin on everything on their site – it makes using MailChimp fun. Plus it just plain works well. Very well. When it comes to integration with e-newsletters, mailing lists and campaigns, I have gotten so happy with MailChimp that I won’t pursue using a related WordPress plugin if it does not support MailChimp. But I digress…

    I expect that you’ll see some fans & affiliate conversions (I will be one of them) as a result of this comprehensive article about Popup Domination. I am going to try it on my site and also use it on the website of a client who has a lot more traffic than I do and already has a sale-able product to offer as the freebie.

    • the Blog Tyrant

      Star Wars really is just good, isn’t it?

      Yeah, I used to knock MC but now I am really loving it. I use it a bit for some of my clients and it is so easy and branded perfectly for beginners and old-hacks alike. Still not really sure about the whole sending out affiliate links debate though…

      Glad to see you jump on the pop up bandwagon. I’d be really interested to see how you go on a client orientated site like yours.

      Will you be aiming for mailing list sign ups?

      Thanks as always Scott.

      • Star Wars really is just good, I couldn’t agree more.

        “Yes,” is the answer to your question, BT, as the mailing list signups is the only realistic avenue I have to pursue at the moment. Eventually, I will author a white paper – helping others with a specific WordPress tool as a topic – and use that to try and ante-up and attract more people to join the list.

        By the way, thanks for your kind words!

        • p.s. Have you any tips for a “client oriented site” like mine?

          • the Blog Tyrant

            Good question. I’ll have a think about it. I’ve seen it used well for “time sensitive” offers (ie Christmas) that help to increase a sense of scarcity.

  • Sort of like you said, Blog Tyrant: as a user, I hate pop-ups. But as an Internet marketer, I love them, because they work. Almost every blogger I follow feels that way.

    I think the main mistake is when pop-ups are done too aggressively, or badly. The worst is when clicking the close button triggers ANOTHER pop-up and tries to hold you hostage on the page.

    It’s the equivalent of a guy trying to chat up a hot girl at a pub. Then when she rejects him, the guy grabs her arm and begs her to stay. That’s how intrusive pop-ups are. They come off as desperate and needy.

    Gotta give credit to Darren Rowse for giving users a whole 30 seconds before showing the pop-up. This is more like the smart salesperson at a luxury department store. They watch for a shopper who spends a little more time looking at the merchandise. Then he/she politely slides in and offers to let the customer handle the product, view alternative choices, sign up to a loyalty program, etc. Much more smooth. I do prefer pop-ups that fade in, or gradually slid into view.

    Aweber actually offers built-in functionality to create pop-up forms. They’ve got a tutorial here: http://bit.ly/9i9wGF.

    I’m curious to why you prefer Pop Up Domination. Greater customization? More robust analytics?

    • the Blog Tyrant

      Hey again Marcus my man.

      The Aweber ones are good but just not good enough. They don’t look professional enough IMHO and the PopDom one’s allow for better customization and branding.

      I’m not sure about this but do the Aweber ones let you set timings, duration, etc? Also, individual ones for individual categories?

      Interesting.

  • I get the numbers and certainly LOVE the results but I just can’t stand pop ups. For me a pop up drives me bonkers and I can’t really think of a way to ever have it on my site. I have debated for my business site to have it pop up but I just can’t get past the fact that pop ups annoy me personally. I love your blog and your knowledge that’s the only reason I Deal with your pop up lol

    I know if it were a random blog or new site I was visiting then I would close out the browser if I saw a pop up …. thanks for sharing the numbers though. I can see how this is a great marketing tool but how do I get past my disliking for pop ups??

    • the Blog Tyrant

      Hey Brandy. Thanks for putting up with my pop up!

      So most of the time the popup is enough to put you off a site?

    • Brandy, you are a girl after my own heart!

      I’m afraid no matter how many times I hear or read that pop-ups are fabulous marketing tools etc. I still can’t find it in myself to add one to my site.

      I’m with you – 9 times out of 10 I immediately click away if a pop-up appears.

  • I get about half my subscribers from my pop-up (I use Pop-Up Domination too) so there’s no way I’d ditch it.

    However, I am SUPER annoyed by the mailings that come from them. Super-salesy and almost spammy. The marketers they partner with aren’t always the most ethical in the way they sell their products (in my opinion).

    So I’m moving to WP-Subscribers instead. Not only does it offer popups, but it offers lots of different ways to encourage people to subscribe, and they aren’t nearly as spammy as the guys from this one here. I also like the templates better, and they have many more options for customizing it all.

    As for pop-ups themselves, they only bug me when they pop up too quickly. I don’t think you’re getting quality leads if they haven’t had a decent chunk of time to look at your site first. So I set mine to 45 seconds. I only get people who are really digging into the content then. I know I could get more people if I did it earlier, but I’d rather have quality readers and fewer subscribers if that’s the result. And my email readers are CRAZY loyal with an incredible open/click rate so it’s working really well for me so far.

    • the Blog Tyrant

      Hey Jamie.

      What mailing list spam are you referring to? I don’t get any from them.

  • BT,

    My thoughts on PU domination run pretty close to yours. I love how effective it can be, but I really wish it wasn’t because I hate to see it on other sites and would like a reason to get rid of it.

    One thing I’ve done, that may help for some people, is to throttle the pop-ups. I have set the pop-up for first-time visitors and only every 30 days for returning visitors.

    This way at least regular readers are not bombarded, but I still get a lot of positive effects of having pop-up domination

  • Kevin

    Love the review… one question I have always had is how successful are they outside of an internet marketing blog? I know you mention Darren Rose and his photography blog, but I wonder if others have had similar success.

    • the Blog Tyrant

      Hey Kevin.

      9 times out of 10 these work better on non marketing blogs because the people who read marketing blogs are usually pretty switched on about what is what.

      Same goes for adverts.

  • I have always found the instant pop-up when you reach a page illogical and annoying. Like others have said, how can you decide whether to sign up for a site if you don’t even know what is on it? However, I must admit that I did catch myself signing up for a list recently because the instant pop-up was a well-designed, convincing ad that seemed very relevant to me.

    In a tie for first place annoying is probably the pop-under, or the ad that appears when leaving a site. I never even read those. At the point of leaving a site, I have already decided that I have had enough of it–why ask me to sign up?

    I must say I actually like the idea of “lightbox” ads, though–especially when one is timed to fade in after I have been on the site long enough to get a feel for its content. I find the lightbox much less confusing to my eyes as compared to “traditional” pop-ups.

    Another great idea, I think, is the ad that slides in once you reach the end of a post (although I have not been able to find the slightest clue in how to make that work yet!).

    I am still getting details together on my site, but the delayed lightbox is in my plan.

    Also, although I am fairly new to AWeber, I have seen that they do let you set a delay on your pop-ups and control how often the form appears for a particular visitor.

    Do you have any stats on what percentage of visitors were subscribing before and after you set up your pop-up? I guess that might be difficult to measure, but I was thinking something like the total number of displays/subscriptions from all your forms for a certain time period… Basically, I am curious whether most or all of those who subscribed via the pop-up would have subscribed elsewhere anyway. (I am guessing, though, that the pop-up makes sign-up extra convenient: “Here’s the form. All you have to do is fill it out.” :) )

    I also wonder if anyone has noticed any difference in unsubscribe rates. (As in, are many people signing up just to get the box out of the way?)

    Just some thoughts…

    • the Blog Tyrant

      Great thoughts!

      The subscriber rat has definitely increased from when I was just doing sidebar ads etc. Most people who try popdom experience about a 90 to 500% increase which is why it’s so well loved.

      As for the unsubscribe rates: sometimes I think that is more to do with the follow up content and expectations of readers. Ie do they know they are getting the blog updates too?

      • Wow–that is a huge difference. And I appreciate your point about the follow-up content and setting proper expectations. I am thinking I ought to move “set up lightbox form” to the top of my list for tomorrow!

        Thanks for the insight!

  • I have an adblocker so I’m rarely annoyed by pop ups anymore.

    Glad they work for you BT :) – Do you think conversion results may vary according to the industry/topic of the blog?

    • the Blog Tyrant

      Hey Leigh! Good to see you again.

      Yeah I defo think that some niches lend themselves better to pop up ads. I think unless the site is offering something in the way of valuable or unique content it is pretty difficult to implement.

      That being said, if you have a product of any kind it could work in a pop up.

      Thoughts?

      • Good to be back!

        Hmm… I’m not sure if I would do a pop up.

        But I have seen pop ups for surveys and those I don’t mind so much. I could imagine trying a more soft-sell survey approach.

        That way at the end of the short survey you could request a new user to sign up – and since they already have some sunk “costs” – meaning sunk time – and since the user is in a reflective/subjective frame of mind they would, perhaps be more inclined to value your service more highly? That would be interesting to test out. I could see trying that.

  • I don’t like them. Then again, the reason I don’t is because most people do them wrong – bad design, bad copy, bad execution.

    I don’t mind them on sites I read regularly or even sites with good design/good content. I deal with them. In fact, often times, I even subscribe.

    It’s the poorly designed sites with poor copy that trigger that “RUN!” feeling and make me cringe at the thought of a pop-up.

    Ultimately, they work. I used to run pop-up domination on my site and it converted exceedingly well. I disabled it only because my site got hacked (since fixed) and I was restructuring my mailing list. I’ll have it back on in a week or so.

    The opt-in rate was DEFINITELY much higher when I had pop-up domination enabled versus now. Heck, I even tried the whole “featured box” concept to drive subscribers on my home-page and that didn’t convert as well either.

    Anyway, just my thoughts… Two thumbs up for pop-up domination!

    • the Blog Tyrant

      Sorry to hear you got hacked. That totally sucks.

  • Hey BT,
    I was wondering if the “pop-up domination” works with 1shoppingcart.com?
    Thanks

    • the Blog Tyrant

      I’m not sure about that one. You might have to ask the PopDom boys.

  • Hi there, Blog Tyrant,

    Here is something to consider: in your very last statement, just before the request for comments, you state that this pop up ad usually converts at around 6%.

    THEN … you write:

    “If you can get anything higher than that I would really love to hear about it. ”

    That, right there, is the key. Every one of us who abhor Pop Dom need to find a better solution – one that is not so selfish, as Patrick wrote.

    In a nutshell, subscription rates are different from the weather: instead of just talking about it, we should DO something about it.

    Meanwhile, you gotta eat ;) – I respect that. I won’t arbitrarily leave a site due to PopDom. I knew why it kept coming up, even after I subscribed to the few that I responded to (say what?!!! LOL)

    It takes what, a nanosecond to close it? Also, I use NoScript, so I don’t HAVE to see it on new sites.
    I do understand the inconvenience issue and am not making light of it. Indeed, I really do hate them and would not want to inflict them on my readers. But, I will recognize that my current conversion is not optimal and just live with it while searching for a better way.

    Cheers,

    Mitch

    • the Blog Tyrant

      Good points Mitch. I’d love to hear about any ideas you have for a better way. Happily change!

      • BT,

        It so happens that a fellow named Thom Chambers, who runs a micropublishing house called Mountain & Pacific (http://www.mountainandpacific.com/) gets 17% conversion.

        Of course, he’s running a monthly magazine but, I believe the methods he uses can work in other industries.

        I’ll be trying them out with my software publishing.

        Cheers,

        Mitch