email trick

Here’s a simple trick you can use on your blog to instantly see a growth in email subscribers.

Be warned, however, it’s not for everyone.

In fact, I’m predicting that a few of you might take issue with this type of technology (even though it’s really cool!).

It’s not illegal or anything like that… just a bit annoying, perhaps.

So what is it? Let’s take a look.

NOTE: I have changed the appearance of the popup since publishing this post.

Why are you experimenting with annoying things?

Before I talk about the trick itself I just wanted to kind of pre-dig myself out of the hole I’m about to make.

One of my main goals here on Blog Tyrant is to save you time, stress and money by experimenting with marketing ideas so that you don’t have to. That was also part of the reason behind Blog Tyrant XPeriments.

So sometimes I’ll implement a new plugin or write a bit of software and see how it works because I want to pass on that information to you guys.

I really hate the idea of writing blog posts for the sake of it.

I’d much rather play around with new ideas and see if I can come up with something that benefits my business and then allows me to share it all with you.

And please note that I never do anything illegal or unethical. In fact, this experiment probably isn’t even as offensive as I’ve made it out to be.

How I doubled my email sign up rate with exit features

Let me start by saying that you always want more email subscribers for your blog.

It’s your email subscribers that protect you from Google updates, allow you to launch new products and websites, and help you promote every bit of new content that you produce.

If you want a longterm, sustainable business you want to be trying to grow that mailing list at all costs.

Okay so here’s what I’ve been trying:

pop up

If you visit Blog Tyrant for the first time (as in, you don’t have any cookies on your computer) you’ll see a pop up appear when you try to leave the site.

This is the bit that I think some people won’t like.

The pop up only appears when you put your mouse near the “back” button or the little “x” that closes the window. That’s called an exit intent.

I’ve set it up so that you can close the pop up easily by clicking anywhere on the screen, and it will never appear again, which helps me sleep at night.

This pop up doesn’t directly allow sign ups, instead I send people off to a landing page that I have been tweaking for a while and it currently converts at 50.4% since using this plugin – almost double what it did before.

sign ups

You can check out the landing page here if you want.

As you can imagine, having the best landing page possible is really important for this strategy.

How do you build this function?

There are many plugins that will allow you to achieve this effect but the one I use is a premium plugin called PopUps (not affiliate link).

I personally prefer using premium plugins because they are cheap, get better features and you always have the security updates and support from the staff if you need it.

Essentially with this plugin you just create a new popup much like you’d write a new post. You then style the design as you like it with their inbuilt options and set the exit intent as below.

exit intent

There are many other features you can play with as well like restricting it to PCs only and ignoring mobiles.

I’m going to keep playing with different options and see if I can get any different/cool results that might be worth sharing. If you choose to try this out I’d really like to hear how you use it and what effect it has on your sign up rates.

Some important notes about this setup

I want to finish this post by giving you some important things to remember when playing with this type of setup.

  • Your traffic sources matter
    If you have the wrong traffic sources it won’t matter how good your tech setup is – people won’t subscribe. Always focus on getting more traffic from more relevant sources.
  • Your design matters
    Make sure you spend a decent amount of time getting the design right and playing with it to see what converts better. Sometimes a few simple changes like color or call to actions can really change things. This is why we split test.
  • The user experience is vital
    The user experience is so important. Please don’t use these things in a way that confuses people or is impossible to close. Don’t show it to regular readers every single day. It should be prevalent but still subtle and smooth to use.
  • More email subscribers isn’t the end
    Remember that it doesn’t matter if you have 100,000 email subscribers if they don’t open your emails. This is why I don’t trick people and send them to a second landing page – it lets them analyse if they really want to get in on it. Keep a close eye on your open rates and see if they change.
  • Don’t be afraid
    Don’t be afraid to try pop ups. Almost all of the big websites and blogs use them and many utilize and exit intent. Most readers don’t care a bit that you’re using one.

And always remember that what works for my site might not work for yours. This is yet another reason to make sure you pay attention to your results and keep testing.

Will you try it?

I’m really curious to know what you guys think about this type of popup. Will you give it a go? Or perhaps you’ve already tried it and have some results to share? Please leave a comment below and let me know.

Top photo ยฉ Maxsomma |


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  1. I’ve been thinking of experimenting with this type of pop up before. At the moment I feel like I’m losing the ‘lazy’ readers – the ones who like my content and would be interested in reading more, but don’t really think to subscribe at the time unless they’re triggered. Will try it now.

    Also, bring back XPeriments! ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. I know, right…

  2. I’ve tried them (and now think they are off) but did not use the smart ones. I tried the regular kind first (that only showed once to someone within a 30-day window) and a few different placements. I didn’t see any changes just from the regular (despite “experts” claiming HUGE MASSIVE INSANE RESULTS!!!!!! if you added any kind of pop-up box. I like the idea of sending them to a landing page. I just made a new landing page for my email list and updated with a new book, so we’ll see how that goes. I think I would try this, but need to wait until I have more time. I’m still tweaking all my sign-up forms from Aweber. Not fun work. ๐Ÿ™‚ But I’ve seen an increase in signups since promoting the new book, so that’s fun.

    1. Did you see any increase at all?

      1. From the straight (not smart) pop up? NOPE. I thought that was interesting. I have a new theme that highlights email list and has a permanent form at the very bottom and under the header and an optional pop-up (which I don’t have enabled). I like the hello bar too, like you have, though I disabled that as well…for now. Guess I like experimenting too. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Pop ups are generally very annoying, speaking as a reader. They are less annoying when they appear as I’m about to leave a site. I think more bloggers should refrain from putting pop ups on mobile. Especially if the site isn’t converting well, the pop up is impossible to close, and blocking all relevant content, plus turning me away.
    P.S. Love you tips & advice. Thank you for the invaluable insight.

    1. Yeah I find pop ups on mobile a bit much.

    2. It’s awful when you can’t close them.

  4. santanu @ wphostingbasics on August 13, 2015

    Thanks Ramsey for sharing the straight forward message. Although annoying, but I think this is the only way to catch visitors.
    I have tried the same with Facebook like popup and found my likes improved for one of my blog. But as soon as I removed the same, the frequency got decreased.
    I think till certain stage of blog we have to follow these tricks to build the user base. ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. i’m so far from close to being to the point of trying these (still in very early planning stage-finding your site enormously helpful btw), but I too have feedback from the reader perspective. It seems asinine to me to be asked “Like what yo see? Sign up for email updates!” When I haven’t had a chance to see anything yet. Seeing that request at entrance rather than exit increases the chance that I won’t give my email.

    1. Would you believe that they still work though?

  6. Somali K Chakrabarti on August 13, 2015

    I tried up pop up at exit intent, but haven’t seen any massive increase in subscriber base. I myself don’t like to subscribe to blogs for email updates and think many others may not like it. Rather my blog ( gets many more subscribers than my self hosted blog. Is there a way to subscribe to blogs without having to receive email updates, the way it is possible in blogs?

    1. It used to be RSS feeds but they are slowly dying. I think most people just use social media sites for that now.

  7. Michael Gorman on August 14, 2015

    I think you should always try these things, it is very difficult to attract regular readers of your bogs, the sheer volume of ‘stuff’ online makes it way too easy to just endlessly click through – people hardly notice what they are looking at, and I think are bewildered by the volume of choice-so anything that disrupts their attention, cognitive dissonance I believe is the term, is fair enough!

    1. Michael Gorman on August 14, 2015

      Sorry, typo Blogs, not bogs!

    2. Yeah I agree. Worth a shot.

  8. David Pollack on August 14, 2015

    Could we put a third button on the pop up saying “I hate pop ups and the sites that use them” to get more response info from users? Just a thought. I use a regular pop and, thanks to this post, am planning to test it against an exit pop up.

    Thanks, Ramsay. Your posts always give me new ideas for strategy.

    1. I’m too scared for that option.

  9. From a reader perspective, I’m not a fan of big, intrusive, popups. That said, however, I’m much more likely to interact with an exit-intent popup than one that appears as soon as you land on the site – they are normally dealt with via CTRL+W.

    Interestingly, I’m yet to see a ‘smart’ popup plugin/service that takes into account the referrer URL. If I’ve just clicked on a link, in an email newsletter, then why would I want to subscribe again? Much better to not show a popup or, at the very least, display a targeted popup.

    Maybe there’s an opportunity there…

    1. I like it…

  10. Cathy Goodwin on August 14, 2015

    Hi Ramsay,

    I’m using the popups from Lead Pages – not exit intent but there are some options. I really like the format of the plug-in you showed here though.

    “Join 10,000 subscribers” makes a powerful claim and, coming from you, it’s credible. I can see where the popup and landing page would help but suspect nothing can help a lame lead magnet.

    Helpful post that I’ll be sharing.


    1. Thanks for sharing.

  11. Edward Thorpe on August 14, 2015

    Hi Ramsay,

    Interesting post, per usual.

    Haven’t used a pop-up for email sign ups, but think I’ll experiment with an exit one.

    Just now I detest my blog design & have been shopping for a theme I can adapt without learning too much code. So far, my money hasn’t been spent wisely. Ouch!

    1. The default WordPress theme these days is amazing. Lots of customisations but also really simple and beautiful.

  12. Ramsay, I have an option for my ‘popover’ to not allow anyone to close the popup until they subscribe. Is this similar to what you are talking about?

    1. Yes, please don’t enable that.

  13. Thanks for the info!

    I am thinking about to experiment with an exit popup experiment soon. However I am still not sure yet to either choose an exit popup or a slide in popup. Maybe I should do some A/B testing to see which one works better.



    1. Yeah test both. The slide out works really well too.

  14. I don’t understand why this works. I’m annoyed by popups in general (with one exception – the kind you and ProBlogger use most of the time), but the before-you-leave kind irritate me the most (after the ones that attempt to insult you for not clicking “yes”).

    The problem with this is that it also shows up when you switch tabs or windows. So I’ll click on a link in my Twitter feed to an interesting post, switch back to Twitter, and then when I go back to that post, I have to close a window.

    Obviously not a huge deal, but annoying nonetheless.

    1. I understand that point of view. I really don’t like those “I Reject Progress” type of guilty ones either.

  15. Josue Valles on August 14, 2015

    Ramsay, great post as always. This is a smart idea. I currently have a pop-up that converts at 5% – I think it’s great, but nothing compared to your 50%.

    I’ll definitely try it out!

    1. 5% is excellent for a direct pop up. Keep it up.

  16. Hi Ramsey!

    Very interesting! I’m personally not a fan of pop-ups at all and because of that I prefer to use other type of sign up forms throughout my sites. But having an exit pop-up sounds way much better than having a pop up disturb readers when in the middle of reading an article.
    I think I might try this!

    Love your blog btw!


    1. I tend to change my mind all the time about what I like. Ha. Let me know how you go if you try it.

  17. Hey.,I just made a new landing page for my email list and updated with a new book, so weโ€™ll see how that goes. I think I would try this, but need to wait until I have more time. Iโ€™m still tweaking all my sign-up forms from Aweber. Especially if the site isnโ€™t converting well, the pop up is impossible to close, and blocking all relevant content, plus turning me away.Thanks, Ramsay. Your posts always give me new ideas for strategy. ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚

  18. Unreal. I may be part of the minority group that finds popups supremely annoying. But using popups ON EXIT INTENT is not only genius, it’s TERRIBLY considerate. It interrupts nothing, allows me to enjoy your content BEFORE I’m marketed to and simply says ‘hey one last thing…’ as I’m on my way out the door. This type of consideration for the user’s browsing experience is something the wasteland of the web could really learn from. Well done guy. Well. Done.

    1. Glad someone appreciates this!

  19. It’s hard to get into the minds of your readers but, personally I hate having to close those darn things.

    At least you’re only showing them to new readers, and oh wait I got another pop up from your site again today. I guess it’s not working as expected.

    All that said, I might still play around with it myself but not sure it’s building the quality leaders you expect.

    So let’s say you add another 10% to your list, is your conversion percentage in the list going down or staying the same?

    1. Yeah I’ve been tweaking it today. I’m so impatient. Sorry about that.

      Conversions are going up, as is reach, while open rates have fallen slightly. But that’s okay as the size is increasing. It’s all worth a test I think.

      1. Thanks for the followup

        1. Thank you for yours.

  20. Sarah Beeson on August 15, 2015

    Thanks again for the brilliant post Ramsay.

    I find pop-ups such a tough one and change my mind on how I feel about them ALL. THE. TIME. Lately my stance has been, if my content is awesome, people will want to sign up and they’ll look for a way to get more (hopefully there’s a sign up box always near by!). At the same time though, if someone is about to leave your site then why not have that cheeky ask?

    Love your landing page. Straight to the point, doesn’t waffle and kept my focus easily. Have you considered changing the ‘but’ to an ‘and’ in the final sentence? The word ‘but’ kind of makes the blog updates sound like a negative – which they totally aren’t, I love them!

    Thanks again! =)

    1. That is a great suggestion!

  21. I believe that it all depends on what you offer on your pop up. The better the offer the higher the conversation. Simply saying the person will get more of your blog posts isn’t enough anymore. You need a bribe, and it has to be a really good and valuable one. An Ebook with true valuable information on it will not only get a person to subscribe, but will also have them talk about it to their friends! People are lazy, period! Want them to see the offer of your next product? Give them something for free and use the bribe.

    1. Do you have a well converting eBook?

  22. Jahanzeb Malik on August 18, 2015

    It’s time to apply these settings ๐Ÿ™‚

  23. Theodore Nwangene on August 24, 2015

    This is really a fantastic Idea Ramsay,
    Although exit intent pop ups can really be very annoying you said but if it gets results, its worth implementing and i believe that if what you’re offering is your readers is of higher value, they won’t complain about the pop up.

    And like you mentioned too, you should not make the pop up to be a re-occurring thing because i personally hate that. Let it appear to new visitors once and that will be fine.

    Thanks for sharing.

  24. Ramsay,

    Thank you for posting this. I looked into this plugin when you originally posted this, but quickly discovered that the plugin didn’t support my email service, GetResponse.

    I contacted the author of the plugin, who informed me it was in progress. About a week later, he emailed me back telling me the plugin had been integrated with GetResponse. I was super impressed with the responsiveness of the plugin author.

    So am trying it out now. I do like it that it’s on exit. As a consumer, the only times pop-ups bother me are when they pop up right away or they pop up when I’m trying to read an article – the latter being especially annoying.

    I wish there were some way to do split testing, but I can’t see that the plugin supports that. Do you know?

    Also, do you have any guidelines as to the best range for number of words in a pop-up? Is too much text especially annoying? Such a fine line between giving them enough information to decide and rambling.

    Thanks again for the information!

  25. Slavko Desik on September 11, 2015

    50% on the landing page? Duuude… Now that is some conversion rate!
    We are using, but now there is the need for custom made pop-ups. The one you are running now looks awesome, not sure I’ve seen something similar.

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