40 Comments / last updated August 26, 2019

BTXP 004: Do Pop-Ups (Really) Convert?

pop ups

Pop-ups are a contentious issue for bloggers and website owners.

Most people love to hate them.

But the interesting thing is that almost all of the really successful websites and blogs out there use a pop-up in one form or another. In fact, some blog owners have even said that a good pop up was integral to their success.

In this episode I want to show you a few experiments that have yielded some very interesting results on the old pop-up issue.

I’ll even talk about one marketer who uses pop-ups in a very sneaky (but successful) way.

Click here to listen to the episode on iTunes or if you like you can download it to your computer.

What’s in this episode?

I’ve tried to pack a fair bit of stuff into this 15 minute episode as there are a lot of different experiments that you can do. I’ve talked about:

  • Pop ups and stages of your growth
    Is there a certain time in a blog’s life when pop ups work better than others?
  • Public attitudes towards pop ups
    How do readers really feel about pop ups and will it negatively affect your blog?
  • Testing pop ups for honest conversions
    Let’s not just talk about subscriber numbers. Do pop ups actually reduce open rates?
  • Two plugins and services
    I’ll talk about two services that really help you narrow down your results.
  • One really tricky type of pop up
    At the end I mention one pop up that is being used that is super tricky and very effective.

Some of the things that I mention in this show include AWeber, Social Media Examiner, Quick Sprout, ViperChill and Scroll Triggered Box.

What are your thoughts on pop ups?

I’d be really keen to hear your thoughts on pop ups – especially the one that I mention towards the end of the episode. Would you ever use one like that on your blog? Have you ever used a pop up successfully?

Please leave a comment and let me know.

Top photo ยฉ Stevanovicigor | Dreamstime.com


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  1. Timely post as we are just starting to test out pop ups on our site. Looking forward to seeing the results.

    1. Keen to hear how they go.

  2. Salman Ravoof on October 9, 2014

    Haven’t used pop ups yet on my blog, since it’s just a personal blog and I don’t want to annoy my friends and family (who are the major audience as of now).

    I’m building a personal finance blog on the side. It’s not live yet. Maybe I’ll try out one of the suggestions given by you there once it goes live.

    1. Thanks Salman. Let me know how they work for you.

  3. Diana Marinova on October 9, 2014

    I am one of those people who love to hate the pop-ups LOL – i don’t think i have ever signed up for anything as a result of a popup, to the contrary…

    But with time things have changed, i must admit – there are now pop-ups that are very well done, not intrusive in any way and i can see how they can complement your site and help conversion ratio rather than annoy your visitors. I have been playing with the idea of using such an “intelligent pop-up” so to speak to grow my email list. So thanks for the timely post, Ramsay!

    I’m intrigued – downloaded the audio file and i hope i’ll have the chance to listen to it later today. Will come back with more thoughts, if any – and definitely will come back if i try it out with positive return ๐Ÿ™‚


    1. Thanks for having an open mind. Keen to hear your results.

  4. Michael Gorman on October 9, 2014

    Interesting information, I have known pop ups are effective for a while now but I have a personal dislike of them and feel bad using them. After taking this in I think i may give them another try and test the results. Thanks Ramsay

    1. Hope they work!

  5. Mike Power on October 9, 2014

    One thing that annoys me about exit pop-ups is that when I go to go to my browser bar to bookmark/Pinterest/Evernote/Clearly the page I get the exit pop-up, even though I am not actually exiting at that point. It’s a minor annoyance and the extent of my annoyance depends largely on how intrusive the pop-up is.

    As for Quick Sprout, the pop ups only seem to appear on the first visit. I visit quite often and get no pop-ups at all. if I use a different browser, they appear again, so he’s obviously using cookies to control them.

    1. Interesting. I get them every visit.

      1. Mike Power on October 9, 2014

        Maybe I’m running a Chrome extension I’m not aware of. (My son is my tech guy!) I’ll go check.

  6. Mike Power on October 9, 2014

    I only have AdBlocker Plus which I’ve just disabled to check but it isn’t responsible. Do you have cookies disabled? It would annoy the hell out of me if I got those pop-ups, layers etc on every visit.

  7. There were two INSANELY IMPORTANT huge “take aways” from your podcast.

    1. You indicated using pop-ups until the subscriber level grew above the 10k mark.

    While other sites mentioned, like QuickSprout, do use them even though their numbers are high, it does make one stop and think. While I am a mailchimp user, there is a feature that aweber has that ANYONE using pop-ups should check out. It’s a report of the daily subscribers AND the daily confirmers.

    I found the use of pop-ups did increase my subscribers but I had a lot of those people not confirming the subscription. You did mention how people might fill in a pop-up just to see the content. I think the downside of pop-ups is they are also like an impulse buy at the store. With the confirmation email requirement, the subscriber has the chance to “place it back on the shelf” and walk away.

    2. The Quicksprout exit pop-up is something I hate BUT IT DOES PROVIDE ANOTHER POINT TO CONSIDER.

    If the user is going to close out the browser window by going to the upper right-hand corner, why not place an incentive up in that area? That would be a great place for a link to free bonus content / landing page / etc. Using something like HelloBar doesn’t make this practical but consider testing something in that space.

    1. I’m not convinced that the location is the hot thing here – I think it’s that the pop up interrupts you. But it’s an interesting idea. I’ll have to think more about it.

  8. Carlos Garcia [contrakto.com.mx] on October 9, 2014

    I’ve been usong SumoMe for a week now and I am suprised by the good results. I use Mad Mimi to manage my list.

    1. I’ve heard a few people mention this. Will have to check it out.

  9. Sue Anne Dunlevie on October 9, 2014

    Hi, Ramsay,

    I use Optinmonster exit intent pop-up and have been pleased with the testing I have done with it.

    Thanks for the great info on pop-ups in this podcast!

    1. No complaints?

  10. I want to know: Do I have to create a new blog everyday?

    Or do I have to add contents to my blog everyday?

    Please, more explanation needed.

    Thank you

    1. Nope. Focus on long form quality content instead.

  11. I used to hate pop-ups with a passion until I realized for myself how effective they are at boosting sign-ups.

    But I say that with a couple of caveats:

    1) I STILL hate pop-ups that pop up not even 2 seconds after arriving at a particular website, because in my mind that’s way too soon (and therefore super-annoying). How does someone know they want to sign up for your newsletter if they haven’t even had a chance to check out your website first and see if your offering even interests them?

    2) Using an incentive or at least some form of creativity in the pop-up can make a huge difference. If a potential subscriber has already seen 20 pop-ups on any given day, then if yours is the same typical, boring, not-particularly-inviting pop up they saw 20 times before, they may hit the “close” button or even just move on to another website from sheer frustration. But if your pop-up is a bit more inviting than the typical pop-up, then it may just be enough to capture their attention and inspire them into action (i.e. subscribing).

    And finally, just to echo what some have already said here, I cringe at exit pop-ups too. I’m afraid I find them way too pushy…

    1. I agree about the time gap. I forgot to mention that. I used to have mine set at 30 seconds and one minute. At least then someone has either bounced or had a read.

  12. Melanie Wilson on October 9, 2014

    I just added a pop-up, but turned it off for mobile. So much of my traffic is mobile, but when I tested the pop-up on mobile, I hated it. I’d rather have people benefit from my content and not get them as subscribers. I wonder if pop-ups will become less and less effective, because as a reader, I completely ignore them. They’re on so many sites, they’ve become meaningless to me. But we’ll see what kind of results I get.

    1. Totally agree with that logic.

  13. Tim Rychel on October 9, 2014

    Ramsay, Left you messages a couple weeks back on Google+. Never heard back. ๐Ÿ™

    Tim Rychel

    1. Odd, I never got it.

  14. I hate pop ups, especially those that cover the whole page, and those that pop up before you’ve even had chance to look at the site. What’s even worse is sites that have several pop ups per page.

    I visited one site to read an article got a pop up before I could even look at the page, when I click no/go away on that it then did another pop up (again before I had even seen any content). When I finally got through those and started reading I got another pop up midway through the page, and another at the end of the article! I will never ever visit that site again they have totally put me off.

    I will quite often click away from a site when the first thing that greets me is a pop up. It reminds me of those annoying sales people that jump out on you when you are walking down the high street. Very unwelcome. On the plus side at least yours is fairly small and unobtrusive and doesn’t cover the content, it’s one of the least annoying pop ups I’ve seen ๐Ÿ˜‰

    1. You mean my slide out one?

  15. Rodney Robinson on October 9, 2014

    Thanks for this post, Ramsay. I am doing a little bit of experimenting on my blog with popups for more conversion. I will test different styles, text and frequencies. I originally thought this was interruption to the audience, but with more thought, this is perfectly acceptable. Since it is the user’s choice to come to the page, they have somewhat an interest in the content, so to ask for their loyalty in a popup should not be an interruption to their experience. Thanks for sharing your insight!

    1. Hope it works for you!

  16. It’s too bad you didn’t have a popup because I was totally going to sign up for your email list. But now I’m going to leave and never come back…

    Oh wait, I’m already on your email list :/

    1. Ha ha ha.

  17. Hey Ramsay,

    Haven’t had chance to listen yet (have you considered having your episodes transcribed?), so I’m not sure if you covered this but mobile pop-ups have been a total game changer for me.

    I use OptinMonster and they recently released a mobile pop-up that is working really well. Over half of my visitors use a mobile device, and due to my responsive layout they would not see an opt-in until the end of my post at the earliest. This pop-up is converting above 5%, but perhaps most importantly these are all subscribers that I wouldn’t have captured otherwise.

    Keep up the great work!


    1. Yeah I’ve been meaning to get them transcribed for ages but can’t really find anyone good to do it. The trials I’ve had haven’t been awesome.

  18. founderbus on October 13, 2014

    This post came just in time was never a fan of pop ups but recently because of advice i started wondering if i should implement it, Thanks Ramsay

    1. Make sure you test it with your own audience.

  19. I enjoyed the podcast – some interesting points.

    I looked at quick sprout and there is NO WAY I would sign up. So many popups makes me fear I’ll also receive hundreds of emails (it just comes across as desperate…) It sort of feels too much like my nightclubbing days.

    I think popups should be like a helpful assistant in a shop – you don’t want to have someone ask if you want to join their list before you even stepped through the door. Nor do you want someone asking you every 2 minutes whilst you are trying to look at the merchandise.

    But someone asking you when you are paying, or if you have looked and tried on – this is good. By then, even if I’m not buying today, I like what they’re selling and might come back – so getting a free voucher or loyalty card might be welcome.

    1. Rodney Robinson on October 14, 2014

      I agree with Philippa. An already engaged audience will be more responsive to popups on your site. The right timing makes popups more appropriate. Many popup plugins have multiple settings for pages and # of views related to when the popup appears. This is also good for experimentation. Thanks again Ramsay.

    2. Interesting that you had that reaction to QS – I’ve often felt the same way. They must be working though as Neil is super smart and always tests.

  20. Well, lately I saw many and annoying pop-ups only on websites that received success only since a few weeks or months ago, so they act like some kind of newbies that are overwhelmed by the quick success achieved and the money perspective.
    Usually, old and well placed websites have pop-ups but more subtly, so they don’t create any stress to the user.

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