Using Popups on Your Website

I know what your thinking, that pop-ups are the devil. While many people frown on popups, you really can’t deny the numbers. says “And while you may find pop-ups annoying, the study also showed they have click-through rates twice as high of banner click-throughs.” I’m all for popups, when they’re used properly. When you’re using popups on your website, it’s important to keep the user in mind. While some popups are intrusive, a pop-up can also be a great reminder for someone to subscribe to your list. If you think of it that way, then it’s not so bad. It’s really just about your intentions. I’m going to discuss some helpful tips for using popups on your website.

Using popups on your website: Subtle

Don’t Overdo It

If you ever been on a site where everything you did caused a pop-up? You click a link, you get a pop-up. You go to a different page, you get a pop-up. Before you’ve even read the first three sentences of an article, you get a pop-up. That’s just plain annoying. You should have a reason for a pop-up. Don’t have multiple popups on one site. Use one pop-up, and leave it at that. Putting too many popups on one website only frustrate users and makes them not want to come back.

Don’t Make Your Pop-up Intrusive

One thing I can’t stand, is when you’re on a website, in the first five seconds you’re there, you get a pop-up. What the heck? I don’t even know what you have to say, or if anything you are going to say is of any value. Why in the world am I going to opt in for you to send me emails? Use your head. Place a pop-up at the end of a user’s session. There are popups out there that you can install, especially on a WordPress site, where the pop-up is triggered when someone starts to leave their browser.

Placing your pop-up at the end of someone’s visit as much likelier to produce a conversion than flashing 1000 of them at every visitor. That will kill your reputation alone. However, if you provide quality content on your website that actually helps people, place a pop-up upon exit. Use a simple message, such as “Don’t miss out on more helpful tips! Subscribe to my weekly newsletter.” If you’ve provided someone with useful information, they are much more likely to subscribe to your mailing list.

Using Popups on your website

Give Them Something Useful

Let’s face it, useful information is everywhere. It’s getting harder and harder to convince someone to give you their email address, so they’ll receive your newsletter. Don’t get me wrong, industry professionals still want to stay up-to-date on the latest news, tips, and tricks. However, you can greatly increase conversions if you give them a little incentive for subscribing. Create a free file, or something else useful that they will want in exchange for their email address. I am much more likely to opt in to your mailing address if you give me a useful file or something of that nature, than if you simply asked me to join your mailing list. A little effort here will go a long way.

using popups on your website: no social media popups

No Social Media Popups

I don’t know who thought this was a good idea, but it really only pisses me off. If I think your content is good enough, I’ll share it on social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook. Don’t make it so that I have to share your content before I even read it. Believe it or not I’ve seen this done on many sites. They have a pop-up that comes up in the first five seconds you’re there, asking you to share their site on social media. This method doesn’t work, because it’s too early to tell whether your content is any good. Also, people are more likely to share your content when it’s their idea, rather than when you shove it in their face. Don’t cram your site down my throat, let me decide if your share worthy or not.

Don’t Hide the Exit Button or Disable It

Talk about a scenario where all never come back to a website. If you put a pop-up on your site, that I can’t get rid of unless I opt-in to it, you just made yourself an enemy. Don’t force people into doing things. They won’t come back to your site just out of spite. Your website is supposed to be a pleasant place for people to visit. You’re supposed to be building trust with your readers and nurturing a relationship. You’re not supposed to be kidnapping them like some sort of serial killer. You don’t walk up to someone in a bar and club them over the head and take them home, do you? Well, you can’t do that with your website visitors either. Let them make the choice whether to opt in or not. You want people to trust you.


When using popups on your website, it’s important to put yourself into your reader’s shoes. How would the things that you’re doing make you feel, if you visited another website and it happened to you? If you’re going to use popups on your website, make sure you do it the right way. Encourage people to come back to your site, or pick up a free file or something useful. Build trust, and nurture your relationship with your visitors. You only get one chance to make a first impression.

You may want to keep in mind, as Mauro D. Andrea states on Unbounce, “Sad but true: I found that people who subscribe via pop-ups aren’t as engaged as those who subscribe from a form on your website or landing page.” This is something you’ll want to recognize, and the reason is because those readers tend to be less active in the community. They want to come back and dive into your content, but their heart just isn’t in it. Someone you engaged you by clicking a static form, means they really want your stuff and are really interested in what you have to say.

Do you have any helpful tips for using popups on your website? I’d love to hear what you have to say about popups, because it’s such a hot button issue. Feel free to leave your thoughts, or your questions in the comments section below.