You know the one.  You land on a new site and blink the page is greyed out and there is a popup blocking your view.

Most of us hate that!

And because of that, most of us don’t want to inflict that feeling on our new, skittish visitors when they arrive on our site.

We’d much rather they had a pleasant, non-jarring visit to our site before leaving, never to be seen again!

Yet, there is a little-known fact that is hard to ignore.

These email popup windows work like gangbusters when it comes to increasing the number of visitors that convert to subscribers.

So you have a hard choice to make.  The choice is often skewed by how you frame your decision.

1.  Don’t annoy any visitor who comes to your site, so don’t use popups.

2.  Maximize the number of subscriber conversions (and hopefully future business) by using popups.

The reality is the concept is somewhere in the middle.  If you feel that because YOU don’t like popups then your visitors shouldn’t be exposed to them, you can stop here.  Before you go though, you should consider there are ways to make the popup experience more palatable and at the same time greatly increase your results.

Here’s a few tips for using popups effectively.

1.  Which pages?  On of the first things you’ll want to consider is which pages should have a popup installed.  All pages?  Only content pages, like your blog?  You landing pages?  You can be selective about when a popup gets deployed.

2.  Repeat visitors?  If you like to keep the annoyance factor down, you should set your popup for new visitors only.  Returning visitors, like customers, or previous site visitors would not see the popup on their next visit.  Alternatively, you might feel like a second or third look won’t hurt anyone and be comfortable keeping the popup live for anyone.  Really it depends on what your offer is.

3.  What’s the offer?  Here’s where you get to think about your goals for a second. What are you offering via your popup?  Some offers can be very powerful and and popup sets them apart and almost insists your visitor give them a look.  Or some offers are really weak and the reader isn’t impressed at all.  Put on your marketing hat and find the most compelling offer you can.

4. What’s your supporting copy?  Often a popup doesn’t have any copy on it and doesn’t explain what it’s doing there.  It doesn’t give the reader a good reason for popping up and leaves you guessing.  If your copy says, “Newsletter” you’re not giving it a chance to win over the visitor.  A good popup has copy in it that sells the visitor on why they should join your list… even make them eager to be on your list.

5.  Timing?  You might not have noticed but popups can be timed to show up anywhere from 0 seconds to 60 seconds or longer from when the visitors lands on your site.  This is an important feature to test.  You might find that a popup that immediately blasts into view is annoying.  You might find that a popup that shows up after 90 seconds, after your visitor is oriented, can be no trouble at all.  I’ve seen conversion rates vary widely based on timing alone.

6.  What type of popup is it?  There are different styles of popup. Some just show up in the blink of an eye. Some fade in and fade out the background. Some slide in from the left, right, top or bottom and are very calm.  You can try variations to get the style you like.

7.  Test everything.  One piece of advice you’ve heard from me before is test these variables and see what happens. You might find a winning combination very quickly and suddenly you’re collecting 4X more names.

You might hate it but what if your list was 4 times bigger?  Would you enjoy 4 times the number of leads?  Consider, in the grand scheme of things, your one popup is not enough to ruin someone’s day or put them off your brand forever.  If so, you most likely won’t enjoy having them as a customer.