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How to Use Popups to Grow Your Email List without Annoying Visitors

You know the saying, “The money is in the list“? Well, it’s true. Email lists are one of the most valuable assets for any business. Why? Because they give you direct access to your audience.

Businesses can send customers personalized content and special offers to build a loyal community around their brands. Plus, emails have a way higher engagement rate compared to social media posts. 

Here’s the catch, though: How do you grow that list without driving your website visitors up the wall with annoying popups? 

Popups have a bad reputation for being intrusive, but if used strategically, they can actually improve user experience and boost your email sign-ups. 

What Makes Popups So Annoying Anyway?

Before we get into the how-to, let’s talk about why popups get such a bad rap. Most people hate them because they often interrupt their browsing experience. 

You’re reading an interesting article or shopping online, and BAM! A popup appears out of nowhere, demanding your attention. 

Still, it’s not the popups themselves that are the problem but rather how you use them. A well-timed, well-designed popup can be a game-changer. The key is to use them in a way that adds value to your visitors’ experience rather than detracting from it.

The Art of Timing Popups Correctly

Immediate popups are like that over-eager salesperson. They’re intrusive and can scare away potential buyers before they’ve even had a chance to look around. Your visitors need a moment to breathe and see what you have to offer. 

  1. Wait for User Engagement

What’s the solution to this popup dilemma? Simple: patience. Wait for your visitors to engage with your site before showing them a popup. 

Let them scroll down a bit, explore your content, and get a feel for what you’re all about. Here are a couple of strategies to nail the timing:

  • Scrolling

Set your popup to appear after the visitor has scrolled down 50-60% of the page. This way, you know they’re interested enough to keep reading, and your offer won’t feel like an interruption.

  • Time on Site

Another smart move is to time your popup to appear after a certain period, like 30-60 seconds. This gives your visitors enough time to get comfortable and indicates they’re finding your content engaging.

  1. Targeting the Right Moment

Let’s talk about one of the coolest tricks in the popup playbook: exit-intent popups. These little gems appear when a visitor is about to leave your site. 

Exit-intent popups work by tracking the visitor’s mouse movements. They usually offer special discounts, free guides, or just gentle nudges to subscribe to your newsletter

The beauty of exit-intent popups is that they’re not intrusive. They don’t interrupt the user experience because they only show up when the visitor is already on their way out.

Another clever tactic is using scroll-depth triggers. This method triggers a popup based on how far down the page a visitor scrolls. 

It’s a great way to gauge interest in specific content. In this event, if you have a long blog post and a visitor makes it halfway through, it’s a pretty good sign they’re engaged. That’s the perfect moment to pop up with a relevant offer.

Crafting Compelling Popups: How to Make Your Offers Irresistible

You’re not going to hand over your business email address to random people just for the sake of it, right? Neither are your website visitors. 

They need a good reason first. Value proposition is essentially your pitch – it’s what you’re offering in exchange for their email.

Think about what your visitors would love to get from you. Are you running an online store? Offer them a sweet discount on their first purchase. 

Do you have an awesome blog? How about exclusive content or a free eBook? Regardless of what it is, make it clear and enticing.

When creating your value proposition, always focus on the benefits. Instead of just listing features, tell your visitors how your offer will make their lives better, easier, and more enjoyable.

Keep Popups Concise and Visually Appealing

Nobody likes clutter – especially not in popups. Your message should be clear and to the point. 

Visitors should understand what you’re offering. This means no lengthy paragraphs, no confusing jargon, and definitely no overwhelming visuals.

Here’s how you can achieve a clean, concise design:

  • Short and Sweet: Keep your text brief. A headline, a couple of lines of text, and a call to action (CTA) are usually enough. Use action-oriented language like “Get,” “Download,” “Sign Up,” or “Claim.”
  • Eye-catching: Use visuals that draw attention but don’t distract from your message. A high-quality image or an attractive background color can work wonders.
  • Use Whitespace: Don’t be afraid of empty space. It helps your popup look uncluttered and professional.

When it comes to getting people to sign up, less is more. Don’t ask for a bunch of information upfront. Stick to the essentials – usually, just an email address is enough.

How to Make Popups User-friendly

How to Use Targeted Popups to Boost Your Call to Action

Always include a clear and easily accessible “close” button on your popups. It’s a simple act of respect for your visitors’ time and choice. 

When users know they can quickly dismiss a popup if they’re not interested, they’re less likely to feel frustrated. 

  • Visibility: Make the button prominent. The upper right corner is the standard spot.
  • Design: Use a recognizable “X” or the word “Close.” Avoid hiding it in the background or making it too small.
  • Functionality: Ensure it works smoothly on all devices. A glitchy close button is a big no-no.

Also, nobody likes unpleasant surprises, especially when it comes to their inbox. Being transparent about how often you will send emails can build trust and set the right expectations. 

Include a brief note in your popup that explains how often subscribers will hear from you. Stick to what you promise. If you say you’ll send emails weekly, don’t suddenly start sending daily updates.

Lastly, sometimes, your visitors might be interested in your offer but aren’t ready to commit right away. 

Maybe they’re in the middle of reading an article or making a purchase. 

  • Reminder Popups: Let users opt-in to a reminder popup that appears after a certain period or on their next visit. 
  • User-friendly Timers: You could even add a snooze option with a timer, such as “Remind me in 10 minutes” for those who just need a little more time to decide.

Offering a “later” option can be a great way to capture their interest without forcing an immediate decision.

Testing and Optimization: How to Perfect Your Popups

You’ve created your popups with the right timing and included all the necessary options. Still, how do you know if they’re actually effective? 

  1. A/B Testing 

This type of testing is like a science experiment for your popups. You create two (or more) versions of a popup with slight variations and see which one performs better. 

With such experiments, e-commerce store owners can periodically change headlines, designs, offers, and more. The goal is to track user behavior and see which version resonates best with your audience.

  1. Analyzing Results 

Once you’ve collected data from your A/B tests, it’s time to evaluate the results and refine your strategy.

  • Review Metrics: Look at the key performance indicators (KPIs) from your tests. Which version had a higher conversion rate? Did one design significantly reduce bounce rates?
  • Identify Trends: Notice any patterns in the data. Maybe popups with a discount offer perform better than those offering free content. 
  • Make Data-driven Decisions: Use the insights from your analysis to make informed decisions. If a particular headline significantly boosts conversions, consider using it across other popups. However, always keep room for improvement. 

Keep an eye on industry trends. What works today might not work tomorrow, so staying informed can give you a competitive edge.


Popups are incredibly effective at grabbing your visitors’ attention. When you time them right and make them relevant, they become a powerful way to engage your audience.

It’s all about balance—timing, relevance, and transparency are your best friends here. Your email list is your lifeline in the digital age, and popups are your ticket to growing it efficiently.

Sign up with Poptin today and unleash the full potential of your website. With intuitive tools and customizable options, Poptin makes it easy to create popups that convert without annoying your visitors.

Convert more visitors into customers, leads, and email subscribers with Poptin's beautiful and highly targeted pop ups and contact forms.