Awesome guest post alert! Today my buddy Nathalie Lussier is here to talk all about creating pop-up boxes that won’t drive your blog readers mad.
Because I know, and I’m sure you do too, that it’s really easy to create pop-ups that are super annoying. I run into them every single day! And while bad pop-ups can make you not want to do the same on your site, the thing is . . . they totally work. So here’s Nathalie to tell you how to grow your list with pop-ups without being a pain in the butt!
The vast majority of blog traffic comes from “new visitors” – those who have stumbled across our material through a Google search, Pinterest, or a link from another website.
Most of them stay for a few second, leave, and are never to be seen again. Yikes!
After discovering our blog, we want them to stick around. So we woo them onto our email lists in order to connect with them on a regular basis, turn them into superfans, and even happy paying customers.
It all starts with a polite popup…
I know what you’re thinking: popups are annoying!
But if you design your popup the right way, using the 5 steps below, you’ll keep your blog visitors happy AND build your blog following at the same time.
Let’s get going!
Step 1: Polite pop-ups start with knowing who you’re talking to
Blogging is all about knowing who you’re talking to…
But if you’re serious about building your email list with a popup, you’ve got a rather unique challenge:
You have to be able to identify who’s coming to your website… and where they like to head when they’ve arrived.
Because knowing the answers to “who,” “when,” and “where” is going to help you determine the design and language you use in your popups.
Think about it:
When a car salesman meets a young couple who claims to be “just looking,” he has some quick judgment calls to make.
Since they won’t voluntarily share information on what they’re “just looking” for, the salesman knows that pressing for information could turn them off completely.
So he’s got to decide if he’ll part with words like V6 and torque… or if he’ll perhaps walk away with a sentence like “I’ve got some really sporty, fuel-efficient options – just let me know if you want to test drive anything!”
If he chooses correctly and leaves them with a sense of excitement and intrigue, the chances are much higher that they’ll seek him out and take a business card with them.
Email list building is a lot like being a car salesman. (Not always sexy, but everyone loves a new car!)
Many of the people who see your popups are truly “just looking” and aren’t ready to buy anything yet. So you’ll want to use your email list to stay at the forefront of their minds throughout the decision making process.
Step 2: Offer the right opt-in incentive
List-building with popups is pretty straightforward on your end: if you give me your email address, I’ll give you ________.
If you know who you’re talking to (step 1), it becomes so much easier to offer the incentive – or free opt-in gift – that speaks to your website visitor.
I’m heading back to the car lot for an example here…
The goal of the car salesman (if he can’t close a deal) is to offer his business card to the shopper as a means of staying in touch. To do this he has to “represent” more than just another salesman.
Someone who buys new cars for the fun of it might be attracted to the latest models and features (“Here’s my card – I’ve got a great connection who’s happy to work with you on custom features for your 4×4…”).
The more cost-conscious consumer, on the other hand, will gravitate towards an offer of sales flyers or used vehicles (“Here’s my card – give me a call next week on Monday. That’s when we’re getting in a new shipment of pre-owned SUVs”).
For your list building project, this might mean that you tailor your popup message by page.
You might have a popup designed to appeal to certain visitors on one page in your site – and use a completely different popup on another page. You can even do this based on specific blog posts, or entire blog post categories, very easily using PopupAlly Pro.
But sometimes – if your popup plugin allows it – you can simply let your visitors choose for themselves which category they fall into!
In this case, using a popup that allows your visitor to pick their own fate is key…
You can use a simple “yes or no” like in the screenshot above, OR you might give them two separate options, with each linking to a separate offer as an opt-in gift.
This is all possible with a few clicks using PopupAlly Pro.
The most important thing here, is to deliver on your promise. If you create an amazing free giveaway, people will be happy they took the time to engage with your popup, enter their email, and download your gift.
That’s what really seals the deal and creates superfans!
Step 3: Design it like you mean it!
If your popup looks like a popup, you might as well give up right now. (Sorry, but it’s kind of true!)
Because, for most of us, the word “popup” automatically relates to “spam.” And if we see a gray popup appear (or worse – one that flashes with different colors) we’re automatically repulsed and filled with skepticism.
So this is where design really can make or break your efforts.
When you’re designing your popup, make sure that:
- It fits in seamlessly with your website design and branding
- It’s attractive enough in its own right to woo your visitors into signing up
Here, “bold” doesn’t always mean “eye-catching” in a good way. Subtle, classy designs can convert much higher… it just depends on who you’re talking to (step 1) and what you’re offering (step 2)!
Design circular, transparent, and other beautiful opt-in popups with PopupAlly Pro.
Step 4: Start talking at the right time… about the right things
Onto step 4, where timing is everything.
Sometimes, I land on a site with the intention of just scanning through a quick article. 2 seconds later, I find myself confronted with a very large popup that I now have to X out of… and honestly, if the article title didn’t intrigue me that much, I’m probably just going to X out of the whole site at this point. (I don’t have a lot of patience with that stuff!)
Another thing that really irritates me is when the popup that appears is CLEARLY an ad. I’m scrolling down a webpage and suddenly a totally unrelated message pops up. Here again, I can’t click that “X” fast enough!
The problem is twofold: to woo someone into paying attention, your popup has to appear at the perfect time AND be relevant to your visitor’s current state of mind/attention.
It might sound a bit tricky… but it’s really as simple as choosing the right type of popup for the page that you want it to appear on:
In fact, those who have the greatest success building an email list with popups are those who utilize a variety of popup types (each on different pages, of course).
Using variation also means that you can use natural psychological factors to increase the chance that your website visitors will sign up for your email list offer.
Here’s a quick run-through of some types of popups and how they can really help you succeed:
Time-delayed popups appear a certain amount of time (measured in seconds) after your visitor has landed on your site. So if you have an ecommerce site and you’re offering a coupon code as your opt-in gift, it makes total sense to give it to reveal it right away. This gives them incentive to sign up AND stick around to shop!
An exit intent popup appears when a visitor is just getting ready to leave your website. Knowing that they’re probably on their way out gives you a great opportunity to offer a friendly parting gift.
A scroll popup appears when your visitor has scrolled down a particular page on your website. It can be a great way to offer a “go deeper” action to someone who’s clearly expressing interest in your content.
In short, take time to really consider how you can best speak to your visitors through the popup.
Step 5: Practice till it’s perfect
Ok, so you’ve gone through steps 1-4 and have a plan… now what?
Well, practice makes perfect!
Even with the best planning and intuition, there’s no way you can guess with 100% accuracy what message, design, and type of popup is going to convert the best.
So this is where the ability to split test (also known as A/B testing) your popups is going to be invaluable.
I really can’t stress this step enough: always, always split test your popups!
It’s a way to get some concrete info on what’s working and what’s not.
First, you might test between two popup designs. Or maybe you test between wording variations – or maybe to find out which offer converts the best on a particular page. Maybe you even split test to find out whether conversions are happening on a scroll-activated popup more than your exit-intent one…
The sky is the limit!
And fortunately, some popup plugins (like PopupAlly Pro) come with a built-in A/B test feature that makes it so incredibly easy to test between 2 or more popups.
All you really have to do is design your popups – and let the software do the rest:
After setting up your split test in PopupAlly Pro, you simply check back as often as you want to start seeing the statistics associated with each of your variations.
Discover the tools that will make your list building job “easy”
And there you have it: the 5 steps to designing a popup that’s polite and that builds superfans.
As you might have noticed, each of those steps requires a lot of thinking and analysis on your part in order for the strategy to work. The final “step” is finding the software that’s going to let you do all of this… without causing you to tear out your hair in the process.
All of the screenshots in this article are from the PopupAlly Pro WordPress plugin.
Not only is it super easy to use (no coding knowledge required!), but it’s also the most affordable of the top-line popup plugins, since you don’t have to pay per website visitor or per subscriber.
So if you’re looking for a great place to start, I’d definitely head over to check out PopupAlly.
But whatever popup tool you end up using, just make sure that it is able to cover all the bases! A strong popup plugin is the background tool to ensuring that your list-building efforts are both simple and effective.
Happy list building!!
Nathalie Lussier is an award-winning entrepreneur, international keynote speaker, and author who has been making web sites since she was 12 years old. She graduated with a degree in Software Engineering and a job offer from Wall Street, but she turned down this job to start her own business right out of college. Her bootstrapped startup AmbitionAlly, has been featured in Entrepreneur and is inspiring a culture of intuitive small business marketing software across the globe.