4 Design Tips for a High-Converting Email Popup

4 Design Tips for a High-Converting Email Popup
Syed Balkhi

Written by:
Syed Balkhi

May 20, 2020
email popup - header

If you’re looking to generate leads and grow your email list, have you considered displaying email popups on your website?

Email popups appear on a webpage while a user browses a site in the hopes that they’ll take some sort of action. Most of the time, it’s handing over their email address so businesses can contact them later. 


Why Use Email Popups

When a new visitor browses your site, they’re trying to figure out your brand and see if it’s the right fit for them. 

Many factors come into play for customers when choosing which websites to engage with, and if yours doesn’t immediately catch their attention and offer them value, visitors won’t see a reason to stick around.

Email marketing is 40 times more effective at acquiring new customers as opposed to other strategies. It’s a marketing channel you can’t afford to ignore. So, if you don’t implement optimized design into your popups, you won’t see the results you’re looking for. 

And because popups are a valuable piece of your conversion strategy, there are a ton of benefits to using them on your site. 

Build an Email List

The whole point of a popup is to collect user information so you can grow your business and further brand recognition. It’s much easier to market your products and services when you already have a list of subscribers at your fingertips. 

It’s also important to keep track of your audience so you can update them on brand happenings, promote special offers, and build strong customer relationships. This moves subscribers through the sales funnel and turns them into paying customers.

Capture User Attention

Because popups quite literally pop up on the screen, there’s no way users can ignore them or work around them. 

Take a look at Visme's full screen pop-up below to see how well it captures user attention.

email popup - capture user attention
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While some find this annoying, many prefer it because it introduces them to offers they weren’t aware of before. And once a user signs up, the popup goes away. 

Popups make it easy for visitors to make a quick decision about how much they want to interact with your brand. 

A static form on your website may not grab their attention and convince them to sign up, but a popup is likelier to do the trick, especially when coupled with an incentive. 

Showcase Brand Design

With so much competition out there, you need your brand to stand out from the crowd. You want people to see elements of your design and know it’s your brand they’re looking at. 

With email popups, it’s easy to incorporate your branding and further establish your business. Colors, images, and placements are enough to set you apart from the competition so your popups result in a growing email list

Target Specific Users

People visit your website for different reasons and are motivated by different things. If you tried to market the same message to everyone, you’d have a difficult time knowing what each customer wants and how to help them. 

Email popups come with targeting technology that makes it easy to target specific users and send them personalized messages. The more you cater to individual needs, the more conversions you’ll make.

Now that we know why email popups are important, let’s look at four ways to design them for a higher conversion rate.


1 Design Around the User

As it goes with any campaign, you need to start by keeping your customers at the center of your strategy. 

The point of email popups is to cater to the visitor’s interests and give them an offer good enough to make them act. But this is impossible to do if you don’t understand who you’re targeting in the first place.

Adopting a customer-focused approach for your popup campaign means that:

  • Each step of the design process is taken to cater to your target audience.
  • There’s a clear, concise message that’s easy for users to understand.
  • The process of signing up for your email list or offer is simple and navigable.
  • You understand what offers and incentives your audience is looking for.

When designing your popup, how can you create a smoother UX that ensures a higher form completion rate?

Limit the number of fields in your popup form. For visitors at the top of the funnel, the goal is for them to take one simple action in the hopes it’ll lead to a purchase down the road. The more information you ask for, the less likely users are to do what you want. 

People already receive tons of emails in their inboxes daily, so if you want them to join your email list, you need to tell them how they’ll benefit. 

Users want to know what they’re signing up for, so share information about what they can expect from you in upcoming content. Common offers include discounts, free ebooks or guides, updates, and exclusive details.

Here’s an example of a well-designed email popup from Syed Balkhi that has limited form fields and shows the benefits of subscribing to the user: 

email popups - design around the user
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2 Choose the Right Popup Format

There are many types of formats to choose from when creating your popup. The trick is knowing which one is right for your campaign and its audience.

With OptinMonster, you can choose the format of your popups to match the goals and expectations of your site visitors. That way, you’re able to send them the right message at the right time in the right way.

You can choose from the following popup formats:

  • Sidebar: Appears in the sidebar of your site. 
  • Slide-In: Slides in from the bottom left or right corners of your site. 
    • Fullscreen: Covers the entire screen so users can’t see or have access to the webpage.
    • Floating Bar: Attaches to the top or bottom of a page and remains visible as users scroll.
    • Lightbox: Displays in the center of the page and fades all of the other content into the background. 
  • Inline Forms: Appears within a blog post or at the end of a blog post, when users are most engaged with your content.

OptinMonster also offers triggers that let you display popups at just the right time. For example, with their Exit-Intent® Technology, you can track when a user is about to leave your site and display the popup before they go. 

This is a great way to convert abandoning visitors into subscribers. 

To pick the best format for your campaign, refer to its goals as well as your target market. What are you trying to achieve? Which format best suits your audience’s needs? 

For example, if you want to promote an upcoming virtual event like a webinar, you might go with a slide-in popup that discreetly informs visitors without disturbing their experience. 

email popup - slide in example
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Or, if you want to build your email list through a special offer, you could use a lightbox popup that grabs the user’s attention. 

email popup - lightbox example
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3 Use Consistent Branding

A huge part of what makes a cohesive customer experience is implementing consistent branding in every area of your marketing. Your brand image, message and visual content should be the same across your website, email and social media to build authenticity.

Email popups are no different. They need to accurately represent your brand in both design and message. If not, you’ll confuse users and push them to bounce from your site.

Elements of your design to keep in mind when creating your popups include:

In this example, a housing care company displays an image of a couple searching online for their next home. The image along with the information provided makes it easy to understand and tells you exactly what to expect by clicking the call-to-action button.

email popup - use consistent branding
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4 Optimize for Mobile Devices

A large portion of your site traffic goes to mobile users, and thus your email popups need to cater to them too. 

More customers are making online purchases and doing business with ecommerce brands than ever before. If your site fails to cater to users coming in on mobile devices, it’s missing out on a ton of conversions.

When someone browses your site on mobile, they’re having a completely different experience compared to a desktop user. They have limited screen space, control and bandwidth, and you need to keep this in mind with your email popup design.

Creating email popups that are easy to sign up or exit out of ensures you’re giving mobile users a positive user experience.

Not convinced? The numbers don't lie – Salt Strong used mobile-friendly popups to increase their conversions by a staggering 185 percent!

email popup - optimize for mobile

How did they do it? Before, the brand’s site used fullscreen popups, but this slowed down their progress. Mobile users couldn’t properly navigate around them, leaving them frustrated and ready to bounce from the website.

When they switched to smaller slide-in popups, they catered to mobile users by making it easier to engage with their popups on multiple devices. As a result, visitors enjoyed a positive user experience that didn’t annoy them, and they were likelier to opt in. 

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Bonus: Validate Every New Email Address

Pop-ups are an effective way to expand your list of contacts – but are all those contacts genuine? It’s a question every marketer and business owner using email should ask themselves.

People can make typos while trying to subscribe. Also, they can use temporary email addresses just to get a free content offer from you. It’s vital that you protect your list from these types of emails since they can result in bounces.

"Bounces affect your sending reputation and that will cause your emails to land in the spam folder," says ZeroBounce CEO Liviu Tanase.

He suggests using double opt-in to ensure people want to be on your mailing list. "Apart from implementing double opt-in, make sure to get an email verification API on your sign-up forms. Alternatively, you can regularly run your list through a bulk email verifier," Tanase adds.

"That will protect your reputation and help you land your emails in your subscribers’ inboxes."


Over to You

If you want to produce conversions using your website, then creating beautifully designed popups is a must. You want visitors to feel intrigued enough by your brand to opt into your offer and become loyal subscribers-turned-customers. 

Designing popups optimized for your target audience and their needs is an art form. You need to know who you’re catering to and what kind of experience they’re looking for to create email popups that successfully convert. 

How will you design your next popup campaign for the best results?

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    About the Author

    Syed Balkhi is an award-winning entrepreneur and online marketing expert. He is the co-founder of WPBeginner, OptinMonster, WPForms, and MonsterInsights. You can learn more about Syed and his portfolio of companies by following him on his social media networks.

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