Are you using pop-up boxes on your website? You know what I’m talking about — those forms that magically appear when you visit a site for the first time (or every time) encouraging you to sign up for a newsletter or some other form of regular content. When and where they show up varies but one thing is certain, they’re here to stay because they work.

If you’re feeling sceptical, don’t worry. I resisted using pop-ups, also called list builders, for years. For someone dedicated to ‘pull marketing’ they seemed shouty and even obnoxious. I felt they ruined the user experience. When I started to hear other marketers tell me how effective they were, I had to reconsider, especially with reports of 40 to 50 per cent annual list growth.

Here are nine reasons why I’m now a fan of pop-up list builders:

  • It gives you the opportunity to capture readers when they’re most influenced by your brand and your content — when they’re actually on your website.
  • The current software is more sophisticated than the early versions. Once someone signs up to your list, they never see your appeal to sign up again.
  • Most of the vendors offering pop-up software have plug-ins making it super easy to use. You don’t have to be a tech whiz to set up a list builder on your website.
  • There’s a lot more intelligence around the API or plug-in so you can decide when it shows up. You can ‘program’ it so it only appears when a reader goes to a second page or has spent a certain amount of time on your website. The software can tell when someone gets to the end of a page, which might be the best time to trigger a form. If a reader has made it to the end of an article, chances are they’re feeling engaged with your content and will want more.
  • They’ve become industry standard and people expect to see them. Arguably, this shouldn’t convince any marketer to do something they don’t like but the early days of people being irritated with pop-up boxes is gone.
  • They really do work. We had a 600 per cent increase in monthly subscriptions at Lush when we first implemented SumoMe and still enjoy steady growth with OptinMonster. My blog at Global Copywriting is getting between a 200 and 300 per cent increase per month with Pippity. We’ve had no complaints about the pop-ups at either site.
  • You can design your pop-ups so they blend in with the rest of your website and are less jarring to your reader. You can include photos, text, different sizes and brand colours to provide a relatively friendly user experience.
  • List building software is extremely cost-effective, even for the smallest business.
  • It’s a fantastic way to ensure every web visitor knows about special offers and events, especially if those offers don’t appear on your blog or news pages.

If one of the main goals of content marketing is to build an exclusive audience to use for your marketing efforts — and I believe it is — list building software is an easy and effective way of doing that. Once it’s set up, it chugs along in the background encouraging new visitors to opt in to your mailing list.

Pop-up box pitfalls to avoid

But please, let me offer advice on what not to do to ensure your readers don’t leave your site as soon as they encounter a pop-up box:

  • Don’t blast readers with your box the moment they get to your website.
  • Don’t force the box to stay for an allotted period of time.
  • Don’t make it hard for your readers to get rid of the box. Put a ‘close box’ option in the upper right-hand corner of the box.
  • Don’t make the box jump around so your visitors have to chase it all over their screen. They’ll close down the whole website.
  • Don’t get too clever with the text in the opt-out box, if you must use one at all. Bullying readers to click on a box that says something like ‘I’m happy to continue losing money in my business’ makes you look like a jerk.

If you’re not already using list builders or pop-up software, check out some of the products currently available. Think of all the readers that might not be aware you have a list or would rather get your content delivered to their inbox than have to search for it. And remember, if you set it up correctly, it’s a good experience for the reader. If they don’t want to join your list, they don’t have to. My only regret is that I waited so long to start.


If you’d like more tips on how to build your audience, give us a call or join our list. We like nothing more than helping businesses grow.