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Using Popups to Grow Email Subscribers

Having an email list is one of the most important elements for growing your business. We’ve provided examples of how to create freebies to grow your list as well as tutorials on how to integrate the Genesis eNews Extended plugin with four of the most popular email systems (Mailchimp, ConvertKit, Mad Mimi, Mailerlite).  The Genesis eNews Extended Plugin is the static subscription box that can be displayed in various locations on our themes. Although the plugin integrates seamlessly with our themes, sometimes readers tend to overlook it and therefore don’t always subscribe. Using “popups” to grow your email subscriber list is a great technique to use.

What is A Popup?

Popups are great for grabbing your reader’s attention, they can also help grow your email list. However, popups can also be highly annoying and cause people to leave your site. Before we proceed, let’s first define what a popup is.

A popup is typically a subscription box that appears when a reader arrives on a website.  A popup usually only covers a portion of the visible page. Popups can be used in a variety of ways such as to offer a discount code, a special announcement or to capture email addresses to aid in building a site owners email list. 

What does Google Have to Say About Popups?

Just last year Google started cracking down on the use of popups especially the use of popups on mobile devices. Google wants users to have the best experience possible when viewing web pages. In order to do so, they have come up with a list of guidelines to follow.

According to Google, here are some examples of techniques that make content less accessible to a user:

  • Showing a popup (interstitial) that covers the main content, either immediately after the user navigates to a page from the search results, or while they are looking through the page.
  • Displaying a standalone interstitial that the user has to dismiss before accessing the main content.
  • Using a layout where the above-the-fold portion of the page appears similar to a standalone interstitial, but the original content has been inlined underneath the fold.

In summary, if your popups are violating any of these guidelines it’s highly possible that Google will penalize your site and your ranking with Google may be affected.

Should I still Use Popups?

We still believe that popups, when done well, can be highly effective at capturing email subscribers. But what does “done well” even mean in terms of setting up and using a popup?

First, we recommend setting up your popup as an Exit Intent popup. An exit intent popup only appears when the software is told that a user is about to leave your site. Yes, there are popup plugins out there capable of knowing when someone is leaving and will trigger at the right time.

Secondly, instead of the exit intent option, we recommend setting your popup to appear after 15 seconds or more. Nothing is more annoying than going to a site to read a really awesome piece of content and having a big box cover up half the screen.

Third, you can also use popups that are more discrete in location. There are popups that can slide up from the bottom of your site or slide in from the side, only covering up a small section of the visible content.

Lastly, we recommend turning mobile popups off altogether to avoid being penalized by Google.

In Summary

Popups can be great for list building as long as they don’t annoy your readers. If they are intrusive and distracting, you may end up losing potential subscribers instead of gaining them. We try to design all of our themes with list building in mind so that you don’t have to rely on popups. Our themes Cultivate, Market, and Tickled Pink have a variety of discreet email subscription options.  Check out all our themes here. 


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  1. I have Market and was looking into the “discreet” pop up options . Any recommendations? I use Mail Chimp currently and use the boxes and embedded sign ups but would love the non-obnoxious pop up route!

    1. Hi Paige,
      For popups, I personally love Popupally Pro. The technology, support, and customization options are outstanding. Let me know if you have any questions!

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