Marketing / Email Marketing

Guide to email pop-ups for small businesses

Greg d'Aboville

Updated: May 30, 2020 · 8 min read

Toolkit for download in this article

sending and receiving email on mobile device

As a small business, you’re working hard to get more traffic. You’ve probably spent a lot of time optimizing your website for SEO, working hours to set up an Adwords account, or set up social media accounts. All that to attract more traffic to your website.

Growing your traffic is important. But it is just as important to build a relationship with your visitors so that they don’t come only once on your website and leave forever. That’s where email pop-ups combined with newsletters can prove handy. 

The safety net analogy

What is the proportion of your visitors who will turn into buyers during their session? According to Monetate (via Statista), only 3.73 percent of desktop sessions translate into a sale in the United States. That means most websites are letting 96.27 percent of their visitors leave without buying. A majority of these users will never come back. In other words, they will remain a missed opportunity.

statista conversion rate.png


What if you had a way to convince these visitors to come back later?

That’s where your email list comes into play. If you can collect the email of these visitors, you can later retarget them by email and convince them to come back. Your email list acts as a safety net for your visitors who miss the trapeze (the checkout process). So they can retry later.


And to turn visitors into subscribers, there’s nothing better than pop-ups.

Judge for yourself: on average, our customers increase their subscription rate by 300 percent. And our average subscription rate is 5.9 percent.

before and after.png

Convinced? Let’s see how we can design email pop-ups that convert.

5 tips to make the most of your opt-in pop-ups

Now that you’re ready to collect more emails, let’s review the basics.

Tip No. 1: Align your pop-up design with your website design

The best-converting pop-ups are the ones which feel like they’re part of your website experience. As a visitor, there’s nothing worse than a pop-up which feels like an ad.

Here are a few actionable tips to adapt your pop-up to your brand identity:

  • Use the same colors
  • Use the same font families and weight
  • Insert product visuals

Here’s a good example from Krewe, an eyewear company:


Tip No. 2: Pick a subtle target

Your pop-up target will have a huge impact on your subscription rate.

Trigger/timing: A/B tests run by our customers tend to show that waiting a few seconds before displaying your pop-up can have a positive impact on your subscription rate. But don’t wait too long as the longer you wait, the smaller the audience will be for your campaign.

Here’s an example from one of our customers, a high-end speakers retailer, who tested displaying the pop-up on landing versus after two pages. Turns out, displaying on landing was the best option as it gave the pop-up much more exposure (147,000 displays versus 26,000 displays)

landing vs 2 pages ab test.png

If you don’t have time to test, we recommend exit pop-ups. These work best in general because they don’t interrupt your user’s navigation. Earlier this year, we analyzed the performance of a sample of opt-in pop-ups with 204 million cumulated displays. Exit popups outperformed popups displayed on landing pages by 5 percent.

Pages: Creating different campaigns for your different categories can have a huge impact. The more targeted the message is, the better the subscription rate will be.

Here’s a good example from Soho Home. Their campaign is triggered in the vintage category and their message is adapted to that specific category.

Soho home.png

Audience: Creating different campaigns for your different kinds of visitors is also a must. New visitors will be harder to convince to subscribe so you may need to add a specific offer.

Tip No. 3: Find the right offer

Speaking of offers, they’re clearly key in convincing your users to subscribe.

campaign spreadsheet.png

The results of the A/B test run by our client, a smart-connected device retailer.

And coupons are not the only kind of offer you can test. Here are some cheaper alternatives:

  • Free shipping offer
  • X% off or $X off on your first/next purchase
  • Sweepstakes/contests (hint: they’re cheap and work great)
  • Exclusive deals

rank and style.png

A sweepstake pop-up on Rank & Style

Tip No. 4: Track and optimize

Monitor your results and try new things. You probably won’t find the best formula from the start. A/B test your design, wording, CTA, targeting, and offer to optimize your campaign's performance.

Related Article:

Tip No. 5: Treat mobile as a separate world

Mobile is a different world for email pop-ups:

We’ll tell you more in a future article. But for now, just keep in mind that displaying the same pop-up on desktop and mobile is a clear no-no.


Most of the time, traffic acquisition is about generating sales today. Opt-in pop-ups are about tomorrow’s sales.

They are one of the most powerful ways to engage your visitors in a subtle way and start building your email list. Combined with a smart emailing strategy with help from Keap, they should be an essential complement to your growth strategy.


Greg d'Aboville is head of customer success at WisePops, a smart popup builder.

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