Pop-ups -- those small browser windows that "pop up"
automatically while you're visiting a web site or when you
click on a link -- have been getting a bad name recently.
In fact, a study conducted by research group GartnerG2 found
that 78% of respondents consider pop-up ads "very annoying."
(By way of comparison, only 49% of participants felt the
same way about the more traditional banner ads.)
Typical complaints about pop-ups usually include: "They're
not related to what I'm looking for," "They're really
intrusive," and, of course, "There's just TOO MANY of them!"
But if pop-ups are no more than a nuisance, WHY are so many
successful, credible sites still using them? Let's take a
moment to separate the hype from reality:
Lost in all the fuss is the fact that the problem isn't with
pop-up windows themselves, but how they're used. Just as
spammers have made legitimate e-mail marketing harder for
the rest of us, sloppy abuse of pop-ups has tarnished what,
in reality, can still be an incredibly useful tool -- both
for you and your customers!
The fact is, using pop-up windows on your own site can be a
great strategy for promoting your own products, boosting
your opt-in rates, and keeping your visitors informed.
Like with any advertising, though, you need to make sure
your pop-ups are closely targeting your market's interests;
that they contain clear, compelling benefits; and that they
enhance the visitors' experience at your site rather than
1. Pop-up Success Stories
Regular subscribers will already be familiar with Jermaine
Griggs of HearandPlay.com, who was profiled in a recent
Like many web site owners, Jermaine was skeptical about
incorporating pop-ups into his marketing strategy until he
did some research of his own and discovered how to boost the
opt-in rate for his free newsletters:
"In the beginning, I was averaging about 10 to 15
subscribers a day," he explained during his interview. "I
needed a way to increase this number, so I did some research
on how other sites increase their newsletter lists quickly.
I soon found out that all the sites I believed were making
real money at the time had one thing in common: They all had
pop-ups. Not just basic pop-ups, but more sophisticated
ones. Some popped under where you couldn't see them until
you left the site. Some could pop up 10, 30, or 120 seconds
after you left the site.
So I thought, why not put some pop-ups on my site? I figured
it wouldn't annoy someone who actually wanted good
information on playing the piano by ear. Why risk them not
seeing my newsletter sign-up form when I can put it right in
front of their face?
So I implemented a delayed pop-up. I've implemented two more
pop-ups to appear at five minutes and at 30 minutes (a
cookie prevents this from happening every time you go to my
site, so only first-time visitors get this).
No matter what anyone says about pop-ups, they have
increased my subscriber rate by 10 times! I now get about
100 new members every day!"
Imagine boosting your conversion rate by 10 times!
Needless to say, that was enough to make Jermaine a
believer. He continues to use targeted pop-ups on his site
and gets great results with very few complaints.
And Jermaine's experience certainly isn't unique. We've
interviewed MANY business owners for "Secrets To Their
Success" (www.SecretsToTheirSuccess.com) who have reported
similar positive results.
Paul Colligan of FrontPageWorld.com, who increased his
opt-in rate by 10 times by adding an entry pop-up
Eric Aafedt of InvestmentHouse.com who converts 30-40% of
his daily visitors to subscribers with the help of pop-ups
Jim Tarabocchia of Just-Binoculars.com who generates several
hundred "extra" visitors per day using pop-unders
Richard Grady of TheUSTrader.com who uses an entry pop-up to
help add 1,500 to 2,500 subscribers to his opt-in list each
It was a lesson Shawn Wheeland of HomeBusinessGo.com learned
late, in what he says was his biggest mistake: "I failed to
capture e-mail addresses in a pop-up window for the first
year. I mentioned that my readership is around two hundred
thousand people... It would be a million or more if I would
have placed the pop-up offer on the site from day one."
Want more proof? One of our own entry pop-ups is responsible
for generating an EXTRA 5,000 SUBSCRIBERS PER MONTH --
2. Proven Pop-up Strategies for Your Site
Why have these netrepreneurs had so much success with pop-
ups? Because they have discovered what sets an effective
pop-up apart from the "garbage" pop-ups that so many people
are sick of.
They know that for pop-ups to work, they have to be targeted
to the viewer and used strategically. Here are some of the
most successful types of pop-ups web site owners can use:
This kind of pop-up appears when a visitor clicks on a link
or an image -- the visitor has full control over if and when
they see it, as well as for how long.
Information pop-ups are especially valuable in places where
your customers might have questions or need more detail, but
you don't have room to present the information, and you
don't want them leaving the page they're on (i.e. your sales
page or order form).
You can use information pop-ups to show larger pictures of
products, present detailed "help" information, list special
product features that only a limited portion of your
audience will be interested in, and much more.
The chief benefit of information pop-ups is that they allow
you to provide this "extra" information without cluttering
your sales page OR distracting from your sales process.
Opt-In Offer Pop-Ups:
Perhaps "the" most powerful offer you can include in a pop-
up is free information -- in exchange for visitors' names
and e-mail addresses.
It's a fast, easy way to immediately increase the percentage
of visitors who opt in to your subscriber list.
You can include a free newsletter offer, a free series of
autoresponders ("4 Lesson Series on How To..."), free
articles or eBooks via e-mail, free password access to your
article archive, entry to a contest, whatever!
As long as the information you're offering has high
perceived value to your market, it's not unreasonable to
expect to convert 10% or more of your visitors to
If you're running a survey on your site, a pop-up can be a
handy way to ask visitors to take part, and then lead them
through your questions. When they're finished, the original
window they started on will still be open and they won't
have lost their place.
Another great idea is to design a pop-up for people who
leave your site without buying anything. Imagine being able
to get feedback from these people about why they didn't buy!
Immediately find out what your key obstacles are to selling
even more... Is your price too high? Did they misunderstand
something on your site? Was the benefit not clear enough?
This can be the single most important market research any
existing web site owner can do!
" Special Offer" Pop-Ups:
Pop-ups are a powerful way of drawing your customers'
attention to specific, targeted products.
If people decide to buy your product, you can use a pop-up
to thank them for the sale and suggest some complementary
products. Because the window opens with a confirmation of
the original order and a nice thank-you, the customer won't
consider the message intrusive.
You could even use a pop-up to suggest a complementary
product once a visitor has looked at a specific item.
WARNING: You've probably seen those annoying pop-up ads some
sites serve, which are disguised to look like a warning
window from your computer -- "System Resources Low" for
instance. There have been lawsuits launched against
deceptive pop-ups like these, so this is something you want
to stay away from.
3. Different Kinds of Pop-Ups
A key element of any pop-up strategy is deciding the best
time and place to have them appear. There are benefits to
each type, but it's important to use the right kind for the
goal you're trying to accomplish.
Having a pop-up appear as soon as visitors arrive at your
site will grab their attention right away, so it's a good
strategy when there's something you want all of your
visitors to be alerted to or do, like subscribe to your
When people first come to your site, they may not notice
your opt-in form, contest, or survey on your homepage. Or
they may see it and plan to fill it out later. By the time
they leave the site, though, they may have forgotten about
An exit pop-up can serve as a gentle "before you go"
reminder to opt-in before they leave your site.
You can design your pop-ups to appear a specific length of
time after someone comes to your site.
This gives them the chance to explore on their own before
you introduce the pop-up, much like a salesperson might let
them browse before making a suggestion or offering them
You can also set up delayed exit pop-ups, like Jermaine
does, so you can continue communicating with your customers
even after they've left your site. It's important to test
these carefully, though, to make sure the delay isn't so
long that visitors end up wondering where the pop-up came
Pop-Ups vs. Pop-Unders:
You may not want pop-ups to distract people from your main
site. In these cases, a "pop-under" is the perfect solution.
It can be launched the same way as a regular pop-up, but it
sets itself behind the main browser window. That way, your
visitors will see it only once they close their current
" Smart" Pop-Ups:
One of the things that makes many pop-ups annoying is their
repetitiveness. By using cookies -- small files that track
specific visitors -- you can make sure you don't subject
visitors to pop-ups they've already seen or offers they've
already responded to. You can also set cookies to make sure
it only pops once per visit.
For example, you can program a window to pop up whenever a
new visitor leaves your site without having accomplished a
specific goal -- such as filling out your opt-in form. The
cookie would alert you if they've already opted in, so you
wouldn't bother existing subscribers.
Smart pop-ups can also appear offering a customer who's just
made a purchase another, complementary product. Or you can
use them to present a survey asking customers who didn't
complete a purchase why they decided not to buy.
Programming these "smart" pop-ups takes a little work, but
it can be very worthwhile.
4. Keep Your Pop-ups Focused
Since pop-ups appear unexpectedly and are generally small,
it is crucial that your salescopy immediately communicates a
strong benefit and a call to action.
Have a brief headline explaining the benefit and, at most,
one image (if it serves a purpose). You don't need to take
up space with any unnecessary distractions.
Also, make sure the pop-up is related to the site, or even
the page the person is on when it appears. If it isn't
clear, make it clear right away.
For instance, if you have a gardening site and you decide to
show everyone who buys your pruning shears a pop-up
featuring gardening gloves, make the relationship between
the two products clear in your headline: "If you're tackling
a pruning job, these heavy-duty gloves will protect your
5. Controlling Their Look, Size, and Position
Part of the power of pop-ups is the level of control you can
have over them once you learn a little bit about how they
You can set their position on the page, control when they
appear, and even determine who sees them and who doesn't. In
fact, like Jermaine, you can even make them pop up long
after visitors have left your site!
For example, when you use an opt-in pop-up window, you may
want it to show up in a prominent place on the screen. A
" help" pop-up, on the other hand, shouldn't cover the area
of the original window that it refers to. Plus, since
pop-ups are smaller than a normal browser window, you can
save some space and set them up so the toolbar, address
window, and other elements of the browser don't appear. All
your visitors will see is a thin gray border and whatever
HTML content you've included.
Most pop-ups contain a limited amount of information,
letting you set the size of the window so you don't need to
include scroll bars. However, if it's a help function, for
instance, you may want users to be able to scroll to see
other help tips. QUICK TIP: Include a "close this window"
link to make it easier for the visitors to close it when
they're finished reading.
6. What About Pop-up "Killers?"
With "pop-up killers" and ad-stopper type software becoming
more popular these days, a lot of people are wondering
whether or not pop-ups are (or ever were) effective
The invention of (and perceived demand for) these "ad
killers" has only further strengthened the misconception
that pop-up ads are NOT an effective marketing tool.
I believe this is because a lot of the software that
currently exists tends to throw the baby out with the bath
water -- not only does it destroy most pop-up ads (good and
bad), it also has a negative affect on the surfers'
experience because it frequently interferes with other
aspects and features of web sites, skewing how they appear.
So acceptance of this sort of software has generally been
Obviously, now that "pop-up killer" software exists, you
should never JUST use pop-ups; they should be used to
supplement your existing marketing campaigns, not replace
them. For example, don't put your opt-in form in a pop-up
only, or your visitors who have pop-up killers activated may
never see it.
However, provided you follow the simple rules I've shared in
this article and take advantage of the technology available
to customize them for your visitors, I can personally
testify, along with MANY other successful business owners
I've interviewed, that pop-ups continue to be an excellent
way to increase your opt-in e-mail list as well as your
7. Final Thoughts
I strongly believe that the success businesses have with
pop-ups is directly affected by:
How targeted the offer is to the visitor's interests
How closely the offer relates to the current action of the
visitor (i.e. Does the pop-up relate to what the visitor is
doing or looking for, or does it interrupt them?)
The strength of the sales copy (i.e. Does the copy contain a
clear headline, with a compelling benefit. Can the benefit
be absorbed in a single glance?)
Where and when the pop-up appears (i.e. Is it an offer
they've already responded to or seen? Does it appear during
entry or exit?)
How well the pop-up was tested (i.e. Did you test the copy,
as well as the timing of when and where it appears?)
The most effective pop-ups present offers that directly
relate to the number-one benefit that visitors are hoping to
gain from your web site.
Whether it's more information about a particular topic, or a
product that complements something they already own, the
more you customize your pop-up offers to speak directly to
visitors' needs, the more likely you are to see a positive
And don't trample your visitors beneath a herd of speeding,
repetitive pop-ups! This is why pop-ups have a bad
reputation -- used irresponsibly, they can be extremely
pop-ups any one visitor to your web site sees, and don't ask
visitors to take an action or respond to an offer they've
already acted on!
Start with ONE pop-up and build from there. Test each one
carefully before adding another. Watch both the conversion
rate on the pop-up AND the sales page where the pop-up
If your pop-up is getting no response, and the conversion
rate on your sales page is plummeting, you're doing
something wrong. Back up and start over!
Consider making your first pop-up an immediate entry pop-up
that contains an opt-in offer for your newsletter or
subscriber list. We've had HUGE success with this, and we've
seen plenty of other businesses (in a wide range of
industries) experience similar success.
Finally, I'd just like to mention that, since I'm a big
believer in the value of pop-ups, I've been working on a
custom "pop-up builder" solution that's going to give my
" Marketing Tips" subscribers the ability to automatically
create custom pop-ups that use special cookie tracking and
... PLUS some very cool technology that you probably haven't
seen anywhere else yet that's going to dramatically change
how your pop-ups look and where they appear, without getting
all caught up in the "pop-up killer" technology.
I don't want to say any more than that right now... Just
keep an eye on your inbox for the next 2 weeks, because I'll
be sending you an e-mail explaining it shortly.
And remember... Pop-up technology is extremely easy to start
using and benefiting from. We're getting an extra 5,000
subscribers per month from just ONE of our pop-ups. Imagine
what a 10% increase in subscribers or sales could mean for
YOUR bottom line!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Corey Rudl is the owner of four
highly successful online businesses that attract more
than 1.8 million visitors per month and generate over
$6.6 million each year. He is also the author of the
#1 best-selling Internet Marketing course online.
To check out his site that's JAM-PACKED WITH THE EXACT
INFORMATION YOU NEED to start, build, and grow your very
own profitable Internet business, I highly recommend
Corey Rudl Online Marketing Tips, Strategies and Secrets
This guy really knows what he's talking about!