Should You Use Pop Ups?

Should You Use Pop Ups

As a polite, ethical marketer… the question becomes “Should you use pop ups?” to grow your email list.

I have to admit, I’m pretty biased when it comes to popup forms because my husband and I are the creators of PopupAlly, a WordPress plugin that helps you build popups and other opt-in forms on your website.

First, let’s take a look at the annoyance factor of popups, shall we?

Should You Use Pop Ups? They Can Be Pretty Annoying, Right?

The worst experience is when you land on a website, start reading or watching the content, and bam!

You’re totally interrupted by a popup form.

I get annoyed by these, too. Especially if I arrived at that particular website by clicking on a link from a newsletter.

I think you probably agree that there’s a polite and impolite way to get someone’s attention. So hold that thought, and we’ll talk about how to be polite to your subscribers in a minute.

First, let’s see if even this type of annoying popup will deter visitors from spending time on your website or not.

The Evidence:

Dan Zarrella, a well-known social media scientist did the test for us. He found that with a timed popup, there was no increase in people leaving his site.

The only difference was that, with a popup, his opt-in rate doubled.

How Effective Are Popups?

So that brings us to whether popup opt-in forms work or not, and how effective they are to help you build your email list faster.

Michael Stelzner, founder of Social Media Examiner, one of the top social media blogs, attributes 70% of their email subscriptions to their popup form.

And they have over 270,000 subscribers.

Without a popup on their website, they’d have missed out on approximately 189,000 subscribers.


So the evidence is there: popup forms DO work, and they CAN add a ton of new fans to your email list. But in order for them to charm your new subscribers (and you!) we have to overcome that annoyance factor.

Yes, elegant popups are possible. #wordpress #onlinebusiness #beingpolite

Overcoming the Annoyance Factor

One of the major issues with most popups is that it’s hard to stop a popup from showing up again…even if you’re already subscribed.

This means that your subscribers are continually being bombarded with your opt-in when they come to your site.

It might not seem like a huge deal, except that it does carry that impersonal feeling like when your best friend keeps re-inviting you to an event. (“Wasn’t it important enough to remember that I said ‘Yes’ the first time?”)

Why ask someone twice if they say “yes” the first time?

To date, the way other popup software have handled that dilemma is by setting a timer to not show a popup again.

But that’s not quite good enough, because at some point the popup will show again. That’s why the design of PopupAlly Pro, our software plugin for WordPress, does an even better job.

Here’s the scenario:

What if someone is reading an email from you and clicks on a link to go back to your website, to read a blog post or watch a video?

Well you know they came from your newsletter, so we’ve set it up so it’s easy for you to disable future popups when they’re already on your list. Even if they’re clicking the link on their phone or another computer.

Yes, we’re polite like that. Especially when it comes to your existing fans!

More Than a Popup

Getting people to opt into your website is about more than just having a friendly popup invite them in. There are a lot of other places to put opt-ins: horizontal bars, in the sidebar, below the blog posts, etc.

So, of course, PopupAlly covers all your popup and embedded opt-in needs, letting you design your embedded opt-ins exactly how you want them, and easily add them to specific pages or places within your website.

This lets you maximize your real estate, without having to sacrifice style and design to get it done!

Free Vs Paid?

Yes, there are two versions of PopupAlly: the free version, and the paid (“Pro”) version. Both will give you the ability to create popups and opt-ins.

However, the Pro version is a lot more robust, giving you unlimited popups and a lot more styles to choose from. Check out the full comparison between the free and paid version here: PopupAlly: Free VS Pro.

To learn more about how the full PopupAlly Pro WordPress plugin can make your website opt-ins a little more polite, check it out at

What’s your take?

Now I want to hear from you – leave a comment below and let me know what websites have gotten you to opt-in through a popup?


  1. Danielle on February 4, 2015 at 12:00 pm

    Very timely! I was just starting to look for stats on this. I’ve been noticing more and more top sites using them and I was a little confused because don’t we all “hate pop-ups?” So this was perfect. Thanks for sharing!

    • Nathalie Lussier on February 4, 2015 at 12:56 pm

      So glad the timing worked out on this for you Danielle! It’s amazing what our feelings toward something can do, but when we look at it objectively (through numbers) we can see that it’s actually not as polarizing as we thought. :)

  2. Joanna Wiebe on February 4, 2015 at 12:15 pm

    Love this post – such a great topic ‘cos pop-ups are so polarizing. The marketers who are against pop-ups seem to focus on the one or two times they personally got annoyed by a pop-up, and the marketers who are pro pop-ups all say the same thing: they just work!

    At Copy Hackers, we’ve nearly 10Xed our list growth using pop-ups that trigger when a reader shows exit intent. I used to be on the fence about pop-ups — really hesitant and worried that I’d irritate people. But now, I’d seriously cry if you took my pop-up away.

    AmbitionAlly looks awesome, btw. (And I love your dress in the pic directly above.)

    • Joanna Wiebe on February 4, 2015 at 12:15 pm

      Sorry, I meant “popupally.”

    • Nathalie Lussier on February 4, 2015 at 12:58 pm

      Aww thanks Joanna! And you’re totally right, when you look at the opt-in rates – they just work! And like you mentioned, you can use exit intent for popups now, which is less annoying than the “I just got here, why are you asking me to opt-in now” popup. :)

  3. Deirdre on February 4, 2015 at 12:21 pm

    Hi Nathalie!

    Will you ever create PopupAlly for non-WP sites? I’d like to use it, but I can’t because my website is on

    • Nathalie Lussier on February 4, 2015 at 12:59 pm

      Hi Deirdre! Great question! It’s not in the plans right now, but I never say never. For right now, the code does depend a lot on the WordPress database to save all of your design settings, but we might be able to find a way around that. :)

  4. Jen Hansard on February 4, 2015 at 1:12 pm

    I go back and forth on this topic all the time! Yet your video is pretty persuasive, girl! I think it’s time we give pop ups a chance…. :) Thank you Nathalie. xoxo

    • Nathalie Lussier on February 4, 2015 at 1:28 pm

      Ooh, imagine if you used a popup? I can see your list taking off even more, which is both mind boggling and exciting Jen!! :)

  5. Alexandra on February 4, 2015 at 3:14 pm

    Hi Nathalie,

    Thanks for that post. Does popup ally support Active Campaign?

    • Nathalie Lussier on February 4, 2015 at 3:16 pm

      Yes Alexandra, if you can get a “form” sign up out of Active Campaign in HTML format, it will integrate with PopupAlly. :)

      • Alexandra on February 15, 2015 at 12:39 pm

        Hi, Nathalie. Perfect, thanks a lot :)

  6. Sasha Stone on February 5, 2015 at 3:38 pm

    I used to be annoyed by popups, but they are so common now that I simple click the “x” if I’m already a subscriber, or not yet interested in joining the list. Also, if I am to join a list, I would say 90% of the time it’s through a popup. Since adding popup ally to my site, my list has definitely grown, and I’m excited to explore the new possibilities that ambition ally offers!

    Thanks as always Nathalie :)

    • Nathalie Lussier on February 5, 2015 at 3:58 pm

      Oh yay, I’m so glad to hear that Sasha! It’s amazing how our perspectives shift a little when we see that we do join people’s lists because of popups, and that people join ours because of it too. :)

  7. Tiffany on February 10, 2015 at 1:36 pm

    I personally find pop-ups to be very annoying. However, business wise, I think that pop-ups are a very effective way to increase your email subscription list. When it comes to business, I’ve learned that what I think doesn’t always matter. Sometimes it’s about what works, and those annoying things work! :)

  8. PopupAlly Plugin Review | Email Marketing Strategy on November 16, 2015 at 8:04 am

    […] Zarrella, a well-known social media scientist did the test for Nathalie Lussier. He found that with a timed popup, there was no increase in people leaving his site. The only […]