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Turns out email subscription popups really do work

I’ve had several conversations about the email subscription popups new visitors to sites are likely to see. Many of the most experienced people in the business are in favour of them. The results are also focused are in their favour, but there are some “marketing gurus” who are very vocal in their opposition. Never one to leave a debate like this to gut feeling and guesswork, I decided to actually look at my own stats to see what story they had to tell.

These stats are from a single data point. Your site may be different, you should experiment with any tactic like this to see if it works for you, don’t just accept the platitude of your favorite author at face value. I have yet to see any real data to suggest that popups produce any measurable decline in visitor behaviour.

Between late January and early May of 2011 the popup on my site was temporarily disabled, which allowed me to go back through my Google Analytics reports and construct a time line of both my email subscription rate (overall site visitor to email signup percentage) and my bounce rate. I’m using bounce rate as a way to measure visitor dissatisfaction: are new visitors really turned off enough by the popup to just leave?

I found that during that period the signup rate dropped dramatically. The site collected far fewer emails from visitors. Also during that time, there was no noticeable change in bounce rates. Viewers didn’t seem to mind the popup at all.

I then compared direct with-popup and without-popup numbers to get specific about the changes the popup made to the site. I found that signup rates doubled with the popup and there was an insignificant change to its bounce rate.

To me this is a no-brainer. It’s not even a trade-off between any kind of measurable visitor dissatisfaction and more emails. It’s just more emails. So what do you think? Have you tested email popups on your site?

Author | Dan Zarrella

Dan Zarrella
Dan Zarrella is an award-winning social, search, and viral marketing scientist at HubSpot and author of two O’Reilly Media books: “The Social Media Marketing Book” and The Facebook Marketing Book. He has a background in web development and combines his programming capabilities with a passion for social marketing to study... More
  • I would like to see those stats split between new and returning visitors, that should paint a different story I am sure.

  • Very good point Justin, I was going to make the same suggestion. Would also be interesting to see how the use of the pop up affected overall traffic numbers. Great article, thanks for sharing.

  • I’ll run them in my GA and see what they say.

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