Things that annoy you are everywhere in today’s life.

Slow wifi speeds bring your YouTube video to a stutter. Traffic lights waste 10 minutes of your life before they reluctantly change. Dog poop plagues your front yard AGAIN, even though you told Mrs. Barrett just last week to damn well clean up after her “Buttercup”.

And one of those things we’d also add to this almost infinite list is the website pop-up. Those annoying boxes you swat at when first arriving (or trying to leave) a website, however, are a marketing essential.

They’re a popular mechanism to nudge people onto your email list, where you can build a relationship that delivers more content, more value, promotions and offers to them, in the hopes of eventually making them a customer.

Sumo reports their studies reveal the average pop-up conversion rate is just 3.09%, while the top performers convert at 9.28%. That’s a huge difference, and one worth trying to make your pop-up as “opt-in worthy” as you can.

So what makes one pop-up annoying and ineffectual, and another still annoying but effective as hell? No two pop-ups are the same, and the elements that make one convert like crazy and the other gathering virtual dust can be subtle or massive.

Let’s look at a few examples of punch-packing pop-ups and why they work so well.


(Source: 1stdibs)

Pop-up: This pop-up displays against products you’re browsing, offering to send you updates if the item goes on sale.

Why it packs a punch: A solid lead magnet, like content or a promotional offer, are good ways of getting people to opt in. But 1stdibs goes one better and offers something ultra-specific: updates on the product you’re looking at right now. Sure, it’s not going to get everyone. But if you see something you like and want to know if it hits a price you like, opting in is a no-brainer.

Brian Tracy

(Source: Brian Tracy)

Pop-up: Offering free content is one of the most popular ways of enticing people to opt into your list. Brian Tracy’s opt-in is no different, with the typical free ebook.

Why it packs a punch: The book is perfectly suited to one of the big target markets the business sells to – people interested in personal development. But it’s the headline that really rocks. It’s bold; it’s confronting, it takes no prisoners. “Do you want to be more successful?” is a question with only one answer… and one action to take as a result: signing up.

Conversion XL

(Source: Conversion XL)

Pop-up: Conversion XL is about two things. 1. Delivering Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) services to help businesses make “tons more money” and 2. Teaching marketers the secrets and skills of CRO with various courses. This pop-up serves the second.

Why it packs a punch: A big, bold promise consistent with their brand. It’s not a challenge, like the Brian Tracy pop-up. It’s not a fun little poke like The big promise is backed up by bullets that flesh out those “essentials” from the headline. Plus, we have no doubt this pop-up performed best from the split testing that is the CRO expert’s bread and butter.


Pop-up: is a planning, organization & collaboration SaaS app, and like many of its SaaSy fellows, offers a free trial for people who sign up.

Why it packs a punch: Testimonials are a huge part of any modern marketing machine, and this is a 5-start, A1 example of making the most of one. Along with the testimonial, some nice little touches round out the pop-up: the “30,000+ teams” social proof just above the opt-in form and the cheeky “No thanks, I hate hugs” opt-out link below.

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Have you got pop-ups on your website? How are they converting for you? And have you got ideas on how to push your opt-in rate higher and squeeze some business benefit out of the annoyance factor your visitors suffer through?