How to increase opt-in rate: 5 strategies for your website

Tell me, have you been trying to convert visitors with email popups, only to realize that they don’t care about your offer?

And has it left you feeling frustrated, especially after seeing other brands boasting about their email signups and high conversion rate?

If so, then I have something you’ll love:

Five advanced strategies that, once implemented, will immediately boost your website’s opt-in rate.

All of these techniques come from our years of experience in building popups and advising customers on the best ways for getting more email signups.

So, let’s begin.

What Makes a converting popup?

Over the last 5 years, we’ve built countless email popups and advised hundreds of brands, from online retailers to multinational companies, on the best ways to increase opt-in rate.

(We’ve also built a platform to allow them to do so too. But perhaps I shouldn’t brag too much about that here 🙂

And we’ve discovered that to increase opt-in rate, your popup must meet three criteria:

  • Relevance,
  • Attractiveness, and
  • User Experience.

Since my strategies relate to these criteria, you need to understand how each of them compels visitors to act.

So, let’s look at each of them briefly.

(Note, below I’m only highlighting each criterion. However, in each description, you’ll also find links to our other resources that explain them in more detail. I recommend you read them as well to understand better how each of them works.)

#1. Relevance

Although it may indeed sound cliché, the mantra of customers responding only to relevant marketing messages does hold true.

Your visitor is only likely to notice, let alone, act on a popup, if:

  • It presents an offer that’s 100% relevant to them, and
  • Appears on screen at the exact time when they’re the most susceptible to it.

(Which also means that launching a single popup to target all visitors and setting it to show up at the moment they land on a page is a recipe for failure.)

But how do you achieve it? Simple, by optimizing two elements of the campaign:

  • Visitor segmentation – This includes clearly defining whose emails do you want to attract with a specific popup and matching the offer to them.
  • Timing – Optimizing the popup to appear precisely when your audience segment is ready to see it. Some of our customers discovered that delaying displaying a popup immediately increased conversions.

#2. Attractiveness

To convert a visitor, your popup must catch their attention first. And these four elements ensure that this happens:

  • The offer – Giving visitors something that would convince them to sign up in return – coupons or discounts, freebies or sweepstakes.
  • Design – The look and feel of the opt-in.
  • Copy – Words on the popup, from the headline, subheading to body copy and a call to action.
  • Placement – Where your campaign appears on the page.

#3. Experience

Today’s customers loathe doing the work. They hate waiting for page elements to load and having to dedicate too much time to consume them.

And so, to convert, your popup must:

  • Display quickly – Optimizing the campaign to show without any loading delay.
  • Fit the screen –Users must be able to use the popup comfortably, including any controls like buttons and calls to action.

With this knowledge at hand, here are the five advanced strategies to boost your email popup signups.

Strategy #1 – Hide the popup to Evoke Curiosity

Edmund Burke, the 18th-century Irish statesman said:

“The first and simplest emotion which we discover in the human mind, is curiosity.”

And he couldn’t be truer, right?

After all, many of us go bananas when we realize that there’s some gap in our knowledge.

But did you know that you could use curiosity in email popups too?

And no, not in the headline…

For example, you can hide the popup and let a visitor trigger it themselves.

Our platform offers an option to add a “Tab” –  a call to action prompting the visitor to launch the popup.

This call to action can appear on every page on the site, giving a person the opportunity to act on it at the time they feel right for them.

Here’s how it looks on one of clients’ mobile site – notice it at the bottom right corner of the image above – it’s the little corner button that says “Join.”

image2 After 1 page

Once a person clicks the button, the popup would appear where you’ve specified it to.

But does it work?

Oh, absolutely. Here are the results one of our clients –Skechers– got after implementing this strategy. Notice how the CTA-triggered popup (triggered by the tab) generated 48% more opt-ins than any other popup type.


Strategy #2 – Limit the offer

If there’s one thing we humans universally hate, it’s making decisions.

We procrastinate on a buying decision (apart from impulse purchases, of course.) And often, the logic behind this is that we can always find a better deal somewhere else if only we went to look for it.

The one way marketers have been using to overcome this is urgency – limiting the availability of an offer.

And you can use it on a popup too. For example, you could:

Limit the offer to first-time visit only.


Or add an expiration date to a discount or coupon.


Strategy #3 – Include visuals

So many brands launch text-only popups, focusing their energy on the message, and leaving the presentation out.

All while adding a simple picture could exponentially boost their campaign’s effectiveness.

But as we’ve said earlier:Visuals affect your visitors’ willingness to avail of your offer as much as other elements on the popup.

For example, seeing images of people makes visitors trust your message more. In fact, for one company, the click-through rate increased by a staggering 95% when they replaced other graphics with pictures of people. Another website increased conversions by 48% in the same way.

Here’s how to use visuals in your popups:

Use images of people looking at your headline to attract a person’s attention to it.


(image source)

Show a product associated with the offer.


Or include graphics that help visitors visualize the outcome, like this amazing popup telling a person they’ll become a true marketing scientist if only they signed up.


Strategy #4 – Use unusual design

I know it sounds surprising, but it’s true – the biggest challenge with email popups is getting visitors to notice their content.

Naturally, a person would spot a message appearing on screen in front of them. But whether they read it or dismiss without a glance is another story.

For one, many visitors are in a rush. They conduct research, looking for specific information or products, leaving them very little time for anything else.

And one strategy that truly stands out at overcoming this is using an unusual shape for a popup.

For one, a surprising shape would make a visitor to pay attention. True, it might be for a brief moment only. But that’s often enough to get them to notice your offer.

For example, look how strange this popup looks like. It’s certainly far from what we consider a typical opt-in form.

And because of that, it catches attention.


So, the next time you create an email popup, experiment with making it round, oval or in any shape, other than a rectangle.

You might be surprised by how much attention it’ll attract.

Pottery Bar

Strategy #5 – Segment visitors by intent

We’ve touched on the idea of segmentation briefly earlier in the post.

Now, I’m going to show you how to use this strategy to target customer intent specifically.

But why intent? Because by doing so, you can give visitors what they really want and convert them to your list. Otherwise, they’ll just go elsewhere.

Which also brings another important aspect of your visitors – The diversity of their needs.

For example, someone visiting your website on a mobile device might be in a research stage.

However, a person landing on a page from a highly-specific search engine query could be ready to add items to their cart and buy.

Each of those people has a different intent for their stay, and you need to cater for those with your popups.

Here’s how. Make a list of all the ways visitors land on your site. For example:

  • New or returning visitors on desktop and tablets
  • Adwords visitors
  • Social media visitors, and so on.

Then, assess their behavior on the site. For example, what pages they land on, which ones they exit from or what other traits they exhibit.

Finally, use that knowledge to identify the action that the person would be willing to take, according to their intent.

For example, a first-time visitor coming from a search engine to your homepage is most likely looking to learn more about your brand or product. They probably don’t know much about it yet. And so, chances to convince them to buy on this visit are slim.

But you could target them by offering to email them a coupon for a future purchase, in exchange for their email, of course.

Since the person might be considering buying from you in the future, getting a discount they could redeem later might compel them to act on your popup.


Opt-in strategy: final thoughts…

Five advanced strategies that will immediately increase your opt-in rate.

What’s left now is to go and implement them into your campaigns.

Good luck.

Greg D'Aboville Greg is Head of Growth at Wisepops.

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