I Reveal The Ugly Truth About Email Popup Subscription Forms

I added an email popup subscription form to this blog back in February.

I wanted to find out what effect an email subscription popup had on the blog.


I find them annoying and interfere with the user experience, but that’s just an opinion.

 Let’s settle this with cold hard data!

Creating My Email Subscription Popup

I took one of the templates that came with the plugin and modified it slightly.

I updated the font colours to match my branding and added a couple of award images.

my email popup

I think its looks pretty good, spells out the deal clearly with a clear call to action.

It is setup to pop after 7 seconds which gives readers time to fully load the page and begin reading.

Closing the email popup will prevent it from opening for another 24 hours. If you subscribe you never see it again.

How To Setup Your Own Email Popup

At first I tried to use the premium WPSubscribers email subscription popup plugin for wordpress and was shocked to find it was not compatible with any caching plugins.

When I get in touch with the developer he told me it wasn’t possible with this kind of plugin – I knew he was lying.

Eventually I came across NinjaPopups which costs just $18, is compatible with caching plugins, is bundled with lots of themes and has some cool features.

ninja popups wordpress plugin

It can be used to create opt in popups, opt in lockers, social lockers, exit popups, page specific popups and a bunch of other stuff.

Certainly get a great amount of bang for your buck! The developer is super helpful as well.

Setup Instructions

It takes minutes to setup your first email popup form-

  1. Upload the plugin & activate it
  2. Go to Ninja Popups > Settings
  3. Configure to your liking – I disable it on mobile devices
  4. Make sure you connect Aweber or whichever service under the Mailing List Manager
  5. Go to Ninja Popups > Add New Popup
  6. Select a template & theme
  7. Configure the other settings (see below)

Here are the exact settings I use for the email popup form on this blog.

Click on the image to get the full version so you can see them all!

email subscription popup settings

But Is It Actually Worth It?

So what measurable effect has adding an email subscription popup actually had on the blog?

I deployed the email popup at 9pm on the 28th February 2013.

I’m going to compare before (Jan 9th-Feb 27th) statistics with after (Mar 1st-Apr 19th) which are 50 day periods.

I’m also going to segment this based on new & returning traffic.

New traffic has technically never seen the site before – this is their first impression.

Returning traffic – I love you guys, you keep coming back for more – I better look after you!

The Engagement Effect

First of all let’s take a look at how it affected engagement statistics like pages per visit, visit duration and bounce rate.

New Before New After Returning Before Returning After Total +/-
Pages/visit 2.42 2.15 3.28 3.02 -9.29%
Avg Duration 00:03:46 00:03:08 00:06:11 00:05:48 -10.20%
Bounce Rate 59.08% 64.51% 44.58% 48.39% -9.02

traffic engagement

Well thats not great now is it!

Does that email subscription popup put people off to the tune of 9.5% across the critical engagement metrics?

Perhaps the increase in conversions will make up for it.

The Conversion Effect

So if its doing that much damage to the user experience, what is it doing for conversions?

Lets find out!

Before The Email Popup

Week Subscribed Visits Conversion
Jan 7th 23 3,586 0.64%
Jan 14th 30 4,259 0.70%
Jan 21st 24 3,711 0.65%
Jan 28th 32 4,872 0.66%
Feb 4th 36 4,203 0.86%
Feb 11th 39 3,975 0.98%
Feb 18th 69 5,101 1.35%
Total 253 29,707 0.85%

Note: On the 7th February I activated a plugin that added every comment submission to the email list. That ended up with a bunch of junk emails on the list from spam submissions.

I had to clean up the data from Feb 7th-12th – luckily I setup ad tracking so know precisely where each subscriber comes from or this test would have being up a creek without a paddle.

After The Email Popup

Week Subscribed Visits Conversion
Mar 4th 105 6,334 1.66%
Mar 11th 108 6,502 1.66%
Mar 18th 60 6,029 1.00%
Mar 25th 82 5,936 1.38%
Apr 1st 73 5,268 1.39%
Apr 8th 79 8,804 0.90%
Apr 15th 54 6,873 0.79%
Total 561 45,746 1.23%

What Does It All Mean?

So before the email popup I had a conversion rate of 0.85%

After the email subscription popup I had a conversion rate of 1.23%

That’s a 44.71% increase in conversion – pretty good right?

But what does that actually mean in cold hard subscriber numbers-

Visitors # Subs Before # Subs After + / –
100 0.85 1.23 +0.38
1,000 8.5 12.3 +3.8
10,000 85 123 +38
50,000 425 615 +190
100,000 850 1,230 +380

In Summary

Adding the email subscription opt in popup had a noticeable effect in a few areas.

Last month my blog got 13,487 unique visitors, based on the numbers above I would have got 114 subscribers without the popup and 166 with it.

That’s an extra 52 subscribers from the same traffic.

However that comes at the cost of you guys dropping 9.29% pages/visit, 10.2% visit duration and 9.02% off the bounce rate.

That is certainly not in line with the conversion increase Darren Rowse saw way back in 2008 but I suspect that is because over that time we have become ‘popup blind’ and they have lost the impact they once had.

Plus his stats were from a photography blog which is much more likely to be receptive to the popup when compared to the seasoned internet marketing niche who see them on every other site every day of the week.

I also have to factor in how the other opt in boxes perform across the blog-

aweber statistics

Just for reference, About is from the about page, EndPost is at the end of every post, IncomeReport is the income report page, Inpost are the inline optin boxes, Sidebar well you can figure that one out.

The pop up is by far the best performing site wide email subscription option at 1.23% – but I don’t think the increase in conversion is worth the trade off in engagement metrics.

I’m going to spend some time tweaking the settings of the popup as well as the design & copy to see what can be done to increase conversion.

At 60-70% it would become worthwhile based on my site and my traffic and sometimes changing just 1 word can have that impact.

Should You Add One To Your Site?

Ninja Popups allows you to quickly and easily increase subscriber conversion on your blog.

When you’re starting out every subscriber counts, so that 44% increase in subscriber conversion is important.

Note: When someone has joined your email list you have earnt their trust and respect – don’t abuse that!

I believe this technique is much more effective in any niche that isn’t related to internet marketing or making money online.

Especially if you have a great proposition! Which I don’t really.

There are also a lot more things you can do with NinjaPopups over and above what I have shown you here.

As I try to fine tune the subscriber conversion number (even with the popup at 1.23% its poor) I’m going to try things like-

  • Add an email locker to part 2 of the tiered link building tutorial series
  • Add an email locker to the income reports with a 60 second delay to get the hook first
  • Tweak the forum to include inline opt in forms after the opening post
  • Tweak the copy & design of the existing email subscription popup to boost conversion further
  • Offering an exclusive resource of some type

If you do add an email popup to your blog, make sure you add a note/annotation in Analytics so you can easily compare the before/after yourself!

Test, test, test!

What are your thoughts on how the increase in conversion caused a drop in engagement?

 Is the 44% increase in conversion worth the 9.5% drop in engagement?

158 Responses

  1. Internet user

    Thank you for the post. I really appreciate the information and honest review! Makes me feel better that my 0.7% is not an anomaly thinking that everyone else has 20% conversion.

    By the way, what’s with the negativity in this comment section? Did you step on someone’s toes? I’m genuinely curious because I have turned off comments on my blog for fear of this exact type of interaction, i.e. random strangers attacking for no reason. So was I being paranoid or did I do the right thing?

    • Matthew Woodward
      December 6th, 2019 at 5:19 am

      No worries glad I could help. I have no issues with anyone voicing their opinion as long as it’s constructive – I guess this is just a sensitive issue for some.

  2. realdeal

    fuck off with your pop ups i would never give my info to you retards who pop up that crap in my face

    • Matthew Woodward
      December 31st, 2016 at 2:27 pm

      Yet you continued to navigate around the site…

  3. Jim

    I found your page doing a search for how to block lighbox ads. A bit a reading on your page and boom, a door slam. I will NEVER visit your site again.

    • Matthew Woodward
      November 15th, 2016 at 9:47 am

      I bet you have ad blockers installed as well

      • Kevin
        March 27th, 2019 at 4:06 pm

        If you don’t want your private web browsing to be tracked without your consent, you have no choice but to aggressively block ads. In an ideal world, I’d like to be able to support sites I value by permitting limited ads, but there’s no way to do without giving in to unwanted surveillance. Marketers always push too far and end up breaking the ecosystem they rely on.

        • Matthew Woodward
          March 29th, 2019 at 9:24 am

          An interesting take Kevin, thanks for contributing!

  4. Jean Issler

    You have inspired me to take on a mission. I don’t mind being invited to subscribe to a newsletter, but gosh, let me learn what your blog/site is about first! I loaded the following statement into my Breevy so I can easily put this into the comment section of a page when I get a popup only a few seconds after I’ve started reading an article. I don’t know if I’ll have much impact, but at least I will get a little stress relief from expressing my irritation.

    “I am on a mission to improve popups inviting me to join your mailing list. Give me at least 60 seconds to read your article and find out what you are about before popping up an invitation. When you pop up within a few seconds it just irritates me and makes me LESS likely to subscribe. Here’s an interesting article for you to read: https://www.matthewwoodward.co.uk/blogging/email/popups/

    • Matthew Woodward
      September 26th, 2016 at 12:07 pm

      While I appreciate your opinion, this is something I have tested extensively and the data doesn’t lie

  5. Michael Gorman

    I have never liked pop-ups but I keep hearing about how effective they are – I like to treat others the way i prefer to be treated (What a good boy I am!) so I den’t implement popups. I am however interested in your use of FOOD images-that hamburger image caught my attention, and it remonds me of a Macca’s or Burger King approach. This might be a good study to do, the use of Food images on marketing blogs!?

    • Matthew Woodward
      August 18th, 2016 at 4:41 pm

      Well between you and me, they don’t perform very well :)

  6. Rachel

    So all you guys advocating how effective popups are must be rich then, huh?

    No? How strange.

    • Matthew Woodward
      July 23rd, 2016 at 10:55 am

      I assume you didn’t read the post

    • Michael Gorman
      August 16th, 2016 at 5:46 pm

      What a strange assumption – negativity always wins doesn’t it?

  7. Lisa

    Nice review. I just happened to find this post while reading another article on your site. The plugin is around $25 which is still better than what I was paying for Optin Monster to use the exit intent for $27 a month. Def will be investing in this.

    • Matthew Woodward
      June 7th, 2016 at 9:01 am

      No problem at all :) And I would recommend using ThriveLeads over and above anything else

      • Lisa
        June 7th, 2016 at 9:55 am

        Thanks! Does ThriveLeads also offer Exit Intent? I’ve noticed my popups always do best with that. Also, was looking for a popup plugin that I can how popup under certain categories/posts.

        • Matthew Woodward
          June 7th, 2016 at 2:22 pm

          Yes and you can also split test the exit intent vs 20% content scroll vs welcome etc etc

          You can also target popups to specific posts, tags, categories, anywhere you want :)

  8. AB

    Congratultaions. You just proved that approximately 0.5% of the population deal with annoying popups by putting a fake email address in them to make them go away. The rest of us just use adblock and/or NoScript to avoid seeing them in the first place.

    It never ceases to amaze me how people rationalise using idiotic and discredited techniques like popups. As if having a list of email addresses were somehow a meaningful business model in the first place. Even if you weren’t just collecting a Big List Of Fake Addresses, how exactly did you think having a list of people’s contact information would make you money? If you believe that obviously-delusional garbage, just go and buy a phone book. You’ll be rich in no time, surely?

    • Matthew Woodward
      June 1st, 2016 at 3:50 pm

      Having a list of email addresses is the heart and soul of any online business, without that – you are going to sink quickly.

  9. John

    I hate pop-ups that appear after a few seconds because they always distract me from what I’m reading and it is extremely annoying. I usually visit a page simply because I just want to quickly read about some subject I Googled. Most of the time I’m not even aware of what page I landed on and I certainly never have any desire to subscribe to it. No one in their right mind would type their email address into a web page to begin with. The whole thing is just another annoyance like auto-play videos and other stupid bouncy active content that serves no purpose to anyone but the person who owns the site. As soon as your pop-up appeared I stopped reading and scrolled down to add this comment.

    • Matthew Woodward
      May 19th, 2016 at 11:34 am

      How do you feel about them triggering when you either-

      a) Scroll down to a certain percentage of the content
      b) Upon exit

  10. SG

    I hate them. I disable scripts on any sites that have email popups.

    • Matthew Woodward
      May 19th, 2016 at 11:43 am

      Pesky Javascript :P

  11. RT709

    I think its looks pretty good, spells out the deal clearly with a clear call to action.
    It is setup to pop after 7 seconds which gives readers time to fully load the page and begin reading.
    Closing the popup will prevent it from opening for another 24 hours. If you subscribe you never see it again

    ↑↑↑■ i think Matthew got this right!

    Popups annoy the shit out of me! Especially if covering the interface of my tablet, hiding the content, making it difficult to even remove the popup

  12. Paul

    Here’s my two cents (from my perspective as a surfer – not a marketer)… I don’t mind pop-ups, IF they appear after a couple of minutes or on exit. I mean on exit – you’re leaving anyway. No biggie. Can’t blame anyone for trying. But pop-ups that appear immediately are annoying and pretty darn stupid when you think about it. As a surfer, I may be interested in exchanging an email address in exchange for some valuable content, AFTER I have evaluted the site and the content for quality. If it’s really good I’ll probably want to stay in touch – just so I can be updated about new material being posted. But pop-ups that appear immediately always get closed because I have no idea yet whether or not I WANT to stay in touch. You have to give the user time to check out your site before hitting her with a pop-up.

    • Matthew Woodward
      November 9th, 2015 at 11:29 am

      THe past week I got very aggressive with the targeting of them to test how things reacted and have dialed it back down this week – sorry about it :)

  13. Paul

    I didn’t end up reading through this article.

    Within a minute I was hit with 4 different splashes, popups, bars etc etc

    I’m guessing you think they work.

    • Matthew Woodward
      November 9th, 2015 at 11:34 am

      Haha last week I was testing a more aggressive strategy, let me tell you now that it failed :)

  14. Stop Doing It

    A pop-up asking for my email address, no matter the language or marketing gimmick, is a great way to ensure I close your website – without reading, clicking, or interacting in any way – 100% of the time.

    • Matthew Woodward
      October 9th, 2015 at 2:57 pm

      Unless that same website has an article about it that you want to leave a comment on ;)

  15. Attila Bodnar

    Wow , Matt you have many visitors per day (1000 in average, if I saw good) this is only from Organic, Social and Referral traffic or is with paid advertising?

  16. Tim

    That’s a great study Matthew. Which plugin did you use to add comments to the email list?

  17. Rachel

    Your definition of “convert” includes the many people that will have given you a fake or unused email address just to make your popup go away. Just like I’m doing with this comment.

    Popups are asinine. But there’s a never-ending supply of people that convince themselves that in their special case they’re somehow welcome and effective. You’re one of those people.

    • Matthew Woodward
      July 23rd, 2015 at 12:09 pm

      Except those people never confirm their email address and as such, have not converted and could have pressed the X in the corner rather than wasting time writing fake emails :)

      I don’t need to convince myself anything because data is not an argument. The most recent test was to test what happened with welcome, exit or 40% scroll triggers – here is the data-


      As you can see, welcome popups spank exit popups. As I wrote in my latest income report that you clearly haven’t read, I decided that the welcome ones were too intrusive which lead onto testing popups that trigger at 10% content scroll, 20% content scroll or on exit.

      Here is the data for that test so far- http://easycaptures.com/fs/uploaded/904/4285489233.png

      So yes the data says they are effective. Analytics data also shows they are welcome and have no impact on pages per visit, bounce rate or time on page as of my testing in recent months.

      I don’t need to convince myself of anything, the data tells the story. My opinion and your opinions on this are entirely irrelevant when stacked against data.

  18. Matt S

    Hey Matt, Always enjoy the case studies mate. One question, do you have any updated figures on how pop-ups are performing for you these days given this article is now two years old and your site has evolved significantly since this was produced? I know emailing out previously produced content is a cool tactic to squeeze as much value out of your work as possible so I’m not trying to be negative, would just be really interesting to see how using pop-ups has grown your mailing list over the past 12 months. Cheers, Matt

  19. Haydrion

    I hate popups, specially when you are trying to read something and half below the article a popup is showing. For me no ads and no popups

    • Matthew Woodward
      October 29th, 2014 at 3:40 pm

      Well everyone would choose no ads if they could :P

      • Rachel
        July 22nd, 2015 at 2:57 pm

        We can. Adblock exists.

        • Matthew Woodward
          July 23rd, 2015 at 12:02 pm

          Yeah? How is that working out for you on this blog :P

  20. Jesse

    I just started using a pop-up but I’m using the Success Kid meme to give it some light humor and less annoying ‘marketing lingo’. Got 10 subs in the past 6 days of it being up! My sub-rate before was only 1 a week so I’m very happy with the results. I asked 3 people who subbed after seeing the pop-up what they thought and they said it was kind of clever – it’s for a free guide that directs to a short contact form (just name & email) so they opt-in that way and get rewarded simultaneously.

    • Matthew Woodward
      October 14th, 2014 at 9:56 pm

      Sounds like its working nicely for you =D

  21. Paul Schlegel

    Also a reminder that the programmers over on CodeCanyon usually price there products far lower than what they’re worth (IMHO). I’ve seen some ridiculously amazing stuff over there that seems way to cheap.

    • Matthew Woodward
      October 8th, 2014 at 2:54 pm

      Actually I’m 99% sure they have no control over price and codecanyon sets it

      • Paul
        October 8th, 2014 at 3:45 pm

        Aha! Didn’t know that.

  22. John Allen

    I’m one of those people that cleans out my internet files after going to a sensitive site like my bank’s website. So I see your popups all the time and you see me as a new visitor over and over. Yes I’m a subscriber.

    If a website doesn’t catch my attention before a popup occurs I’ll close the site rather than the popup.

    As to QuickSprout I just don’t go there anymore, its popup hell.

    • Matthew Woodward
      August 28th, 2014 at 5:08 pm

      Yes that is one of the problems with the popups, i’m retesting them now!

  23. Andy

    The fact is … I haven’t use any email subscription :)

    • Matthew Woodward
      July 6th, 2014 at 11:13 pm

      Then your missing out :P

  24. Debi

    You may have more tweaking to do than you think (or “thought” actually, I guess, since this is such an old post). I arrived here via a link in one of your autoresponder-series emails, and I was served a popup when I went to scroll down the page to read. I always encounter a popup on your site, even though I always arrive here via a link in an email from you. Interestingly, I even thought of sharing with you the other day when I was here just how ANNOYING that is. So, now you know. Happy belated birthday, btw, and I hope you have an awesome year. :)

    • Matthew Woodward
      July 2nd, 2014 at 8:38 pm


      I am sorry to hear that, I have added it to my todo list to re-review that and possibly remove it. To be honest I’m wondering if its even worth having.

      Thanks for the birthday wishes :)

  25. Jack

    Hi Matthew,
    I’ve purchased this plugin based on your recommendation but I would like to warn others not to purchase it – they have a bug in the plugin and as a result I am getting an error message from Aweber whenever anyone optin through the plugin. Here is the error:”IMPORTANT! You have received this message because connection to your e-mail marketing software failed. Please check connection setting in the plugin configuration. ” Despite of this error, the registration through the plugin still works but I get a lot of these message to my email.

    I have contracted the developer and they only returned after 3 days – asking me to give them my website credentials. Really – are they serious ? No one is going to give an unknown person access to their website. I find it extremely unprofessional to even make such a request.

    For now – I would suggest others not to purchase this plugin until this is fixed.

    I have noticed that other people had this error as well.

    • Matthew Woodward
      May 9th, 2014 at 4:00 pm


      The best kind of support is when they take control of a situation and fix it for you – thats what they were offering to do.

      In this instances I create a temporary account, back everything up and let them do their thing.

      It could also be down to an issue with the Aweber API

      • Jack
        May 15th, 2014 at 10:41 pm

        Hi Matthew,
        this could have been an option if I had a small website but my website has a HUGE amount of traffic and doing all these “games” is completely out of the picture. I am not going to take even the smallest risk of disturbance to the traffic when this developer will start playing with my site as this may result in substantial losses. Any worthwhile company is able to identify an issue based on error logs. Putting things aside the developer wasn’t responsive when I mentioned sending error logs.

        The easiest option for me is just to buy other popup but I just want to warn others that there is a potential issue with this popup.

        • Matthew Woodward
          May 16th, 2014 at 9:54 pm

          I doubt that issue would have been logged to an apache or php error log

  26. Pavel

    Thnkx man, that was usefull

    • Matthew Woodward
      May 9th, 2014 at 4:13 pm

      Hope it helps you out Pavel!

  27. Diophantus

    Hi Matthew,

    Can you teach me how to embed a sign up form within post using Ninja Popup, like you did?

    Appreaciate that.


    • Matthew Woodward
      May 9th, 2014 at 4:13 pm

      That is just raw HTML/CSS that I place manually

  28. Jordan Coeyman

    Great case study Matt. Nice to see someone taking a deeper look into the effect of popups like this.

    There are so many areas in the business world, that has actually yet to trickle down into the other verticals of businesses (as opposed to the IM space).

    Bigger brands are also starting to use these types of “smartly triggered” popups.. They offer a great way to immediately reach a demographic, without having to pay MORE for additional traffic.

    I think there is still some serious room in this space for more contextual triggers and less annoying messages. The reasons why people typically hate popups can be avoided..

    If they hit you with an irrelevant message (context), or at the wrong time (too soon), or they lock out from the content (terrible UX).. All things that can be avoided with the next generation of these types of software, I’d say :)

    • Matthew Woodward
      April 29th, 2014 at 10:50 am

      Thanks :)

      I’m testing the smartly triggered popup style right now :)

      • Jordan Coeyman
        April 29th, 2014 at 11:31 am

        Mind if I ask which one are you using?
        There are literally hundreds of options out there, from expensive concierge services, to free plugins for WordPress + on GitHub.

  29. ken

    Matthew,thanks for your perfect post,I want to send bulk emails,do you have any idea about the tools and the sever that I can success to do that with

    • Matthew Woodward
      March 26th, 2014 at 8:04 am
      • Your Name
        March 26th, 2014 at 10:06 am

        using the tool,it seems that I can not send new emails to the customers,I have to send the fist email,and then they confirm a link,then I can send them some other emails,am I right?

        • Matthew Woodward
          March 28th, 2014 at 9:02 am

          You can choose for it to work either way

  30. Frank

    We have been running a popup as well for maybe a month, and we got basically the same stats that you have, but it affected a lot more our pages/visit, a drop of 23% and same for the bounce rate.

    I’ll wai a few month then compare if it’s worth the drop in the user experience departement.

    thanks for sharing the stats!

    • Matthew Woodward
      February 7th, 2014 at 11:09 am

      Let me know when you pull that data out – I’m doing another test right now with different triggers/designs but getting the same results still BAH!

  31. Ryan


    I have read many of your posts, and a lot of things you suggested I have done with my site (forum, side bar, design, and bought software items too).

    Where I think this study is flawed if you are not offering anything in exchange for an email. All you are offering is more emails, while I have found that when you offer a free downloadable ebook, videos, content of some kind, conversions go up.

    All in all I think you would see a big increase by offering opt in emails with the promise of a free download.

    • Matthew Woodward
      January 22nd, 2014 at 11:06 am

      Hi Ryan,

      I have put a lot of thought into that perspective. There are 2 choices-

      1) Offer nothing. The only motivation to sign up is people want to hear more of what you say.

      2) Offer an ebook/whatever. This introduces a different motivation to sign up.

      I asked myself out of those 2 types of people, which one do I want on my list :)

      Thats not to say I won’t use option 2 (www.rankcracker.co.uk for example) but on the blog, option 1 is best ^^

      • Ryan
        January 23rd, 2014 at 8:06 pm

        I see no difference in motivation. I get your emails, you basically just promote your blog posts, and you set up automatic emails for past ones.

        On top of that you already put your blogs in PDF from for the social lockers, so all you need to go is offer the download.

        I see no difference between the two because they both want amazing content, so if you get more signups for a free PDF that you already have made, why wouldn’t you do it?

        I sound like I have something invested here in this, but I am just curious how you see them as different. They all just want good free content, and a certain percentage will use you for paid SEO help or your SEO courses.


        • Matthew Woodward
          January 23rd, 2014 at 10:26 pm


          Interesting perspective – I see them as different because one has taken action through baiting and one has take action through oure choice.

          • Ryan
            January 29th, 2014 at 3:42 pm

            Agree to disagree, but even with your view point, if you got 100 extra emails a month and 1% of them bought something, and 5% clicked an affiliate link, then you are still making money off of them. I think your leaving money on the table.

            But your website makes 60k a year. I do a lot more than that with my business, but it does not come through my website as your does so I guess it is working for you :)

          • Matthew Woodward
            January 30th, 2014 at 11:14 am

            The drop off in engagement wasn’t worth it when I ran this test.

            I’m guessing you might have seen have deployed a new popup the past week and trying to improve on this case study, but so far its performing the same as the first time =\

          • Ryan
            January 30th, 2014 at 4:43 pm

            Funny you mention tests, because I am not that analytically, more eyeball test.

            I use hybrid connect and they pop ups that offer something free download have a much higher conversion than a side bar email sign up. More of an eyeball test.

            My issue is I have a services company (home care) and am having trouble with a number of issues,

            1) my field is not very online it feels like.
            2) Since I am local, when I get traffic outside of Massachusetts, how do I monetize it.
            3) Affiliate marketing seems to be very little in this market.

            I have seen a huge increase in traffic, but it does not seems to stay for extended periods of time.

            I wrote this, and it brought it 1000 new visitors since Jan 12

            but its goes away just as quickly….


          • Matthew Woodward
            January 30th, 2014 at 7:53 pm


            So in your experience then – what would you change about the current popup to improve conversion?

            One of the main issues I identified is the popup was getting displayed to a niche that is ahead of the curve in terms of subconcious training, think banner blindness but for popups. The IM crowd are much more exposed to it and are programmed to close them more so then any other niche.

          • Ryan
            January 31st, 2014 at 2:24 pm

            Well there we go!!

            There is the difference, its our target audience.

            My target audience is 40-65, while yours is 15-45ish(?)

            So while my customers do not know about the pop ups, slide ins, linking, how google works, how technology changes, your is the exact opposite. It knows how these pop up work and what not, and does not work as well.

            As a side note, I ended up unsubscribing from a lot of SEO blogs cause it was just too much. I kept you and backlinko, but quicksprout, and a few others caused an overload in an already busy email box. I use feedly now for them.

          • Matthew Woodward
            February 2nd, 2014 at 7:30 pm

            Hahaha well I’m guessing most of your target audience don’t know how to close it :P

            Thanks for subscribing :)

  32. Andy

    Hey Matt,

    I’ve used Ninja Popups and have received 20-35% opt in % on organic search percent. And this is over a large amount of visitors, achieving lists of over 5000 in just a few short months.

    I would be happy to redesign your popup. I think it lacks a value proposition. I think i could boost your opt in a rate a few hundred percent easily. Would be a cool case study to do no?

    • Matthew Woodward
      October 18th, 2013 at 11:36 am


      Just took a look at your site and can’t seem to get it to pop?

      Loving the blog design though, very clean and easy to navigate!

  33. Etienne

    I agree that the IM niche has become blind to popups and can understand the lower conversion, but on some of my sites that is not in the IM niche a popup opt-in has increased my opt-in conversion by almost 100% in some cases. I guess it depends how your nich is conditioned….

    • Matthew Woodward
      September 21st, 2013 at 10:32 am

      Yeah that is the conclusion I share as well :)

  34. Kelly Watt

    Great to see some data on this. I agree there is a cost to your SEO metrics when implementing pop-ups so it would depend on your goals at the end of the day. I would also like to see some data from different industries as I suspect there would be some large variances.

    Also, do you have any data on pop-ups that ask for geographic, language, or interest based data rather than email or contact details? I find these can be valuable in directing traffic to specific content more efficiently.

    Thanks for the post!

    • Matthew Woodward
      July 25th, 2013 at 10:20 am


      Yes I do believe outside of the highly trained IM niche these would perform a whole lot better.

      I haven’t got any data like that though sorry – can’t you just auto detect that anyway?

  35. Umee

    I must say popup is really annoying for quality content but good for so-called content. I have seen many IMers just building a list and then bombard affiliate links without adding quality.


    • Matthew Woodward
      July 22nd, 2013 at 7:49 am


      Yeah I think that is what most people seem to do, no idea why though lol

  36. Ivelin

    You need a better free gift to give away. 1% is low opt-in conversion for a pop-up. You can get at least 2-3% maybe even 5% if you tweak your copy and free offer. Then it will be much more worth it having the pop up than not having it.

    • Matthew Woodward
      July 3rd, 2013 at 9:58 am


      I don’t want people to sign up to get a freebie. I want people to sign up because they want to hear what I have to say.

      Its not all about the numbers.

  37. Oliver Sherrington

    Hi Matt,
    Just wanted to say that I’ve been an avid fan of your blog for a while now. I probably visit once a day or so, and you have taught me a hell of a lot – keep it up!

    Also, I have a question for you. I currently manage the web presence of a company that operates in a small niche. I can’t give details, but it is a service business, and we need 2-3 conversions per month to hit 7 figure annual profits. The total market available consists of around 500 per year. Because of this, our web traffic is extremely low. If we get 10 highly relevant visitors per day then things are going well.

    My question is – how can i reliably go about split testing with such low visitor numbers? Do i need to run tests over a period of many months? Do you agree that changes of 1-2% over the key metrics for 1,000-2000 visitors is too small of sample size?

    Cheers in advance.

    • Matthew Woodward
      June 10th, 2013 at 11:13 am

      Hi Oliver,

      Thank you kindly =D

      I would say for each variation you want to test – you need to push 1k unique through each one. So if you have 3 variations, you need 3k visitors.

      Hard to do with little traffic – instead I would focus on https://www.matthewwoodward.co.uk/blogging/traffic/target-audience/

      • Oliver Sherrington
        June 11th, 2013 at 8:23 am

        Thanks Matt. Read the post – very interesting as usual. There are further problems however. Would you mind if i sent a private message with some further areas of discussion?

        • Matthew Woodward
          June 11th, 2013 at 10:13 am

          Send an emailz

  38. Deby

    I think that I would rather have really engaged subscribers than just see an increase in numbers of subscribers because they opted in without really thinking about it.
    I’m at the point where I am about to go over my free emails limit now and will have to start paying to send newsletters, so I would rather have a lower number of active subscribers than just pay to send out thousands of newsletters to people who never open them.
    It’s very interesting to see your results, but I think I will stick with the idea that readers who are interested will find the subscribe box without me having to hit them over the head with it.

    • Matthew Woodward
      June 4th, 2013 at 11:53 am

      Yeah I totally agree and I have since removed the opt in popup entirely from the blog

  39. Toobe

    Hey Matt, great post as always. Have you posted or do you mind sharing any guide regarding split testing?

  40. Sanjay

    This is awesome Matt! I had sent you a PM on BHW asking the effect of the pop ups and I am glad you have covered in such a detailed manner. Keep em coming!

    • Matthew Woodward
      April 26th, 2013 at 7:32 am

      No worrys :)

  41. Anes Amrani

    I think you should try Hybrid Connect instead of Popup Ninja it’s much better because it’s gonna show Facebook connect light boxes instead of the regular forms you should check it out

    • Matthew Woodward
      April 22nd, 2013 at 10:04 am

      Looks very sweet indeed thanks for the heads up!

  42. j. Ryckaert

    I choose not to use any pop-ups or annoying advertising because i’m convinced that if people are intrested in your blog and they choose to rather then being obliged to join your mailing list you will get a more supportive community for your website.

    I use different ways to get people to join my mailing list. Like a free E-book that i wrote myself.

    People are are trained to ignore pop-ups and advertisements unless it’s something they are looking for.

    • Matthew Woodward
      April 22nd, 2013 at 11:46 am


      That opening statement I agree with 110% – I put a similar mantra into content creation in that it should be so good that users fall over themselves to subscribe.

      What do you find most effective for opt in placement?

  43. Salah

    Thank you so much for sharing your statistics with us, your posts are top quality case studies. keep going like this :)

    • Matthew Woodward
      April 22nd, 2013 at 11:47 am

      No worrys – plenty more to come!

  44. Chris

    My visitors must hate me haha :D I have a women’s health site and the popup is a full page graphic offering a free eBook with an email capture field and a tiiiiiinny little [close] all the way at the bottom that’s really hard to see.

    Also I rigged it so if they click close it automatically launches an affiliate link with javascript and sends them to a skin care offer. I haven’t tracked the signup increase but it was probably about 5-10x more effective than the simple sign up form I had in the sidebar. I’ve actually been getting some sales off skin care offer too lol.

    • Matthew Woodward
      April 22nd, 2013 at 11:47 am

      Hi Chris,

      Would love to see the conversion stats on that! Drop me a mail ;)

  45. Bashoo Zmmarraii

    Hey Mathew Woodward I knew it

    Something was fishy about that pop up your were doing an i knew it was part of the experiment i guess you didn’t like it.

    Why not you go for a landing page that would be more awesome and it won’t be un-cool.

    And Can i Know how many impressions this month you had i mean March you didnt mention this in your advertising page i am looking forward placing banner so please let me know quickly :3

    • Matthew Woodward
      April 22nd, 2013 at 11:51 am


      Well I’m going to test this a little more with a few twists and turns to see what happens – but in all honesty I do hate them so its going to have to do something special if it wants to stay :)

      The advertising pages details impressions/pageviews https://www.matthewwoodward.co.uk/advertise-on-the-blog/

  46. Alex Eliades

    Hi Matt,

    When I first saw the pop-up on your blog I was a little shocked you would have one as I have been reading your blog for some time and know how much of a seasoned IM you are. That was my 3 second reaction without thinking about it. After thinking about it I realised that you have it there for a good reason.

    I already knew you had quality content on your blog and I had already subscribed previously so it wasnt right for me… it actually appeared when I visited the site today too (I use various machines and browsers). If I hadnt of been on your blog before I have to say the pop-up may have put me off but if I landed there from a search term and I was looking for something I probably would just have closed the pop-up and delved in.

    My opinion (which I admin is not based on facts or evidence) is that it is better to give the visitor chance to read what is on the landing page before signing up… further to that I think it is a better idea to optimise alternative sign up methods that take place after a visitor lands and reads. I ended up a subscriber of yours because I left a comment and was given the opportunity to sign up, which I have found valuable and it was an excellent and seamless way to get me registered.

    My opinion is that people are most likely to sign up through a pop-up to this blog specifically if they are a returning visitor. I really dont think new visitors are likely to do so as they simply have no idea what they are in for… and the traffic this blog gets is the more clued up ppl.

    Nevertheless, opinion is one thing but it is the proven numbers that really count and that is what I appreciate about the way you do things.

    Good luck, Alex

    • Matthew Woodward
      April 22nd, 2013 at 11:53 am

      Hi Alex,

      Thanks for taking the time to provide detailed feedback – all of this helps shape the future of the blog!

      I echo a lot of your opinions – perhaps the popup delay needs to be closer to 45 seconds to get that deeper level of engagement first.

      The subscribe via comment thing was cool BUT I ended up with loads of fake emails/comment spam addresses on the list so it wasn’t ideal.

      I’m going to experiment some more – might have to reinvent the wheel on this one in this niche!

      • Alex Eliades
        April 26th, 2013 at 7:59 am

        After leaving the above comment I was redirected to a page that gave me the opportunity to register… that is how it happened and that is cool. Also, I think leaving the pop-up for 45 seconds or any long delay like that might also be a very good idea if it is to stay.

        Also, I have to say that when browsing your site from my phone (which is set to view websites as a desktop machine) it gives me a headache to close the damn pop-up.

        • Matthew Woodward
          April 27th, 2013 at 2:47 pm


          Yeah thats a nice way to convert commenters into subscribers :)

          Not had chance to play with the popup yet but will do.

          When using your phone, do you have the browser set to show mobile sites or full desktop sites? What user agent are you identifying with?

          • Alex Eliades
            April 29th, 2013 at 4:14 pm

            I run Dolphin on my Android phone with a 800×480 resolution and the User Agent is set to Desktop. IMO its 10x better to view a responsive site than a crappy watered down mobi version… and I much prefer to view full resolution non-responsive sites rather than mobile versions. I’m just so surprised that major sites like ebay havent gone down the responsive route but thats another topic I guess.

          • Matthew Woodward
            May 2nd, 2013 at 7:00 pm


            Ahh that is the problem, your phone is identifying itself as a desktop machine and as such will get the desktop experience.

            I don’t have a responsive theme or a mobile theme, but if you identify as a mobile you will not see the popup =/

  47. Bob

    Wow.. Nearly doubled optim rate.. And your popup sucks.. Head over to hybrid connect, optin and learn from their two hour free coaching..

    • Matthew Woodward
      April 22nd, 2013 at 11:54 am

      HI Bob,

      Couple of people have mentioned hybrid connect to me since publishing, how are you putting it to work?

  48. Iain

    Pop ups are extremely annoying, but as your data showed they do convert more people.

    Those conversions come at a cost as you pointed out. The question is, is the cost worth the increase in email opt ins.

    That can be a tough question to answer. For some people it will be fine, others will have a completely different opinion.

    For anything related to internet marketing, people are going to be blind to them, but if you aren’t in that area, you could experience better conversions.

    I don’t use a pop up at the moment. Perhaps in the future I will, but I don’t feel it necessary.

    I think optimizing your lead magnet or you freebie could provide better results as well.

    I know my reason for opting in needs to be better.

    So in terms of your actual question:

    In my mind, people have a finite bit of energy, and if they spend on the pop up, they will spend less energy elsewhere.

    Those are my thoughts

    • Matthew Woodward
      April 20th, 2013 at 12:05 pm


      Great points!

      And I agree they do spend less energy elsewhere – however I prioritise the optin over and above any other form of conversion on the blog such as affiliate clicks.

      So having the popup force that energy to spent in that area may not be such a bad thing.

      Just need to make it more attractive, I bet if I changed the headline to ‘Claim Your Spot On The Newsletter Now’ the conversion would jump.

      • Iain
        April 20th, 2013 at 12:12 pm

        If that is where you priority is, then having people spend energy there is just fine.

        Making the pop more attractive will probably help, I agree.

        I recently watched a webinar about email sign ups with Shane Malaugh and Ana Hoffman. It make give you some things to think about.

        Some of the highlights include:

        1. Changing the headline
        2. Changing the text in the button. (eg download now or instant access)
        3. Changing colours
        4. Having an appropriate sign up bonus.

        I enjoyed it. I love seeing that data to back up the reason for doing something.

        • Matthew Woodward
          April 22nd, 2013 at 11:54 am


          Got a link to the webinar at all?

          I’m going to test the shit out of it.

          • Iain
            April 23rd, 2013 at 9:40 am

            Sure do.


            How is the testing going so far?

          • Matthew Woodward
            April 25th, 2013 at 9:17 am

            Thanks for the link!

            No time to set anything up yet, probably wont be till mid may looking at the crazy ass schedule I’ve got at the mo.

  49. Rahat @WeeklyDesignGrind.com

    I first asked Mathew on his FAQ on what Popup to use.

    Since I’ve used it, I’ve gained a ton more email subscribers. e.g before I used to receive around 1 email subscriber a day, now I receive on average 15 email subscribers a day. (At least now I know my content doesn’t suck)

    My personal opinion is that if you don’t want to look like an ass, then set your popup to show only once a day. If the popup is repeatedly showing on every page, then that’s when it starts to get annoying.

    • Matthew Woodward
      April 20th, 2013 at 5:59 pm


      What niche are you in?

      Can you tell me what your conversion rate is?

      • Tom
        April 20th, 2013 at 7:31 pm

        With AWeber you can set it so the lightbox pop-up only shows once to someone which I am currently using. I figure if you have already rejected it then you wouldn’t ever want to see it appear again. Obviously if they clear their cache they will see it again but I’m going with this option at the moment rather than ‘show after x amount of days’ which is another possible option.

        My static subscription box has a conversion of 0.5% so far based on displays. My pop-up has a conversion rate of 2.6%.

        • Matthew Woodward
          April 22nd, 2013 at 11:49 am

          Hi Tom,

          Is all of that on the site linked in your comment name?

  50. Tom


    Try changing your subscribe button from red to green as red symbolises ‘danger’ ‘don’t do this’ and green symbolises ‘go’ ‘do it’. Would be interesting to see if that small change makes a difference.

    Also I prefer mine to pop up straight away (0 seconds). If it pops up after 3-7 seconds I feel it is more likely to cause annoyance if they have already started to do something and they are more likely to just close it.


    • Matthew Woodward
      April 20th, 2013 at 5:58 pm

      Hi Tom,

      Your wish – is my command, https://www.matthewwoodward.co.uk/conversion/how-to-improve-ctr/ ^^

      The popup time is certainly worth playing with!

    • doof155
      June 6th, 2013 at 3:06 am

      I agree with Tom about the pop up coming up instantly. I find it highly annoying a pop up jumping on to my screen when ive just started reading something. However, once I start reading something, if i find it interesting then I will want to subscribe so perhaps having the pop up to come on after a while (a minute or longer) might be better, the reader will have read a fair bit in a minute, if the context is good then they will be more likely to subscribe?…Ive also just thought that this wouldnt be so obtrusive as well.

      and like everyone else I hate pop ups but I can bare with them and dont mind them at all depending on what they are for, what useful information is on the site or page ive just landed on.

      For example, I come on here and love the information and find it really useful so I dont mind pop ups in the slightest…

      • Matthew Woodward
        June 6th, 2013 at 7:49 am


        But if you want to subscribe – what is the need for the popup? I am of the thought if a user wants to subscribe, they will subscribe – ‘how’ they subscribe is irrelevant.

        • doof155
          June 6th, 2013 at 2:21 pm

          very true!

          • Matthew Woodward
            June 10th, 2013 at 11:14 am

            I removed the popup entirely :)

  51. inevitable

    While reading this post about pop ups i was registered and the email pop-up emerged annoyingly (oh the irony). This happens all the time even though i have registered am month ago…

    Btw i believe the best way to earn subscribers is to offer a free report like a step by step guide on how to create and rank a new site.

    • Matthew Woodward
      April 20th, 2013 at 5:57 pm


      The problem is because it uses cookies to know if you have subscribed or not.

      If you delete the cookie, well it forgets :)

      What about a free piece of software that solves a huge problem for every SEO?

      • inevitable
        April 21st, 2013 at 11:03 am

        I haven’t deleted cookies for at least a month now and visit your site daily so there must be something else.

        Biggest problem for every SEO is Google and their practices :) i would love to see a software that solves this problem lol (maybe a new “matthewwoodward.com” search engine?)

        • Matthew Woodward
          April 22nd, 2013 at 11:47 am


          Interesting I’ll test it out.

          They already have that, its called bing ^^

  52. Tom

    Very interesting.

    I use AWeber for my newsletters and pop up.

    Had just a newsletter form sitting on the site which didn’t work too well. Then I made a lightbox pop up and it is working well so far. Always good to learn how to keep improving and love the stats.


    • Matthew Woodward
      April 20th, 2013 at 5:56 pm

      Hi Tom,

      Did you measure the impact that had? Be interesting to see how that performed in your niche

  53. Wraith Sarko

    Pop ups dont even get looked at anymore

    If you could figure out how to serve your visitors Pop Tarts on the other hand, I bet bounce rate would go down

    • Matthew Woodward
      April 20th, 2013 at 5:56 pm

      Leave it with me ;)

  54. Darrell

    I find them extremely annoying. However, because I like reading your blog, I will over look it. At the end of the day, like others have mentioned, this is your business and you have to decide what is the right thing to do.

    • Matthew Woodward
      April 20th, 2013 at 5:56 pm

      Hi Darrell,

      But in the perfect world, as the user – the person the reads my blog everyday, you would prefer it was removed entirely?

  55. James Yancey

    I personally hate pop ups! That said, when I added a pop up my opt ins increased by 10%. A pop up is the best source of leads for me. I wouldn’t go without one. Ultimately it’s depends on your goal, if your focus is building a list a pop up can be extremely effective.

    In talking with other bloggers about pop ups, I’ve noticed that if they have the perspective of a user they forgo a pop up, but if they’re first a marketer – expect a pop up to pop.

    • Matthew Woodward
      April 20th, 2013 at 5:55 pm

      Hi James,

      What niche roughly was that popup in?

  56. Amit shrestha

    is it worth to use these kind of pop up email subscription plugin in affiliate site.??I am afraid it can decrease sales rate

    • Matthew Woodward
      April 20th, 2013 at 5:55 pm


      Well your priority shouldn’t be to get people on and off the page via an affiliate link as quickly as possible.

      It should be to capture their data, engage them, build trust and get them to click on 20 affiliate links ^^

  57. Sam

    You say that if you subscribe that you will never see the pop-up again, but this isn’t true as it pops up every time you visit the site (maybe after 24 hours).

    • Matthew Woodward
      April 20th, 2013 at 12:52 pm

      Are you clearing cookies between time? I guess you are as an IM’er!

  58. Brian Dean

    Love to see case studies like this, Matt.

    I think attitudes towards pop-ups are changing. Because the early adopters were the spammy clickbank vendors, people associated opt-in popups with spam.

    But if you look at some of the big-time blogs in the IM space (SocialTriggers, QuickSprout etc.), they all use popups for opt-ins.

    • Matthew Woodward
      April 20th, 2013 at 12:54 pm


      Yes they are all using them – but that doesn’t mean its right.

      When Pintrest exploded onto the scene you can guarantee every business director in the country was telling their staff to focus on Pintrest.

      Even though their target customers don’t actually use it.

      Don’t just follow suit – think, test :)

      I think I need to improve on my integration of it though, always room to improve conversion!

  59. Alex

    Pop ups are annoying but given your data I use it and continue testing. The annoyance is mostly about them working every time you visit, if I close it once and it stays closed I’m happy.

    Thanks for showing the data – at the end of the day it is the goal for your blog that makes the decsion. For me the priority is the list so really you need to track responsiveness of the list alongside its size.

    • Matthew Woodward
      April 20th, 2013 at 12:55 pm


      So perhaps if after it was closed, it stayed closed for 72 hour instead of 24 hours?

      The list is pretty responsive – every email links to tutorials like this :)

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