The Best Email Pop Ups: Your Guide to Rake in New Subscribers

How does creating one of the best email pop-ups for your store affect your bottom line?

IBM’s one-time CEO, Thomas J. Watson famously said that “Nothing happens in business until something gets sold.” Now, this is perfectly true, but how do make things start to happen so you get to that point where a prospect becomes a customer?

Online, the obvious thing to do is to collect email addresses and start to nurture your prospects until they’re ready to buy.

It’s no secret that the best email pop-ups are an easy way to harvest emails from would-be customers. But if you ask anyone how they feel about them, they’ll usually tell you that they’re annoying and don’t like them…

But the reality is that they work and when you do them the right way, they work phenomenally well.


Because they work as a “pattern interrupt.” This is a psychological persuasion technique that snaps someone out of a semi-hypnotic state that they’ve been lulled into by rhythmic process.

Pattern interrupts are everywhere, they’re used by comedians, in movies, and by negotiators.

But in the context of entry pop-ups, they serve as effective pattern interrupts when they propose to resolve a problem the visitor has or offer something they have been conditioned to expect from an online store.

Here’s the thing, 92% of consumers will visit a brand’s website for the first time for reasons other than making a purchase, according to a study by Episerver.

What’s more, research carried out by SAP Hybris, shows that 99% of people won’t buy on their first visit. But what also came out from the study is that 75% of people who left have future intentions to return and make a purchase… Phew!

This means that you need to do everything you can to capture their details so you can follow up, and start to nurture the relationship and eventually turn them into a customer. Otherwise, you’re burning through your ad spend on wasted clicks.

And the good news is that, according to ExactTarget’s data, email is consumers’ favorite permission-based marketing channel. A whopping 77% of consumers prefer e-mail over other channels.

So what makes a high-converting pop-up?

There are five elements that every entry pop up must have to maximize the number of emails you collect:

  1. An attention-grabbing, benefit-driven headline
  2. Contrasting design/imagery
  3. Compelling offer
  4. Reason to act now
  5. Reassurance
  6. Benefit-driven call-to-action
  7. Clickshaming (Test first)

So let’s go through them, one by one.

1. Attention-Grabbing Headline

The reality is, without conveying an immediate benefit as to what’s in it for them, your pop up will get closed in a heartbeat.

Your headline needs to call-out the benefit, even if it’s something as simple as “Save 10%.”

2. Contrasting Design/Imagery

If your pop up blends into the background of your web page, it runs the risk of not only failing to harvest email addresses for you but also force users to bounce from your page because they fail to notice the pop-up and assume your page is broken.

The best email pop-ups are easy to notice and easy to close.

3. Compelling Offer

The strongest appeal I’ve found is money-off. Everyone loves free money, so giving a discount is usually the most persuasive thing you can offer.

From my experience, this is the biggest profit-puller by far. Other incentives you can try are weekly/monthly prize giveaways, or a free shipping coupon.

Linjar's $100 gift card weekly drawing pop up
Linjar gives a very compelling reason to opt-in to their email list, a $100 gift card weekly drawing

What doesn’t work so well is offering being made privy to new products, exclusive offers or discounts. These are just too vague and there’s no instant gratification.

best email pop ups
Hemper combines a compelling offer and urgency/scarcity

4. Reason to Act Now

If you can add an element of urgency/scarcity to your offer then people are far more likely to take action.

Make your coupon last 3-days or less. Encouraging fence-sitters to take action and buy the same day can work well for impulse buys.

5. Reassurance

Letting visitors know that you value their email privacy is really important in order to get them to hand over their email address to you. You need to let them know that you won’t SPAM the hell out of them or sell or rent or let their email stay up past its bedtime.

6. Benefit-Driven Call-to-Action

This is where the majority of entry pop-ups fall down. Their button wording is something uninspiring like “Submit” or “Subscribe.”

Tell your visitors what they’re going to get on the other side of clicking the button, to compel them to take action.

7. Clickshaming

You need to test this one for your store and your visitors because it doesn’t work for everyone. These passive-aggressive and sometimes flat-out cruel links can set the wrong tone if not used with caution.

But testing has shown you can often get a much better opt-in rate by writing an undesirable result as the “No thanks” link. The goal is to shame visitors out of clicking (and into subscribing).

We’ve had success on our stores with “No thanks I’d rather pay full price” or “No thanks, I don’t want to save $10.”

Swipe and Deploy’s email pop up is by far the best email pop-ups I’ve seen. If you need inspiration, then you can learn a lot from theirs…

best email pop ups

best email pop ups


Once you’ve created your pop up, how do you optimize the targeting not only to maximize opt-ins but also save existing subscribers from the irritation of seeing it when they don’t need to?

Here’s what we found performs best:

  • New visitors only
  • Show a maximum of 3 times ever
  • Exclude email traffic
  • Display after 10-seconds of landing on the site
  • Trigger on checkout exit (if no previous interaction).

Start with the end in mind for the best email pop ups

If you haven’t thought about your exit strategy just yet then you’re missing a trick.

Not only will it help you focus on the vital few activities you should be doing each day in order to get you to that goal, but when you go to sell your business, the size of your email list will play a huge role in how it values up.

So, don’t delay, start collecting emails today!

What to do next?

Use an app like Privy to create an entry pop-up or get one included for free with the Shoptimized™ Theme, just one of 30+ built in conversion boosting features.  That’s why it’s one of the best Shopify themes.

If you haven’t got your follow-up email marketing dialed-in, then grab our free guide here.

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Bradley Long

Bradley Long

Bradley is a Conversion Rate Expert and store owner since 2005. He’s helped some of the world’s most sophisticated brands to double and sometimes triple their conversion rates. He architected the #1 unofficial Shopify theme, Shoptimized™ and is also CEO of Funnel Buildr, the perfect tool for massively growing your store’s Average Order Value.

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