Email Capture Popups Tested

Section 2 (Analysis)


So how can you create an effective email capture popup that is both effective and benign? What should you offer as your primary incentive? How can you write compelling offer copy?

Retailers, Publishers, Consultants… here is what we have learned, so far.

How can I select the right incentive for my email capture program?

Creating an effective popup is not as simple as combining good code with good copy. Creating an effective popup requires that the marketer develop a truly appealing and imminently deliverable offering.

So how do you do you accomplish this worthy goal? Here are a few keys:

  1. Determine what the market truly wants.
    1. It is a safe bet that the market does NOT want:
      • “Free Tips” – Perceived as a loose collection of shallow, over-obvious ideas.
      • “Special Offers” – Perceived as a random plethora of thinly disguised product pitches.
      • “Free Newsletter” – Perceived as just another bland, “look what we’ve done” corporate brag piece.
    2. While these three offerings could actually be valuable, they just SEEM like all the other obnoxious little email pieces competing to clutter the inboxes of the Internet. Somehow, you have to differentiate.
  2. Determine which of these market “wants” you can truly satisfy.

    Some marketers, in their eagerness to capture precious email addresses, over-commit themselves.

    Marketer Beware… If you intend to publish an ezine, you may want to consider this random smattering of “lessons learned the hard way”.

    • No. You cannot just assign the work to a few staff members with “extra time on their hands”. You need a team with both skill and experience.
    • Churning out quality content, week after week, is far more difficult than it seems. Ask yourself the hard questions, first. If you can’t do it, there are two primary options. (1) Find someone who can, or (2) offer something different (more on that later).
    • Focus or else… It is too difficult to win a loyal audience with general news or commentary. Bear down on a single critical problem/market need and then become the richest source of information on its solution.
    • Develop or secure you own original content. If your ezine is not focused around your core expertise, you probably cannot do this. You need to make certain that, wherever you get it, however you get it, the content is fresh, and unique.
    • Determine the right publishing frequency. We recommend not less than twice a month and not more (generally) than once a week.

    Brian Alt, is a Senior Writer and Researcher for the Lab. His core expertise is ezine publishing. Here is an outline of the questions and answers he addresses:

    1. Introduction To Ezine Publishing

    What is ezine publishing?
    How do I develop my ezine goals and strategy?
    What is ezine content and what are its sources?
    How do I design my ezine?
    How do I manage my subscription list?
    How do I find subscribers for my ezine?
    How can I make money with an ezine?

    2. Planning Your Ezine

    How do I develop my ezine goals and strategy?
    How do I obtain an ISSN for my ezine?
    How should I determine my ezine’s frequency and size?

    3. Developing Your Content

    What are the primary sources of ezine content?
    How do I develop my editorial standards?
    How should I utilize reprinted articles?
    How can my readers help create content?
    How can interviews enhance my content?
    How do I use copyright to protect my ezine content?
    How should I handle plagiarism if it occurs?
    Should I use personalization in my ezine?

    4. Designing Your Format

    How do I design my ezine?
    What are some tools I can use to design my text ezine?
    What are the basics of HTML email?
    How do I design an HTML email template?

    5. Managing Your Lists

    How do I manage my subscription list?
    How do I make unsubscribing easy?

    6. Promoting Your Ezine

    How do I find subscribers for my ezine?
    How do I track ezine click-throughs?
    How do I use co-registration services to get subscribers?
    How can I use auctions and stores to promote my ezine?

    7. Building Your Community

    Why are Internet communities effective?
    What kinds of online communities are there?
    How do I create a foundation for my community?
    How can a community reduce the costs of content?
    What is the value of reader feedback?
    How do I encourage reader feedback?
    How should I collect feedback from my readers?

    8. Generating Your Revenue

    How can I make money with an ezine?
    How can I increase the advertising value of my ezine?
    What are some alternative sources of ezine profit?

    9. Buying/Selling Your Ezine

    Why are ezines bought and sold?
    Why is privacy important when buying and selling ezines?
    How do I find an ezine buyer/seller?
    How do I determine an ezine’s selling price?
    How do I draft an ezine purchase agreement?

How can I use an email capture popup even if I don’t publish an ezine?

If all this seems overwhelming, don’t panic: Here are 3 ways to capture email addresses. EVEN IF YOU DON’T have the financial or human resources to create a quality ezine:

  • Provide useful data and stats – Many companies, in the course of their normal operations, aggregate a wealth of valuable data. Consider offering a bulletin that provides a group of benchmark stats. Don’t call this a newsletter; call it a “Data Update” or a “(subject) Bulletin”. Avoid any trite, cliched titles.
  • Genuine opportunities to save money – If you can provide your subscribers with GENUINE opportunities to purchase new items before anyone else, or if you can provide special clearance or overstock prices, etc. then you can offer your visitors the chance to sign up for a “Special Notice”. Note the wording. It should BE authentic; but it should also SOUND authentic.
  • A real chance to win valuable merchandise – This is one of the most effective way to gather addresses, but you must set it up correctly. Here are five keys:
    1. The prize should be related to the product that the merchant hopes to sell. This helps to generate leads from prospects that are truly qualified.
    2. The description of the prize should be specific. This adds credibility.
    3. The request for contact information should be phrased in such a way as to encourage participation. If you win, you will, of course, want to be notified.
    4. The visitor should be assured that their privacy is respected.
    5. The opt-in for more mailings should be courteous and motivated by the chance of saving money.
    6. The popup should include the recognition of a previous winner. This emphasizes the legitimacy of the opportunity.

These options are particularly appealing to the retailer, because they do not require a “set” frequency or an editorial staff, yet they still provide a means to send multiple emails. Even with a sweepstakes opportunity, you can send out several legitimate notes, including: a “thank you for entering”, an announcement of the winner, a chance to re-enter, etc.

How can I reduce the annoyance factor of my email capture popup?

To paraphrase Hamlet yet again… “To popup, or not to popup: that is the question. Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outraged customers, or to…”

Hamlet’s angst is not unique; many marketers, today, are caught on the horns of their own dilemma. A popup could truly increase their effectiveness and increase their yield per visit, BUT it could also drive away their site visitors, and alienate their existing customers.

Is there a way to get the benefits of a popup without suffering “unacceptable losses”?

Yep… if you are courteous and careful. Here are Eight keys:

  1. Restrict the popup so that it does not appear more than once in a fixed period of time; We suggest 30 days.

    Here is the source code for several different Javascript popups:

    If you choose to use a cookie, you will need a programmer to help you with the implementation.

  2. Consider using an EXIT popup that appears when the visitor leaves either the homepage or the site, itself. This insures that your visitor has a chance to see the other key offers on your homepage, first. Ideally, any one of these (such as a purchase) will enable you to capture their email address. But if all else fails, the popup provide one last (very effective) opportunity.

    Here is a sample exit popup script.


    This script requires that you perform two steps:

    A. Paste the coding into the HEAD of your HTML document

    B. Copy the onunLoad event handler into the BODY tag

    Free JavaScripts provided

    by The JavaScript Source

    If you need help creating or implementing a custom popup solution, contact us and we will recommend a good programmer. Just email:

  3. Make certain that your popup does not “feel” like an advertisement. Turn it into an offer for something of genuine value.
  4. Make certain that the popup has a (very) fast load time.
  5. Do not use more than one popup window on your site.
  6. Avoid (like the plague) those self-perpetuating rude popups that refuse to “die”.
  7. Deliver exactly what you promise, exactly when you promise it.
  8. Make certain that the tone of your offer is courteous and helpful. See the examples in the following section.

How can I write effective copy for the email capture popup?

If you have tracked with us thus far, you have developed an offer that is both genuine and appealing to your market. Now you have to present it in transparent, effective language:

The best way to learn how to create your copy is to study samples that have been tested and proven. This text has far more impact in its original HTML format, together with the graphics, but still, these examples should offer a solid model.


A slight variation of this sample is currently pulling nearly 500 subscribers per day. (click here)


The simple text in this example has outpulled every other variation tested. We invited a leading expert on the net to write his own version, we ran an A/B split test, and still this copy achieved a higher conversion ratio (by 20%). (click here)

If space permitted, we could break this copy down, and analyze the underlying principles, but alas, we are more than 3600 words and 15 pages into this report. Perhaps we will examine this subject in future research.

In the meantime, if you imitate the example copy, you should be able to achieve significant results.

CLOSING NOTE: If you need assistance setting up an effective email capture program check out this link:

Login to the Lab and get links to these resources:

Note: If you are viewing the plain text version of this report, you will need to cut and paste the long links.

1. Find Javascripts for your site:

2. See the sample popup from Sections 1 of this report.

THESE RESOURCES are primarily focused on advertising popups, not email capture popups. Advertising popups take a lot of “heat”, but there is a SERIOUS difference between the two.

Read an article on creating popups press here.

Read an Internet.Com article on exit popups press here.

Read a CNET article about consumers “fighting” Popups press here.

Pop-up subscription boxes (I forgot I wrote this) press here.

Ezine-Tips readers respond press here.

An essay against pop-ups press here.

A recent CNET article about consumers “fighting” pop-ups press here.

Creating a Pop-Exit press here.

Article lists the top 9 sites (domains) that use pop-ups press here.

Site that provides exit window service and info press here.

A similar site run by Mark Joyner’s group press here.

Media buying article on the pop-under phenomenon press here.

Pop-Under Ads Fail to Catch Buyers press here.

Yahoo Tests Pop-Unders press here.

Pop-Under Ads Catch On press here.

Google takes a corporate stance against pop-ups press here.

X10 explained, pop-ups explored press here.

Lessons of the X10 press here.

X10 Responds to questions about their ads press here.

Scripts that enable pop-ups, pop-unders press here.

Rise in zapper sales to combat pop-ups press here.

Increasing Consumer Acceptance of pop-ups press here.

Study: Pop-Ups Not So Hated press here.

Jupiter Changes Tune on Pop-Ups press here.

Do big sites use pop-ups more often? (press here)

Pop-under ads may build brand awareness at the cost of brand image press here.

(*1) These result would have been even more dramatic, but they were somewhat skewed by two minor (but significant) changes in the offer copy.

::Back to Section 1::

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