What Do You Think of Pop-ups?

I’m pretty sure that most of you have a strong opinion one way or the other on this topic.

What do you think of pop-ups on websites or blogs that ask for your email address?

Love ‘em or hate ‘em, pop-ups are still around online today. They are even making a come back recently with plug-ins such as pop-up domination. What do you think of pop-ups that ask for your email address to subscribe to content, freebies, or other bonuses?

Do you sign-up through them? Do they make you more likely to leave the website? Or perhaps they greatly increase the subscription rate on your rate?

If you hate pop-ups, I want to hear why they bother you. If you like them or even use them on your own site, I want to hear from you in the comments too.

Let’s hear it!

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  • Lydia

    I loathe them. When a blog I follow begins to use them I immediately unsubscribe.

    This is about respect. If it isn’t ok to invite friends and acquaintances over for dinner, hand them sheets of paper and insist they consider buying your new product or service before they’re allowed to walk into your front door why would it be ok to do this to people you know online?

    • http://velonomad.com Tim

      But, no one invited you to the website. You found it for whatever reason.

      The owner is simply asking you for permission to keep the convo going.

      Most pop ups let you click them away forever.

  • http://www.commonsensemarketing.net Sarah Russell

    Hate, hate, hate. Yes, I know there are tons of studies done about how they improve opt-in rates, but personally, I think that being a website owner is about more than just increasing your numbers. For me, it’s also about the user experience – and if I know that I get super frustrated when those things pop-up and interrupt my reading, why would I subject my readers to the same hassle?

    There are plenty of other ways to grow a subscriber list without resorting to something so pushy and in-your-face.

  • http://www.jdanielcook.net jdanielcook

    When I come to a site with a popup I leave. I do most of my browsing from a smartphone and popups make the site unusable most of the time.

    • http://velonomad.com Tim

      This is a really, really, valuable insight.

  • http://stillmansays.com matt

    not a fan at all. i agree with the rationale of Sarah and Lydia but so often they pop-up within moments of starting to read a post. I’ve had time to read a paragraph and now you want me to use that tiny slice of experience with you to determine if I am going to give you my email? Sorry, but no.

  • http://getbusylivingblog.com Benny

    Hey Caleb!

    This is definitely a hot topic. I definitely don’t like them. I can’t remember the last time I read one or signed up because of it. I’ve seen them so often that I’ve turned blind to them. I just click to close it. I’ve read that people will leave a website right away because of it. I don’t go that far.

    Because I can’t stand them. I don’t use it on my blog. I know conversion rates are pretty good with them. But if I don’t like it, I’m not going to bug my readers with them.

  • http://www.livingauthentically.org Evan

    Hate them. Won’t have them on my blog.

    They are rude and say that I care first about me not my readers.

    Yes rudeness may be profitable and I still won’t have them on my blog.

    I am more open to the slide ups that only come up on to the first inch of screen at the bottom and so don’t dominate and allow people to ignore them.

  • http://thefrugalgirl.com Kristen@TheFrugalGirl

    I really, really hate them, especially when they’re popping up to ask me to subscribe to something I already subscribed to.

    I want to increase subscribers just like everyone else, but I’m definitely not going to go the pop-up route. I couldn’t in good conscience do that to my readers.

  • Lydia

    I’ve seen one or two sites that use slide ups. I still find them irritating but so far they haven’t lead me to unsubscribe. It does make me _much_ less likely to sign up for a newsletter or buy any products from the site, though.

  • http://www.positivelybeauty.com Cristina | Positively Beauty

    I hate pop-ups! They’re annoying to say the least, and I perceive them as an aggression – like somebody shouting at me to do something…and of course I’ll do exactly the opposite :)
    I never subscribe to a blog/website through pop-ups, unless I’m really really interested in what they say.
    It’s also extremely annoying to get pop-ups when you’re already a subscriber – makes me want to unsubscribe…

  • http://www.realmenrealstyle.com/ Antonio Centeno


    I use pop-up domination and the Aweber pop-ups (not the one that use trick questions when you try to leave). They appear after 20 seconds – and then once you sign up I give you an awesome ebook, audio, and bonus video. Then I email you solid style info weekly.

    Before I installed – a handful of sign-ups daily. Since using them – a 20X increase in sign-ups and increased my leads by 10X. I’ve had 1 person complain in 10 months – yet receive at least 2-5 thank you notes a day from people thanking me for the great information.

    I respect the opinions above – but if done right they are amazing powerful and positive.



  • http://www.thedailyawe.com Lindsay

    I LOATHE them. I once thought about putting one on my site but then I thought better of it. I have the opt-in box on my page and I put the link at the end of each article. Believe me, that is sufficient. That pop-up box would just piss people off…especially the people most important to me; those who are already subscribers.

  • http://www.spartanbuddha.com Zeph!

    Not a fan. Feels like homeless people asking for change at intersections or a dude begging for a second date. If I like a site, I will willingly give them my email.

  • Kev Kaye

    The general consensus among users seems to be “hate hate hate” (as comments here would reinforce), but from marketers I’ve heard of improved opt-in rates with it. So last week I began a pop-up domination test on two of my niche sites. The results have been underwhelming to say the least…

    Site #1: 1,364 impressions – 0 opt-ins
    Site #2: 773 impressions – 0 opt-ins

    Now I know the results could be due to a number of variables and I’m still going to do some tinkering before I call it a bust, but early indications are less than great.


  • http://taragentile.com Tara Gentile

    I have a feeling they are useful & effective for sites with less-than-savvy readership. If you’re looking to build an audience that’s surfing a variety of sites, sticking around for a while, and doing their homework – you’re better off without a pop up.

    • http://thedigitalpost.co.uk Jose Jimenez

      Tara and I think you are right. I don’t like them and I never read them. I close them as soon as they appear. They work though from what a lot of people say so I guess it’s a case of looking at your target market and making a decision.

  • http://www.tradingsimply.com David Thomas

    I hate them. I’ve never signed up to one of them and when one ‘pops up’ on a website it immediately makes me suspicious of the site i.e. I am on my guard for other no-no’s such as blatant/spammy looking advertising rather than focussing on the content. But that’s just me. This is why I have resisted putting one on my blog. I know not everyone will agree with me but I don’t want to take the risk. Also, there is a lot of debate going on among bloggers that the subscribers that pop ups generate are low quality and are less likely to purchase from you and more likely to unsubscribe once they get the giveaway.

  • http://heartofminneapolis.com Colleen

    As a consumer, I hate them. If I have never been to your site before, I’m going to evaluate your content before I decide to subscribe. Therefore, a popup box before I’ve even read the article I’m there to read is presumptuous, at best.

    I am, in fact, so annoyed by them that I close the box without even looking at any “freebies” or what-have-you that you’re offering me. Just click the “X,” and done. I will still read the article, because your lede was enough to pull me in. But I am LESS likely to then search for a subscription box unless you’ve really wowed me.

    So adding a subscription popup means your content has be even more epic for me to care. It probably doesn’t change my bounce time, but it does change how likely I am to subscribe – for the worse.

    A call to action at the bottom – or even the top – of an article is much more effective. If I’ve just read an article I really like, and at the end, you have a call to action to subscribe, I’m VERY likely to subscribe and check it out. I may unsubscribe later, but you’ve at least gotten your chance to pitch to me.

  • http://www.drawify.com Andy M

    I hate them with the burning passion of 1000 suns. In stead of clicking the “X” to close the pop up, I click the “X” to close the site.

  • Susan Wilkinson

    Pop-ups are like someone walking in front of your television, computer, or movie screen right at the most important moment. You’re riveted to the screen reading and BAM! Some jerk blocks your view. The feeling ranges from mild irritation to outright assault depending if it hits at just the right moment. I leave INSTANTLY because my experience has just been ruined. Trust is all but obliterated unless I really know your work. Then I just think, “Wow, you really screwed up with this decision.” Pop ups feel like squeeze pages to me.

    Sure, more people sign up, but why? How many unsub or mark you as spam later? What is the quality of the sign up and is a sign up, even if good, worth irritating your reader?

    Other than that, I have no opinion. ;)

  • http://themileshighlife.com Andrew

    Honestly, they fucking annoy me.

    I have signed up for a few, but only on sites where I would have signed up anyway. On sites which I have less of a vested interest in they normally turn me away.

    I have read about the increase in sign-ups that they offer, but I have to stay true to myself and will never use something that annoys me so much.

  • http://liverealnow.net Jason@LiveRealNow

    I use GReader, so I rarely see them. When I do, the totally kill navigation on my Blackberry. They move and the close button is almost never visible, so I am chased away from the site. Yuck.

  • http://www.quittingthe9to5.com Owen @ Quitting The 9 To 5

    I can’t say the endear me to a site. Like Colleen, my biggest peeve with them is when I have not even read a site before and I am being asked to sign up. Perhaps if there was a setting on them that meant they did not pop up until a minimum of 2 posts had been read???
    However I know several people have seen large increases in sign up when using them so I guess they are here to stay. For my own sites I will probably split test them and see what affect they have.

  • http://limecubemarketing.com/blog Simon Mason

    Personally I’m not a fan – the pop ups interrupt my reading and as a subscriber to the school of permission marketing it seems a lot like the tv ads we all use Tivo to skip.

    That said any good marketer should conduct a test on something before dismissing it out of hand, also don’t read too much into other people’s results – just because pop-ups do or don’t work for site x doesn’t mean they will or won’t work for your site.

    My final word on this is that good, useful content and an easy to find yet unobtrusive sign up box with a good offer should work better for most people than pop ups which will almost certainly increase your bounce rate and may do very little for your subscription rate.


  • http://alexwhalley.com Alex

    LOL hit a nerve with some I think.

    I use them and I dont see what the problem is. Like anything it comes down to how you use them.
    I set mine to pop up instantly so as to not annoy anyone midsentence, and if they do not like it they can simply X out. I also use Pop Up Dom and set it to show once every 30 days. I think that is not forcing anything and to be honest, when I see a consistent opt in of over 10 a day with it activated and I get maybe 3 at best with out it – why would I not love it!?!

    The people here who hate them with a passion are just jealous that they have not figured out the right offer LOL

    Really people – this is marketing, and if it works and I make 10k more a year because of it. oh but I pissed you off in the process?

    Whatever – I really couldn’t give a shit.

    Pop ups – like anything in life, if used wisely – can be a really great addition to a site.

    • http://themileshighlife.com Andrew

      Well, I can’t speak for everyone but you didn’t annoy me and I am certainly not jealous. We have different paths in life, and I would rather be 10k poorer but with my integrity and principles intact.

      If your principles are fine with you using a pop-up, then that’s fine with me, after all you have to do (or ought to do) what is consistent with your own ethics.

      • http://www.realityburst.com Eugene

        I’m definitely with Alex on this one. Plus I signed up for his course (can’t remember if I did it through a popup) and darn glad I did. It’s one of the best niche-building courses online – and it’s free.

        I’m not sure how ethics play into it. You’re not killing anyone. it’s a popup. I think people are getting a little out of hand here. It IS marketing after all.

        If you are willing to miss out on great content because there is a popup, then I think that you are the one missing out, not the host.

        Still trying to figure out when this became a question of morality…

        • http://themileshighlife.com Andrew

          It’s about PERSONAL morality. I don’t like them, so I would never use them. If I were to use them I would be compromising my integrity by foisting something I don’t like on to others.

          If you like them and get reward from them then that’s great!

          • http://ballsify.com Andy

            I would never drink a Coke, but I have no moral problem with offering you one. Especially if I run a restaurant.

            It’s simply a matter of context.

        • http://alexwhalley.com Alex

          First off, THANKS MAN! I appreciate the kudos Eugene – especially from a blogger as prolific as yourself.

          Now as for the comment – and the ensuing debarcle…

          “If you are willing to miss out on great content because there is a popup, then I think that you are the one missing out, not the host.”

          THAT pretty much sums up what I was trying to say and also how I feel when I see a popup on another site.

          As for Andrews comments, I can totally see where he is coming from and can respect the perspective completely – However Andrew – I do feel that you have taken the ideal of ‘integrity’ and misaligned it with the intentions of the pop up.
          The Pop up is not there to steal your wallet and fleece your mother in law of her inheritance – it is there to offer value on top of what already exists.

          Like Eugene, I can’t see where morality comes into this equation at all.
          Thanks for engaging though – that’s what it’s all about in the end right? ;)

          Oh and LOVE the comment Andy added at the end about the Coke.
          Touche my friend – well almost anyway :)

          • http://themileshighlife.com Andrew

            I wrote a big ass rant about the question of ethics – I’m not sure how Corbett feels about some things (bad language, vitriol, invective etc. lol) so put it on my own blog: http://themileshighlife.com/2011/morals-integrity-and-pop-ups/

            If you’re easily offended, then don’t read it.

            Also I don’t even know what Corbett’s stance is on them? Interested in hearing that.

    • http://velonomad.com Tim

      God it’s not as if pop ups are killing puppies.

      Principles and ethics have nothing to do with it.

      They’re simply a lead channel.

      Done right, unobtrusively, they are fine. Chris Guillebeau uses a subtle one (not instant) and I’d say he is a pretty cool dude.

      I’d be happy having pop ups if it meant an extra 10k a year.

  • http://www.everydaylanguagelearner.com Aaron

    I have never clicked on one – except the X to close it. Pop ups are strange. Everyone who uses them says they are the most effective way to build subscribers. Everyone else absolutely hates them. Like really hates.

    Is it worth it?

    • Tanith

      True. It seems like the people who hate them talk about the annoyance of their own experience as a user. The people who love them talk about the benefits they get as bloggers. No one seems to say, “I love pop-ups because it makes it so easy to sign up for blogs.”

      So then, what is better? The business benefits, or not annoying your potential readers?

  • http://www.digitalphotoflow.com Kayla

    On bad sites I loathe them. On sites with amazing content and a compelling offer they are nice because I don’t have to hunt around to find the place to get more info. It’s all about the content.

  • http://www.digitalphotoflow.com Kayla

    Another thought – most sites that I have opted in immediately I have come from another page where I had a chance to read more about what the site with the popup had to offer. Like the Authority Blogger – hear about him from Corbett and by the time I got to his site I knew I wanted his info.

  • http://twitter.com/KarimBenyagoub Karim Benyagoub

    Hello Corbett,

    Even though I am totally indifferent to pop ups (never sign up through them because I’m looking for something in particular, and by God it’s never the free stuff or freebies) I don’t understand why people use them to get subscribers who may sign up directly without getting to know the author/ his or her business, and what the website is about exactly.

    I prefer to land on websites/authors who carefully choose their subscribers, which is a sign of quality service.

    Whenever I land on a site with a pop up, the first impression I have is that the author lacks more finesse to get subscribers, or he or she doesn’t have any finesse at all in his/her communication, otherwise they wouldn’t use pop ups, unless for testing, and even for testing I don’t think it’s a smart thing to put a pop up as soon as a visitor comes in, unless it’s used differently:

    There are some smart people who use pop ups at particular levels of a page, once you scrolled down for example, so, pop ups aren’t really a problem, they can be even nice and pleasant, the problem is putting them in front of a visitor at second #1. I would never do that.

  • http://theboomerangkid.com Lindsay

    Definitely a hot topic, but I didn’t know people disliked them that much! As a user, I don’t mind them. If I’m visiting a new blog / website, I appreciate seeing the ebook or free giveaway that the site is offering. I often close them until I’ve read a few posts or figured out whether the blog is useful for me.

    I have two sites, one is my blogging site (I currently have no pop-ups there) and the other is geared toward my business (I’m currently testing a pop-up with Pippity to give away a free ebook).

    I don’t anticipate installing a pop-up on my blog because it seems somewhat intrusive. I want people to stay and read and subscribe if they feel like the content / community is something they want to be a part of. If I did install one, I would set it to pop-up only after the user had finished reading a post.

    My business site serves a different audience and type of user, though. I’ve found that the pop-up is very successful for building my list. It gives me the opportunity to keep in contact with people I hand out my business cart to when they visit my site for the first time. And with Pippity, you can control the pop-up so it’s less annoying.

  • http://downthewriterspath.com Vikk Simmons

    I do NOT like pop-ups. They’re like annoying children tugging on your shirt wanting attention who refuse to go away. I instantly click them away. I hate them because I’ll be in the middle of reading whatever is on the site and the pop up, stop my reading and break my train of thought. I don’t even read them. I click them off. And sometimes I just leave the site. It’s not worth it.

    And I don’t click through.

    I don’t mind the normal email opt-ins on pages for list building. They are usually not in the way and if I want to take advantage of what’s offered or be on the list I will.

  • http://www.payingoffstudentloanshq.com Peter Carrick

    I would pay to never see them again!

    However, they can work in some niches where people are not that tech savvy.

  • http://wellnessthenaturalway.com Sarah O’Leary

    I’m in the hate camp. They are obnoxious and annoying. I have NEVER decided to subscribe because of one, and in fact they often deter me from subscribing. But, if I find the blog or site valuable I will just close it and continue exploring it. So – it’s an annoyance and gets chalked up in the ‘con’ column. But it’s not a deal-killer for me.

  • http://www.livecollarfree.com/ James Schipper

    All the big, successful sites use them, so they obviously work. I doubt people complaining about them have big, successful sites (myself included).

    I am not a fan. Whether on mobile, or whether they pop up even when you’re already subscribed or you just don’t store cookies, it’s annoying and obtrusive. If a site uses them poorly like that, I either unsubscribe if it isn’t worth it to read, or RSS only if it is.

  • http://letgoandflow.com David

    The popup is so effective, I don’t really care if people hate them. My theory is that the people that hate popups are usually internet savvy people that are also not likely to click on advertisements or affiliate links.

    So even if my popup does prevent some people from becoming a reader of my site, they probably weren’t going to make me a dime anyway. That being said, only a small percentage of people are actually going to leave a site because they see a popup. Most people see a popup, say “O MAN A F***ING POPUP”, close it out, and continue reading.

    If someone can show me evidence that a popup decreases my audience, then I would consider removing it.

    • http://velonomad.com Tim

      I don’t know if this is accurate.

      On my cycling travel website, I have turned them off (I have sidebar opt ins) and the site is trafficked by high net wealth, highly educated, tech savvy bodies.

      85% of my visitors click on affiliate links from product reviews.

  • http://www.alistblogmarketing.com Barrie/A-List Blog Marketing

    Hi Corbett,
    This is a perfectly-timed post! Mary Jaksch and I just launched a new blog marketing blog with the focus on marketing with integrity. Of course we had the discussion about Pop-Ups and ultimately decided to use one. Most of us bloggers are over-exposed to Pop-ups, so they can be a real annoyance, especially if they are offering something you don’t need or trap you on a page. However, if your Pop-Up offers something really valuable and useful for your reader, then it’s a viable way to draw their attention to it. And since we are teaching blog marketing, we thinks it’s important to show our followers how Pop-Ups work for us. There is no question that they increase subscribers. I think it is fair to look at Pop-ups in the context of the overall blog or site. If the entire site is cheesy, salesy, and full of hype, then the Pop-up is just an extension of that. If the blog is professional, reasonable, and valuable, then the Pop-up could be the entryway into something really great for the reader.

    • http://www.jokeandbiagio.com Biagio

      As a new fan of your site, I was glad to hear your opinion on pop-ups. Actually, I believe it was your pop-up that made me decide to try on one our blog, which we’ll be adding in the next week or so. As a blog reader, I’ve singed up for many reports, ebooks, and videos through pop-ups, and usually find I get good value. Glad to hear the “pop-up” fits with your “Good Karma” marketing approach.

  • http://bobandrosemary.com Dr. Bob Clarke

    As a blog reader, HATE ‘EM!, especially when they hit you as soon as you get on the page. But the ones what are timed to pop up after 15-30 secs are just as annoying, because by then I am right in the middle of reading a post.

    As a blog owner, still hate ‘em but use them sparingly because they do seem to convert. But I try to use them in a reader -friendly manner — I’ve set them so they pop up when the visitor goes to leave the page.

  • http://languagemastery.com John Fotheringham

    I was reluctant to use one on my site as I find them somewhat annoying myself, but decided to run an A/B test anyway. Email sign ups quadrupled with the AWeber hover form compared to a regular sidebar form.

  • http://www.tradingsimply.com David Thomas

    OK. You guys from the dark side seem to have no complaints about using pop ups even though they annoy your readers, that’s fair enough. I have a serious question. Do you see a quantifiable correlation between pop up use and the quality of your subscribers? By quality I mean, are they likely stay a subscriber? The reason I ask is because I may join the dark side.

    • http://letgoandflow.com David

      This is probably the best argument against popups. I’m sure the quality of your subscribers goes down with the use of popups. However, you are probably going to get a lot of subscribers that you never would have gotten otherwise.

    • http://velonomad.com Tim

      What’s the point of that? I’d rather 1000 quality subs who will buy stuff than 10,000 people who won’t.

  • Tanith

    If it was after 5 visits, or 10 visits, they may be helpful. If I’ve been there 5 times, maybe I do want to sign up for emails or subscribe to their feed. Personally, I’d prefer an RSS button to add it to my feeds, because that’s how I choose to receive content.

    The first time? I haven’t even seen their content. I don’t know if I’m even interested in the blog post I’m looking at (whether it suits my needs), never mind if I’m interested in what they’re saying. It just turns me off.

  • http://www.hollandz.com Brad

    Easy Answer: They SUCK!
    I wrote a little tid-bit about them. (contains naughty language)

  • http://themins.com Joshua Millburn | The Minimalists


    I love pop-ups! In fact, refuse to visit a website unless it has pop-ups that interrupt my reading experience and waste by precious time. I mean, come on, I love how they circumvent my freedom of choice, imposing totalitarian-like dominance of my browser. They only thing I enjoy more is spam email and phone calls from telemarketers.

    OK, in all honesty, I think Leo’s essay yesterday said everything there is to say about this kind of marketing: http://zenhabits.net/shhh/

    Take care,


  • http://wilsonusman.com Wilson Usman

    I get it they work sometimes. BUT I HATE THEM. Worst web invention ever. I think the Hellobar works as good if not better and it looks a lot more professional.

  • http://www.moneyfromgames.com Jeremiah

    My comment is probably just redundant because of everyone else already saying what I think.

    Pop-ups immediately cause me to leave the website. It doesn’t matter if the content is amazing, I will click away because of the complete disrespect the website owner has for his visitors.

    My first issue with them is that there are already multiple opt-in forms all over the website, why add another one that just annoys your visitors? If someone comes to your site and doesn’t opt-in from the sidebar, they probably aren’t going to appreciate the same form being shoved in their face.

    My second issue is that it comes off as desperate or needy. You should be spending time doing something that helps your reader before you ask for something in return. Give us the option to sign up but don’t shove it down our throats. If the content is good, I will definitely subscribe.

    Alright, enough ranting. Thanks for everything you do on your site, it’s really great stuff. Between you and Pat Flynn, I feel like I’ve got the two best resources in the business.

  • http://vivekmayasandra.com Vivek Mayasandra

    Hate pop-ups. And clearly, so do most. I think it has to do with us as people wanting to control our own web experience – pop-ups are a clear slap in the face to that!
    They may be effective in doing whatever they do on your site, but in the end it depends on whether THAT’s the type of effectivity you’d want for your site!

  • http://diamondkt.blogspot.com David Stehle

    There is a reason why browsers come pre-installed with pop-up blockers…because the vast majority of Internet users HATE them! And simply don’t trust them or the people that use them.

    To me, pop-ups remind me about everything I hate from the Internet from years ago. When the Internet was still relatively new, people had trouble differentiating between real content and an advertisement. So they would click on these pop-ups ads thinking it was real content only to be duped (redirected to some sketchy site, spammed, infected, etc).

    I believe that same ick feeling surrounding pop-ups still lingers on today. It’s why I tell all my non-tech savvy friends DON’T CLICK ON ANY POP-UP! Because you just don’t know.

    Think about it. Would YOU want to give your e-mail address to some random pop-up asking you for it? Probably not.

    I’m always amazed at people that say that pop-ups convert. Then again, the people that are being converted are probably the same ones that take action on those annoying fliers that pushy/desperate salesmen leave under their windshield wipers.

  • http://desiblab.blogspot.com Anshul

    Hey Corbett,

    Popups are highly irritating. I wouldn’t not visit a website beCause it has a lot many of them. I would certainly disable then or write to the webmaster to do the same.


  • http://www.tooltester.net Robert

    I also hate them a lot. Especially when they appear every single time I visit a website no matter if I am on the list already or not. If I don’t know beforehand that the site is giving me great value I will leave immediately.

    • http://cityvids.tv marianney

      Exactly what I was going to say! I hate when I am already subscribed and it keeps asking me everytime I visit (from a link in my email no less!) the site. I’m really surprised that Chris Guillebeau’s site does this actually.

  • lucy

    They might work on the regular population but anyone with any online business experience knows that they are, what they do, what they’re for and thinks they’re super fucking annoying.

  • Colby

    Personally, I don’t mind them except in one case.

    I don’t like it when a pop-up appears to join a mailing list when I haven’t even read a full blog post, or looked through the site (e.g., pop-up appears at beginning or middle of reading a post). That person hasn’t even given me a chance to get to know them before they ask me to join their mailing list. It makes me feel slimed, and I’ll be less likely to join the list.

  • Kristal

    I hate ‘em, and ignore ‘em. I don’t even read them.

  • http://www.mylifestylemax.com Stacey Herbert

    This is simple enough. I can’t stand them. There one of my biggest turn offs on any blog especially as they all look the same, and they seam to interrupt you when you actually are reading. I have never been inclined to subcribe to a blog because of one, and know I never will. There annoying

  • Matt

    Even if the pop up is attractive, I close it on principle. I’ve actually said to my self “huh, that looks kinda cool, unfortunately they use pop-ups, so I won’t be using them any time soon.”

    Food for thought, pop-up users!

    • http://velonomad.com Tim

      Define “use” someone’s site.
      You mean browse free content, right?

      Quid pro quo.

  • http://blueperez.com Blue Perez

    Just say no to popups. They’re all evil.

  • http://www.technbuzz.com Samiullah Khan

    Simply hate them, don’t ask any futher thinktraffic.net, coz you’ll hear against it.

  • http://www.pocketchanged.com Caleb Wojcik

    Thanks for all the great comments everyone!

    Sounds like consensus is that even if pop-ups improve your conversions in the short-term, it is most likely hurting your brand long-term.

  • http://www.paulund.co.uk/ Paul

    Hate them.

    Close them down straight away don’t even look what’s on them. They could be giving away Ferrari’s and I’ll never see it.

  • http://www.kylehepp.com Kyle

    Hate. I leave the site usually immediately if they have a pop up. It’s so spammy.

  • http://alistblogmarketing.com Mary | A-List Blog Marketing

    I love popups!

    About 6 months ago I put a popup on one of my blogs, Goodlife ZEN. My subscription rate went up by 300%. Then, a couple of months later, I decided to take off the popup because I got a complaint.

    But when I saw that my subscriber rate droop without the popup – I put it right back up again. My subscription rate immediately went up by about 300% again :-)

    Has it ruined my brand? I see no evidence of this. The blog is in good heart; it’s a thriving community.

    There’s one thing that’s important, though: what settings you choose.
    I’ve set the popup so that people only ever see the popup once.

  • http://www.lifeliteracylabs.com/ C. A. Kobu

    I find pop-ups really annoying. They resemble the people on the street who push a flyer into your face while you’re passing by. I don’t remember having subscribed through a pop-up. On the contrary, 90% of the time, I’ll leave the entire site because a pop-up appears.

    I know that they are successful with some audiences, but I don’t consider using them. They are not suitable for my audience. Besides, I cannot justify subjecting my readers to something I personally detest.

    I want the kind of subscribers who really like what they read on my blog, who resonate with me and who willingly sign-up because they want more of me. I respect them, and I know that my right people will subscribe for updates and download my free guide Creative Menthol when it’s right for them. I don’t want to disturb them when they’ve just started to discover my site or in the middle of an article they’re reading.

    I also think that using a pop-up is in some way the ‘otherization’ of your reader or visitor. The moment the pop-up sign-up box appears, you have placed yourself and your visitor into two different leagues. The equality is shattered, and the balance has been lost. Now you force him to say yes or no to you. Now, it’s a different relationship.

    Corbett, you always talk about creating and publishing insanely useful stuff and epic shit. Similarly, the total user/visitor experience must also be insanely useful and epic. To that end, pop-ups are not epic. But they surely have become an epidemic.

  • http://www.sarahgiffrow.com Sarah Giffrow Creative

    I’m not a fan of pop-ups, and I discourage my clients from using them. There have been occasional instances when, as a first-time visitor to a web site or blog, a pop-up-style greeting did connect me up with a lot of useful resources on the blogger’s mailing list, and it’s great when that happens. BUT, pop-ups *really* need to be aware of first-time visitors versus repeat traffic, because seeing the same pop-up every time you re-visit a web site is highly annoying, and discourages any user from visiting again.

    Portland web design and web development – Sarah Giffrow Creative

  • http://cityvids.tv marianney

    I get annoyed by them when they pop up and I am in the middle of reading. I always close them and never sign up using them. I intentionally look for a sign up form after I’ve clicked around the site a bit and read and article or two and determine that its worth my time to come back again.

    But I don’t get so pissed that I immediately leave and never come back. That’s just ignorant if there is some potentially good information there.

    Also as I said before, popup sign ups really should know if you have already subscribed bc it gets really annoying to keep closing it everytime I visit, which I will do if I’ve subscribed.

  • http://www.leavingworkbehind.com/ Tom Ewer

    It all depends on which perspective I look at the issue from.

    As a web browser, I hate popups. I like to have control over what I am looking at, and popups circumvent that. I consider them rude and intrusive.

    However, there is a reason why they are still in wide use today – they work. In the past I probably have signed up to newsletters and the like through them, despite my hatred of them – like it or not, they do tend to catch your attention if they are presented in the right way.

    I’m not sure I would ever use popups on my site, but I am probably foolish not to. I have read an awful lot of anecdotal evidence that newsletter subscriptions skyrocket when something like Popup Domination is utilised.

  • http://appeando.com Beny Schonfeld

    It’s definitely a hot topic. And a tricky issue.

    As a user I feel the same way as most people here. Hate’em. As a blogger, I’ve see tons of research showing that they do, in fact, work when used properly. And that’s just the thing… Pop-ups, Affiliate Marketing, Social Media, Blogging… they all work when used properly.

    It’s like anything really: Are all lawyers shit-heads? No, but the consensus seems to be that most of them are. Is affiliate marketing evil? No. Yet Affiliate Marketers have for the most part a terrible reputation because they are disrespectful and abuse people’s trust. Are Pop-ups evil? I’d argue that not all pop-ups are created equal… and in my personal experience not all produce the same reaction in me.

    A lot of people seem to think that no matter how shitty your content, slap a popup plugin on your blog and it will increase opt-ins. Of course not.

    Then there are successful bloggers out there, that I consider ethical, kind, generous, and generate value through every post they write, that are using pop-ups. Again,if they didn’t work, they wouldn’t exist.

    A good example is Jonathan Fields. He is a great person, runs a great blog, and he uses a pop-up. Thing is his pop-up only appears once you’ve finished reading the post. And because he delivers value with every blog post, I would argue that people are absolutely more willing to sign-up to his list at that point. And don’t actually mind the thing at all!

    For me, the big problem is that people tend to abuse the tools at their reader’s expense. Perhaps out of ignorance, I really don’t know why. Maybe it’s utter desperation. They are willing to do anything to get their blog/biz going.

    Does that mean pop-ups are evil or ineffective? I don’t think so…

  • http://www.sharpbizimage.com Rebecca Olkowski

    Thank you so much for asking our opinion about pop ups. I think we get hood winked by hard core marketers into thinking they are useful for the purpose of us spending money purchasing them. Why would you subscribe to someone’s blog before reading it and making sure it is something you want more information about? People may sign up at first (to get the pop up out of the way) but probably unsubscribe eventually unless the content they are receiving is stellar. Although I usually don’t leave a blog because of a pop up, I never subscribe on the actual pop up itself. For most blogs I save the RSS feed read posts on Igoogle which is my home page. It’s like reading my own customized magazine.

  • http://www.mylifechanges.com/ Terry Vermeylen

    Love them. Best thing I ever did to have people sign up to my news letter. However I do offer some terrific free goodies with the pop up as well.

  • http://www.livingauthentically.org Evan

    Glad to see most bloggers hate them as much as me and for the same reason – they are rude.

    I’m interested in whether they work for different audiences. (If they work with the non-savvy their life is limited and I will be glad to see the end of them.) It may be that they work in the make-money-online market and not so well in other markets. It would be interesting to see if they work best in the sales oriented market where it is likely assumed that people are in it for themselves.

    I’m glad that those who use them are generally happy to admit that they don’t care about rudeness or their readers. My problem with this is that it affects the rest of us. I really don’t want blogging to become the equivalent of the ‘used care salesperson’ – being regarded as just a lot of hypey, spammy tricks to make money. I value blogging more than this. But those who don’t care about their readers likely don’t care about their impact on other bloggers either.

  • Manspaugh

    The only people who like them are those using them.

    PLEASE STOP USING THEM!!! Popup Dom is for those who HATE their audience. Somebody would make a LOT of money if they came up with a plugin that changed the whole landscape of getting email opt-ins.

  • http://www.minimalistpackrat.com Tanja

    Even on my most commercial projects I’ve never used a pop-up. One of those folding at the edge of the page flash bits, yeah, but not a pop-up.

    I don’t subscribe to sites that use them either.

  • http://zahlm.com Hugh Kimura

    If I am visiting a site with popups, I automatically close them down. It’s a reflex. I will still visit the site though if it has good info. As a website owner myself, I understand the need to implement them and how effective they are. I am going to start using them on my niche sites.

    With my primary blogs however, I don’t use them. I tried Ultimate Footer Ads for awhile, but I personally thought that they were an eyesore and didn’t convert well (but that’s just me, it works great for some people). At this point, my favorite is Stripe Ad Pro. It is subtle and can be set to stick on the top of the page, even when the reader scrolls. I think it’s the best alternative for my blogs.

    I think it just depends on the site and the audience. Test, test, test!

  • http://cashwithatrueconscience.com/rbblog/4-reasons-why-twitter-is-still-a-premier-internet-marketing-tool/ Ryan Biddulph

    Hi Caleb,

    I don’t mind pop ups.

    Most people don’t hate pop-ups; they are simply impatient. If you like what a blogger has to say you might just want to subscribe,,and a pop up is a great tool to do this with. If you don’t want to sign up, patiently wait a few seconds and click on the “X”.

    The more emotional reaction to a topic – see these comments – the less patience, the more whining, and the more wasted negative energy. Silly.

    I’ve used pop ups for months. My subscriber rates went up 5 fold. So I continue to use them, because I know I offer immense value on my blog, and if somebody is not patient enough to wait 2 seconds to X out of a pop-up we are a poor match, anyway.

    The calm ones stick around and either sign up or chill and hit an “X” button. These are the people I want to connect with, not the whiners and complainers.

    Thanks for asking the question ;)


  • http://www.diamondguidehq.com/ Richard Scott

    Hate them! I feel the same as pretty much everyone here. It’s annoying and drives me crazy. When I go to a site and I see a pop up, I close it without looking at it. Bugs me. I don’t like pushy salespeople and I don’t like pushy marketers. Makes them look desperate.

    I used to visit some blogs until they put up pop ups, now I stay away because I’m tired to having to close it every time. Maybe they should just cut to the chase and ask me for my credit card number.

    What’s funny is one of the blogs I’m subscribed to, I go there and I still see the stupid pop up. Come on!

    I also like it when they have a pre-checked box under the comment form that if you miss it, it automatically subscribes you. WRONG!!!

    I don’t like giving out my email. I hate spam. And just about all the free stuff that bloggers give away are crap made just to get my subscription. Then comes the tons of emails asking me to buy products they just started using 2 minutes ago… blah.

    If I want to sign up, I’ll look for the sign up form.

  • http://darkmobius.com Andrew Molloy

    I know they’re very effective for building up email lists, that’s the bottom line from a pure numbers point of view but I’d be reluctant to use them because personally I can’t stand them. A simple sign in box at the side of the page etc is enough if I want to sign up to a list.

  • http://www.skyrocketseo.co.uk James Agate

    I think part of it comes down to the industry you use them in, many of us internet marketing types hate them because we are so aware of them…I know I’ve never given my email address via a popup/lightbox because it’s very difficult to judge whether the site/blogger is worth giving your email address to if you have just arrived or had a few seconds to read some of their content.

    That being said, in some consumer markets that are less aware of the real purpose behind these kinds of popups, they can be a very effective tool for prompting people into giving their email address.

    The thing I struggle with popups and with services like paywithatweet is that you are forcing people to take some action before they even know if you are any good and that’s the fundamental reason I won’t use it in my business.

    • http://velonomad.com Tim

      Can’t agree re: Pay with a Tweet. It’s awesome, especially if you give people the option of using PWAT, or paying (like for an ebook).

      And who said people can’t make a judgement on the content/item/etc? If you do a bunch of pre-sale reveal on a sales page then give people the option it’s up to them what they do wrt to PWAT or paying.

  • http://ballsify.com Andy

    This is NOT a moral issue.

    It has nothing at all to do with principles or manners. More to the point, nine times out of ten, it doesn’t actually matter what you personally like. Because you probably aren’t the target audience of most sites online.

    Every site owner who wants to be successful is going to have to find ways to cater to the needs/desires of that site’s target audience. If you come to my site and decide you don’t want what I have, you are not in my audience, and I don’t want you on my list, because you will never be the client I want you to be.

    On some sites, pop-ups may be perfectly acceptable to the target audience. In that case, you have no right to judge whether or not it’s “right” to use a pop-up form.

    It’s the site owner’s job to figure this out. If the site is geared toward a savvy audience like Think Traffic certainly has, the chances of a pop-up annoying readers is much higher. Marketing to marketers is different from marketing to consumers.

    Never forget that you are not your market. If you’re using niche sites to attract subscribers for colon cleanse affiliate promos, you should probably consider pop-ups, because the tactic fits that market.

    If you own a site, your own opinion on pop-ups is totally irrelevant. It only matters what your audience responds to.

    No other arguments count.

  • http://www.fluentin3months.com Benny Lewis

    This same discussion is going on in Corbett’s Google Plus. Someone was defending pop-ups (with some pretty weak arguments; there are better ones in comments here), and here was my retort:

    Of course conversion rates are better. I’ve heard this broken record as justification dozens of times. When you force a sign up on people, taking over their entire browser interface, more will sign-up. But as Corbett says, you’ll convert the wrong people. Pop-ups cater to childish people with short attention spans.

    Forgetting about how damn annoying it is, tell me what your metrics are for open rates and unsubscribes. It’s short sighted of you to focus only on subscriptions. It’s annoying AND impractical.

    As well as that, your bio says you’re an Internet Marketer, so you have no brand to protect or image to uphold. To be frank, too many internet marketers online are only interested in numbers and provide little or NO content. If they do provide content you have to jump through many many loops (almost no free content at all, email sign-ups, page 1 of 25 lists etc.) that reduces the impact of the message and reminds you that it’s really just all about the money.

    Sorry but I see it as nothing but greediness on the part of the person doing it. Trying to get rid of that rubbish polluting the Internet and my browsing experience and comparing it to me tearing down things in stores shows how clouded your mind is.

    And your comparison to junk mail is appropriate. You said it, not me. If it weren’t for Gmail’s very good spam filter I’d stop using email entirely. The same way I stop using these websites. I read content of some friends of mine that have popups, but refuse to visit their sites because of the popups. I’ll only read it by RSS. And the most important thing? As much as I love them, I’m never subscribing to their email lists, or will get their offer and unsubscribe immediately. You will have a majority of compulsive people subscribing, who will just as quickly unsubscribe.

    An eager pop-up tells me one thing: I am spamming you now, so I will spam your inbox later too.

    Another thing to consider is the cultural aspect. In North America advertising is so in-your-face that Americans and Canadians just get used to it. In some parts of the rest of the world we don’t force feed people in the same way, and find such approaches offensive. When non-Americans see such things it’s extremely off putting.

    How many people here have new-window pop-ups disabled by default? :) The spam e-mail sign-up pop-up will die very soon. Either people will learn to have quick reflexes for that top-right X, or browsers will disable them as intrusive.

    • http://velonomad.com Tim

      This convinced me. Nothing else did until now.

  • http://www.livingauthentically.org Evan

    Beautifully and eloquently put Benny, thankyou.

  • http://www.tradingsimply.com David Thomas

    Indeed it is very well put. @ Benny, I have asked a similar question in regards to the quality of subscribers/unsubscribe rates in an earlier comment but no-one who has a pop up on their blog/website has answered this. I don’t know whether this is because they are only focussed on the numbers and don’t care about such metrics or they do not know how to quantify them.

    I do think the argument that most if not all of us here are blog/website owners makes us more savvy and therefore more likely to click that X when we see a pop up is a weak one. The reason is simple: pop ups are spammy and there is no getting away from it.

  • http://malexperience.com Graham Phoenix | Male eXperience

    I am amazed at the passions aroused by something so simple. For me the fascinating thing is the age old idea that ‘selling’ is BAD BAD BAD! All those here who gladly surf people’s sites and soak up all the free information am then demand that it is ONLY offered FREE without anything given back. Benny, you really ought to think a bit more about what you are saying. What about junk readers who never give anything back!

    The best thing I can say to all the haters who put all sorts of extraordinary interpretations o popups is – GET OVER IT. Don’t pretend that you are not selling as well, because you are. You all want readers but are too scared to sek them out.

    The ethics of bloggers gets to me sometimes! Go back and read Mary Jaksch’s comment again. She is an extremely ethical person who finds that well used popups are supported by her readers. She is successful and highly respected – GO FIGURE!

  • http://www.livingauthentically.org Evan

    Graham, you seem to have some passion yourself. I have not said that I am not selling, neither has anyone else I’ve read here who is against pop-ups.

    Some of those against them are against for business reasons.

    I, and perhaps a lot of the others, are against rudeness and not caring about customers. There is a business case for courtesy and caring for customers.

    I am not at all scared of seeking readers out. I have social media buttons at the bottom of my posts and have done guest posts to find more readers. I also comment on other posts knowing that others will read my comments and hopefully want to read more of what I have to say.

  • http://malexperience.com Graham Phoenix | Male eXperience

    It’s the fact that you characterise them as rude and not caring that is interesting! What are you reflecting in yourself?

    Hmmm… Guest posts and commenting to find readers! That smacks of exploiting someone elses’s site to get traffic for your own. Are you saying that the reason you comment is to get readers. Surely it’s far more honest and ethical to put up a popup rather than to try and slip under the radar?

  • http://www.livingauthentically.org Evan

    I take it you agree then about rudeness.

    My commenting on anothers site in no way takes away from them and quite possibly benefits them. Mutual benefit is not exploitation.

    It depends on if your ethics promote rudeness I suppose.

  • http://malexperience.com Graham Phoenix | Male eXperience


    Popups are not rude. The idea of rudeness only comes from people who characterise them as such. I do not find them rude. I often just delete them because They get in the way, that has nothing to do with rudeness.

    How do get from here to the idea that my, or others ethics, promote rudeness. The rudeness is in your eyes and reflects issues you have.

    Thank you for the discussion.


  • http://www.fluentin3months.com Benny Lewis

    They are rude. Period. If you think this means that Evan has an Oedipus complex or some psychological defect then that shows more about YOU than it does him.

    We all have techniques to expand our audience, but pop-ups are unnecessarily pushy. Don’t block the very content the user has come to the site to see!! Many other techniques are peripheral to the content.

    But rather than trying to convince greedy marketers, here’s another solution for everyone. Install this Chrome plugin https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/abckjldgppcaijlhpdjipckhehlpenbf?hc=search&hcp=main (the Firefox one will be made available this weekend – my friend @yearlyglot will likely tweet it out), and tweet it and share it with others so we can improve everyone’s browsing experience.

    Trying to convince people with dollar signs in their eyes is too hard. It’s better to level the playing field and take away their chance to spam us in the first place. If I had my way this plugin would be merged with adblock plus for greater coverage.

    As I said before boxes that BLOCK text I’m trying to read will go extinct very soon. The Internet at large will get wise about it, or technical advances like these plugins will make them impossible to implement. They are on the way out, thank feck.

    I actually specifically mentioned these terrible pop-ups in my guest post on this blog last week. NOT having one is the reason one of my posts went viral. I guarantee you that it would never have happened if all I cared about was getting more trigger happy subscribers that will likely unsubscribe soon anyway or never open my emails, and pulled a curtain over the post.

  • http://malexperience.com Graham Phoenix | Male eXperience

    Thanks for that, Benny…

    “…rather than trying to convince greedy marketers…”

    That is such a derogatory remark and is completely unnecessary! I find what you say rude, but that’s my problem. It won’t stop me reading your site because you have a great site with great content. What I think of you is something different.

    There are ways to use popups and there are ways not to. I would have loved to have seen a discussion that looked at this instead of a hatefest. Most of the comments have been well meaning but have not advanced the understanding of the situation.

  • Mark Conger

    I close them immediately and never read them.

    Also, as I browse the web a LOT with an iPad over 3G, pop overs tend to take a while to load so I end up being able to close them well before their content even appears.

    I have always hated pop ups, pop overs, pop unders, etc. It’s an insult to think I can’t be trusted to read the web site before deciding whether to subscribe. I’ll never use them on my sites. Period.

  • http://www.fluentin3months.com Benny Lewis

    @Graham This issue really touches a nerve as it genuinely pisses me off when my screen is blacked out or blocked by me simply scrolling down.

    The best way to use a popup is to not use it at all. The only “discussion” you’d find about best ways to use it would be from marketers about tweaking this colour or that position so that conversions go up another 5%, ignoring what’s happening behind the scenes when people see the bloody thing.

    You should never destroy good content by blocking it and hijacking control of the reader’s browsing experience so abruptly. No other marketing feature that’s in common use does that as rudely as popups. There may be ads on a page (which I also dislike), but at least that’s clear from the start and someone can adjust to ignore them and focus on the content. I hate unwelcome visual surprises when I’m already on a website.

    When you get your feedback from metrics of pure sign-up numbers (ignoring other data I’ve mentioned), you miss the bigger picture of how people react when they actually see it. It comes across as terribly spammy. You may not like that word but it’s a fact that it’s how I and many others react to it.

    Yes, of course when you ask the question 99% will say they hate it, and this should tell you something. If you ever get that kind of feedback on anything it’s a clear sign of how you need to proceed. The only exception I can possibly think of is a marketing blog where so many readers would consider it to be a “necessary evil” that they don’t mind seeing it themselves.

    As well as this, they repeatedly appear for sites that claim to only show it to you once. The programmers behind them do very poor jobs at making these features work.

    And that’s what it all boils down to. Who cares about user experience? It’s all about subscriber numbers.

    Others raise good points about them fecking up the screen on tablets and smartphones. They do no good at all for anyone but someone who likes seeing one particular metric to grow faster in aweber – I stand by what I said, it’s a greedy means to get more subscribers and it’s short sighted.

  • http://malexperience.com Graham Phoenix | Male eXperience


    You make some great points there, thank you.

    “You should never destroy good content by blocking it and hijacking control of the reader’s browsing experience so abruptly.”
    “Others raise good points about them fecking up the screen on tablets and smartphones.”

    This is smart advice that should be considered. They’re not rude or something to hate, but there is evidence that they can harm the user experience and so harm your brand or reputation. That sort of argument I can think about and consider.

    All the ridiculous, negative diatribes are not arguments and cut no ice.

    Thanks for your contribution, Benny.


  • http://www.mikeforshort.com Mike Moyer

    I don’t mind them if they only pop up once. I can’t stand the newer ones that take up 1/4 of the screen with “Like what you’ve read…Subscribe Etc.” and you can’t get rid of them.

  • Sandy

    Add me to “team hate”. Pop-ups pop up too quickly – before you even get a chance to see if you like the site. I have never signed up on a pop-up. I immediately close it and read what I came there to read, then decide if I want to sign up.
    And what kind of fool has a pop-up instead of an opt-in? Surely you should have both. I’ve already closed the pop-up, now I can’t find anywhere to sign up if I wanted to. And you’ve lost me.
    If I can’t work out how to close a pop-up (some can be tricky), I close the browser and leave without reading any content.
    I know the guru’s say otherwise, but pop-up’s simply do not work (for me – as a visitor). And no, I don’t use them on my sites either.

  • http://treatmenttalk.org Cathy | Treatment Talk

    I seem to feel the same way as most of the commenters. I find them annoying. Just as I am starting to read, the pop-up blocks my view of the screen. It feels like the blogger is screaming at me to subscribe. Good question, though as they seem to be a point of controversy among bloggers.

  • http://reworkingtoday.com/ Derek Jensen

    I believe pop ups are only good when they are used at the most appropriate times for the user.

    Right when you load a site: no! You might as well just create a landing page instead and direct them there.

    I do think pop ups are good when a user has already downloaded something, left a comment, scrolled down to read an entire post, or contributed to your site in some way.

  • http://www.kreativne-resitve.si/home Igor

    They seem cheeap to me. Site owner is trying to immediately sell something to me, and I don´t like that. I think they underestimate the intelligence of visitors, though they can probably be effective in certain niches.

  • http://www.tradingsimply.com David Thomas

    This is a fascinating discussion. We have those who despise them completely as the work of the devil to those who see nothing wrong with them as they have increased subscriber rates 5 fold and higher in some instances. There are arguments for and against, most of which is against. Those for them say that their audience are somehow not savvy enough to understand the spammy nature of pop ups which is quite low. I’m still waiting for quantifiable evidence of subscriber rates, unsubscribe rates and the value of each subscriber sought through a pop up i.e. are they more likely to buy from you/are they more likely to unsubscribe etc. Even if the evidence is positive, they are still a rude and spammy distraction for readers of blogs. Can’t wait for the firefox pop up blocker!

  • verónica

    What i ve to say about them is…DON’T INTERRUPT!!!

  • http://www.fluentin3months.com Benny Lewis

    Simple solution to the problem is to have an off switch. Here is the universal opt-out for Firefox:
    (Chrome plugin linked above).
    Here’s to no more spam taking over our browsing experience!

  • http://www.successfromhometraining.com Liz

    I ABSOLUTELY hate them.. I thought I was the only one who hate them because a few of my friends keep telling me to get over it.. This is why I HATE them.. I land into a page and before I get to read what the blog is all about, Bang!!! I am blocked with a big pop up form that want my information.

    Now being that I blog, I know what that is all about, and I do have a form on my blog. My thing is, let me read a little about your blog and trust see me, if you have good content that I can relate with, I will definitely opt in. But don’t ask me for my information before I know what your site is all about..

    Its really like meeting someone for the first time and in the first 5 minutes they want your phone number, family information and your physical address.. Well, you would not be providing that info until you get to know that person.. I feel the same with blogs that blocks me with annoying forms before I get to read them. Also like someone commented above, I hate the ones that pops up and block me 10 or 20 seconds into the page.. some of them even have the X hidden so you have to really look hard to close it.. Such I don’t have the patience, I just leave the sites.. Others have taken it further with opt in and you will not see any site’s content unless you provide your information. You only see a greyed out background..

    In conclusion not for me.. Thanks for asking this and letting me vent, I have been wanting to do this for a long time. Sorry all of you bloggers that love the pop up forms, we just agree to disagree.

  • http://www.tradingsimply.com David

    @Benny: awesome!

  • http://www.stayandfetch.com Sandee

    I think popups are the ultimate in rudeness. To me it’s a blaring sign of desperation. Don’t hit me over the head with what you think I want because chances are you’re wrong. Treating your customers with a little dignity will go a lot further.

  • http://www.WPTrainingVideos.com Mercer

    From a user viewpoint, pop-ups are a nuisance.

    Truthfully, there are some blogs that I still return to because the content is worth a temporary annoyance.

    Most of the time, however, the pop-up brands the site as more concerned about itself. Wouldn’t it be better if the site were designed to cater to the users needs?

    From a marketing perspective, pop-ups offer another way to “ask for the sale.”

    They bring to the forefront (literally) my offer and force activity from the user (rather than hoping they might sign up via a sidebar form).

    They are instant gratification.

    From my own viewpoint:

    Using pop-ups depends on the purpose of the site.

    If you are there to sell, to build a list, etc. and you have very little chance of ever seeing that “prospect” come back… then a pop-up is a great option.

    If you want to build a relationship, a community around your blog, then a pop-up offers a short-term solution to a long-term issue. You’ll get results, but at what cost to quality? Would it be better to have 1,000 dedicated users or 10,000 useless browsers?

    It would be an interesting case study…

    Pop-Up capture quality vs. sidebar capture quality… Would the closing % ultimately be different? Would the lifetime value of the lead be the same?

    The mind boggles…

  • http://www.drawify.com Andy

    I am using Stoppity Poppity on Google Chrome to block all those stupid popups now!

    Get it and free yourself from the lame subscribe popups.


  • http://thirstyaffiliates.com Josh Kohlbach

    In all honesty, they annoy the piss out of me.

    But I understand that they convert users well and that’s why they’re there. I guess they have their place, I just wish someone would make it so it’s not so intrusive but still achieves good conversion rates.

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  • http://www.TechPaparazzi.com Sarvanshu

    I used to use a pop about a year ago on my site. But one day I found my blog’s screenshort with a popup on Reddit titled as “I will not come to your site If I see this on your site” , It got on first page of Reddit. From then I have never used popups and learnt that popups are bad.

  • http://www.strayblogger.com Nate @ Strayblogger

    They are pretty annoying- but they do work.

    One thing I’ve learned from Copyblogger that makes a lot of sense, is if you visit the Copyblogger site, each link in the navigation is to a landing page that leads to their opt-in form.

    As far as I can tell, they don’t use a popup on their site, but you see their opt-in form almost anywhere you go on the site. And they are obviously very good at internet marketing, and know what they’re doing.

  • Teresa

    I HATE popups.

    To me it feels like they’re putting their hand in my pocket before I even take a look at their site.

    I don’t care whether they’re offering something free like an e-book or whatever. I know that once they have my email address it’s going to be sell, sell, sell.

    It feels “car salesman-y” to me. Like they’re trying to trick me somehow rather than just asking me if I want a product or information and let it go at that.

    After I see the Big Wow Popup I don’t trust them anymore and I’m outta there.

  • http://17000-days.com Cara Stein

    Stoppity Poppity add-on for Firefox = win!!! Many thanks, Benny!

    I think it’s interesting that many of the pro-pop-up people seem to believe the anti folks are naive ninnies who are against marketing as a whole and afraid to make money. That’s not necessarily true at all. Personally, I’m a big believer in doing great work and getting paid for it.

    However, I have only so much energy, and having a huge audience requires a lot of maintenance. I’d actually rather not attract people who are pesty, rude, really dumb, or just along for the ride. I’d much rather those people all went and played somewhere else and left me with a small but dedicated army of My People.

    From my observations over the past year or two, I believe you attract what you put out, to a very large extent. (Just look at the debate between EvBogue and Pat Flynn awhile back on whether to allow comments for a really blatant example!) So no way I’d use a pop-up.

    As a reader, I hate pop-ups. “You are not your target audience” is true in many cases, but much less so in mine than common advice would lead me to believe. I’ve watched how my readers act, and they act a lot like me. I also write long posts and don’t dumb things down to a 4th grade level like I’ve seen a lot of advice to do–the people I want as readers aren’t put off by long words or thought-provoking content.

    Just like with everything else, it really depends on who you’re trying to attract.

  • http://PeterFuller.org Peter Fuller

    I find email pop-ups irritating and I do not use them.

    Especially on sites that are poorly programmed where every page on their site does the pop-up.

    Plus many of the pop-ops are messed up due to video on the same page.

    I understand why people use them, because they increase sign-ups.

    My only question is are those sign-ups responsive?

    Are you just building a massive list to look good or are you making money?


  • http://www.webthesmartway.com Siegfried

    I absolutely loathe popups! I think they are a sign of disrespect for your audience.

  • http://www.buildinternetbusiness.com Yayson Potter | Build Internet Business

    I think how pop-ups are used is the determining factor for me whether I like them or hate them. If I just get to your site and don’t even get the chance to read anything and get hit with it I hate it. But as soon as I hit the “X” and see good content my not inclined to just leave because of a pop-up. My thought is that they are just part of the internet whether you like it or not. Plus I’ve seen cases where they don’t show up until I’m already reading and they don’t exactly block everything. If the content is good at that point I’m much more inclined to sign up than go look for a email list. My thought is that most people will say they hate them but since marketing says the opposite by saying opt-ins are higher then it’s kind of like the people who go to the public and say “If so and so President is (re)elected then I’ll leave the country”, i.e. it’s more talk than anything and in the end they will still stay or in a pop-up case opt-in.

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  • http://marketingwithsergio.com Sergio Felix

    This is easily answered by looking at it in retrospective.

    How do YOU sign up for a site’s newsletter?

    If you want to sign up for a particular site, you LOOK for the form right?

    I guess this DOES work for some special type of sites (micro niches?) but I wouldn’t use it on a personal or marketing blog.


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  • http://www.groweverywhere.com James

    Holy f*ck, why would anyone suddenly put a box in front of my face and blacken what I’m trying to read? Most pop-up boxes are “instant resentment generating” machines. Corner pop-ups that don’t INTERRUPT what I’m trying to read however are great I often fill in the form after I finish reading what I came for in the first place. But, interrupt me in the process of finding what I want and may you be cursed for eternity.

  • http://www.musclebuildingover40.com kevin redman

    cant stand them when ever i vist a site and they pop up I am out of there

  • Ed

    Let’s be honest: there is 1000 times more material on the web than I can read. Much of it is good, but I have to find a way to choose what to stick with long term. So I choose against pop-ups.

    I really hate the ones that fill a smartphone screen and take 5 minutes to get rid of. By then, I forgot what link brought me there and have no desire to read the site.

    When I can, I put sites with pop-ups and especially those that use pop-up dominance on my Block list.

    There’s too much good stuff to read to waste time with stalled pop-ups.

  • RespectVisitors

    Pop-ups are like illegal drugs, say, crack.
    Yes, blame the pusher, but without users there’d be no pushers.
    Don’t click on the damn popups, in fact, leave the site and go elsewhere, and the perps may have to find a more honest way to make a living.

    That said, there are popups that are completely unobtrusive, and those are, of course, not a problem. In fact, the success claimed with popups may well be due to the unobtrusive ones. Claims of great success from popup use are to be interpreted with brain in gear.

  • http://velonomad.com Tim

    A better way might be to honour the readers attention with a sign in at the bottom of every post.
    Or, a simple link.

    Opt In Crusher is an elegant solution.

    I think sidebar opt ins can work and probably work best if you float them down the page to maintain visibility.

    The idea that a pop up has to take over the browsing experience is false. Plenty don’t.

    To me, the best argument against them is of user experience on mobile and iPad. Most people are looking for fast lean experiences and pop ups ruin that. 30% of my site’s visitors are mobile / tablet and or 3G (doubled in 12 months) so my efforts now go into responsive UX and giving people the option of opting in at the bottom of every post and page. And RSS if they want that.

    To me the best way to sell a list is to make it known that premium content/specials go to your list and you DO sell to the list. Right off the bat this qualifies sign ups – people who are freeloaders likely won’t join the list.

    Which is what I want. My list is a quid pro quo. You get a bunch of free premium content, I sell to you sometimes.


  • http://ciriongroup.com Justin Westbrooks

    While I love the results pop-ups get, I absolutely dislike the method. I find it a bit “in-your-face” and disrespectful to UX. This is something my team and I have been looking into for some time, and other solutions are few and far between.

    Anchor Tab is is our newest project aimed to replace pop-ups. We find it to be a suitable replacement and much more elegant approach.

    Thanks for all the great insight in the comments! Happy tribe-building!

  • http://www.7payouts.com Jeremiah Say

    Pop-ups is fine so long as I don’t get the pop-ups on every single page. If it’s only showing on the about page (which I have seen on some blog), I’m totally cool with that.

    If it’s on every single page. I’ll never return no matter how great the blog (or content) may be. It’s just pure irritating.

    I’ll probably add to the bounce-rate if I ended up on a landing page or squeeze page with pop-ups. I don’t know why. Maybe is just me.

  • http://www.42.com John

    Hate popups. As a webmaster myself I can tell you popups are a sign of an amateur webmaster. I have used them before, but haven’t in well over 5 years due to complaints about them, and lost business. Go to Amazon.com, newegg.com, walmart.com, or any commercially successful website do you see any there? No you don’t. They know better than to interrupt their patrons.

    When 99% of people tell you they don’t like something you should listen. Unless of course you’re retarded, don’t care, greedy, or just plain stupid, and don’t get it.

  • Rachel

    For me, lightboxes / popovers are like their similarly-named ancestor the “popup”. Which is to say that they’re simply a form of interruption marketing and spam. They’re annoying, they alienate users, and despite what some self-serving designers or “UX experts” may try to tell you, they do not “work”. (Tip: from the examples given in the article above, increasing signups for a *free* blog from a whole 6 users per day to “25 to 40″ does not mean that the same approach will work well for your commercial site, where people need to pay actual money for you to make any profit and you need a hell of a lot more of them to do so than mere double-figures). Those same people that advocate using lightboxes and popovers today are the self-same idiots that advocated using popups back in the day “because they work”; remember that. And remember the name that popups and people that put popups on their websites got a few years back.

    Back in the days of popup advertsing, browser manufacturers quickly got wise to the way some websites were misusing popups and implemented solutions to allow internet users to avoid such annoyances. It’s the same with lightboxes and popovers today; savvy users like me just have the NoScript add-on enabled for their browser. Whenever I encounter a lightbox trying to interrupt my browsing and distract me from some content I was actually interested in viewing, it’s just a habit now for me to click on the “NoScript” button on my toolbar to add the site in question to the list of domains that are no longer allowed to run Javascript, then to refresh the page to get back to what I was doing. When the static page comes back, I continue reading, never having even seen the content of the lightbox other than through my peripheral vision. I’m betting I’m not alone in this.

    It’d be interesting to see the results of a psychology experiment where the content of such lightboxes contained the phrase “Call this number to get a free prize of £100. This is a test to see whether this form of marketing works. Thanks, signed your local university’s psychology dept.” I’m betting they’d still have their whole budget for the experiment left by the end, because people get immune to these annoyances very fast, and know how to recognise them on a subconscious level, and ignore or suppress them. Some people even go so far as to have YesScript installed: you don’t get to run the Javascript lightboxes and popovers until and unless you’ve proved there’s a good reason to let you. Most sites that don’t provide video content don’t fall into that “need to use Javascript” category. These tools only exist because greedy and unethical marketers that believe their own over-inflated hype existed first.

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  • David

    This is interesting – Pop-ups are clearly annoying as the only people that appear pro Pop-up are people that stand to gain from the mild annoyance. However – there are so many more factors – How is the pop-up shown? Where and when does it come in? What is the content? Some pop-ups can confuse users into an action that was not intended or disrupt the user’s intent. Just because a user interacts with a pop-up, does not mean it was intentional… so how is the actual conversion from “pop-up” to company asset – meaning… does the pop-up = company value? if a user subscribes, does that user return and consume content or buy product? what is that rate compared to a non “pop-up” user? To blindly suggest they are good or bad without knowing these answers seems to me to be slightly short sited. I believe they are a bad user experience – as most people on here will attest – However, that doesn’t mean that they aren’t effective. For the same reason you get spam in your mail. IT WORKS for some people. How many of the click throughs are intentional? how many turn into return customers? What is better – the instant pop-up or the timed one? (and most important) Isn’t there a better way to accomplish what you want to do? To insist that they work so “screw you” well, that mentality tells me a lot more about a company than whether or not the pop up is effective.

  • http://Www.virgin-diet.com Virginia Lane

    Pop ups are one of the realities of IM. I’d rather be a hippie and live in a commune, but that isn’t happening, so the choice is simply whether a pop up increases or decreases my sites ROI. Life sucks.

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