Digital Marketing Blog

Pop-ups for websites and online flipbooks: dos and donts
13 Jan 2017

Pop-ups For Websites & Online Flipbooks: DOs and DON'Ts

There is no doubt that if you want to be successful with your online marketing activities, you should use email marketing. Email marketing is one of the most important elements of online marketing efforts as it is the channel with the highest ROI. For every $1 spent on email marketing the output is $38 (source). 

Try the pop-up for digital flipbooks yourself >>

But in order to be able to be sending those emails, you need someone to send to. 

So how do you collect email addresses? 

You need to have a visible sign-up formula on your website and this is where pop-ups come in. Pop-ups are mostly known for their effects when used on websites, but can easily be applied on online flipbooks too. Try applying pop-ups to both your flipbooks and website to see the effect on your number of sign ups. 


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The discussion about pop-ups is still going on and there are different opinions about whether to use them or not. 

During the years pop-ups have gained at bad reputation, due to bad design, bad set-up, and bad content. However, the fact is that pop-ups and slide-ins are some of the most effective ways to get new leads, even though many find dem intrusive and irritating.

Billions of pop-ups are still generated every year, and by using slide-ins or pop-up you can easily build your email list. Several studies show that pop-ups are good at generating leads. A study made on the Danish market show that pop-ups can help increase your list by 400-600%. 

Social Media Examiner grew their list by 234% over a year by using pop-ups on their website. 

The award-winning social media scientist Dan Zarrella conducted a study, which showed the following. 

pop ups work.png

Interestingly enough, the study showed that pop-ups had no significant effect on bounce rates. If pop-ups are set up properly, they can be a very effective marketing tool to get more blog memberships, newsletter subscribers and sales leads simply because they are highly visible, attract attention and make it super easy to sign up here and now. 

But many things can go wrong when you use pop-ups as part of your marketing strategy. So how do you make an effective - and not so irritating - pop-up that converts visitors into known contacts? 

Let's have a look at the most common pop-ups dos and don'ts that make pop-ups appear less spammy and instead contribute to bringing value to your customers. 

Blog post: Add pop-ups to your website and flipbooks and generate leads >>

Use your pop-ups effectively

There are several things to take into consideration when creating a pop-up. Some of the most important ones are:   


Ensure that the form complements the user experience and is not a hinder to it. It should be designed to be as unobtrusive as possible. The visitor should see it as helpful. Design the form so it engages your visitors instead of pushing them away. Your form should emphasize the benefits of signing up. Bigger isn't necessarily better. Design it so it creates interest without being to pushy and overwhelming. 

Cookie settings:

In relation to the above, make sure that the cookies settings are correct, so your pop-up does not come up as a disturbing element at unwanted times. For example, do not have the box appear on every single landing page. Avoid using pop-ups to sign up for blogs, newsletters etc. at the check-out in web shops, where the primary goal is to make the customer finish the buy. 

cookie settings for pop-ups.jpg

Furthermore, think about whether a pop-up is relevant to show right away as a visitor comes to your website or flipbook. Maybe it's just a nuisance when people are visiting your blog post and just want to read your content. It should not annoy the visitor to a point where he/she leaves due to it, so make sure that you measure the effect on bounce rates once you implement the use of pop-ups for websites.

When a customer is abandoning your site without doing anything, you can use pop-ups to re-engage them. But this is a whole other blogs post, later to come.  


There is no more irritating than a pop-up which is difficult to get rid of when you're not interested in what is has to offer. If you can't easily close it either by a "no thanks button" or the usual little "X", it's easy for visitors to get annoyed.   

MAKE RESPONSIVE pop-ups for websites

In relation to the above: some pop-ups are not responsive and hence fill out the entire screen when seen from smartphones. This is not a strategy to go after. 

Make sure the pop-up is responsive and optimized for conversion on different devices such as desktops, phones, and tablets. Test on various platforms, screen sizes and browsers before you go live. 

responsive pop-ups for websites.png

You don't want to frustrate your visitors and force them to sign up for something or view your offer, but instead offer them something of extra value. Which leads me to the next point. 


Nobody wants to receive yet another newsletter! But still, you will see hundreds of companies using exactly that word on their sign up form. However, the most important thing is that you get started so that you get the neccessary data to start improving on your efforts.

optimize the headline on your website pop-ups

Just by changing this single line into something more relevant for the viewer, you can boost conversion rates. Try talking to the readers' needs and feelings instead of the funtionality of your offer. What do they get out of signing up? An example of a good text could be "Get 20% off your next order", or "How to be an online SEO-expert. Download the guide". 

According to AWeber, the best headlines either put a focus on social proof, a discount or an incentive such as receiving a free eBook

Social proof is "The tendency to see an action as more appropriate when OTHERS are doing it", Robert Cialdini. 

Here is how AdExpresso uses social proof in their sign up box by stating the number of others that have signed up for the same offer that new visitors are encouraged to sign up for; "Join over 46,738 marketers". 

social proof sign up with use of pop-ups for websites.png

In general, human beings are herd animals. When we think that others find something valuable, we are most likely to follow their lead. Showing that many others have downloaded your content or joined your list makes it validated and more valuable. 

According to InstaPage, no one wants to miss out on getting the head start that a large number of your industry peers have. 

If you have a webshop or physical store, giving a discount will also build your list. This is an immediate benefit, which most visitors would like to have. 

Make your headline actionable and encourage people to fill out the form. Some examples are: 

  • Download the (eBook, Whitepaper, Guide etc.)
  • Get your free (eBook, Whitepaper, Guide etc.)
  • Get your 20% discount now
  • Join the (email marketing webinar/course) now 
  • Register for the SEO-optimization webinar now
  • Yes, I want this (OFFER)
  • Claim your (discount, code, VIP-admin) now
  • Save your seat at (the Marketing Camp, SEO Webinar, Marketing Course)
  • Sign up today for instant access to (offer)

Headlines with incentives build lists. Which leads to the following:

What's in it for me?

Think about the message the form sends.

What about a sign-up box to get more information about a company?

I can see no reason as to why I should sign up for their newsletter.



Still today many companies and organizations can't see further than the end of their own nose. Therefore they use lead generation tools from their own business marketing perspective without considering the visitor's needs, wishes and perspective. To ensure that the lead generation tool converts effectively it has to speak to the visitor's needs.  

Give something of value to your visitors. The more value your offer has to the visitor, the more likely it is that he or she will give their email address to you in return. Various types of content upgrades can help you. Explain in your signup box, what the visitor gets out of signing up.

Who wouldn't like to get 600+ must have design resources, like below? 

example of good pop up.png







Need to Have  - Not Nice to Have

In order to convert your visitors into subscribers, offer something of value which is "need to have" instead of "nice to have". Of course, this depends on who your target audience is, how they prefer to learn, what their challenges are - well, you get it. If you are not quite sure about where to start, consider this template from HubSpot on how to create personas.

Once you know your personas, consider if some of these offerings could be of their interest:

  • Discount coupon
  • Competition
  • A chapter from your book
  • Free eBook
  • Tips & Tricks
  • Statistics
  • Free professional consultation
  • Podcasts
  • How to guides
  • Recipes
  • Present with first purchase
  • Templates
  • Cheat sheets
  • White paper

Premium content such as a new white paper or a guide can be very effective to increase conversions. 

According to Columbia Business School, a study of 8.000 people from the US, UK, India, Canada and France showed that 75% of consumers will share personal data if the benefits are right and they trust the brand. The number increases to 80% when the customers received special offers and data-enabled benefits such and reward points.


The call-to-action button should use actionable language that's both human and specific.

Be specific and tell the visitor what he is getting. Don't tell them it's a whitepaper, but tell them it's a 10-page whitepaper about SEO-optimization. 

Make the language human and make sure he or she knows what to expect by joining (what's in it for me?).


Make the call-to-action actionable, so the visitor knows exactly what to do. Instead of "subscribe", try "yes, please email me articles" like the above example from Hubspot. 

Right number of Input Fields

The number of input fields can also have a huge impact on your conversion rate. Even though you would like to have as much information about your visitors as possible it is a conversion killer to have too many input fields in a pop-up box. People do not have much patience online and want to get things done quickly. If they have to fill out a long formula including name, email, address, postal code, city, gender etc. chances are that they won't sign up. 

Statistics from the Danish market show that for each input field you put in the pop-up on your website, the conversation rate falls by 50%. 

Research from Hubspot found that forms with tree fields have a 25% conversion rate, whereas if you expand to five fields the conversion rate drops to 20%. Eight fields give you a 14% conversion rate. 

So it might be easy to conclude that few input fields is the way to go. But that isn't always true. 

A short form might decrease the perceived value behind the form. Therefore, make your form length according to the value of your offer and where people are in the buying journey. The more value behind the offer, the more information people are willing to give about themselves. Test it. Adjust. And then test it again.

Don't ask for AGE OR phone number

A definite no go in pop-up for websites is asking for age or a phone number. Also when you think you have the world's best advisory firm and people would love to hear from you. They won't! Not by phone anyways. 

A study conducted by Hubspot of over 40.000 landing pages concluded that asking for age or phone number in form fields kills conversion rates. 

USE  A PICTURE or An Image

Many people are very visual and maybe because of that some of the most effective pop-ups include pictures. Test it for yourself. Pictures in slide-ins and pop-ups can increase conversation rate significantly. According to Copyhackers, people understand images faster than words and remember them longer. Pictures or images can help give credibility and build trust. Our brains prioritize visual information more than any other kind and images can be a good way of making a connection with the visitors. 


Time of entry also has a saying in whether the pop-ups you use actually convert your website visitors into known contacts. Unbounce states that 60 seconds is the perfect time of entry. Loginradius states 1-2 minutes, in order for the visitor to get an overview of the page first. 

You should strike when your visitors have had some time to look at your site and are still interested and before they lose interest and are out again. Easy, right? It's a fine balance, which you will have to test for yourself. Test it. Adjust. And then test it again.


Before you go online with your sign up box, make sure the technique behind it works. For example, if you have a newsletter signup with a discount code, then make sure that the welcome email with the code is actually sent right after submission. Test the entire process before you go live with it. 


400px LP image_checklist_popups dos and donts-024363-edited

Now it's time for you to improve and test your pop-up and start increasing those permission lists of relevant contacts.

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About the author

Bettina Oksen Bendorf

Bettina Oksen Bendorf

Bettina is an Inbound Marketing Specialist. I have a passion for creating relevant content with focus on the receivers’ needs. Always with the customers’ point of view in focus: “What’s in it for me?”. Chocolate lover and fitness junkie.

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