Need to build your email list? Try these tip for adjusting your opt-in popup timing

opt in form best practices timing

Unless you have one of the best opt-in pages, forms, and popups you aren’t gathering all the email addresses you need to succeed.

There are a number of variables you must experiment with to discover the newsletter opt-in best practices. Today we’re going to look at one (actually more like one and a half): the timing of your opt-in popup.

We all know what the timed-popup is; you navigate to a webpage and at some point – occasionally as soon as the page loads – you’re presented with a popup that asks you to enter your email address in exchange for something of value. The “thing of value” is often a download, a subscription, or a discount.

One important attribute you need to discover is the best time to present your popup. Here are your options:

  • Immediately,
  • After a predetermined number of seconds,
  • When the user scrolls down a certain percentage of the page,
  • When the user reaches the bottom of the page, or
  • When the user starts to exit the page.

Depending on the design of your website, the software powering your website, the software powering your popups, and the pages within your site where your popups appear, you may – or may not – have all of the above options.

First, you should work to have as much control over your opt-in popups as possible. This is true for three fundamental reasons:

  • You need to test,
  • Not all of your website pages will opt-in popup optimize identically, and
  • Repeat visitors to your site will become desensitized to the same opt-in popup presentation over time.

WordPress Opt-in Plugins and Others

If you have a WordPress website, there are many excellent plugins that give you a lot of versatility in the way you use opt-in forms. The best tend to come with a price tag, albeit usually a small one. The choices are less numerous if you’ve built your website from the ground up.

Opt-in Popup Timing

The timing is one of the first questions you need to answer as you decide how to get people to opt in. You may start out with an idea of what you think would be best, but don’t trust it. This is such a crucial decision that you must test your major timing options. Here are some considerations for starting points:

Content pages. If you’re presenting users with some great content, give them time to appreciate it and recognize its value. Therefore, allow some time to go by. Present your opt-in when the user gets to the bottom of the page. (That’s partly why I said this article covered one and half strategies: When you use the bottom of your page it’s not timing dependent, it’s based on web page geography.)

Some opt-in plugins have testing built into them, so you can have several opt-in strategies going at the same time. Good ones also let you do page or “category” specific opt-in presentations. Some websites have very long homepages, while others have a very short one-screen homepage. These sites would likely require different opt-in popup strategies.

Category of pages. If possible, avoid any one-size-fits-all presentation of your opt-in forms. Look at the category and content of each page on your website. While the same opt-in form presentation may work for the majority of your pages, you can probably identify some pages where a different strategy is required.

For example, a product page on an ecommerce site might be ideal for an opt-in popup that is presented when the user starts to exit the page, or after having made a purchase without creating an account.

Today, a lot of websites are giving us a full opt-in screen as soon as the site loads. We’re forced to scroll down to see the content that originally brought us to the site. Savvy marketers are doing this, so I’m forced to assume that they get a response. However, I suggest that you start your pop-up presentation with a delay; give visitors a taste of what you have to offer before you try to lure them into giving you their email addresses.

Finally, the key for creating the best opt-in rates is testing, and while professional statisticians can perform multi-variable testing, you should only test one variable at a time. You may want to start by testing various offers, but if you don’t have the time to pull together different offers, test different timing. And don’t forget to revisit every element of your opt-in strategy on a regular basis because changes will motivate repeat users who have become “numb” to your offers and timing.

How to get people to opt in is always an important question and it means that you have to do everything you can to fine tune the way you build your email list. Fortunately, it’s one of the elements of your small business website you can experiment with that is truly measurable and that empowers you to make beneficial changes with little or no guesswork.