Web Tip – Growing your email list with popovers

Most businesses achieve continuous sales growth year after year by nurturing existing relationships with customers and acquiring new customers through engagement and outreach. A robust, accurate email list is the foundation of nurture/acquisition efforts in the digital space.

But developing, maintaining, and especially, growing an email list is not easy. Popular ways to grow your email lists online include contact us opt-in forms (often on a contact us page), newsletter opt-in forms (frequently in the header or footer of the homepage or multiple pages), or opt-in forms trading value (in the form of a discount, white paper, demo, etc.) for the site visitor’s contact information. Today’s blog post features an email acquisition strategy that you’ve likely experienced as a consumer: the popover.

Aren’t popover’s muffins?

No, not that popover! A popover (sometimes called a pop-up window, a lightbox, or an overlay) is an advertisement or webform that appears on a web page, often times requesting an email address or other information, in exchange for an incentive. Popovers appear on top of website content, not in a new window.

Popovers are popping up more frequently. According to the 2013 Email Market Study from Experian Marketing Services, the number of marketers using pop-up windows on their website to collect email addresses increased 107%, more than doubling from last year.”

Our partner Silverpop backs up this claim, “we have seen 200-400% lifts in web form submittals via popovers.” When implemented with the user’s experience in mind, popovers are an effective way to capture email addresses and supplement your other email acquisition strategies.

Minimal Popover Sample

This Calvin Klein popover is a basic example. Visitors provide their email address to stay updated on Calvin Klein’s special events and news.

calvin klein minimal popover

A Whereoware sample

When developing the popover strategy for our client Woodstock Chimes®, we considered timing, frequency, and value (more on this later), with great success. Woodstock’s email database grew 23% since the popover was added to the site this past September, with the popover specifically contributing 34% of the total growth.

woodstock chimes popover

The Woodstock Chimes popover offers monthly discounts, updates, and gift ideas to entice visitors to input their email address. Woodstock also offers a 10% off your first order discount that is redeemable as soon as customers sign up. The popover materializes when a site visitor lands on a product page. We intend for the immediacy of the 10% discount to push product browsers to make a purchase. A site visitor who chooses to click away from the popover without providing their information will never see it again, unless they clear their browser cache.

Making it work: words of caution

Popovers can be a turnoff, causing customers to leave your site. Visitors are on your site for a specific reason – to find information, be entertained, buy a product – and your popover interrupts that user experience. When adding a popover to your site, it is imperative that you test, track, and measure visitor activity to ensure you aren’t irritating customers. The following considerations should be kept in mind:

Value exchange: what’s in it for me?

Customers are more likely to part with less sensitive information (like an email address, first name, or zip code) when the incentive outweighs the hassle of filling out the popover fields and receiving ongoing communications from your brand. Successful popovers compel customers with a discount or an exclusive perk, like receiving deals that aren’t available on the website or access to new products before anyone else. These value propositions – exclusivity and discounts – are hard to resist.

Exclusivity Popover Sample

Discount Popover sample

Timing and Frequency

There is flexibility when developing your popover execution strategy. You can set your popover to appear as soon as a user lands on your site, be delayed for a specific length of time, or only pop up on internal landing pages instead of the homepage. Track user activity (especially the average amount of time visitors spend on the site) to determine the most opportune time for the popover to materialize and continue to measure whether the popover is causing your bounce rate to increase.

Frequency of popovers is another consideration. If someone visits your site and ignores the popover, leaves the page and then returns, you probably do not want the popover to appear again that same day, or perhaps, at all.

Make it easy to close

Make sure customers can easily close the popover without having to provide you their information. Nothing will agitate your audience quicker than a popover blocking site visibility, that won’t close. This is especially important to keep in mind if you have a large mobile audience. Popovers can be more difficult to close from a mobile phone then on your desktop site. Many people avoid the issue by disabling popovers on their mobile sites, but there are tons of tips online for making popovers work on mobile.


Your goal is to capture contact information. It sounds obvious, but be careful to exclude contacts if you already have their email address, otherwise you are disrupting their experience for no reason. You could also exclude anyone who lands on the page via a click from one of your emails.

Nurture your email list

Just like you nurture your customers, you need to nurture your email list to accelerate growth. Try adding a popover to your website to increase email capture. Make sure you develop your popover plan with your site visitors in mind, and as always, continuously test whether the popover is benefiting your overall acquisition strategy.