9 Email Popup Best Practices You Should Follow (+ Templates)
By Sam Thomas Davies Head of Content
@ Sleeknote

What makes a good email popup? That’s a question many marketers have. And if you’re reading this, I’m assuming you’re looking for the answer, too.

The reality is, email popup best practices goes beyond which colors to use or discount size. If you want to turn website visitors into relevant leads, you need to go beyond that.

In this post, I’ll share 9 email popup best practices you can follow to increase your on-page conversion rate … without hurting your on-site user experience.

Table of Contents

  • 1. Test Your Campaigns
  • 2. Maximize Your Success Step
  • 3. Use Images
  • 4. Target the Right Users
  • 5. Customize for Mobile Users
  • 6. Drive Curiosity with a Teaser
  • 7. Limit Input Fields
  • 8. Write Better Copy
  • 9. Offer an Incentive

1. Test Your Campaigns

As a marketer, you likely already know the importance of testing your advertising efforts. Your email popups are no exception. But you might be wondering, “What should I test?”

Besides testing basic elements like button color and form design, it’s worth testing a popup’s timing.

Let me give you an example.

We recently ran an experiment to see if we could increase the conversation rate for our blog’s email popup.

Here’s how it looks:

The original popup (the control), had a time-based trigger, meaning it showed seven seconds after a user visited a blog post. The experimental popup, however, had a scroll-based trigger, meaning it showed after a reader scrolled 35 percent down the page.

The result was surprising.  

The experimental, scroll-based popup, outperformed the control by 62 percent.

The popup itself was the same, but the timing made a huge difference.

In sum, always test your popups’ timing. You might be surprised by what you learn.

2. Maximize Your Success Step

The success step is the last step users see when they opt in through a popup. 

Many businesses thank new subscribers for joining. And that’s better than nothing. But encouraging engagement—like driving traffic to a popular product page—is far more effective (and oftentimes, lucrative).

Or, you can tell new subscribers to check their inbox if you promised to send them something by email, like a discount code or a resource:

Telling visitors to check their inbox or visit another page on your site, will increase engagement and more importantly, keep your brand top of mind, longer.

3. Use Images

Humans respond better to images and video than they do to copy.

In fact, as much as 94 percent of first impressions on websites are design related.

Adding visuals into your popups, then, increases the chances that visitors will respond to your offers and completing the desired call-to-action.

One way to make your popups stand out visually is to use floating images.

Here’s an example from Vissevasse:

Floating images are great for popups because having the image outside the form creates more room for mandatory input field(s) and your message.

4. Target the Right Users

I mentioned before the importance of timing your email popups. But targeting, that is, who you show them to, is equally important.

You should avoid showing the same popup to all website visitors. Everyone is different, after all, and so your popups should be, too.

When you’re collecting emails on your site, avoid showing a popup to visitors who have already subscribed. Further, make it specific and relevant to the individual visitor by adding extra conditions.

For example, you can use geo-targeting to only show a specific popup to visitors from a certain geographical area.

Here’s an example:

If you want to be even more specific, show your popups to abandoning cart visitors that have a certain basket size:

Editor’s Note

Watch the video below to learn how to trigger campaigns based on your site’s data.

[Embed video here.]

5. Customize for Mobile Users

Many marketers avoid using popups on mobile because they’re afraid to violate Google’s interstitials policy. But it’s not mobile popups that are the problem; it’s how they’re used.

The key is to create a customized email popup for mobile users.

This includes:

  • Limiting input fields;
  • Removing images;
  • Reducing font size; and
  • Creating a compelling teaser.

Given the limited screen space to work with, you need to ensure that your popup’s copy is short and concise.

Here’s an example of a mobile-optimized email popup:

It’s good practice to replace background images with a solid color in mobile popups. Background images can easily look overwhelming with on a smaller screen, making it harder to read. 

6. Drive Curiosity with a Teaser

The teaser is a small bar that shows at the bottom of the screen when your popup has yet to be triggered or after it’s been closed. 

It’s an effective tool to drive curiosity while visitors browse your site and draw them to your offer.

On mobile, the popup will only trigger when visitors click the teaser, ensuring a smooth and user-friendly experience.

Whether you’re using a teaser on mobile or desktop, the headline of your teaser is important. This is especially true on mobile since the popup won’t show unless visitors click the teaser.

After analyzing 1+ billion mobile popups, we’ve found that there are a few teaser headlines that work better than others:

  • The question headline e.g. Do you want free shipping?
  • The curiosity-driven headline e.g. We have something for you…
  • Or the classic discount-driven headline e.g. Get $50 to shop for now

No matter which type of headline you choose, make sure you deliver on the promise.

7. Limit Input Fields

Wanting to learn about our audience as much as possible, us marketers are often tempted to add multiple input fields to our popups. But more input fields reduces the likelihood of conversions. 

Often, an email address is all you need to get value from a visitor. If you have their email address, you have a direct line of communication. Plus, you can always ask for more information such as gender, preference and more.

Another, better option, is to use multistep popups to collect information:

This involves asking for the visitor’s name and/or email address in the first step. Then, in the followup step, enrich their lead profile by asking for more information about their gender, interests, age, and more.

The best part?

If visitors drop off after filling in the first step, you’ll still have their email address and any information they gave in the first step.

8. Write Better Copy

This may seem obvious, but if your popups aren’t as effective as you’d like them to be, try writing better copy.

I know. Telling someone to simply write better copy isn’t good advice.

So, let me go through the three most important copy elements in an email popup and tell you exactly what to write and how.

i. Headline

The headline in your popup has one purpose:

To capture the attention of your visitors and encourage them to read on.

So how do you write an attention-grabbing headline?

Well, one way is to include the value of your offer in the headline and turn it into a question visitors can’t say no to.

Let me give you an example.

Let’s say you want to offer visitors a chance to win a pair of sneakers if they sign up for your newsletter.

If you’re unsure where to begin, you could try the above and see if it affects your conversion rates.

Next is your body copy.

ii. Body Copy

The body copy of your popup needs to convince visitors to sign up.

Why should visitors give you their email address? What’s in it for them?

Tell visitors what they get in exchange for their email address and keep it short. No one has time to read a novel about how great your newsletter is.

You can use different incentives such as discounts, competitions, freebies, or just list the benefits of your newsletter (more on incentives later on).

Here’s an example of the sneaker competition:

No matter what incentive you use, you should make it clear that people are also added to your newsletter list when they sign up. Don’t surprise them with it later.

iii. Call-to-Action Copy

Your call-to-action copy is probably the most important in your popup.

It’s your last chance to convince visitors that they’re doing the right thing by signing up.

I’ve said it a million times before, but don’t write sign up.

No one signs up to get emails. They sign up for the value in your emails.

Whether it’s exclusive offers, inspiration, or freebies, communicate this value in your CTA and inform visitors what to expect when they click the button.

Let’s use the example with the sneakers competition.

Because people sign up for a chance to win the sneakers, that should be the focus of your CTA copy:

Let’s put all of the above into action and see what it could look like:

If you position your offer in a way that has value to your audience, your conversion rates will soar.

9. Offer an Incentive

When you want people to do something, you need to give them an incentive.

And this is especially true when it comes to email popups.

Visitors won’t part with their email address unless you give them a good reason to do so.

One of the most common incentives to offer in an email popup is discounts.

And while discounts can be effective, they’re not the only incentive that drives good conversion rates.

Here are some other powerful incentives for collecting email addresses:

  • Free shipping (e.g. on orders above $50)
  • Competitions
  • Free product samples
  • Loyalty club benefits
  • Early bird access to new products
  • Content upgrades and resources; and finally…

…your newsletter. 

By that, I mean the value of your newsletter.

If your newsletter is as good as you think it is, you don’t have to offer free products or discounts. Just tell visitors about the benefits of your newsletter and what they can expect to get from it.

For example, you might send home decor inspiration, hair tutorial videos, special member deals, and so on.

Here’s an example from RICE where the incentive is the newsletter value:

Make your copy fun to read and let visitors know what to expect when they sign up, and you’ll quickly get more email conversions.


Email popups are powerful when they’re made with the individual visitor in mind.

Create different types of email popups for different visitor segments and you’ll be able to capitalize on your website traffic better than ever—on both desktop and mobile.