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Pop Goes the World

Effective email ID acquisition via pop-up windows

In the short history of the internet, there is no UI element more universally maligned than the pop-up window. Traditionally, a source of intrusive display ads only, the subscription pop-up form has managed to avoid much of the scorn of its older brother.

The perception of value — “Sign up, and we promise to only send you relevant deals and content” — along with flat design trends has given the digital marketing tool a valuable facelift, particularly in terms of acquiring valid email IDs.

Having worked in different industries with multiple Fortune 100 companies, collecting valid user information is the crux of any marketing campaign. While email is one of the most effective, addressable marketing channels, the irony is that among the millions of email IDs in a company database, many have gone stale. Hence, there is a constant need to acquire new email IDs and refresh the user information bucket — even amongst existing customers.

In my experience, there are multiple ways to acquire email IDs but the ‘pop-up window on the landing page’ has proven more effective for acquiring new email IDs. Whether you’re sharing a simple acquisition message or incentivizing your message, this is a great enhancement over the static ‘Sign-up’ link or button that lies hidden in the footer or top right of the page. Unless they’re making a purchase where they already have to enter personal information to proceed, sign-up links tend to go unnoticed by the average user.

By showing a pop-window when a user first lands on a website, this gives him or her an option to close the window and move on or interact with the message window. In either case, a marketer is able to glean information about the success of the message as well as behavior of the customer seeing that message. This further helps the marketer in altering the messaging (offer, image and copy) as well as timing or location for which the message is targeted.

So who should I target?

The obvious thing to keep in mind is to target only those customers whose email ID you do not have i.e. those that have not come to your landing page from an email channel. In addition, it’s important not to showcase the pop-up window to those users who have chosen to click out of the pop-up window or take over. In these cases, we need to adjust the frequency as to when can the pop-up windows be shown to these users. An ideal customer group starting point is to showcase pop-up windows for email acquisition are those who are first time visitors on your site.

For further targeting, an A/B/N testing program is a great way to see which combination of (offer, image, copy, timing, location) works best for which set of customers. For example, if you want to target a set of customers who have an affinity towards apparel category in a retail environment (those that have landed to your online site from apparel related ads, referral links or affiliate pages), you can showcase an e-mail acquisition pop-up window on the homepage with an apparel category offer when a user signs up. To optimize your acquisition pop-up, then utilize an A/B test to divide traffic between different segments or groups of customers to see which version of your messaging works the best. You can use these results to further inform segments in subsequent email campaigns. Likewise, if you have access to email campaign results, mapping engagement rates can help guide your email ID acquisition strategy.