Around the week of March 28, I integrated an aWeber pop-over email sign-up form on my blog, with no delay (i.e., it popped up immediately, not a few seconds after a visitor arrived.) My verified sign-ups (the subscribers who clicked the opt-in link in the follow-up email from aWeber) increased by about 350%. However, my bounce rate increased by about 3 percentage points since I integrated the pop-over form. This makes sense; many web users absolutely detest pop-up forms and will immediately leave a site rather than just click the close button on the form. So, did having the form result in a net gain or loss?
Applying the difference in bounce rates (before and after pop-over) to my unique monthly visitors, it looks like I lost about 3750 readers over the course of one month. I was capturing about 500 more new subscribers per month than I was before I added the pop-over. And it looks like my pages/visit and time on site metrics decreased. (Obviously, if more visitors leave immediately, their absence will drag down these metrics.)
On the surface, the numbers speak for themselves. I lost nearly 4000 readers who may never come back because the pop-over left a bad impression. I gained an eighth of that number in readers who will receive a weekly email from my blog (only 45% of which will actually open my emails).
The reasoning for building a list is two-fold. One, to remind subscribers of your existence via their inbox so they’ll keep coming back to your site. Two, to sell them stuff.
If I were a successful internet marketer, then the size of my list would probably be more important than how many readers I acquire and retain, because if my subscribers are buying my products and I’m making money, then the casual readers of my blog are not important to my bottom-line. However, I’m not, so currently the size of my audience does matter, especially if I want to attract advertisers. In that case, losing more potential readers than I am gaining in email subscribers is a net loss.
So, good-bye pop-overs!