Exit Popups: List Growth, But Too High a Price?

Popups work. A somewhat ugly, but nonetheless true fact. Sadly, I feel they’re often abused by publishers who mistake list volume for list quality, and hurt their reputation in the process. Let’s face it, we’ve all visited those web sites where we’re instantly slammed with a popup demanding our email address, and who here actually enjoys that? Precisely.

So we here at FeedBlitz believe in respectful popups — popups that treat visitors kindly, and that wait for proven engagement before asking for the subscription. Combined with appropriate incentives, a respectful popup can be very successful, accelerating the addition of high quality names to your mailing list.

Given that context, then, we were asked recently what we thought about exit popups — a window that appears as a subscriber navigates away from your web site. While possibly effective in the short term, our gut reaction is ugh. We feel that exit popups are fairly user hostile and not respectful of the visitor’s intent to leave a site. As such, we are not fans. In short, if you haven’t successfully engaged the visitor while they’re on your site, then we feel that stopping them from leaving with a forced interaction is at best rude, and at worst spammy.

Would you want to be stopped from leaving a page when you want to? No? Then don’t do it to your visitors either.

Your mileage may, of course, vary. By all means, test, if you think an exit popup is worth a shot and (in our opinion) worth treating your visitors less than kindly. One final data point, though. When FeedBlitz checks a newsflash email blast before it’s mailed, one of the things FeedBlitz does is check the landing pages that mailing links to for exit popups. If it finds one, it raises the spamminess score we assign for that mailing significantly. Too spammy, and that mailing won’t go out, and the presence of an exit popup greatly increases that risk. In our experience, exit popups are generally indicative of poor quality content, overly aggressive attempts to collect email addresses, and smack somewhat of desperation. Is that the image you want to portray?

It’s better to treat your visitors the way you want to be treated. Your reputation is everything — especially when it comes to marketing.

Meet Phil Hollows

Phil Hollows is the Founder and CEO of FeedBlitz, the email marketing, RSS feed and social media automation service, and premium FeedBurner alternative. He is also the author of “List Building for Bloggers,” - http://ListBuildingForBloggers.com - highlighting proven email strategies that build your audience, increase engagement and grow your income – without the geek speak. Phil started what became FeedBlitz in 2005, raising private equity investment in 2006. Before that, he’s held a variety of high technology, consulting and marketing positions in both the US and the UK since graduating from Oxford University in 1987. Phil’s lived in the US for nearly 22 years. The father of two teenagers and currently living in greater Boston, MA, Phil enjoys hearing from folks stateside how much they love his accent, and from friends and family back in England how American he sounds


I wondered about those popups that appear when my pointer is scrolling towards the upper-right of the screen.  I share a lot of info on Twitter, so I am usually steering towards the Hootlet button.  Those popups just get in the way of the process; annoying when you are under time pressures.  I like the the popups that crawl up from the bottom of the screen.