Offering the best of products and services or even content for that matter, isn’t really going to help you increase the number of people who opt-in to your email list.

As disheartening as it may sound, this is the truth. Since all other actions are driven using call-to-actions, your always know what to do next after landing on your website. But when it comes to subscribing your newsletter, a call-to-action at the top and bottom of your page isn’t going to be enough.

You will need to direct your visitors towards subscribing. And one of the most effective ways of doing so, is using action triggered overlays on your website apart from the CTAs.

Overlays, also known as ‘pop-ups’, have a bad name in the digital industry. While there are many who accuse them of interrupting the visitors browsing experience, there are those who swear by the conversions they are able to bring in.

We fall in both the categories – we don’t like interrupting people when they’re browsing, but we don’t want them to go either without making some sort of interaction with us.

Having experimented a bit on our blog site, we decided to list the top 5 strategies or tips that you need to keep in mind while using overlays for them to be highly effective:

1. Make it consumable and fun

No matter how loudly the grammar nazi in you screams out, your marketing copy on an overlay needs to be consumable and fun! The idea is to enhance the reader’s experience and not bore him with yet another subtle sales attempt.

Experiment with your marketing copy by introducing a bit of wit, sarcasm or fun. But remember, the reader needs to be able to understand the takeaway from it within seconds.

For example, here’s one from The Chive. They wanted their visitors to sign up for their newsletter, so instead of a usual message, they added a sense of humour to their overlay copy and highlighted the main takeaways.

chive popup

2. Make it authentic for your brand

If you’re using an overlay on your website, you might as well make some more efforts to make the overall design resonate with your core brand message. The design should be able to keep up with your brand’s rapport in the market and should be able to enhance the user interaction with the content you offer.

A safer approach would be to give the overlay the same look and feel as the website, so that it doesn’t seem too intrusive in nature. No one wants to feel that the brand is bombarding them vague looking popups!

For example, J.Crew uses an overlay for their newsletter subscription – the design of which, is as minimalistic as the overall theme of the website. Neither does the overlay come across as an eyesore, nor does it feel out of place and completely out-of-context.

j crew popup

3. Time it right at the start

An overlay can be timed to display right when the visitor lands on your website. It could act as a host to the party, welcome the visitor, let them know what to expect and nudge them to stay in touch – all without it seeming like a gatecrash!

For example, Baublebar uses this welcome overlay to quickly say a hello to their visitors and let them know what they would get if they signed up for their newsletter. Considering it is an ecommerce website, the incentive adds to the reasons why a visitor would instant connect with them.

baublebar popup

4. Or time it right at the end

Sometimes letting the visitor browse through all your pages and content before asking him to sign up or optin to your email list, is the smartest thing to do! And that’s where exit intent overlays come in.

Using an exit intent overlay by Exit Bee, is the most non-intrusive overlay strategy. It shows up only when the visitor tries to close the tab or navigate away from the website, hence not even slightly interrupting the user experience.

These kind of overlays give you another chance to convert these visitors by reinforcing your marketing message or a variation of the same to hold them back a little longer. Thereby, increasing the chances of converting them.

For instance, this campaign here recommends more reads to a visitor when he is leaving the blog site. This keeps him on the blog for a longer time, reduces the bounce rates and increases the chances of conversions.

recommend content

5. Don’t overdo the frequency

Yes, you want them to sign up for your newsletter or opt in to your email list, but all you can do is ask them to. And when something is asked for too often, it only results in annoying the website visitor.

While we suggest asking them once, the maximum that you should test out on your website is twice – that is spaced out at a time interval that is enough for the visitor to browse through what you have to offer.


To be honest, there is no ‘one size fits all’ overlay strategy. While asking once might work for a brand, sometimes it takes a few reminders to encourage interaction with the visitor.

The best thing to do is, test your overlay strategy frequently. Here are a few things you should test on your overlay:

  • the design of the overlay
  • the marketing message
  • the call-to-action
  • the frequency (also test action triggered overlays)

Have you tried using personalized popups on your website?

Well, now you could try the exit intent technology for free! 
Sign up for a FREE TRIAL on Exit Bee today

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Vanhishikha Bhargava

Content Marketer at Exit Bee. Most of the times found trying to create compelling copies for blogs and digital campaigns, keeping a watch on what's happening on social media or ranting on Twitter. At all other times, not found.

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