Intrusive and Non-Intrusive Opt-in Boxes: A Detailed Analysis

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Syed Naimath 2 years ago

“Should I use pop-ups on my site?”

This is a question you’ve asked before, isn’t it? The early years of the internet really spoiled the word for everyone. Whenever you mention pop-ups to someone not into internet marketing these days, their minds quickly drift to a time where their computer screen was overloaded with ads.

But that’s not the case these days. Pop-ups have evolved.

Pop-ups are less intrusive now. They’re more fluid, easier to get rid of and actually aren’t that detrimental (if at all) to a user’s experience. But the question still remains, should you use them on your site? And that’s exactly what this article intends to address.

What can we compare to?

Before we can know whether or not we should use pop-ups, we need an alternative reference point. We need something that we can look at as a replacement for the intrusive pop-up boxes, that’ll serve the function but either do it better, worse or differently.

The alternative to intrusive pop-up boxes in this case is non-intrusive opt-in boxes. A non-intrusive opt-in box is any box that you have on your site, or have seen on a site, that allows for the user to opt-in without it being shoved in their face. A good example of this is a feature box.

What is the key difference?

So there are a few distinctions between the intrusive and non-intrusive opt-in boxes. While most people are already aware of these distinctions, it’s worth going over what exactly makes something intrusive or not.

An intrusive pop-up box is exactly that. It comes up on to your screen. It intrudes on your experience, and you have to click away from it or close it. To take as an example, this is their intrusive pop-up:

example of pop-up

However, when we close the pop-up, we’re left with a non-intrusive opt-in box that’s clearly set fluidly into the page’s content. This means that it’s not intruding on the user’s experience in any capacity, as they can just scroll right past it like they would any other page element. non-intrusive opt-in box

What are the pros and cons?

Now that we’re aware of the stark differences between a intrusive and non-intrusive opt-in boxes, it’s probably time to weigh them up against each other. As with all things opt-in – the way to do this is mainly through the conversion rates people report on average.

Intrusive Pop-ups

pro-blogger feature box

Average conversion rate: Around 4%. With significant optimising, they can potentially crack around 6-7%.



Non-intrusive Feature Boxes feature box

Average conversion rate: It varies massively depending on who you speak to. On average, the conversion is somewhere around the 5-10% area. Others have reported as large as 30%. This is definitely down to the audience in question and how relevant the incentive offer is.



Non-intrusive Sidebar Opt-in Boxes sidebar opt-in form

Average conversion rate: The average conversion rate for a sidebar opt-in box is less than 1%. There are anomalies, of course, but most people do not regard this as the most effective way to grow your list.



Content Upgrades

Bryan Harris featured download

Average conversion rate: Content upgrades average at 20% conversion rate, sometimes way more. There’s even reported spikes of 62%. This makes them the highest converting opt-in technique currently in usage, as far as we know.



Which is the best?

So, if you’ve read through those pros and cons of intrusive and non-intrusive opt-in boxes; you likely know which is best. In case you missed it, intrusive pop-ups fall short in conversion rates by around 2 to 18% on average. That makes the non-intrusive opt-in options best. (Because they even provide a better user experience.)

But, with that said, you must remember that just because non-intrusive options are the better choice in most cases – pop-ups still have their place. 3-6% conversion rates are certainly not small or negligible amounts. You just have to know when and where to use them.


Yes. You should use pop-ups on your site. Provided they work well with your audience, because in this ever-changing technological landscape – what works for one group of people is not going to work for another. You’ve got to look into it yourself.

Perform your own tests. Find out what works best for you and your audience. While it’s clear some options here out-perform others significantly, it doesn’t mean that you can’t use all of them in conjunction with each other.

We’ve analysed the options, but analysing can only do so much. Eventually you have to get out there and put things into action. This post is merely your starting block. Your guide as to what you should be aiming to surpass. Now get out there and build your list, you’re ready.

If you know someone trying to figure out whether or not to use pop-ups on their site – or if you just know someone that would enjoy reading it – consider sharing this post with them. Got any words of advice on using pop-ups? Drop them in the comments below!

About Syed Naimath

Serial Entrepreneur. Co-Founder and Marketing Lead at @Plugmatter and @Foundora.

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