We Love to Hate Lightboxes… But Should We Hate Lazy Marketers Instead?

Hanne   96

Updated on December 22, 2019

Tony clearly has a problem with lightboxes and the 69 thumbs-up reactions on his Facebook comment prove he isn't the only one.

Whenever lightboxes or "pop-ups" are mentioned, you'll find reactions like these:

“Lightboxes are annoying!”
“When I see a lightbox I simply leave”
“You’ve lost ALL credibility”

But let me tell you a (data backed) story…


Joe, Steve and the Wine Tasting Event

30 minutes… That’s doable. I have 30 minutes to put on a nice dress, some makeup and make it to the local pub for a wine tasting event.

34 minutes later, I push the door of the bar where the event is taking place.

The door closes behind me, I turn around and there he is, standing right in front of me… Dodgy Joe. Joe definitely didn’t take 30 minutes to prepare for the event, his T-shirt is stained and he smells like he’s been sleeping in the pub the past 4 nights.

“Do you want a FREE beer?” he asks… Really, Joe? This is a WINE TASTING EVENT. No, I don’t want your free beer! And frankly I feel like turning around and going home. If this is the level of quality of the wine tasting event I prefer spending my evening watching Netflix.

Now let's rewind that last scene...

The door closes behind me, I turn around and there he is, standing right in front of me… Helpful Steve. Wow, is this guy a model in his free time? This is a pleasant surprise! “What’s your favorite wine?” He asks. “White or red?” “Red” I stumble while nervously trying to catch a glimpse in the mirror to see if my hair still looks good. “Can I offer you a glass of Bordeaux”?
“Of course”, I hear myself saying. That’s exactly why I came out to this event in the first place! After getting my voucher for my free drink, I’m eager to discover what other pleasant surprises await me tonight...

Is Your Opt-in Form A Dodgy Joe or a Helpful Steve?

Both Joe and Steve appeared right right as I entered the pub. Why then, does the experience feel completely different?

The answer is quality and relevancy.

When you’re presented with an offer that is high quality and in line with what you’re looking for at that specific time, you’ll be grateful.

It will not feel dodgy, or scammy or pushy. It will feel like a pleasant experience. As if somebody was reading your mind.

Why don’t most websites present a relevant, valuable offer based on the article you’re about to read?

Because most marketers are lazy!

It takes effort to:

  • Create high quality free offers
  • Decide which offer fits your content best.
  • Create content specific opt-in offers.
  • Put yourself in the shoes of your visitors and imagine what would make them WANT to sign up in the first place.

But that’s what good marketing is all about. Presenting your visitors with the right offer at the right time.

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And let’s take a moment to talk about quality here…
Your free opt-in offer is often the first impression someone will have of your business. It’s what will make them decide whether or not they can trust you. Whether or not they will ever buy from you.

An ugly PDF file is not going to cut it anymore. Your visitors want and deserve better. Your free opt-in offer should be so good you could charge for it.

When you present a high value, precisely targeted opt-in offer to new visitors, you’ll solve two problems:

  1. You will feel proud about this offer and WANT to present it to everybody and their mum. You’ll consider it your duty to make sure everybody knows about this awesome opportunity you have for them. Gone is the feeling of being “pushy” with new visitors!
  2. Your visitors will be grateful for that offer. For letting him know about it. For caring about what he needs. Gone are visitors who are annoyed and offended by your lightbox.

Real-life Example: Thrive University

On our website, we have an opt-in offer that prompts people to sign up for Thrive University.

Thrive University is a library of 30+ online marketing courses. Most of these courses could be sold individually.

This offer is super valuable to somebody who is trying to learn about landing pages, list building, website building,...

Depending on the article or the blog category, we can highlight different courses from Thrive University.

We showcase the 7 Day List Building Course on the "Build Your List"-category

We want EVERYBODY who visits our blog to know about Thrive University. 

That’s how you should feel about your opt-in offer!

Just have a look at what people are saying about our free opt-in offer...


Shane and team,

I went through one of the courses over the weekend and started another. You guys have really knocked it out of the ballpark (not that Thrive wasn't fantastic already)!!! There are so many courses out there that are paid that you guys have managed to smash in terms of clarity and explaining why you suggest the things you do.

Thanks so much for all the value you provide!

Suzanne S

WOW! LOVE you guys! This was exactly what I was looking for!!!

Samith P

Congratulations!!!! This is all I never expected to get. Will save me sh** load of money. What a nice gift!

Heike P

Don't be a lazy marketer...

Create a high quality opt-in offer for your site and when the time is right, start increasing relevancy by creating different opt-in offers for different content. In Thrive Leads you can target your opt-in offers per category, tag or even per post.

I’m Sorry, Can I Interrupt for a Second?

Now that we got Dodgy Joe out of the way and we’re only using Helpful Steve to interact with our visitors, when is the best time for Steve to jump in?
Let’s go back to our wine tasting event.

The door closes behind me, I turn around and start walking up to the wine tasting table. Pierre greets me and a few seconds later he’s explaining the difference between a dry and a sweet white wine. Then Helpful Steve taps on my shoulder asking if he can offer me a free glass of wine. I hesitate. Pierre’s story was really compelling and I’m afraid that when I take Steve up on his offer, I won’t be able to find Pierre anymore.

Rewind that last scene.

The door closes behind me, I turn around and start walking up to the wine tasting table. Pierre greets me and a few seconds later he’s explaining the difference between a dry and a sweet white wine. Somewhere in the corner, Helpful Steve is standing, waiting for me to notice him and take him up on his Free wine offer. But as the evening goes on and I’m talking to more people and learning more about wine, Steve kinda blends into the decor and I leave without getting my voucher.

Many site owners are afraid of “aggressing” their visitors with a lightbox on page load and many visitors are very vocal about not liking a lightbox blocking their browsing path.
But what does the data say?

Page Load, 10 Seconds, 80% Scroll and Exit Intent

Page load (green), after 10 seconds (blue), after 80% scroll (yellow) and on exit intent (red)

Despite what people say, significantly more visitors opt-in when the lightbox is shown immediately on page load. 

  • 5.42% on page load
  • 3.70% when shown after 10 seconds
  • 1.43% when shown after 80% of scrolling on the page
  • 2.29% when the form shows on exit intent

Still not convinced you should do it?

Screenfiller Lightbox vs. Sidebar Widget

Screenfiller Lightbox: 4.98% Conversion Rate vs. Widget: 0.13% (Click to enlarge)


The sidebar widget converts at a measly 0.13% compared to the screenfiller lightbox at 4.98%. This means that 50 times more visitors became leads with the screenfiller lightbox than with the widget. 

Let’s Talk Money

I’ll go out on a limb here, but I’m guessing you’re not just collecting leads for the sake of having a big list.
You’re (hopefully) doing this because you’re selling something. Your email list allows you to communicate regularly with your visitors and build a relationship which will make subscribers feel comfortable buying from you.

I’m also assuming you have an idea about how many people sign up for your list and how many of those people become clients.

This number is your value per lead.

For example, let's say 100 visitors sign up to your email list. If 5 of those people take you up on a free consultancy call offer and 1 of them ends up signing a $1000 contract with you, now every email subscriber is worth $10 ($1000/100 leads).

As a business owner, would you prefer doubling or halving your number of leads?

This one is up to you, but I know what we’re choosing…

More leads = more sales. That’s why choosing the opt-in form type and the timing that has the highest conversion rates is always the best business decision. But then again, this only works if your opt-in offer is a true Helpful Steve!

Don’t be a lazy marketer! Test what timing works best for YOUR visitors.

Can We Agree NOT to Do This Anymore?

There are two more problems I want to address when it comes to lightboxes.

I could continue my story, telling you about a giant blocking me from entering the pub without any possibility of pushing him away, or Steve offering me a free drink the next week around. Only to find out it’s for first time wine taste event-visitors only but I think you’ll get the picture already…

1. Don't Optimize Opt-in Forms for Desktop Only

Let’s be honest. It is extremely annoying to browse the web on your mobile phone and have lightboxes pop-up that cover the full screen and are impossible to close.

Don’t be a lazy marketer! Optimize your opt-in forms for mobile.
This will most likely mean that you will show another type of opt-in form to your mobile users.

Our opt-in form type of choice is a 2-step ribbon. This ribbon allows you to prominently show your opt-in offer without covering the screen.

Using this type of ribbon opt-in form also allows you to follow Google’s mobile rules.

2. Don't Ask Subscribers to Subscribe Again

How many time has this happened to you? You click on an email link in a newsletter, start reading the article and… a lightbox shows up asking you to subscribe to that same newsletter again.


A subscriber should never see another opt-in form on your website.

Don’t be a lazy marketer. Use Smartlinks to treat your subscribers like royalty.

What About You?

After reading this article, you probably understand why I believe lazy marketers are the problem. Not lightboxes.
But I would love to get your take on this!

What do you find most annoying as a visitor? And as a website owner, what lightbox strategies have you used to optimize conversions? Are you afraid of annoying your visitors?

Let us know in the comments below!

by Hanne  December 15, 2017


Disclosure: Our content is reader-supported. This means if you click on some of our links, then we may earn a commission. We only recommend products that we believe will add value to our readers.

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Leave a Comment

  • I’m afraid I hate popups. I immediately close the site down that hits me with them on arrival or part way through reading the article which brought me to the site in the first place. So annoying. Why would I want to subscribe to their site when I know nothing about them? In my book, a popup should be a two-stage event. Have a button after the post that launches a popup.

    • Hi Ian,

      I agree that a two-step opt-in can be a good way to give the visitors a choice. But I still believe that a really valuable opt-in offer should be seen by as many people as possible 😀

      By the way, did you know that with Thrive Leads, you can set up your forms so that you do not have to send the reader away from the post? You can use a Thank you state to deliver your opt-in offer, which allows for the visitor to continue reading… Best of both worlds 😉

      You can find out how to do that in this article

      • Hanne, but is there a way to create a “Thanks, not interested” button with Thrive Leads that actually works like it should and doesnt show the same form again? 😛

      • Of course 🙂 Make sure to pick the “close lightbox” in the animations and actions panel as the link event when someone clicks on the button.

    • I’m guessing you know SOMETHING about them. How did you get to their site?

      If it was a Google search, their lightbox should be congruent with whatever piqued your interest in the search results.

      If it’s from an ad the lightbox should be the next logical step to whatever it was that grabbed your attention.

      I understand that the visual of something covering the screen may not be aesthetically pleasing, but the offer should override that impulse and have the ideal prospect say “Yes!”.


  • This was very helpful, thank you! Love your analogy with Dodgy Joe and Helpful Steve… and even further into explaining the difference with Steve interrupting the engagement between the visitor and Pierre! Great perspective that I’ve never truly thought about!! Thank you 🙂

  • I have the same experience. Lightboxes always produced higher conversions that sidebar widgets.

    Although, what about slide in optins that don’t block the screen?

  • Thank you Hanne for this comparison. Not only is it a breath of fresh air, it is also a good lesson for bad digital marketers who are so focused on making a sale, they forget the real reason for pop ups and the true purpose they have for their businesses.

  • I loved your wine event stories Hanne! And though you haven’t convinced me completely to use lightboxes yet as I hate coming across them myself, I must say I see the value of them versus a sidebar widget. But what about opt-in forms that are integrated in your blog post or ribbons on desktop view? I’d be curious to see some data on those less obstructive forms as well.

    • Hi Abigail,

      We’ve seen very similar results with in-content and after content opt-in forms in blog posts as with the widget.
      Because it does not command as much attention as a lightbox, opt-in rates are typically much lower (although higher than the widget because they are more visible).

      The ribbon is an interesting one that I think is definitely worth testing. I think that depending on the design of the ribbon (blend in or stand out) you can get decent results.

      In Thrive Leads, you can set up an A/B test of different opt-in form types against each other… So you can set up eg. an exit intent lightbox vs a ribbon and see what converts best.

      In my experience the more the opt-in form demands attention, the better the conversions so I still believe you should test the lightbox (even if it’s just for a short time period to test what happens 😉 )

  • Hello Hanne,

    First of all let me thank you one more time for providing such great content, explanations and statistical proof to back up your comments. The story telling created the perfect context to make this completely understandable…

    Yes, I have experienced that before, I always have that feeling about scaring away visitors or subscribers, fear of missing out an opportunity with a new customer because he/she could consider me too “aggressive”. This has happened to me at website level but also at email marketing level.

    I have also noticed that some marketers don´t really have a big list and they do not email frequently either, yet they manage to have people engaged and get high open rates. I mention this because it links back to the optin process…

    Anyway, this article is a real eyeopener, plus as a Thrive Member I already have the tools to make this happen, it´s now a matter of getting to work.

    Thank you. Take care.


    • Hi Luis,

      I think the most important thing here is to get over the fear and test what works best for your site and your results!

  • Yes, continually asking present subscribers to sign up again will ruin your credibility. Once you have them on your list the priority is to make sure they receive, uninterrupted, information for which they signed up for.

  • Loved every word of this article. It all makes sense, even without the stats. Service is service, and care for your potential or existing client is the only true choice for professional marketers. Thanks for making it sound so easy.

  • Great article, Hanne. It’s nice to see the data.

    You mention having multiple opt in offers relevant to the article content or category. How do you handle that from a list management perspective? If I am already a subscriber and there is a new offer I’d like to get, what keeps me from (1) being added twice to your list; or (2) being rejected because I’m already on your list. Assume it’s not a membership site.

    • Hi Kathryn,

      To answer you question, this would depend on how you set up your opt-in offers.

      For your first question, most email providers will eliminate double addresses (so they would not receive your newsletter twice if they sign up twice).

      If you have different offers that are linked to different lists, your subscribers will be able to get on both lists (and have both free offers) or you could use an automation that gets send out based on a tag that’s added when someone subscribes, this will also allow for the person to receive the free Ebooks (for this you would need a tag based email system like Active Campaign).

      Or the third option could be to have people sign up and then have other free offers delivered directly through email (without asking to opt-in again) 🙂

      Like I said, multiple possibilities based on what you actually want to do with the segmentation information and what email service you’re using…

  • Excellent article! Well reasoned, and backed up by data — which is much appreciated.

    I fully agree with the idea that popups are not harmful if they are offering something that is relevant and beneficial to the viewer. What I didn’t know (because I’ve never dared to test it!), is how much more effective they are if shown on page load. I’ve always let people read quite a long way through before showing them.

    I’m off to change all my settings in Thrive Leads now…

      • That is of course a very sensible suggestion! However, I’ve already tested A — I know how that performs (pretty well as it happens), so I’m confident I can see fairly quickly whether B makes things better or worse. Still an A/B test, just not concurrent, which could skew the data if the traffic changes, but in this case it should be ok.

  • I think the image of the “helpful Steve” will stick in my mind for ages.

    I don’t agree so much on our “lazyness” though. The problem of course is the huge load of work it would take to make a personalized helpful Steve for every room, bar and mini-event that there is on my website simultaneously. Even more being a productivity consultant it’s not only a matter of being “lazy” (even if we can be, from time to time) but a matter of ROI (effort vs reward).

    All things considered, the helpful Steve image (as opposed to the dodgy Joe): impeccable 😉 !

    • Hi Iago,
      I agree that you need to find the right balance between “lazyness” or rather “good enough” and over personalizing. I don’t believe you need a different offer for each post, but I would argue that if you’re talking to very different audiences on different places of your website, having a more relevant offer will give you better conversions 🙂

  • That’s one of the best, most relevant and helpful, blog posts I’ve ever read. It basically maps out to any newb through to the experts what they should be doing if they want to build a list , regardless of what they ‘think’ they should be doing ! , great stuff Hanne, keep up the good work !

  • Hello Hanne, the team always surprises us with something. Every day or every 2 I look forward to a new post to continue learning.
    I didn’t know about smartlink, I’ve already seen the post and although the date is 2015, I think it should work the same way right now.
    It’s true that if you get to a website and a lightbox appears immediately, it can be annoying, but if the content or offer is relevant, it should not be annoying, it’s the perception of each person.
    I’m already convinced that I have to buy the membership to take advantage of all that thrive themes has to offer.

  • I disagree. It doesn’t matter how nice the pop up looks, or how useful the pop up is, when I see a pop up, the first thing I look for is the “x” to close it. If I don’t see that, I back out of the page. If I want to sign up for emails, I will look for a “sign up” button. But whenever I see a pop up, my opinion of the company immediately goes down

    • David you’re the odd one out…. you have a “thing” with this and react accordingly, however the reality is the rest of the population of “users” don’t have the same reaction…. AND the stats show this.

      Whilst we cant keep everyone happy all the time, we can use stats to decide what’s best practice to provide the service or business we do… out clients will love us.

      I’ll listen to the stats, I just hope that the reactionary rants don’t infect real clients with the same sort anti-business profit motive.

      • Mark, the stats in this article only tell us that the screen filler lightbox gets more leads than the other tested opt-in forms.

        They don’t tell us anything about how the 95% that don’t sign up (the vast majority of visitors, in fact) feel about having a screen filler shoved in their face even before they’ve had a chance to read a single line from the post, and how this affects their future choices with regards to Thrive.

        In fact, the stats don’t tell us the most important thing: how do the leads obtained with the screen filler convert to sales compared to the leads obtained with other types of opt-in? THAT would be a data-based way to test how the different forms influence your potential clients, at least in part.

        Now, Hanne’s argument in favor of a screen filler lightbox on page load rests on the assumption that you have a high-quality offer, a clear, good looking form and you treat your subscribers respectfully. Fine. That is indeed super important but also fairly obvious if you’ve been doing this for some time. We can all agree that doing otherwise hurts your business.

        But that being said, ideally, 50 subscribers with a 40% open rate, 2 of which convert to clients is better than 100 subscribers with a 20% open rate 2 of which convert to clients. You still have 2 clients, but you have a much more engaged community in the former case.

        Now, I doubt that a less obtrusive form will get you leads that convert to sales at DOUBLE the rate the leads from the on-page-load filler do (and even then, they would have to be at least half as many to fully compensate the lower conversion on signup), but I don’t really KNOW it, do I? That’s what testing is for.

        So while this test is very interesting and I will definitely test the screen filler against other options (thank you Hanne!), I’m still not sure it’s the best business choice in the long run. I think more data is needed, specifically regarding sales conversion.

        OT: guys, my comments in Thrive Comments get marked as spam every single time I try to comment here or Active Growth, and I have to try multiple times to finally get them through. What could be the problem on my end?

      • @Lorenzo, whilst generally you are right, you have to consider stats in isolation and in general and deep… anyone looking at stats should be looking at the test (isolation) and the page views, bounces, engagement (general) for the outcome sales (deep)… that gores to say, doesn’t it?

        However the point being made here was an extreme aversion to pop-ups which could be safely assumed isn’t the normal response AND hopeful that RADICAL EXTREME approach doesn’t get passed off onto engaged consumers as a normal behaviour.

        Unfortunately the squeaky wheel gets noticed and radical positions tend to shout the loudest and often as a result unduly influence the silent majority, sad but it’s human behaviour.

        The naysayer marketing industry is a powerful one, hopefully the anti popup industry doesn’t get a foothold in the legitimate marketing industry again…

  • When Shane made this recommendation ages ago, I went ahead and tested popup light boxes on arrival at my site. My signups simply exploded – I suddenly was getting many times more subscribers than with my static signup forms, and significantly more than with delayed or exit light boxes. This is absolutely worth testing!

    I also don’t like popup light boxes when I’m trying to read articles at other websites, but I just close them immediately. They are a one-click pain, but survivable. For my own website, I am there to serve – but I need to be profitable in order to remain in business and continue to serve.

    • “I need to be profitable in order to remain in business and continue to serve.” – this hits the nail on the head. This is exactly the realization I came to, years ago. I had been doing all kinds of work and not getting paid for it. And at one point I noticed that this “selflessness” was really not a good thing at all, because it was preventing me from reaching more people.

    • Yes a great point…. “i need to be profitable to stay in business” leads me to consider the content of the pop up… with thrive leads, states and already subscribed options I think I might trial a “Why Are You Seeing This” text in the pop up…. engage them with curiosity and then lead them through various options like: “I want to know why” or “take me to content” buttons…. takes away the instant close desire (because it unexpected) and starts a quiz like micro-commitment flow to whatever is the offer or content you need them to see and act on….

      @shane (or anyone) have you tried this approach before?

      • Hi Mark,

        Let us know how it goes 🙂 We’ve tested before having 3 options before showing an opt-in form and it was converting really well!

  • This post is a perfect example of why I’m such a fan of Thrive Themes. You make recommendations based on *data* rather than just regurgitating dogma. I, too, liked your Dodgy Joe/Helpful Steve analogy. 🙂

  • Thank you for the excellent article! I loved how you used the Steve/Joe/Pierre characters to describe your concept. Throughout the entire read there was a lightbox at bottom of my mobile screen, which was the perfect example of an excellent lightbox sign-up. It was always on screen until I either closed it or signed up, but I was still able to read the entire article without it getting in the way.

  • Hanne – thank you for this informative blog post. I have a couple questions.

    1. If someone signs up to a list they will continue to see the lightbox until they receive their first message. For example we have a list for promotions. So they would see that optin again until we send out the next promotion and use the smart link.

    2. I notice Thrive uses a full-screen two-step sign up for desktop. Have you tested single opt-in and smaller lightbox?


    • Hi Hank,

      1. No, Thrive Leads would recognize them as a subscriber immediately. But you can show an “already subscribed state” to show a promotion to leads.

      2. Yes the screenfiller won from the “normal” lightbox and the 2-step won from the 1 step 🙂

      • Thank you, Hanne,

        1. Just to be clear. When someone signs up for a list say through Mailchimp one step. When they come back to the site, the next day, they will not see the lightbox to join that list again?

        Therefore you do not HAVE to use a smartlink to avoid showing the lightbox/popup again?

        However, you can use it to show specific other lightboxes?

        2. Awesome…thanks for that. My results are similar to your results so I was wondering. The second step is best for you guys to have a screenfiller for the second step, where they fill out the form?

      • 1) Yes as long as they don’t clear cookies, change IP etc.

        2) The screenfiller was just beating the lightbox overall

  • Excellent article Hanne! Great illustration. Of course, the principles demonstrated by your article have been proven by the sales data since the birth of direct marketing at least. One of the biggest sins in direct marketing (probably all marketing) is assuming that ‘my prospect thinks just like I do’, without proving it. It’s why so many people get dismal results by going with every “new” bright, shiny object. Getting to know your market and going where the data leads will always garner more sales. It only seems harder because it goes against our intuition. After all, anecdotes are very convincing, but they are seldom sufficient as proof. Human nature/psychology/persuasion has not changed in a very long time. It’s better to bend like a reed in the wind than stand rigidly and break in the face of the harsh blast of proof. Well done.

  • I once did a test of different optin forms and Exit Intent popup won across the board.

    Wasn’t even close. Beat everything else I tried by a 3:1 ratio.

  • Thank you for this awesome high quality post! This is why I love Thrive Themes 🙂 I do have a few questions I hope you can respond to:

    1. From what I understand, you study demonstrated that a high quality full screen lightbox immediately upon vising the site performs very well…but then later in the post you say your opt-in form of choice is the two-step ribbon. Which do you recommend? Or do you recommend a two-step ribbon that when clicked becomes full-screen lightbox?

    2. You say ThriveLeads automatically knows not to show any fullscreen popups to subscribers, how does it know?

    3. Someone below asked a great question that didn’t get answered: When a subscriber shares a subscriber smartlink with a friend who is NOT a subscriber, is that friend who clicks the smartlink then treated as a subscriber even though they’re not?

    Thank you, I am very grateful for Thrive Leads!

    • Hi David,

      Let me try to answer those

      1) I recommend the 2-step ribbon for mobile viewers only (and the full screen lightbox for desktop)

      2) With the smartlinks: The moment somebody subscribes Thrive Leads knows they are a subscriber and then you can use Smartlinks in your emails to allow subscribers to not see the opt-in forms anymore.

      3) Yes

  • An old argument; throw enough shit on the wall and some of it sticks… in this case throw more shit on the wall and more will stick.

    Unfortunately, this data is incomplete. It only takes into account “lead volume” without relating actual sales to specific lead flows or even more important long term, I would argue … how pissed off are those “leads” that signed up just to see what they wanted and then make sure to delete/unsubscribe/or mark as spam your emails in the future?

    Ignoring real person feedback by only focusing on numbers is a mugs game long term. Marketing fatigue/burn out is real and I think growing. I know I’m like many other commenters here, tired of being treated like an effing atm… (NOT accusing Thrive of this treatment at all!!)

    • Hi Mark,

      Have you read my article about clickshaming? You’ll see that we’re on the same page when it comes to “tricking” people into signing up for your list in the first place.

      If you get a bunch of un-interested people on your list it will never help your business.

      That’s why I’m starting from the assumption that the offer is high value and that you’re treating your list with respect.

  • Great article. Your story reminds me about a man who wasn’t dressing well and was chasing girls, noone of them cared about him. But when he went to a store and bought expensive clothes and was walking most girls wanted to chase him.

    hanne. you are always on top with your detailed articles

  • Very high quality Hanne! Congrats! 🙂

    The different conversion measures were made in Thrive Leads?

    What is the Tools you are used to measure the lightbox against the widget? The one you can see the “new self segmentation”.

    Many thanks for the articles and explanations.


    • Hi Nuno,

      Yes all of the A/B testing is done in Thrive Leads.

      For the lightbox vs the widget it’s not an A/B test (because I was already running a bit too many tests and I did not want to tank our opt-in rates completely) so the widget was shown on top of the lightbox (but only to people who did not sign up)

  • Hi Hanne , this was your great article that clearly justifies the light box approach as winner on conversion statistics. However, you preface the piece with “annoyance “ I don’t believe that you addressed the annoyance factor and the possible damage it may cause for your brand.
    I do agree and like your analogy with Steve and joe however, a stated conversion rate of 5% albeit better than the other methods mentioned, still potentially alienate 95% of your audience.
    The question is not, is it the best method but should it be used at all. I would suggest asking how the 95% feel and react as a result.

    • Hi Ashley,

      I kinda agree on what you’re saying about the 95% but reasoning like that would mean that with the others (like the 80% scroll) you’re alienating even more people 😉

      I think one thing that you should do if you’re afraid of upsetting people or driving them away is looking at your bounce rates and time on page.

      If bounce rate goes up (= more people leave your site) and time on page goes down (= people leave quicker) your audience might be getting a “bad feeling” about your brand.

      While I didn’t test it specifically for this article, we’ve never seen our bounce rates go up when using a lightbox.

      I think you’d like reading my previous article about clickshaming and the impact it has on conversions and your audience.

  • As a visitor I’m annoyed with signup boxes that haven’t given me a chance to even look at content, let alone decide if I want emails from the site. I close the pop-up without even reading it. Then I can take in the content. So I’ve set my Thrive Leads form to load after 10 seconds. Given the results of your testing, it sounds like it would be more effective to open lightbox on load, which means the offer in that form has to be highly targeted and seductive. It also suggests that leaving the same form for months or years is probably a strategy I should reconsider. I love the possibilities with Smartlink. Thanks, Hanne. Love your metaphor, and imagine it will stay with me as I continue to look at Lightboxes.

    • Hi Sage,

      I would suggest putting a test with the opt-in form on page load an the opt-in form after 10 seconds so that you can get your own data.
      I’m not sure about the “leaving the same opt in form for months or years” I believe the opt-in form should change (because you should always be testing to get the best conversion rates).

  • Brilliant article Hanne, really impressed with all your training and tutorials. I normally get bored and have short attention span but when I start reading your material I always end up actually seeing it all and keep the interest. You are a great trainer and we are lucky to have you! Keep up the good work you are helping so many people!

  • It would be interesting to know what percentage of those who say they don’t like pop-ups are in fact bloggers and what percentage are none bloggers or average Joe public and customers rather than another blogger conducting research on the competition.

    Too often we see and read opinions from other bloggers who are perhaps more tuned to the marketing techniques when they are researching and therefore possibly more on edge when a pop-up or light-box or whatever intervenes with their reading experience.

    I only ever seem to read conflict about this issue from other bloggers.

    I’ve never seen or heard anyone outside of the blogging sphere complain.

    From a personal perspective as someone who is relatively new to the blogging world and therefore with a recently fresh outlook as a customer oblivious to these marketing techniques I can say that pop ups, light boxes and welcome mats etc didn’t bother me at all.

    In fact, I’d complete them all if they were of interest or I’d just close them down and continue reading.

    I could be wrong but not everyone who is online is critiquing the site that they visit in the same way that bloggers do.

    What may annoy you as a blogger doesn’t necessarily annoy the vast majority of people out there who are not blogging so the solution would be to test what works.

    • That’s a very good point Jonah 🙂 I think you’re right about this… As online marketers we know the “tricks” and are often more critical when we see them being used by the competition.

  • Thanks for the brilliant post !

    I’m not a SEO guru but my main concern with the lightboxes is SEO.

    Google generally wants people to find good, useful information online.

    With that in mind, flashing a lightbox (i.e. another page) as soon as I start reading that useful information on the page I found might seem a bit borderline for Google and Co.

    Does anybody have any insights on this?

  • Hi Hanne,

    What’s your avg conversion rate on mobile using a ribbon with CTA to open the popup?

    Mine is pretty low at less than 0.1%

    I’ve tested one one website and showing popup on mobile immediately could have negative affects (ranking decrease) – and Google has said to not do it.

    • Yes exactly… Google is going after full screen pop-ups on mobile…
      On our site conversions on mobile are rather low too, but I’m working on a case study on another website and there we get the same conversions on mobile as on desktop… So I guess it really depends on the audience. I would also try to play around with different designs and wording to see if you can up those conversions.

  • Thanks for this easy-to-understand story. That’s the same way I explain internet-stuff to customers… I have a question, maybe you have tested out already: When running an ad campaign (Adwords and/or Facebook) and are sent to a landing page. Would you advice to use a lightbox immediately or only when leaving the page?

    • Hi Tom
      If you send people to a lead generation landing page I would only show on exit (or not at all).

      If you send people to another type of landing page, you have to be clear on your goal. If the goal is to get leads I would rather send someone to a lead generation landing page than to flash an opt-in offer on page load.
      If the goal is something else (like a sale) I would only use leadgen on exit intent.

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