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Which Incentives Work Best in Popups?

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In our Email FAQs series, we answer your email marketing questions! In this episode, Daniel Kohn, the Founder of SmartMail, answers a question he gets asked all the time by online retailers big and small: Which incentives work best in popups? What will actually get shoppers to submit their email addresses?

Sending triggered emails to your shoppers is great. But in order to send out emails you’ve got to build your list.

Watch the video below for Daniel’s industry secrets revealed! You can also read the full article or listen to the audio at the bottom of the post.

Using Incentives in Popups to Grow Your Email List

Hey there, on today’s video we’re going to be looking at which incentives work best for pop-ups.

We got a lot of people asking us, “You know, we wanna run a pop-up, but should we run free shipping? Should we run a percentage off? Should be a dollar off? What works best?”

We’ve actually tested a lot of variations. And the first thing I can tell you is that free shipping is something that all of your customers pretty much expect already. Most of the larger retailers online already offer free shipping. And so it’s something that people have come to expect when they shop online.

So if you’re gonna offer free shipping, your upturn rate is gonna be relatively lower than if you offer a percentage offer or a dollar off.

The Incentive That Will Get Shoppers to Sign Up

I mean, free shipping, it’s not really that interesting. And most companies usually offer free shipping over a certain dollar value anyway.

So if you gonna try, like, shortcut the whole thing and trick people into making them feel like they get free shipping if they sign up to your list but they really do get free shipping anyway, it’s not gonna work.

And it doesn’t create a good vibe between you and your customer in the first place. So I would stay away from free shipping anyway, to begin with. And then the next thing then we come down to is what should we offer, is it a percentage or a dollar.

I think the main thing that you wanna be looking at, and the one thing that we’ve tested the most is that the best result you gonna get and the best result to get you the most upturns is not so much whether it’s a dollar or a percentage, but it’s really about the number. If it’s 10 or 20 or 30 or 35…

It doesn’t matter if it’s dollars or percentage. You would be surprised, most people don’t really read a lot of everything. Sometimes they get confused whether it’s dollars or percentages. Usually, if you’ve got a dollar…an amount that’s really high, it just looks really appealing. It’s not so much about the dollar or the percentage.

And, you know, it’s gonna vary for every business.

So for your particular business, it might make more sense to offer a dollar discount or a percentage discount. It really depends. But usually the higher…You know, the general rule of thumb is more you can give them, the more you can discount them, the more they’re going to…the greater upturn you gonna get.

You can usually expect like a 4% to 7% upturn rate on an entry pop-up when you offer, you know 10% or 15% off on your next purchase type thing. You know, somewhere between 4% and 7% if you’ve got decent quality traffic coming to your website.

Incentives For Orders Over A Certain Amount

One other trick that you can look at is because you wanna offer an incentive but you also don’t wanna lose on all the people signing up. Because if you’re offering 10% off on, you know, low-ticket item or items with tight margin, you actually gonna be losing money.

And so that’s not something you wanna do. And it’s not something that we encourage people to do.

So one of the things you could do as well, a trick, is to be able to offer an incentive if somebody spends over a certain amount. Right?

Create an Appealing Offer That Helps Your Bottom Line

So what we normally do with companies is we look at their Average Order Value in Google Analytics.

If the Average Order Value is $80, what we would do is in the pop-up is say, “You get, you know, 15% off.” And then at the very bottom, you would have an asterisk from the 15% and in the very bottom, it says, you know, minimum spend required.

You don’t wanna say, you know, $80 minimum spend in the pop-up, and you don’t need to.

Once you send the email to them, in the email it should say, “Congratulations, here’s your coupon for 15% off when you spend $80 or more on your next purchase.”

And, you know, “When you spend $80 or more” almost shouldn’t be in the fine print because that’s a little bit cheeky.

And it’s just gonna annoy people when they get to the checkout and they didn’t realize and they didn’t read the fine print, so you don’t wanna actually, like, be that cheeky.

Put in big writing, “You get 15% off when you spend $80 on your next purchase.”

And I think that’s a really effective way of putting that minimum in and making sure that you don’t lose your pants on the sale as well so your business doesn’t… So you don’t actually go out of business from offering this because a lot of people will take you up on that offer, on a pop-up.

It’s a very popular way of generating more sales and generating more emails for your list by doing that. But you will generate quite a lot of sales.

And so you wanna be really careful how you minimize that spend and the threshold of how that’s actually positioned. So that’s probably something to think about.

That’s probably the best types of incentives.

Incentives for eCommerce Businesses With Low Margins

You know, another way and another tactic that we have seen work as well is it if you can’t actually…if your margins are really, really tight and you can’t offer many incentives at all, maybe I’ll make another video about this specifically, but what you can do is say something like, “Hey, get between, you know, 35% and 65% off on marked items when you join our email list.”


So you’re not actually offering them any specific incentive, but you’re also using big numbers that look really fancy. And so, basically, people sign up.

You’re not promising them anything but you’re also using…you know, you have the ability to use big numbers and sort of dangle a nice big carrot in front of their face to get them to put in their email address. And that works really well as well, but it has to be realistic.

Don’t Be Greedy in Your Popups to Shoppers!

And you can’t be, you know, too greedy with the numbers that you’re using in the pop-up. If you’re saying, “Get up to 99% off.” I mean, it’s not very realistic, and your upturn rate will probably be really low.

And people won’t believe you and they probably won’t even buy from you in the first place. You gotta be really careful as well how you position these things.

I think you have to be really fair about it. You can’t say, “Get 50% off when you spend over $700.” and your Average Order Value is $80. That’s not we’re talking about here.

We are talking about creating really valuable relationships and meaningful relationships with your customers.

High Converting Popups = Increased Sales and Engagement

So what I said before on the beginning I think was the best way to do it. Look at your Average Order Value, you know, you might wanna mark it up maybe $10, $20, but I would stick to your Average Order Value and then mark up the incentive above that value, and you should be able to see a really nice bump in performance in the upturn rates of your email.

Email is this great strategy without actually going out of business, which should be a really good thing to do as well.


So thanks for watching and see you on the next video. Looking for more email inspiration? Check out these email examples that are sure to inspire your email marketing strategy.

ecommerce email marketing template

Get the full audio here: 

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