Popup Advertising Gets Online Course Seller 80% More Subscribers

by | eCourse Growth Strategies, Uncategorized

You know those annoying pop ups that you install software to block or immediately close once you see them popup on your screen? One might have even popped up when you visited our site today. Well guess what? They work!

We were testing one of our member’s eCourse site recently who, at the time, wasn’t using popup advertising to capture email addresses. They had a great email newsletter campaign in place and their email signup conversion rate was great. But no popup.

In a recent case study we conducted on this client’s site we found that an email newsletter subscriber was worth $4.99 (compared to $1.20 for a regular website visitor). The value of a newsletter subscriber was therefore 315% more valuable than a regular visitor.

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This of course is due to many reasons, but namely that newsletter subscribers were able to learn to trust this particular eCourse company because they were sent high quality educational content on a weekly basis. After receiving this free educational content and being reassured of course quality they decided sign up and pay for access to this eCourse seller’s flagship online course.

Knowing that newsletter subscribers are so much more valuable than a regular website visitor naturally leads people selling courses online to want more email subscribers right?

There are many things you can do to get more opt-in email subscribers. You can play around with the sales copy of your newsletter sign up form, change the placement of the form, change the colors of the form, or you can even change the email bait itself (i.e. an ebook, white-paper, free class, free tutorial etc).

You’ll get to a point in the optimization process where your tweaks start having smaller and smaller impacts on your conversion rate (CR). It’s at this point where you should be asking yourself if there are any other macro tweaks you can be making to push your opt-in rate even higher.

This is generally when the option of incorporating popup advertising comes up in conversation. Some Academy Of Mine members use popups, others don’t. It really boils down to personal preferences. However, to date, we’ve never installed popup software on a member’s site which has had a negative impact on their newsletter sign up rates. It always leads to increases in sign ups.


Here’s an example from this month. One of our members was getting about 73 opt in newsletter subscribers / week on their online course website. We then ran a test (keeping all other sales elements and behavior the same) where we incorporated a popup advertisement which promoted access to free course material in exchange for the site visitor’s email address. After running the test for a month this particular Academy Of Mine member was able to average 131 opt-in newsletter subscribers / week (up from 73 / week). This is an 80% jump in subscribers! A huge jump to say the least.

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And if you remember from our previous case study, each newsletter subscriber was worth, on average, $4.99 to this eCourse seller. The difference between 73 to 131 newsletter subscribers is an additional 58 subscribers / week (232 / month). And since each newsletter subscriber is worth $4.99 this increase in email opt-ins has lead to roughly $1157 in additional enrolment income each month. Doing no additional advertising, other than having the popup software work for you while you sleep.


The trouble for most online course sellers when it comes to incorporating popup software into their site is that they feel it will have a negative impact on their image. Or maybe they personally have a dislike for this type of advertising so they refuse to explore it as an option.

Popup ads are, after all, more obnoxious than most website advertisements. Even if your site visitors are not interested in the ad they still need to engage in it to close it. Other forms of advertising are much more passive and much easier for your site visitors to ignore. However, passivity isn’t necessarily a good thing when it comes to marketing your online course. Being overly passive can hurt enrolment sales as much as being overly aggressive. In the former case you’re not doing enough, in the later case you’re doing too much.

It can be a fine balance but essential you need to establish your advertising “comfort line” which balances passivity with aggressiveness. For example, if you found out that using a call center would boost enrolments would you hire telemarketers to promote your educational company through unsolicited calls? I personally wouldn’t do it even if I knew the financial results would be favorable. The telemarketing method simply crosses my “comfort line”.

Five years ago I might have said the same for popup advertisements. However, I don’t’ feel the same about them today. And it’s not just because popups work… it’s because popup technology now gives us greater control over how our ads are served. Let me explain.


Popup advertising can be served in many different ways and the possibilities are growing every day. You can serve a popup ad only after a visitor has visited a certain number of pages or been on your site for a certain amount of time. Alternatively a popup ad can be displayed only when a visitor is on a particular page.

Best of all, if a site visitor says “no thanks” and closes the popup you can set most popup software programs not to open again for that site visitor for a set amount of time. For instance, you could tell the software program not to open again for that site visitor for another 30 days. That way your visitor can visit your site anytime between now and then and not have the repeatedly hit “no thanks”. However, maybe in 30 days from now you have a new offer, or they are more familiar with your site so they want the content you’re offering for your opt-in subscribers.


Which leads me to my next point. And that’s that your newsletter “bait” is generally some of the highest quality content on your site. So from your site visitors standpoint there is generally good reason for them to give you their email address. As a course seller you’re saying “I’m willing to part with some free content if you give me a chance by parting with your email address”. It’s a low risk win-win.

So if you’re selling courses online but not using popup software… maybe you should be? Or maybe it’s crossing your line. Either way… it’s worth thinking about.

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