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Are Popover Forms Right for You?

February 8, 2012  
Although improved browser technology has rendered the popup window nearly obsolete, most of us remember its intrusive horrors. "As a result," writes Mark Brownlow at Email Marketing Reports, "email marketers have been reluctant to use 'in your face' website sign-up forms that in any way resemble those popups of the past."

Often termed a popover or a lightbox, the newer form doesn't open in a new window, but rather fades or slides into view over the content on a webpage.

Is a misplaced fear of negative popup associations preventing your use of an effective list-building tool? Is that a valid concern? Brownlow asked a panel of experts for their thoughts, and here is what they said:

It's important to think in terms of relevant interruption. A popover will obviously interrupt your visitor's activity—but she is unlikely to mind if the popover adds value to her visit. This means it shouldn't interfere with an important activity, and should provide a discount or offer related to the content she is viewing. "Popover implementation should be controlled, calculated, and used with caution," says Bronto's Jim Davidson.

A responsible practitioner shouldn't expect negative fallout. None of Brownlow's experts reported a decline in list quality from the use of popover forms. According to Ernest Vaga of Mailigen, "Testing a popover lightbox that is easy to close in case the visitor doesn't want to sign up has not shown any negative behavior from users."

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  • by Kelvin Findlay Wed Feb 8, 2012 via web

    As long as the popover doesn't look like a pop-up. I've seen advertisers throw up ads that completely block the the browser until closed. These are as good as pop-ups in my opinion. The design and the relevancy of the popover are important factors that will affect how users view your website.

  • by Cassie Witt Wed Feb 8, 2012 via web

    Popovers are not so bad these days. Yes, they are still annoying, but as long as they do not appear everytime you navigate to a new page (I just experienced this today and I was ticked off at a site because of it) then they are okay. In other words, have your javascript (or whatever you're using to fuel the popover) work so that it will only appear once for every unique visitor. It's not that hard to do. In fact, some scripts allow you to change the setting without needing to know javascript at all!

    And, yes, they are amazing list building tools.

  • by Erik Carlson Thu Feb 9, 2012 via web

    I'm okay with popovers / lightboxes as long as they are user-controlled. Ones that pop up when I am in the middle of another task are perceived as annoying and intrusive.

  • by vincent Fri Feb 10, 2012 via web

    you mustn't forget the behaviour of these popups on mobile devices is different and affects user experience.

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