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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