Shopify Email Popup 101 [Including App Recommendation]

Last updated January 30, 2020

How would you feel if your website visitors suddenly turned on their heels and went away?

If, for some reason, they started focusing their attention on another store instead? It’d be disastrous.

Download 6 Free Shopify Email Templates For Mailchimp (HTML included just upload and send). Template welcome series and cart abandonment.

But you know, if the fear of losing some of them deters you from even trying to convert your traffic to email, then it’s pretty much as if you were handing visitors over to the competition anyway.

Because you see, the majority of your customers wouldn’t buy during their first visit.

And it’s up to you to use strategies like popups to engage them and begin developing a business relationship.

Luckily, that’s what I’m going to help you with today.

I’ll show you how to use popups on your Shopify store to convert website visitors to your email list, keep them engaging with your brand, and even, prevent them from abandoning their carts.

Intrigued? Let’s do it.

What’s the Big Fuss Over Email Popups Anyway?

ConversionXL refers to popups as:

“One of the most effective ways to jolt their attention & grab their email for a return visit.”

One case study after another proves that popups deliver higher conversion rates compared to any other call to action.

If you log into the Shopify Apps Store, you’ll see over 100 different popup apps. I’m sure you’ll agree with me that such a number can only signify their usefulness, right?

But most importantly, almost every other shop you visit uses popups and overlays to communicate their special offers and engage you with their brand.

But why? What’s the big fuss about those small boxes popping up on the screen?

Aren’t they nothing but a distraction, a roadblock, obstructing a visitor’s path to purchase?

No, not really.

As a matter of fact, popups offer truly the most effective way for online stores to boost various aspects of growth.

Here, let me show you.

#1. Building an engaged audience

According to “Reimagining Commerce” study published a little over a year ago:

“92% of consumers visiting a retailer’s website for the first time aren’t there to buy.” (source)

But what’s more important – those who return are far more engaged with your brand and content than people viewing it for the first time.

Just consider this. According to this data from Kissmetrics, first-time visitors typically spend two and a half minutes on the site. Returning ones, however, devote twice as much time to scrutinize your content.

Moreover, during their first visit, they view 3.88 pages, but on any subsequent visit, they view 5.55 pages. (source)

And it’s up to you to entice first-time visitors to come back and engage with your store further.

Where do popups come into this? For one, they help you convert a visitor to your email list, and in turn, start building a relationship with them, bring them back to the site and inspire the first purchase.

Here are a couple of examples of list building popups:


source: a newsletter popup on


source:’s email popup

#2. Retaining visitors

If there’s one thing that characterizes today’s web visitors, it’s lack of patience.

Study after study prove that even the slightest delay in page load time discourages customers from buying from a site.

The same goes for engagement. For many, unless they find what they’ve been looking for at an instant, they’re gone. Some to never return to the site.

The challenge? To convert them, you need to keep them on the site.

Luckily, you can use popups to suggest more content to read or relevant products to view.

#3. Reduce cart abandonment

Is there anything more disappointing for you than seeing a person adding items to their basket, only to give up completing the purchase in the end?

But unfortunately, that’s what a staggering number of buyers do. Just take a look at those cart abandonment stats.

Cart Abandonment Stats SaleCycle Blog

(image source)

What’s worse, it may seem that there’s nothing you could do about it, particularly if they haven’t registered for an account with your store first.

Luckily, that’s not the case.

Popups allow you to prevent or rescue cart abandonment in two ways:

Directly, by offering discounts to convince a person to complete their purchase.


An exit popup on

Indirectly, by collecting their email addresses, so that you could keep communicating with them, and entice them to return and buy.


An email popup on

But does it work?

Well, according to Salesforce, 60% of cart abandonment emails result in the purchase within 24 hours of sending. And that’s a pretty darn result if you ask me. 

What Makes Popups Work So Well?

Strip a popup from its individual, brand-related elements like visuals or colors, and you’ll notice that they all look the same.

Each share a set of characteristics which are crucial to its success:

  • Visibility and Engagement
  • Relevancy
  • Timing and Placement.

Before we start discussing how to create a popup that helps your Shopify store achieve growth, let’s look at those factors in more detail.

#1. Visibility and Engagement

Popups are so hard to miss, right?

Every time the small window appears on screen, it immediately catches your attention. And if the message engages you, often on an emotional level, it distracts you from whatever else you’ve been doing on the site.

Not to mention that it gets you to conform and act on the presented offer.

Psychologists refer to this behavior as pattern interrupt. It occurs when something unexpected happens that throws your brain out from its natural rhythm, changing the way you think.

#2. Relevancy

Successful popups don’t just stick a discount or other incentive to sign up for a mailing list in front of you.

They make a compelling offer that matches your current buying intent.

Just take a look at the various popup examples above. Note how popups aiming to prevent shopping cart abandonment include messages relevant to a person’s current behavior.


An exit popup on

Popups targeting first-time visitors, on the other hand, focus on more general offers that could engage a greater number of people.


A popup on Shopify-powered

And that’s another secret to popups’ success.  They allow you to target specific users, based on their various characteristics like the number of times they’ve visited your site, where did they come from, and even their location.


This relevancy, in turn, helps you increase the chances for compelling them to act.

(Don’t worry, if you’re confused by any of this. I’ll explain this at length very shortly.)

#3. Timing and Placement

Finally, successful popups target visitors by their behavior on the site too.

And depending on the buying intent you focus on, they might display right after a person landed on the site, after a predefined delay or even once they’ve performed a specific action.


Similarly, by controlling placement – where a popup shows up on the screen, you can create balance between visibility and user experience.


Many store owners believe that a popup should appear at the center of the screen. However, the actual placement should depend on various factors:

  • Your store’s layout and design.
  • The offer you present.
  • Your audience’s preferences, and much more.

I always recommend stores to test different placements to find what engages the audience the most.

How to Create a Popup that Instantly Converts

We’ve talked about how popups could help your store to grow, and what factors make a successful popup campaign.

So, let’s put it all together now and discuss how to create and launch a popup campaign.

Step #1. Segment Your Audience

Here’s a mistake so many store owners make over and over again.

They launch a single popup, hoping for it to convert their entire traffic.

But here’s the catch – various audience segments will respond to different offers.

For example, general offers and discounts appeal to first-time visitors. After all, you don’t know anything about them and cannot tailor any specific offer at them. They also may not know much about your brand, meaning that they’ll need a more general encouragement to engage.

On the other hand, returning visitors respond to heftier discounts designed based on their previous engagement to entice them to finally make a purchase.

Social media traffic, however, might not buy at all. But they can convert into your mailing list. And so, a popup targeting this segment should encourage them to do just that.

That’s why, before doing anything else, define audience segments (or buckets, as we refer to them) you’d like to target with popups.

The most basic buckets would include:

  • First-time visitors
  • Returning visitors (people who visited your site before in the last week or so)
  • Visitors coming through your advertising campaigns.

Later, you could also start targeting visitors by their location, device, and by the products they express an interest in.

This pop-up designed by GoGoChimp is a good example of how powerful buckets are: 34.24% of all traffic shown this popup signed up to their client’s email list in exchange for a 10% discount code.

The main reason why this popup performed so well is that GoGoChimp made a few minor tweaks to how it’s triggered and who sees it by:

  • Segmenting desktop users from mobile users
  • Showing a basic, quick-to-load design to mobile and tablet users
  • Trigger the popup only on specific blog posts, category pages and< product pages related to New Zealand sheepskin rugs
  • Display the popup only to visitors who stay on a page for longer than 30-seconds

It’s worth noting that there isn’t anything remarkable about the popup’s design but instead highlights how effective buckets are.

Step #2. Choose a Relevant Offer for that Segment

The offer makes or breaks your popup.

Unless you promise your visitors something they wouldn’t like to miss out on, they’ll ignore your message and perhaps even leave the site.

I already shared some examples of offers that are relevant to different audience segments in the section above.

But one thing I didn’t mention is what exactly IS the popup offer.

And internally, we define it as:

“Something your visitor will get by acting on the call to action.”

For example, an offer could be:

  • A discount or a promo code they could use at a next purchase.
  • A last-minute offer they could avail right now.
  • Free resource they could download.

Step #3. Create an Engaging Design

Let’s not beat around the bush here: Ugly popups don’t convert. Full stop.

(The same goes for popups using a stock design or templates. After all, the last thing you want is for your offer to look just like your competitor’s, right?)

But how do you design a beautiful popup?

Firstly, make it match the look and feel of your website and brand. Use your company’s colors, fonts, and other brand elements that characterize it.

Similarly, whatever visuals you include on the popup, they should always align with the graphics you use on your product pages and the shop.

Some of the best ideas for popup visuals include:

  • Product images
  • Pictures representing your target audience
  • Images showing your products in use

Here are a couple of examples showing other Shopify stores using visuals in popups:


A Shopify email popup example on



Step #4. Leverage the Power of Strong Copy

I admit, writing popup copy is a topic in itself.

So, let me just reiterate the key points here:

Out of all of the popups elements, it’s words that convince them to act.

After all, without copy, your audience wouldn’t have a clue about what you offer and what they need to do to get it.

And depending on your offer, you have to use different approaches for your copy.

For example, use words that promote exclusivity and community:


Use phrases that engage your audience:


Highlight the exclusivity of your offer:



Step #5. Specify Timing and Placement

Finally, with all your targeting, copy and design done, the final thing you need to do is to decide when and where your popup will show.

And although it might seem like a trivial issue, each of them has a tremendous effect on your conversions.

Just think about it.

A popup that displays too soon might simply disrupt your visitors and push them away.

But if you wait too long, you risk missing out on a lot of people who might have left the site before you even had a chance to show them the offer.

In fact, one of our customers discovered that simply delaying a popup by 10 seconds increased conversions by 9%. And when they held it off for another 30 seconds, email signups grew by further 12%. Take a look:


But time delay is just one of the ways to activate a popup. Matching a visitor’s behavior is another. For example, you could display a popup only after a person visits a specific number of pages on the site or scrolls to a specific point on a page.


You could also display a popup when your visitors visits an out-of-stock item page:

pasted image 0


Again, the best way to discover which option works best for your audience is to test different timing and placement.

Shopify Email Popups

Many visitors will browse your store only once, without buying anything. And whether they’ll come back and make a purchase largely depends on you starting and building a business relationship with them.

In this guide, I showed you how to use popups, the most effective lead generation strategy, to do just that – engage and convert visitors into contacts, and bring them back to your site.


Greg is Head of Growth at WisePops, a popup builder. Their popup app is available on the Shopify App Store.

giles thomas


Hi, I’m Giles Thomas. Founder of AcquireConvert, the place where ecommerce entrepreneurs & businesses go to learn how to increase conversions & profits. I’m also the founder of ecommerce growth agency Whole Design Studios. I’m a head marketing mentor at the Google Launchpad Accelerator & Google Marketing Expert. Ps. Check out my new blog


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