List Building For E-Commerce Websites: How To Boost Conversions Without Hindering Engagement

List building is not an easy task, and there are so many different tools and technologies on the market today that can help you collect email leads.

Always collect email leads directly from your own website. Don’t buy emails from third parties! If you want value from your email list, it needs to be of high quality and relevance, and the only way you can ensure that, is to collect them directly from your own site.

The people who visit your website have already shown an interest in your product or service, and if you can convert those visitors into email leads, you have a much higher chance at converting them into customers with your email marketing.

But how do you convince your visitors to sign up once they’ve entered your site?

We hear it all the time – good decisions are based on experience. But what do you do if you don’t have much experience with list building? This is exactly what this post is here for. To help guide you through the best list building techniques and tools.

At Sleeknote, we work with list building every single day, and after looking at more than 1,000,000 sessions, we have an idea of what works and what doesn’t. So let’s just get right into it.

The new era of less intrusive popups

Many people find popups intrusive, disturbing, and just flat out annoying which can, in some cases, be true. The key to creating a popup that works, is to make it as less intrusive as possible while it still catches your visitors’ attention.

Popups are a great tool to convert your visitors because they force them to take action. Many websites already have a signup form somewhere on their page, but it is very easily overlooked or ignored because it doesn’t catch your visitors’ attention.

A popup on the other hand, ensures that every single visitor gets the opportunity to sign up for your newsletter. It can’t be ignored, and if your visitors aren’t interested, they’ll simply just close it down. We’ve experienced that by adding a popup to your website can increase your number of email signups by 400-600%.

You’ve probably already seen a popup or two, and know how they work. They are small boxes that pop up on your screen with a message.

Here’s an example of a popup from Cruise Guru’s website:

Cruise Guru Popup

How can we make popovers less intrusive?

Your popup should always be easy to close down. If a visitor can’t close down your popup, they’ll end up leaving your site, and you won’t get any value from that visitor.

You have two options when it comes to creating a popup that is easy to close down. The first is to add a close button in one of the corners. I would recommend the top right corner, as this is the first place people would look for a close button.

Check out this popup from FX Pro’s website, where the close button is clear and visible.

FX Pro Popup

The second option is to add two CTA buttons to your popup. One where the visitor agrees to sign up, or one where they decline you offer.

CTA On Popup

Notice how Slideshop forces their visitors to actively say yes or no to their offer. They have a very clear CTA where you can sign up, and then below, they have a smaller one that says: No Thanks. I don’t care about getting a deep discount. This popup works because it speaks to the visitors’ fear of missing out. It’s hard to actively say no I don’t care about discounts, which makes more people say yes to the offer.

But be careful with these buttons. You don’t want to insult the visitors who don’t sign up. There’s a fine line between speaking to their fear of missing out and insulting them.

Our data tells us that neither one of these two options convert better than the other, it depends very much on the individual popup and website. If you don’t know which one to choose, try testing both versions and see which one converts better on your site.

Lastly, I want to emphasize the importance of relevance. Your popup should always be relevant to the content of your website and your products.

Furthermore, you want to ensure that the design of your popup matches the design of your website. This makes your popup seem much less intrusive, and you’ll definitely convert a lot more of your visitors.

Popup Design Consistency

Cocomi has created a popup that matches their website in both content and design. The design is very simple and in pleasant colors that match the colors on the website. Their offer is a discount on subscribers’ first purchase which again is relevant to their products.

Convert your visitors with a slick slide-in

Popups aren’t the only on-site engagement tool you can use to collect email addresses. You can also use slide-ins.

Slide-ins work similar to popups, but instead of popping up in the middle of the screen, they slide-in from one of the bottom corners of your screen, and sit there until you close it down.

EvaSolo Slide In

As you can see in this example from Eva Solo, slide-ins are less intrusive than popups, as they don’t block the content of the website. They enable your visitors to continue browsing through the page, without having to close down the slide-in.

A slide-in catches your visitors’ attention in a more discrete way than a popup, but still ensures that all visitors are presented with the opportunity to sign up.

Again, there are in general no significant differences in conversion rates whether you choose a slide-in or a popup, it’s more about what works best for your site. Test it and ensure you always have the highest performing forms on your site.

At Sleeknote, we invented a teaser that you can add to your slide-in. The teaser will appear at one of the bottom corners of the screen and turn into a slide-in based on the trigger you set. Once a visitor closes down the slide-in, the teaser will continue to be there, so the visitor still has the opportunity to reopen the slide-in and sign up.

Kapten & Son Slide In

The content of the slide-in from Kapten & Son is that you can win a pair of sunglasses, which is one of the types of products they sell on Kapten & Son. Moreover, the picture of the slide-in is the same style as the other pictures on the website.

The teaser is especially effective when you have visitors coming into your website with the sole purpose of buying a specific product. They’ve already done their research and knows exactly where to go to buy the product. These visitors will close down your slide-in without even looking at it. Adding the teaser enables these visitors to reopen the slide-in once they’ve finished their purchase, and they can sign up for your newsletter.

By adding a teaser to your slide-in, you can increase your number of email signups by 100-200%.

Create popups and slide-ins that work!

Whether or not you decide to go for the popup or the slide-in, there are a few things you should consider.

The most important purpose of using a popup or a slide-in is to convert your visitors. To convert your visitors, your popup or slide-in must not be intrusive in any way.

Let’s have a look at how you create a popup or slide-in that doesn’t disturb your visitors.

A great example of a less intrusive popup is this one from Kalon Studios’ website:

Kalon Studios Popup

This popup is both easy to close down, and it has a very simple design that matches the simplicity of the website. This popup appears 6 seconds after you’ve entered the site.

You don’t want to show your popup or slide-in the moment your visitors enter your site. Give them a chance to create a first impression of your site before you approach them.

You can add a timer to your popup or slide-in and decide when it should appear. I would recommend 7 seconds, as this has proven to be the most effective. It gives your visitors enough time to get an impression of your site, but it still doesn’t leave enough time for them to exit your site again.

There are also many other different triggers you can add to your popup or slide-in to ensure that your visitors get the best user experience. Don’t show your popup while your visitors are scrolling a page. They’re in the middle of reading, and will most likely feel frustrated if you interrupt them.

Moreover, you don’t want to interrupt visitors in the middle of a purchase. A general rule is to not disturb your visitors while they are engaging with your content.

Cookies enable you to give your visitors an even better user experience on your site. The more adapted your popup or slide-in is to your visitors’ behavior on your site, the more likely they are to return to your site again.

We’ve experimented a lot with different cookie settings at Sleeknote, and this is what we found:

Set a specific number of times your slide-in or popup should be shown to the same visitor. You don’t want to bombard your visitor, but at the same time, you want to push them a little bit to sign up. So how many times should you show the same offer? I would recommend showing a slide-in or popup four times, and then stop. If a visitor hasn’t signed up the fourth time, they’re clearly not interested in you offer.

If your visitors have already signed up, they shouldn’t be exposed to a new signup form. Try converting them into customers by directing them to a specific landing page with a great offer instead, like Kcal Healthy Fast Food does with one of their popups.

Kcal Popup

Lastly, don’t show the same slide-in or popup on multiple pages in one session.

Convert your visitors with an incentive

Let’s move on to the content of your popups and slide-ins. The content of your form is what convinces your visitors to sign up. Give your visitors an incentive to sign up, instead of just asking for their email address.

I want to emphasize how important it is to NOT write: Sign up for our newsletter. Don’t do it in your headline, don’t do it in your CTA, just don’t do it.

You won’t convert your visitors because even though the goal is to get them signed up for your newsletter that isn’t what people sign up for. We see a significant increase in signups, when our customers are more creative with their CTA’s and put emphasis on the value instead of the newsletter.

People sign up to get value. Simple as that. Your visitors need to feel like they get something in return for their email address.

There are many ways in which you can offer value to your visitors that will make them sign up. You can offer them exclusive deals, discounts, free ebooks, or free sample products.

Look at how Italiarail uses a free travel guide to give value to their visitors:

Italiarail Free Guide Incentive

Notice that the slide-in is specific to the page it appears on. It is a page with train travel guides where visitors can find all kinds of information on train travel. Offering visitors on this page a free travel guide is the perfect way of converting already interested visitors with great value.

Another way of converting your visitors is to offer them a chance to win something. Airtame uses a competition to convert their visitors as you can see here:

Airtame Competition

Finally, your CTA needs to be relevant as well. It should tell your visitors exactly what they get when they click it, and at the same time, it needs to be irresistible. If you offer your visitors a discount of 25% on a product, you CTA could be: Get my 25% discount now.

Make your visitor the focus of attention by adding “me” and “I” in the CTA. It’s a small thing but it has a great cognitive effect on your visitors, and they’ll be more inclined to sign up.

Check out this blog post on how to create effective CTA’s.

Let’s get down to the numbers

When it comes to the actual collection of the visitors information, you need to be very careful not to ask for too much. The more input fields you add to your form, the lower your conversion rate will be. Every time you want to add an input field, you need to ask yourself if you really need that information to get value from your visitors.

All you really need is their email address, and everything else can wait. You can always send them an email where they can fill in the rest of their information. Many e-commerce websites also want the name of the visitor, however, you should keep in mind that every time you add an input field, your conversion rate will decrease by 50%.

Never ask for you visitor’s phone number. It’s way too personal and you might as well ask for their civil registration number. They will never give it to you, and you won’t get any value from your popup or slide-in.

You can also increase your conversion rate by adding images or pictures to your popups or slide-ins. Humans are very visual beings, and we respond much more positively to images and pictures than we do to text. In average popups and slide-ins with images convert 90% more of visitors than those without.

The two following two opt-in forms from livingshop.dk are identical except for the fact that the top one doesn’t have an image while the bottom one does.

The top one without an image had a conversion rate of 3,1% while the one with the image had a conversion rate of 5,1%. This is an increase of 64,5% just by adding an image.

Split Test Results

Split Test With & Without Image

Again, your pictures and images should be relevant to you offer. As in the example above, the image is of a popular product from the website that you can buy with the gift certificate.

Content upgrades

Content upgrades are not a new phenomenon, but not many e-commercers know about them. A content upgrade is exclusive content that only subscribers have access to, and they should always be highly relevant to that content.

Neil Patel Content Upgrade

This content upgrade appears in a blog post where Neil Patel offers advice on content marketing. An exclusive bonus is offered with a 40-page pdf guide to content marketing. When you click download, a popup appears where you have to enter your email address, and once you’ve submitted your email, you can download the pdf file directly onto your computer.

Content upgrades work because they are presented within relevant content that your visitor is already reading. Thus, they have an interest in that topic, and a much more likely to be intrigued by additional information or tools relating to that topic.

Content upgrades can come in many varieties such as; how to guides, checklists, ebooks, tutorials, etc.

No matter what kind of content upgrade you create, it has to be highly relevant to the content you’re placing it in. It also has to provide value to the subscriber. If your content upgrade doesn’t provide value, the subscriber will feel deceived and most likely unsubscribe.

By adding content upgrades to specific pages on your website you can convert 1-4% of all visitors on those pages.

Content upgrades aren’t just for blog posts and articles. In fact, you can add content upgrades to your product pages as well. For instance, if you run an e-commerce with cooking equipment, you can add a content upgrade to you different products. If a visitor clicks on a pasta machine, you could have a content upgrade with a pasta recipe.

Very few e-commerce websites uses content upgrades, which is a wasted opportunity as it can help you provide more value to your customers and you’ll grow your email list at the same time. It’s a great way to create extra value and get more signups, so you might as well start right away. Let your imagination run wild with content upgrades.

Learn how to create engaging content in this blog post: 6 Quick Tips For More Magnetic & Engaging Content.

Over and out

Remember to always keep the content and design of your popups and slide-ins relevant to your website. Keep in mind who your visitors are, and what they’re interested in.

Only ask for the very necessary information in your opt-in forms, as visitors don’t want to give away too much information.

Try an implement content upgrades to your website. You’ll soon see a significant rise in your conversion rate by adding them.

That was all from our 1,000,000 session learnings. I hope you’ve learned a thing or two, and that you’re ready to start collecting valuable email leads one way or the other.

Do you have any insights you’d like to share? Please do so in the comments below, so we can all learn from your expertise as well.

Rikke Thomsen

Rikke Thomsen

Rikke Thomsen is a passionate Online Marketing Specialist at Sleeknote, a lead generation tool for e-commerce. At Sleeknote, Rikke is responsible for the Sleeknote blog, as well as social media, and she loves to write about everything e-commerce.
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