The Science of Email Popups: How Many Steps Convert the Most Leads?

Ben Choy
July 20, 2021
minute read

This is a guest post created by Ben Choy & our friends over at Justuno. Justuno is a leading email popup software for ecommerce merchants, and we frequently recommend their software to our clients. They’re the email popup experts, so we asked them for their expertise with a question we frequently hear from clients: how many steps should an email popup have? Ben, take it away.

Email marketing in ecommerce is still measured as the highest ROI marketing activity to date. In a recent study done by Adobe and commented on by the Harvard Business Review, the new generation of shoppers (millennials) are marked to be the most actionable on emails.

It’s time to start building your lists intelligently so you can focus on your biggest ROI channel. We’ve broken the list-building strategies into 3 separate categories along with the reasoning behind them:

  1. Lead Capture Steps
  2. Timing
  3. Stages of Lead Capture

Should you use a 2-step or 3-step email popup?

A common question from lead capture tool users is whether or not using a 3-step promotion over the traditional 2-step promotion nets any increase in engagements or conversions. Our 2017 Labor Day Case Study gave us lots of insight into a huge amount of promotions, and by examining that we can come to a conclusion on 2-step (Pre-Submission & Post-Submission) vs. 3-step (Intro, Pre-Submission & Post-Submission).

What does this terminology mean?


A 2-step promotion provides a clear, upfront benefit to the visitor,, and an immediate CTA + lead capture form.


A 3-step promotion, provides a micro-engagement at the beginning to segue the visitor into the email capture form, then ends with a benefit for the consumer, in this case, a coupon code.

Promotion TypeEngagement Rate (%)Conversion Rate (%)
Pre + Post (2-step)3.80%11.9%Intro + Pre + Post (3-step)11.3%8.27%

Let’s explain the data above. Engagements are measured by any time a visitor interacts with a promotion for longer than 8 seconds, and/or gives their email (think sign-ups.)

Conversions are sales. Any time a consumer uses a coupon code (that they received by engaging) it is tracked as a conversion.

From the data pool, we are able to make these assumptions:

The 2-step Promotions (Pre & Post) have an engagement rate of 3.8% and a conversion rate of 11.9%.

With such a high conversion rate (Almost 12%), 2-step promotions are netting a high amount of increased sales for ecommerce site owners.

Who are these promotions ideal for?

2-step promos are more geared for companies who are looking for on-site conversions, or to move inventory quickly.

3-step (Intro & Pre & Post) have an engagement rate of 11.3% and a conversion rate of 8.27%.

With almost triple the engagement rate, 3-step Promos provide psychological benefit to aid the visitor in opting in (by way of micro-engagements).

The ‘yes’, and ‘no’ prompt during the intro popup for the 3-step promotions are an example of what we refer to as micro-engagements. Providing a low-effort engagement (Yes or No?)  before introducing a lead capture form eases the visitor into the opt-in process.

When should you enact 3-step promotions?

These are useful for companies with a high-performing and highly segmented email marketing strategy. If your email lifecycle marketing is historically high performing and leads are what you’re missing, go for 3-step promotions.

Timing is key to the success of lead capture campaigns. The reason timing of promotions is so important in Ecommerce is due to the nature of the online shopper. Upon entry of an online shopper, the retailer should try not to interrupt their on-site experience with an immediate lead capture popup. Rather, waiting until they are able to get a quick impression of your site is recommended. However, don’t wait too long! Chartbeat’s data shows 55% of visitors will leave within 15 seconds of visiting a site, so staying within that window is necessary if you want the majority of visitors to see your lead capture offer.

  • Desktop – Our team recommends a delay of 5 seconds on showing a promotion to a first-time visitor on desktop.

Why? Immediately showing a promotion to a visitor who has not even seen your site is not optimizing for bounce-rate reduction. Rather, targeting to fire after a 5 second delay perfectly aims for both an optimal browsing window and capturing the lead before the average visitor leaves your site.

  • Mobile – We recommend a 10 second delay before firing promotions to first-time visitors on mobile.

Why? Varying mobile networks, carrier speed and mobile devices will affect site load speed. As a safer rule-of-thumb, a 10 second delay before firing promotions will allow all mobile visitors to have ample time to load and search a site before being offered/ notified of anything. In order to avoid any penalties for SEO on mobile, following our updated 2017 cheat sheet will keep you in the clear.

mobile pop up cheat sheet

Lead Capture Stages

Now that you know general best practices and the data behind them, it’s now time to actually understand the best stages to show your promotions.’ Analyzing high traffic areas and web-pages on your site will help you laser-target your promotions, but for overarching strategy, let’s break it down into 3 stages.

1.Welcome Promotion

This is the first promotion your visitor will see upon landing on the site. (We recommend a delay of 5 seconds on desktop and 10 on mobile.)  Utilizing on-site messaging with your first promotion is a great way to make a customer feel welcome. Spending time crafting this promotion will aid hugely in engaging your top of the funnel traffic. To mirror that in terms of email marketing, welcome emails are incredibly powerful, as welcome emails have a stellar open-rate of 50%.

2. Product Page

Whilst your customer is browsing through your products, present to them an opportunity for lead capture that is personalized to them and their favorite products.

GLD Product Page Email Sign up

Here is an adapted promotion made by our Managed Services team for TheGLDShop. The consumer sees a lead capture form based off of the products they are searching for, in this case a Cuban Link bracelet. Hitting your on-site visitors with a  lead-capture form extends the funnel and keeps their interest in you and your brand going.

3. Exit Intent

A visitor leaving your site can have multiple implications, but the response should always be the same. Take reasonable action to encourage them to stay on your site and shop further. The final step of this email capture strategy is one of the most important, due to the many instances of when exit intent is a highly effective way of both increasing sales and list sign-ups.

When a shopper intends to leave, engage them with a lead capture popup. This provides one last opportunity to convert that unknown shopper into a lead that you can remarket to through email. Here’s a great exit offer for some inspiration. Specifically take note on the copy used throughout the popup. Go for relevancy and personality here!

exit intent example

Creating your perfect lead capture funnel will require testing and research, since every site is different. Following data is the best way to be confident in your decisions while optimizing your site.

What to do now

Want to know how many emails you should be capturing? Check out our Email Analyzer here.

Frequently Asked Questions


Ben Choy


Ben Choy is the Content Marketing Manager at JustUno. Ben applies his love of copy-writing and brand stories to provide marketing pieces that provide value to online retailers. Lover of IPAs, tennis and marketing. (Millennial in denial)

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