How to use Lightbox Forms the right way to capture more emails

McKenzie Gregory

We get it, lightbox-style signup forms (aka pop-ups) sometimes get a pretty bad rap.

Marketers worry that lightboxes will annoy their site visitors, chase them away, or — even worse — discourage them from returning at all.


Despite the anxiety surrounding lightbox forms, they’re really like any other marketing method: Use it badly, you’ll produce bad results. Use it well, you’ll produce good ones. One way we like to explain a successful lightbox is by thinking about it like a business card. If you shove your business card at someone with no preface or introduction, you’re probably not going to elicit a very positive response. But if you approach a person, shake their hand, make some conversation, and then exchange business cards as a way to stay in touch, you’ll likely form a much better connection.


Intelligent use = sustained success

That's why selective timing options were a must-have when developing our own Lightbox Forms product. Rather than having a lightbox immediately pop up when someone visits your page, our Lightbox Forms allow you to strategically choose where, when, and after which action your readers will see it. This helps ensure that they're fully engaged with your content before they're presented with the choice to opt-in to your email list.

Lightboxes by the numbers

One of the biggest challenges currently facing modern marketers is figuring out how to keep their audience growing when the average email list churns by about 30% every year. Well, the results we’ve been seeing with Lightbox Forms are pretty hard to ignore.

In the tech world, it’s called eating your own dog food: What better place to experiment with our Lightbox Forms product than on our own blog? After adding a simple lightbox signup form on the dashboard, we found an unbelievable increase in readers signing up for our email list.

Emma blog

Test 1: 90-second delay before appearing on page
171% lift in email subscribers

Test 2: 10-second delay before appearing on page
371% lift in email subscribers

And the best part? Not only did we see incredible list growth — our bounce rate didn't increase at all.

One of our beta testers, e-commerce site Billy the Tree, deployed a lightbox form on both their login and checkout pages. Assuming their customers were already pretty engaged at the point of checkout (since they were willing to provide their address and credit card info), they chose to have the lightbox appear immediately. They quickly saw their email signups go from 10 a week to over 200 a week.

That’s a 1900% lift!

Why they’re so effective

  • Lightbox opt-in forms provide a clear CTA.
  • They’re much more visible to your audience than other opt-in methods.
  • They allow you to strategically choose just the right time to approach your readers and ask for their email address.

Tips for using them well

1. Always highlight the benefits of joining your list.
2. Offer a juicy incentive like a discount code or access to exclusive content for those who sign up.
3. Make sure it’s easy to "X" out of the lightbox to minimize the annoyance factor for your site visitors.
4. Test different lightbox copy, times and locations to see what works best on different pages.

About the Author

McKenzie Gregory

McKenzie Gregory is a senior content manager on Emma’s marketing team. A Nashville native, she can be found covering all things email on the Emma blog, debating hyphenation rules, and watching obscene amounts of Netflix without a trace of shame.

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