The practice of using an email pop-up box to collect email addresses on your e-commerce site is highly controversial because, well, people hate pop-ups.
To Pop or Not to Pop
There are some drawbacks to using email pop-ups, such as slow load times and potential effects on your SEO, especially for mobile. However, if you’re a small business and you’re trying to grow your email list, pop-ups work. I couldn’t find one stat to rule them all, but I read a bunch of case studies online and found that many websites increased their email opt-in rate from around 1% without a pop-up to anywhere from 3-6% with a pop-up. That means more email addresses and more sales.
Bottom line: while people may not enjoy their browsing experiences being interrupted by an email pop-up window and it might turn some shoppers off for good, you'll capture and convert more potential shoppers by adding one to your website. Necessary evil.
Shopify has many options for apps that help you collect email addresses. In the course of working with some of my Shopify clients, I’ve fiddled around with some of them, but today I decided to do a more in-depth analysis of some popular email pop-up capture apps to figure out of Shopify's email pop-up apps is best.
In my analysis I looked at five factors: cost, design flexibility, form styles, display rules, and integration with email service providers (ESPs).
Cost: How much does the service cost, given the basic functionality that we'd want in a pop-up?
Design flexibility: Is there enough flexibility in the design of the boxes themselves that we can match our branding and website design? Is the design easy to use?
Form styles: Since people hate pop-ups so much, does the app have additional out-of-the-box email capture options that are less invasive, such as a full-screen takeover or drop-down bar?
Display rules: Do we have the ability to set rules that determine when the pop-up box will and won't appear? For example, can we create a pop-up box that won't appear when people visit the website coming from a Facebook ad? Can we have the pop-up appear only on certain pages, or after a visitor has been on a page for a certain amount of time? Importantly, can we determine display rules for mobile, so we're not penalized in mobile search?
Integration with email service providers: Does the app integrate with most ESPs, such as Klaviyo and Mailchimp, so that we can easily port the email addresses we collect into our email marketing system?
The five apps I analyzed were: Sumo, Privy, JustUno, PixelPop, and WisePops. There are quite a few more email pop-up apps available for Shopify, but I already had experience with Privy and Sumo (full disclosure: I use Sumo on Small Craft Advisory), and the other three stood out in the Shopify app marketplace because they had good reviews and seemed to carry the feature set we're looking for.
Let's look at these apps in detail, shall we?
Sumo has an unsupported, branded free version, but business would likely want to start with the Small Pro version at $29/month.
Sumo's designs are highly customizable, so you can match the look and feel of your own shop design, and the editor is fairly easy to use. Sometimes the finished designs slow down load times; some users report pop-up designs loading first as a "black box."
The app features quite a few options for pop-up form styles, including a welcome mat (a full page drop-down that looks like a landing page), and a smart bar (which sticks to the top of your page), so you have options for less invasive pop-up experiences.
You can also customize what triggers your pop-ups to display and control settings so they won't display given certain conditions. Sumo has a few options available for mobile display so you can stay SEO compliant. Check out the full list of Sumo's display rules here.
Last, Sumo integrates with a long list of email service providers, including Klaviyo and Mailchimp.
Bonus: Sumo also features A/B testing for your pop-up messaging, so you can pit different calls to action against one another to see what works best for your audience.
Privy's designs are customizable to fit your website design and the editor is fairly easy to use. They also feature eight different pop-up display types, so you're able to customize your visitors' user experience to something a bit less intrusive than your traditional pop-up. Privy also has mobile-specific display types to help you maintain mobile SEO compliance (because Google hates pop-ups that cover website content on smaller screens).
Advanced display rules (display only for a specific traffic source, etc.) aren't available unless you're on the Commerce Plan, which costs $79/month (with a $160 discount if you pay annually upfront), although you can use mobile targeting starting on the $24/month plan.
Privy integrates with a long list of ESPs including Klaviyo and Mailchimp.
Bonus: Privy allows you to create and offer single use or bulk coupon codes after opt-in, so you don't have to set up email automation just to deliver a one-time discount code if you're offering discounts as an opt-in incentive.
JustUno has a free plan with all available features that caps at 5,000 visits/month, so it's a good option for low-traffic website. Their tiered pricing starts at $19/month, which drops to $199/year when paid annually. There is only one pro plan, and that's it. Pretty cheap!
JustUno designs are highly customizable so you can match your site design and branding. They also have many options for pop-ups styles including center screen pop-ups, banners, full-page takeovers, navigation bar, and corner slide-ins. Very versatile!
JustUno forces you to create separate pop-up campaigns for desktop versus mobile — this helps you stay compliant with SEO pop-up guidelines for mobile — and their display rules are fairly robust and easy to understand. You can pretty much do whatever you want: target visitors based on exit, page views, referral site, time on site, visit frequency, geo-location, device type, scroll, cart value, order history, local date/time, previous engagement activity, and much more!
The app also integrates with most email ESPs.
Bonus(es): you can A/B test your pop-up messaging, as well as use several helpful conversion widgets such as a spin-to-win theme, countdown timers, and age verification. JustUno also features single-use and bulk coupon codes after opt-in and one-time auto-response emails with coupon codes.
PixelPop's basic plan is free and includes up to 500 pop-up views per month. If you'd cycle through that pretty quickly, their Starter plan is $12/month and includes up to 10,000 pop-up views per month.
While their designs are super cute and minimal and claim to be customizable to fit your brand, you do have to adhere to their minimalist flat style. (Personally, I love these designs, but not everyone will.)
PixelPop also features quite a few pop-up styles, like bars and boxes in the corner, so you're not stuck with a static center-screen box. They do not, however, offer much in the way of customizing display settings.
The app only integrates with Mailchimp.
WisePops starts at $29/month and specializes in exit pop-ups (pop-ups that appear based on "exit intent," when a shopper moves the mouse in a way that indicates they're about to leave your website).
You can customize WisePops designs using their drag-and-drop builder so they match your branding, but you don't have much control over pop-up style options; you can choose to display your pop-up box in the center or on the side — that's it.
Their display rules are fairly robust, even on the $29/month plan, but on that plan they only offer integrations with 7 email platforms. You have to upgrade to the $79/month plan to integrate with Zapier so you can use the rest.
When you compare the five apps across the same categories and consider price (in this chart, I compared comparable feature strengths at the price you'd need to pay to get them), I think a winner emerges.
Most of the clients I work with are on a budget. In this important growth stage, every dollar out the door counts. While Privy has the most robust set of features and display options and is easy to use, the full feature set is only available for $79/month.
Which app is best?
When you factor in price, JustUno offers the most features and flexibility on a budget, especially considering you can purchase a yearly subscription for $199 ($16.58/month) and if you have a very small amount of traffic (under 5,000/month), you can use their free plan and still have access to most of the features.
If budget is not a concern — for example if you have a steady stream of traffic and you're definitely past the "just starting out" phase — Privy is probably the best option for you, especially if you're concerned about SEO and setting pop-up display controls for mobile traffic.
Making your own choice
Every e-commerce website has different needs in a pop-up email capture. Make a list of what you're looking for in a pop-up app and make sure that the app you're considering has all those features. If you can, start out on a free trial before committing to a monthly or annual subscription.
In my experience researching this article, JustUno, Privy and Sumo all had relatively quick customer service response times — something else I would factor in while shopping around for an email pop-up app for your Shopify store. If you have questions about features or functionality, contact customer service in advance of purchasing. They are usually happy to explain how things work even if you're just a prospective customer.
Good luck — and let us know in the comments what email pop-up app you decide on!