Curated by: Luigi Canali De Rossi

Thursday, October 31, 2002

Newsletter Subscription Methods and New Technologies

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In my attempts to improve the subscription rate to MasterMind Explorer I have started exploring during the month of August some alternative technologies. My curiosity had been strucked by an Internet Marketing web site that prompted me to sign up for their offering while saying that I needed only to click their OK button to do so. Being the first time this happened to me, I took note.

Method #1 - Traditional subscription box

In general, my approach until then to facilitate user subscription to this newsletter had been only the provision of a normal sign-up box on all of the web site pages. When you have some valuable and unique content this by itself can provide to be an effective approach to start getting subscribers to your information and know-how.

Many variables are at play even when utilizing a simple sign-up box and the choice of:
a) position on the page
b) invitation text
c) number of fields to fill in (name, last name, email, etc.)
d) availability of privacy statements
e) presence of testimonials
f) list of features and benefits offered
g) bonus giveaway opportunity for those who sign up
h) deadline

all may significantly influence your visitors' response.

So, while you and I can work a long way still to improve and refine the effectiveness of our traditional sign up box, my explorer mission prompted me to seek and test out some new alternative methods to increase subscriptions to this newsletter.


Method #2 - Pop-under window

The second method considered has been what is generally referred to as Pop-under technology. With this approach, made popular by Yahoo in many of its commercial sites, a new browser window of the size and dimensions you decide, pop-ups under the page the visitor has requested.

This allows you to "force" a message to the users that will be seen when they will be closing the browser window that stands in front. It is a soft approach and if used appropriately it does bring good results. This method can be implemented with the use of Javascript technology and while there are ready-made scripts available for download or purchase, you can develop your own custom solution.



Method #3 - Automatic Opt-In Pop-up

The third approach is the most advanced, aggressive and most effective. A dialog box is popped up in front of the user when he accesses selected web pages designated by you. The pop-up box carries a textual message that you can edit to your liking.
The pop-up box sports an OK and a Cancel button. By prompting the user to click on the OK button her email address and name are automatically captured without requiring the user to type anything. This method is generally referred to as Opt-in Automatic Pop-up. The email information is extracted directly from the end-user system without requiring any input from him.

I would venture to say something that is probably an obvious comment for somebody technically prepared. If this technology can do the above all automatically, and needing only you to press the OK button, how difficult do you think it is to do one that will press that OK button for you "invisibly". Not much I guess.

Just be aware.

With this technology you could specify a delay to be applied to this tool, so that it does not show up on every page a visitor may see, and not each time that she comes. For example you could set that visitors that see the pop-up box will not see anymore for 2 weeks. If after that they come back, then they will see it one more time again.

This time delay can be differentiated between the normal visitors and the ones that actually sign-up, subscribe or order your product/service. an amount of days after which your subscribers visiting your Web site will see the OptIn Box again.



In making my research I has also a few important requirements:

a) I did not want to have a technology that would bug visitors to my site, everytime they loaded a page.

b) I did not want to have something pop-up always immediately, but I wanted also to be able to show the pop-up or pop-under box after some time the visitor had been on a selected page. In this case I wanted to make sure that people who arrived at a page and did not find it useful, leaving it immediately thereafter would not be further bothered by the appearance of a pop-up. I thought in this case that if a visitor stayed at least a minute and a half or more it meant that she had found my content to be useful.

c) I wanted to be able to control after how many days they would see this message. I wanted also to differentiate between visitors that subscribe to MasterMind from those who just come to get a one-shot answer for their questions.


Find here below, three short review of the three best technologies I have been able to scout on this front. All fill in some way or other the need to provide either an Automatic Subscription Window and/or a Pop-under Technology solution.

a. OptIn Lightning - $ 89.95
b. Lightning PopUp - $ 13.95
c. Popup Masters - $ 47.00

a. OptIn Lightning

The application available from provides the infrastructure needed to capture visitor's e-mail addresses automatically and/or to subscribe them after filling out a subscription form. This technology is also able to send up to 26 follow-up autoresponders to your subscribers.

OptIn Lightning is a database driven, stand alone application made specialized in assisting serious Internet marketers to build their mailing lists.

Comparing with the other applications, OptIn Lighting offers the facility to record new subscribers in its own MySQL database. Another unique feature is that OptIn Lightning includes also an auto-responder that will ask the new subscriber to confirm his subscription and that will send him/her also a "Welcome/Hello message" after the subscription process is completed.

This application does NOT offer any pop-under technology solution.


b. Lightning Pop-up

LIGHTNINGPOPUP.COM offers a tool able to generate the code for both pop-up and pop-under approaches that well fit my key requirements.

One limitation in this tool is that it offers only two types of appearance frequency settings for the pop-under window:


2) Appear EVERY TIME the page is hit

Even though this application doesn't offer the possibility to record the new subscribers in its own database nor has an auto-responder function, it has some unique features:

Set the Pop-up Timer for people who decided to subscribe.

Set the Pop-up Timer for people who decided NOT to subscribe.


PopUpMaster Pro

For a price of 47 USD there is another Suite that combines the main features available in OptIn Lightning and Lightning Pop-Up.

PopUpMaster Pro 2.0 is a well designed, reliable and effective JavaScript PopUp Code Generator.

This application is specialized in generating pop-up code for popup windows, not OptIn boxes. The OptIn script is offered as a bonus, but comparing to OptIn Lightning it is less powerful in the sense that:
a) it doesn't have its own database
b) it doesn't have its own autoresponder

PopUpMaster Pro 2.0 also incorporates several nice features as:

1) specify exactly the page you want to appear in the popup window

2) define the height and width of the popup, or make it full screen size - you can make it resizable as well if you want

3) state exactly where you want the popup to appear on the screen (you can even get it automatically centered if you like)

4) select the features you want your PopUp to have among these:
location bar
directory bar
status bar

5) decide whether you want the popup to appear when the visitor first ENTERS your Web site or when they LEAVE

6) automatically self-destructs after 60 seconds

7) display a popup that only displays if the user is NOT clicking the marked elements (links, buttons, images

8) Test your popup window live! It gets really cumbersome to generate the popup code, install it on your Web page, and then test it, only to find that you'd typed in the wrong width or height for the popup window. This feature means you can test your popup window within the tool itself before you install it, ensuring that all your settings are completely correct before you paste the code.

9) Advanced context-sensitive help facilities. It even comes with visual examples to facilitate your learning task. To see an example go this URL: popupmasterprohelp.gif

While the OptIn Lightning system basically uses one of those grey PopUp boxes, and the user only has to click 'Okay' in order to subscribe - no typing whatsoever, you can achieve the same type of result with Pop-Up Master technology.

With PopUpMaster Pro you get the code to install the same type of system on your web site, but you are free to go with any mailing system or auto responder service you choose.

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posted by Robin Good on Thursday, October 31 2002, updated on Tuesday, May 5 2015

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