Top Digital 4 Marketing Alternatives to Pop-Up Ads

Google recently announced that in January 2017, the use of intrusive pop-up ads will begin negatively impacting mobile SEO rankings.

Pop-up ads are a popular lead capture method, often being used to encourage visitors to sign up for a mailing list. The new change means marketing teams will need to decide between their pop-up strategy and the search ranking of their site. While this may be initially inconvenient, in reality Google is doing marketing teams a favor by forcing them to ditch their pop-ups.

This decision is the second major step the company has taken towards improving the mobile user experience. In April of 2015 Google began boosting the SEO rankings of mobile-friendly sites. Step one was a resounding success—85% of mobile search results are now considered mobile friendly.

The Time Has Come to Keep Calm and Carry On

Pop-up ads have had a good run mostly because they became the status quo. With most marketing teams utilizing the same strategy, even when users were frustrated by the disruptive ads it was likely not enough of an inconvenience to encourage them to take their traffic elsewhere. This new Google policy, however, changes the game entirely. Many sites will be revising their marketing strategies to exclude disruptive pop-ups in order to maintain their search ranking. This means that those sites that choose not to change their strategy will not only have their search ranking reduced, but users will have no shortage of viable, pop-up-less alternatives to turn to. And the more accustomed the digital population becomes to sites without pop-ups, the less tolerant it will become of sites that continue to use them.

Visitors that are genuinely interested in your content and services will make a point to engage with you. So instead of obscuring your content in a desperate attempt to get a visitor’s email, focus on creating quality content and making it easy for those interested in engaging with you to do so.

Here are a few less intrusive alternatives to pop-ups:


HelloBar lets you add a call to action at the top of your site beneath your main navigation bar. They are immediately noticeable and accessible for anyone interested in engaging with your brand, without being intrusive to their experience on your site.

Feature Box

A Feature Box is similar to a HelloBar, but with a slightly stronger presence. It will be the first thing your visitors see, but it will not disrupt their access to any of the information on the page. If they are not interested in signing up, they can simply scroll down to find the main page. And if after exploring your site they change their mind, subscribing to your mailing list is as easy as scrolling up the page.

For more information, check out one team’s success story.

Navigation Bar Ads

Never doubt the power of your site’s side bar. Sure, it’s not as in your face as a pop-up, but it is easily accessible. Interested visitors will look for a way to subscribe to your content or engage with your brand, so the best thing you can do is make it easy for them to do so with social media links that are easy to locate, including a mailing list opt-in form.

Forms Embedded in Relevant Posts

If your site includes a blog, why not add a mailing list form to the end of your posts? This gives visitors time to decide whether or not your content or product is valuable to them, and then directly encourages them to subscribe. This strategy works particularly well when paired with a sign-up incentive relevant to the post the form is embedded into.

A Blessing in Disguise

The honest truth is, even if they aren’t impacting your search ranking, pop-up ads are not a good strategy. Will they increase your lead conversions? Maybe—some data certainly supports the popularity of this method. But good web marketing is about far more than your subscriber count, and despite their ability to drive conversions, pop-up ads negatively impact the most important aspect of any digital marketing strategy—the visitor’s experience with your brand.

Imagine you are meeting with a prospective client or customer. You are in the middle of answering a question they specifically asked, when suddenly one of your colleagues barges in, interrupts you, and shoves a clipboard in your guest’s face asking for their contact information. This would never be considered a good, professional strategy—it’s off-putting, distracting, and unprofessional. So why has it become acceptable digital marketing practice?

Sure, that person might give you their information in order to get your colleague to leave so you can finish answering their question, but there is no guarantee they will actually engage with you in the future. And gaining an unengaged subscriber is nearly the same as not gaining one at all.