I just got off of a call with our SEO company, and they have made me aware of their extreme concern regarding the pop-up box that was recently added to our website. These pop-ups are not user-friendly and are known to seriously damage SEO campaigns, especially with Google, hindering our ability to continue growth for our website.
We are putting a lot of time, money and man-power into our website, and we are very displeased, and quite surprised, that you suggested something that took us backward instead of helping us to move forward. Our SEO company said that they highly suggest to all of their clients that the e-mail sign-up be included in the header of the site so that it is visible on all pages. I understand that this will require a slight redesign of the header, but that is what needs to be done.
Please remove the pop-up box from our site ASAP. We'd like to move forward with my original request to add the e-mail sign-up form to our header so that it will appear on every page. I've attached a screenshot to show what I'd like it to look like. I trust that you will expedite this request and do so at your own expense.
Regarding the usability of these pop-ups, you are really trading "conversions" for "usability." Initially, we were very skeptical of throwing a pop-up like this in someone's face, but when paired with a strong call to action, we found the conversion on these homepage signup forms to be very good. Here are examples from other sites with these same modal pop-ups.
Modern Retail recommends using engaging graphics and a strong call to action to entice the shopper to enter in their e-mail address. We also recommend that you only ask for the consumer's e-mail address. Yes, you will see some pop-ups asking for their name, birthday and other information, but you will find less people will subscribe with the more information that you collect.
One thing we do by default is to only show this pop-up once to the visitor. If they sign up or decide to close the pop-up, they will not see it again. This is done with a browser-based cookie, so it is not an exact science. If the visitor clears their cookies, they will see the pop-up again. If they visit the site with another browser, they will see it again but only once for that browser. And of course, if they visit the site from another computer, they will see it again. However, even with these limitations, we believe it is better to try to limit the number of times it is shown to the consumer.
We also think you're not going to get the conversions you want by simply putting the link in the header. Instead, you might consider making your footer bigger with a really nice call to action (like a discount, give-away or some other promotion / reason to sign-up). We do often hear "put it in the header," and we would caution you not to put too many things in the header because it can quickly become cluttered and get in the way of shopping.
As you can see these modal pop-ups have become a popular approach in getting people to sign up for your mailing list; however, there are trade-offs in terms of usability. Our customers have seen some very good response rates when the pop-up is engaging with a nice call to action like a give-away or coupon. You will need to decide if these gains in e-mail subscribers are worth the usability drawbacks.