Episode 29 | Posted on

Turning Website Visitors into Customers with Optimized Pop-Ups with Syed Balkhi

While using pop-ups or opt-in boxes can be a great way to grow your list, it’s no secret that they don’t convert well. Joining me today is the master of web conversions: Syed Balkhi. Syed is the founder of OptinMonster, a conversion tool that gets over six billion impressions per month. Syed explains how to turn your website visitors into subscribers with irresistible offers and perfectly timed pop-ups. We discuss how to make your subscriber rates skyrocket, how to get around ad blockers, WordPress tips and more!


Hello, and welcome to Marketing Speak. I’m your host, Stephan Spencer, and today, our guest is Syed Balkhi. I’m super excited to have Syed on this call and I don’t know if you’ve heard of him before but he has been in the internet marketing space since 2005. He’s got a very popular website called the WPBeginner and it’s been around for almost seven years. He’s also famous for OptinMonster, which is a company that he founded in September 2013. It has over six billion impressions per month on OptinMonster that they serve up and it’s just kind of THE tool to be using for your pop-ups. He also has a popular YouTube channel with 1.9 million subscribers and 400-million views. I mean, that’s pretty darn impressive so welcome, Syed! It’s great to have you on!

Thank you for having me. It’s a pleasure!

Cool! So, let’s start with pop-ups since you have a whole business built around pop-ups and optimizing the opt-ins and the lead generation coming from pop-ups. What would be some of the most obvious, biggest mistakes that you see time and time again with pop-ups?

Well, the number one biggest mistake is not using your pop-up, right? Because they can work so, so well. I see a lot of times people just smack the pop-up right as soon as somebody lands on your page with like a zero-second load delay, which is kind of terrible. Whether you’re doing that with a pop-up or you’re doing it with a full screen welcome gate, welcome mat, or whatever you want to call it, that’s just pure simple annoying and every time you do this, it’s just going to increase your bounce rate. I’m a big fan of trying different triggers like an exit-intent. That’s something that we’re very well-known for. It detects the user’s mouse behavior and triggered the pop-up only when they’re about to leave. The biggest mistake I see is just the timing of it. If you do something like an exit-intent or if you’re doing a scroll-based trigger, meaning you only show the pop-up when the user has scrolled, let’s say, 50 or 60%. Maybe you’re using heat maps and deciding “my users are leaving” after they scroll 60% of the page and at that point, you want to get and capture their attention. That’s definitely the number one. Number two is, a lot of times, people just use a pop-up to say, “Join my newsletter!” You might as well not have a pop-up at that point.


You’ve got to offer some sort of lead magnet, some sort of bribe, and opt-in incentive. As a new site, you should be doing giveaways or contests of some sort and say, “Hey! Join my e-mail list and you will enter a chance to win a brand new t-shirt or a brand new laptop or whatever your audience is all about. If you have a site about headphone reviews, maybe you want to give away a nice pair of headphones to your users and say, “Hey, every month I do a drawing of my favorite pair of headphones and if you join my list, you will enter!” Those kinds of things incentivize sign-ups but when you just say, “Join my newsletter!” your conversions are really low like really, really low-below 1% or .5% or .6%, which is garbage.


Another thing that I noticed when you have pop-ups is, a lot of people will just create a “send them all to one email” so you have one pop-up running across your entire website. Not all of your visitors are the same so why do you want to treat them all the same? You’re creating different categories of content, which target different avatars in different buyer personas so your pop-ups or whatever lead form you have should be catered to that buyer persona. If you have a category, let’s say, for us, about AB testing, have something about AB testing. If you’re writing about something like fishing, have something about fishing then have something about camping. Create unique pop-ups for that audience and then segment that list accordingly because it’s going to help you get a higher email open rate and a higher click-through rate.

Wow, that’s great stuff! Really powerful! What percentage would you say folks are doing it wrong in terms of their pop-ups? Is it the majority?

Yeah. Whenever I see pop-ups, I would say, about half the time, it’s wrong. Majority of the time, they could use improvements. I don’t see if they’re segmenting users or not by just looking at their form on the front-end of their website…


But I know a lot of people don’t segment just from looking at the data that we see on the back-end of OptinMonster so I wish that more people segment their email list. Also, just the “join my newsletter” is very common and I see OptinMonster on the websites that I go to and I’m like, man, these people can be doing so much better! Then we have tons and tons of ideas and there’s like, “Here are three easy lead magnets…” when the easiest thing you can do is, convert a blog post and make it into a PDF and offer that with a download. Ian Cleary from RazorSocial does a great job at that and his conversion rates are through the roof. All he’s doing is, “Hey, you can download this post in the PDF and print it out,” and that works really well for him. Neil Patel is even doing that now on his blog. He’s just offering a downloadable PDF version of his article.


The easiest thing you can do is, convert a blog post and make it into a PDF and offer that with a download.

So, on our podcast here that we’re on this moment on Marketing Speak and my other podcast, The Optimized Geek, I have an ethical bribe in the form of a PDF transcript and checklist from each of the episodes. It’s a lot of extra work but it’s a great opt-in to provide for folks. I’m not getting the opt-in rates that I want so I probably need to use your tool. I don’t have a pop-up at all!

I think so! I think if you just make a click-to-load pop-up using the MonsterLink technology that we have, we’re seeing between 30-60% conversion on this.


That’s insane, right? I created a blog post on my personal blog, which is all about how I added five more hours in my day, right? It was a productivity hack and I kind of created my schedule that you can download as a worksheet. That article has 52-53% conversion rate so people who are clicking on it, half of them were actually signing up, which is insane!

That’s amazing! And it sounds like I got to have you on my other podcast because The Optimized Geek is all about productivity, optimizing your life, personal transformation not just physically but also mentally. Finance, business, peer group, and all that so I bet you’d have a lot of really great stuff to share on that too.

Absolutely! I mean, we all have to do that. It’s part of our life, especially the longer you’re in the space, the more you’re learning and experience just shows you, hey, you have to optimize!

Yeah, just a quick aside because I’m really a productivity geek: Are there any particular methodologies that you follow like GTD or David Allen’s Getting Things Done methodology or Tony Robbin’s RPM or Results Planning Method or anything else that you follow?

I use time-blocking. That’s my main success-The Pomodoro Technique.

Oh, Pomodoro! Got it!

That seems to work wonders for me.

Awesome! And do you have a physical timer sitting on your desk or do you have an app that you use for your Pomodoro timer?

Physical timer.


It’s easy and then it kind of allows me to move forward, get up, and give my eyes a break as well.

Yeah, it’s so good to take a break from the computer because your productivity just nosedives after a little while. Cool! So, back to marketing, you’ve mentioned a few different types of pop-ups so the exit-intent, scroll-based, and click-to-load. How many different pop-up types are there? I am kind of blissfully ignorant to all of the underlying and under-the-hood sort of stuff going on with pop-ups. I bet many of my listeners are too so maybe you could give us a little lesson in all the types of pop-ups and the nuances that people need to know about?

Absolutely! Exactly what you’re saying is, when you look at pop-up on servers, you just think of time-based pop-ups, right?


That’s really like the most basic type of pop-up that existed in 2001 or 2002. Now, things are so much more advanced. You can have normal time but not just time on paid, you can see time on site. As people are going to different pages, you can trigger a pop-up only when they have visited three or more pages on your website and have spent a minute and 30 seconds-whichever one happens first. You can do based on how far they’ve scrolled, or the exit. I’ve talked about on-click. I’ve talked about how you can target based on the pages they’re visiting: blog-post categories or specific key words in your URL. You can even do conditional pop-ups. Based on how the user interacted with the first pop-up, show them the next pop-up. Let’s say, if they took your lead magnet offer, then you can show them your upsell offer or something like that. You don’t have to use pop-ups just for email marketing-you can it for upsells, cross-sells, and actually make e-commerce purposes-so you can say, “If they did not take my offer,” then show them another offer. You can show a different pop-up based on where they’re coming from so if they’re coming from Google, showed them this. If they’re coming from Facebook, show them this. If they’re coming from a specific podcast or a guest blog that you wrote then show them that. You can have a pop-up targeted for a specific cookie so if somebody is coming from your Infusionsoft campaign, inside Infusionsoft, you can add a tracker in your link, only then show them unique a pop-up. If somebody has bought a product from you, they have a cookie in their browser so show them a different pop-up. There’s so many different triggers and you can combine all of these, right? So, yeah, that’s just like a start. And then, there are different types of opt-in types and you don’t have to use a pop-up, you can use a combination of a lightbox pop-up or something that slides in from the right-hand corner of the left-hand corner of your website, or you can use a floating bar that attaches to the top of your website or the bottom of your website. You can use a full screen welcome gate but mixing and matching these experiences is where optimization is really happening so if somebody said “no” to your pop-up, maybe your next best option is not to show them another pop-up but to show them a slide-in. However, don’t just show them both. A lot of times, when I go on a website, they’re using five different tools that are not communicating with each other-one is throwing a full-screen banner about join my email list, then you see a pop-up, then you see a slide-in, then you see a hello bar or a floating bar, and it’s like, oh my God, where is the content on this website?


I just keep getting bombarded so timing these all properly is the key.

Yeah, I’ve seen so many sites that put a pop-up in front of me and then I opt-in for that lead magnet, and then I get that darn pop-up again either on a future visit to the site or later on in the same visit.


And it’s like, I already did that!

That’s one of the reasons why OptinMonster is so successful. We were like, “Don’t you have so many competitors?”, and I’m like, “Yeah, but…” The only one that actually worked and combined all the things together and gave you all these flexibility and control so you can deliver a much better user-experience.

Yup, very cool! Do you have a gallery of great pop-ups from your customers and users? Or, different, fantastic lead magnets that they’ve advertised on pop-up, or upsells, or things of that nature?

Yes. We just recently started doing this but if you go on the OptinMonster website and scroll all the way to the bottom and under “helpful links,” there are pop-up examples page and I think it has maybe two dozen different pop-ups that people have created and we’re going to be adding more. These are all done based on users’ suggestions so if somebody submits it, we show it. We don’t just take it from your account and start displaying the best pop-ups, right?


Because that wouldn’t be cool with people who don’t want to share their marketing strategies.


We usually ask you in our newsletter communications, “Hey, do you have a cool campaign that you want to showcase?” and if they say “yes,” then we can add it in here and even do a case study if they let us.

Yeah, that’s great! A lot of people do swipe files where they’ll grab emails that were particularly good campaigns and save them but I don’t really hear people swiping-quote, unquote-“great pop-ups.” I’m in the habit of taking screenshots great pop-ups whenever I see them and I save them to a folder on my computer so I think everybody should be doing that.

Yeah, me too. I do that and see if we get a template built for that in up in OptinMonster.


A lot of times people create custom pop-ups inside up inside OptinMonster because you can do that and I’m like, man, I think this will be a really good pre-made template for other people! Then we do end up implementing this.

So, how many templates do you have inside of OptinMonster?

I don’t have the exact count but it’s over a hundred different templates across different opt-in types and we’re set to add about 50 or so more by May.



Do you have a marketplace for people to kind of access different designers who design great pop-ups?

No, not at this time and this is something that we have discussed about-it’s about allowing other designers and users to be able to build on top of our platforms but that’s not possible right now. We just did a full revamp last month, basically, so that was done with the intention to open it up and create a marketplace but now OptinMonster, unlike others, is virtually unblockable by Adblock and all sorts of different things because we wrote it in such a way.

Oh, very cool!


So, speaking of the marketplace idea, Jon Shugart-I don’t know if you know him but he’s a great guy and I’ve had him on Marketing Speak so definitely check out his episode-has created a marketplace and a really great tool for designing your own ads and pop-ups, I think might be included in that but also, banners, skyscrapers, and all sorts of different ad types. He is definitely somebody you should talk to you if you’re…

Absolutely! Yeah, I would love it if you can make an introduction too.

Yeah, yeah, okay, I’ll do that and I’ll make a note. So, why is your technology not susceptible to ad blockers?

A few things with AdBlock-ad blockers can easily block div tags. Even if you’re not using a technology but in your HTML, you just said “div class ad,” AdBlock is looking for that and it will block your banner-even if you’re not using any ad in that banner. Maybe you’re just using an image about your free e-book, AdBlock will block it. What we do inside OptinMonster is we let you create custom classes and custom identifiers for your campaigns so there’s no generic one. In other pop-ups or previously, even in OptinMonster, it was like, OM-, so AdBlock can just say block OM-, and it would block all pop-ups. Now, it doesn’t. It’s unique to every user and you have the ability to change it on every campaign. It’s just not scalable for AdBlock to block Stephan’s pop-up because you can make the identifier to be your dog’s name, right? It’s virtually impossible.

Yeah, that’s great. Earlier, you mentioned don’t just have a sign-up-for-my-newsletter kind of invite but instead offer something that’s really irresistible like an ethical bribe, a give-away, or contest. Do you have a particular technology that you use or a methodology you use for contests? How do you do those? Are you doing a lot of contests or just kind of here and there?

No, we’re not doing a lot of contests. I know some of our users are doing a lot of contests. People are using ContestDomination is one that I see people are using a lot. What they do is, they use OptinMonster to drive visitors to their contest page, and they’re collecting leads there. I’ve seen people use a Rafflecopter inside the OptinMonster so OptinMonster has a template called, Canvas, which allows you to embed anything inside it so it’s just a blank form and you can embed your shopping cart in there. You can about whatever you want in there-you can embed your Facebook “like” box or what have you so I’ve seen people embedding their Rafflecopter widget inside there and then building their list that way. But I mean, with ethical bribe, you can give anything whether it’s in e-book, a case study, even free quotes, a free webinar, a free sample, or a checklist. In my opinion, checklists work really, really, really well because people don’t have the time to sit through and read your eighty-page book or sixty-page book. They just want to read your two-page checklist and get one thing done whatever they’re looking to get done. That’s why checklists work really well in my opinion.

Yeah! So, ContestDomination-it’s funny you mentioned them because I just had Travis Ketchum on. He’s the founder of ContestDomination.

Yup, I know!

He’s a great guy. It was a really awesome episode so listeners, definitely check out Travis Ketchum and that episode on Marketing Speak. You’ve mentioned checklists work really well and this reminds me of a case study example that Taki Moore, who was another past guest on Marketing Speak, shared with me. He had a video series-like a training-that was free and was kind of an entry-point into the funnel. He would advertise this video series on Facebook and then he did an experiment where he switched the ad to advertise a 29-point webinar marketing checklist, which was something that he discussed in one of the videos, and that became the main feature because it performed so much better than promoting the video series. He still offered the video series after they opt-in. They got the checklist, as promised, but they also got the video series so he has gotten a more effectively higher response rate and hasn’t looked back so he’s a big fan of checklists as well. Any checklists that really stand out as great examples of internet marketing?

I mean, you can check out some of the ones that we’ve done on our site. The one that works really well for us is the content-upgrade checklist that we have on our own website so if you go and look for like, “Ten Tools to Help You Create Quality Content Upgrades” and then, we’re like, hey, download our content upgrade checklist. I’ve written a really popular blog post, 14 Pre-Published Blogpost Checklist, which is a 14-point pre-published blogpost checklist, and that gets downloaded like insane as well.


So yes, anything that helps your user accomplish a task, right? Checklists are the perfect content upgrades. Let’s say, I wrote this article. It’s a fourteen-point blogpost checklist that you do before you hit publish and it talks about all sort of different things in some very long blogpost and I’m like, okay, you probably don’t want to come back and read this and over again so here, download this segment and just go through it. It will save you so much more time!

Checklists are the perfect content upgrades. Click To Tweet


And it works wonders.


Just adding this piece in your blog post is just so much better.

Right. I’ve taken this advice on board just kind of intuitively. I knew that I needed to do this on my podcast website for Marketing Speak and for The Optimized Geek by taking the transcript, which we spent a lot of time creating a really nicely-formatted PDF. It’s really nice looking. It’s got images. It’s got the call-outs. Some of the more important points have been kind of set out and made in a larger font and so forth. It’s a really nice-looking transcript but it’s big. It’s heavy contact because a 45-minute episode, for example, might be 15-20 pages. We started with that and then I got the idea, well, let’s also add a checklist. Take some of the best actions from each of the episodes, turn that into a checklist, and then add that to the end of the transcript PDF, and that was valuable, I think, but then the next iteration was to put the checklist first before the transcript so that people don’t have to scroll, scroll, scroll to finally find, oh, there is a checklist at the end! But really feature the checklist as one of the primary reasons for downloading the PDF. It’s kind of like what Taki did with the switching of the ethical bribe to be around the checklist versus the video series and that seems to be, I think, the best variation so far. We might improve it even more so I’m really curious. We’d probably have other podcasters in our listener base who probably aren’t even doing transcripts because of the costs. You have to get it transcribed. We were using Rev.com.

Yeah, I’m familiar with them.

Yeah, it’s a dollar a minute.


That’s kind of like the going-rate so a 45-minute episode would be $45.


An hour-long, $60. With weekly episodes, this adds up across multiple podcast shows, etcetera. So now, I’m using a jobsite called OnlineJobs.ph. I’ve found somebody in the Philippines.


Who’s a really good, detail-oriented, and we basically fill her week with all of our transcripts because my fiancée also has a podcast called Stellar Life, so that’s three different shows every week and she takes about seven hours but at $3 or $4 an hour so it’s way cheaper than Rev.com so that’s just an aside for you, listeners, who are looking for cheaper transcription and you want to have somebody that you would kind of train up on how best to work with you instead of just getting some random people each time that you submit a transcript. Yeah, a lot of the listeners who are running their own podcast probably aren’t even doing transcripts.


And I found that it’s kind of frustrating when you see the stats on people hitting the button that says, “Get the transcript.” It’s pretty small. I use LeadPages and it’s a lead box just integrated into the site so they see the episode on the site and they’re like, “Oh, that looks good!” There are several buttons-one to listen to the episode, download it, and so forth, and then there is one to download the transcript, and the opt-in rate is pretty bad. The number of people who have to select and opt-in for a transcript for an episode is in single digits.

I think, people, and I’m saying, we are all on a time crunch, right? If you don’t have the budget to do a transcript, I would say, take out like, “Seven Must-Do Tips from Syed’s Podcast” or “Seven Actionable Insights That You Need to Know from This Podcast” and you say, “Hey, I know you’re all in a time-crunch. If you don’t have the time to listen to a podcast, no worries, I’ve compiled the best of the notes from the podcast,” and then you just have the call-to-action to say, “Get Seven Insights from this.” I bet you, it’s going to convert just as well, if not better because your call-to-action is, “Hey, here’s the seven or eight or nine,” you can vary that number out based on the lessons being shared in this specific podcast that you can create fairly easily and as part of a checklist.

That’s great advice! At least do a checklist. At least do a half-dozen or seven or eight or whatever different takeaways or actions to take from the episode and make that a pop-up and the ethical bribe that you offer via that pop-up. You mentioned that using a pop-up will significantly increase the opt-in rate versus what I’m doing right now so you suggested a click-to-load pop-up. What exactly would be the kind of the permutations or different settings that you would recommend for optimal performance in this particular, hypothetical use case?

Yeah, so what I do is, I’ll have two pop-ups loading on the page. In OptinMonster, we’re doing real-time behavior detection so one is loaded, the other one would never load. If the user has clicked on the click-to-load pop-up then you will never show them the exit pop-up but I would do two pop-ups. I would do one-that’s the exit-intent pop-up, and another one as a click-to-load pop-up. It’s the same pop-up-you just create two display rules for them. One rule would be the click-to-load and another would be the exit rule. You will say, if the user has subscribed and the click-to-load one never even load the exit one or if the user has seen and closed, the click-to-load one never even load the exit one but, let’s say, some people scroll down but they don’t click to download the thing and they’re about to leave and you give them the offer right there and they’re like, “Oh! Actually I want this,” and then, they will take the offer. I would have single pop-up with two different triggers conditionally loaded for optimal conversions.

That’s awesome!


Wow, you’re a genius! It makes a lot of sense and people just don’t have these kind of nuances in their mind around like they just see these annoying pop-ups, people do it poorly.


I’m never going to do that. And they’re leaving a ton of money on the table.

I mean, I only built the tool that does all this and I see bigger corporations taking full advantage of it. Some of the functionalities that we added in were previously just limited to our API and larger corporations were just going crazy with it, especially the e-commerce sites because people think, oh, this pop-up thing is great for building an e-mail list for bloggers, publishers, and podcasters-but the real value of this thing is realized in the e-commerce place where you can connect that subscriber to a dollar value and at that time, even if you get like a 1% uplift in your revenue or 2 or 3%-that’s a lot of growth for doing nothing but just adding one tool that you’re paying $29 a month for.

Yeah. Right. It’s amazing! So, what would be a way that you could connect the customer lifetime value on an e-commerce site of a use with the kind of pop-up or offer that they would get?

Absolutely! What we do with OptinMonster is, we’re connecting the analytics through your Google Analytics reports so every single conversion is recorded in Google as an event. If you have your conversion set up right in Google Analytics where you’re tracking all the conversion and all the e-commerce goals, then you will see all the events that are tying back. You’ll just be creating a custom report in Google Analytics to see the dollar value there.

Got it! Okay. Do any of your customers integrate what they’re doing with LeadPages? I’m thinking, in particular, there’s this component of LeadPages called LeadDigits.


Where, for example, in this episode, I could mention a short code and a keyword to use…


And, unfortunately, the way that LeadDigits work is, you only get ten keywords and then they charge quite a lot of money per keyword after that so, I was going to have keywords specific to every single episode so that you could get the transcript and checklist that seems like a great way to kind of have a-not a pop-up-but as close as I can get in audio when somebody is going for a jog or working out at the gym and as long as they have their phone with them, they can do a quick text message and opt-in for that transcript and checklist but what are some of the best practices for integration of that sort of technology whether it’s LeadDigits or InstantCustomer, which has a similar sort of functionality where you can have people text a short code?

Yeah. It’s completely different. You’re talking apples and oranges here. OptinMonster works only on the web-based things. It does not work on inside an audio file. The whole purpose of any text message lead generation is to be able to do an offline legion so whether you’re doing it via podcast, where a lot of people think, oh, podcast online! No, really, people have to download the podcast to listen to it so it’s offline or, whether you are on a stage at a conference and you get up and you just adding your slide-ins and say, “Hey, if you go and text this code or this number, I’ll give you my presentations as a download,” and people sign up. It’s kind of like, offline.


OptinMonster’s whole purpose is to convert your abandoning website visitors into subscribers and customers and that’s what we focus on and that’s what our goal is. Honestly, almost 80% of your visitors who are leaving your website are never coming back. If you go on your Google Analytics and look at the returning visitors versus new visitors, 70% are new visitors and 28 or 29% are returning visitors so why is that? It’s because those people are not coming back! Once they leave, they leave that’s why retargeting is such a big business, right? That’s why people spend a ton of money on retargeting. Our thing is, we offer onsite retargeting. We allow you to target the customer before they even leave and even if they come back and you’re doing proper cookie-targeting, you can do onsite retargeting.

Mm-hmm. I guess what I’m asking is, have you seen any clever integrations of those two worlds-the offline world like, I have an extended edition PowerPoint deck that I offer from stage when I’m presenting saying, “If you don’t want to take copious notes, no problem-just text this phone number with this keyword and you’ll get the power point deck,” and that works great. That’s the offline world, right?


Like you said, people are listening in their cars, they’re listening on their morning jog, or whatever so that’s offline. And then, the online is where you’re using OptinMonster, doing pop-ups, ethical bribes, lead magnets, and so forth-who’s doing something really clever and kind of integrating both? Because, for example, I don’t want to have people listening to the podcast, taking advantage of my offer that I provide via text message, and then they’re opted-in and get that same offer as soon as they hit my website because they’ve already gotten it.

Really, it’s impossible for you to try that because you’re using completely different services, right? Let’s say, you texted something, there’s no way for me to identify you when you come on my website unless you come on our website by clicking a link from my Infusionsoft campaign, my AWeber campaign, or whatever email-marking service you’re using.


Unless you’re coming from a link to my website, there’s no way for any service for you to recognize, “Hey, this is Stephan, who texted me three days ago at the conference.” Absolutely, no way!


No way for you to detect that! You cannot compare the two. Online or offline, they’re completely separated services. If you have something that is in the middle connecting the two, maybe, but it’s very hard to target that.

Yeah, so, I’m using Infusionsoft and I could imagine tagging that customer or that user who opted-in via text message, right?


So I can do that integration with LeadPages and Infusionsoft so now, I’ve got to tag inside of Infusionsoft for that person.


And then, how would I integrate that with OptinMonster so that I know that this person has been tagged-I guess the point is that when they first come to the site, we don’t know who they are.

We don’t know who they are, right?

Unless we sent them an email campaign and that’s how they click it.

Exactly! Unless the cookie, right? All of this comes down to the cookie. You’re targeting the user based on their cookie settings so even if they open the email in their Safari browser but when they go on their laptop, they’re using Chrome, we don’t know that.


Unless they’re registered on your website. If they are a registered user and then they log in, the whole game changes because you can track everything. Because if the user is logged in, you know everything about them.


But if they’re not logged in, it’s an anonymous user and it will be treated as such.

Right. So, I guess the main point I’m making here is that, if we can get the user to take an action from getting a response to the text message. Let’s say, I asked for their email address in the text correspondence and then I deliver the checklist or whatever via e-mail.


But they have to click the link instead of it being an attachment, they’re clicking link, ending up on the site, getting cookied on my site, and now, I can avoid making that offer to them via OptinMonster because they already opted-in via text message and they got that delivered by following that email link. That would work?

Yes, but with caveat-they have to open that file in the same browser. You see what I’m saying?


If they get that e-mail on their Safari that says I attended your session at Affiliate Summit and I texted you and got that download and you sent me an e-mail, and I clicked on it from my safari in my iPhone, and then I go back to my hotel room upstairs, and I load up my MacBook, in which I’m using Chrome, and I go on your website. There’s no there’s no connection there. Does that makes sense?


So, yes, everything that you said is correct unless the scenario that I defined was what happened and that usually end up happening.

Yeah. Got it!

It’s not 100% foolproof! Nothing out there will fix that-unless everything is connected.

But the beauty of your technology is that, in most cases, people are used to getting opt-ins that are triggered at the wrong moment. They’re just kind of brain-dead versions of pop-ups.


Don’t take into account the fact that I’ve already opted in like, five minutes ago and I’m getting the offer again.


In the same browser, in the same session.

Yeah, or even in the same-as long as you’re in the same browser and if you set that, hey, don’t show this pop-up for the next 365 days, even if they come back three days from now or ten days from now in the same browser, OptinMonster will never show you that pop-up again.


But the moment you switch browser-let’s say, tomorrow, you open the website in Firefox, it’s all back again, and there’s no solution that will fix that. It’s impossible.

Yeah. Cool! All right, so we geeked out for a couple of minutes around that. What are the kinds of opt-in rates or whatever that are typical, kind of the industry averages, and what about your customer base who are using OptinMonster? And if there are other types of metrics that we should be talking about besides just opt-in rate?

The number one I would tell you is not about the technology. I mean, I shouldn’t be saying this because I have a technology and yes, technology makes somewhat of a difference but your offer is more important-in almost all cases.


Your offer is what’s more important. In OptinMonster, we see a wide variety of conversion rates-some that are really terrible and some that are great. It just depends on how you’re using the technology. If you use the technology and you have a good offer, it’s going to be really well. Having that said, as a preface, the good conversion rate on a generic pop-up and if you have a one lead magnet running across your entire website is 2-4%. Okay? If you have one lead magnet running across your website, you’re not doing any targeting, and the only thing you’re doing is exit-intent, you’ll see about 2-4%. If you have “Hey! Do you want to join my newsletter?” you should expect below 1% or 0.5%. You’d be lucky if go over one. I’ve seen people do really targeted pop-ups but still somewhat generic so unless they have five different categories on their websites instead of targeting individual blog post, they will target five different categories so there are five different pop-ups that load on exit-intent based on like, if the pop-up is loaded on a category about Facebook, show them my Facebook lead magnet, or if it’s loaded in SEO, show them my SEO. Those things can convert between 7-12%. If you go on the route of content upgrades then that’s where the magic starts happening, where you look at what are the 10% of your pages that are getting 80% of your website’s traffic and then usually, your 8 or 9 different blogposts or pages that you have that are getting majority of your website traffic and every website is structured this way. You go and you create content upgrades just for those 10 blogposts and there, you will see a conversion rate. Let’s say, 40% and upwards and that’s what I would be doing if I was optimizing the website.


Yeah, 40% would be amazing!

Yeah, trust me! It’s really good.

What would be some examples of the kind of content upgrades like I’ve got a great blogposts-my kind of a listicle-type of a blogpost-what would you recommend?

Let’s say, I have “14 Common WordPress Mistakes” and I just highlight 14 different mistakes and I’ll say, “Download this content-upgrade-this checklist where I will show you how to fix each of this 14 and another 5 that you should avoid as well,” So, it’s like, here’s 14 but in my content upgrade, I’m giving you 5 more as a bonus! So anytime you can do that, “Hey, here are the 73 types of blogposts that are proven to work!” Content upgrade-“Download These 50 Catchy Headlines Formulas That You Can Use with these Blogpost Types” right? Doing something along that line works really well.

Got it! And you don’t need to have multiple content upgrades per webpage, or article, or blog post-it’s just one, which is the ethical bribe that gets people to take an action from your pop-up.

Yeah. If you want to do one thing and you want to one thing only-First, if you don’t have an exit pop-up, do that or put that one but aside from that, go to your Google Analytics, look at the top ten most popular pages on your website and what are the ten most visited pages-one of them will be your home page, take that out. Another might be your “About” page, take that out. For the remaining eight that are your actual blog posts, go in there and just create content upgrade one at a time. Make a goal-I’ll do one content upgrade a week for my blogpost in the order of the most popular, and you’ll start seeing results yourself and you’re like, oh, I’m going to invest money in this, and then you’ll go hire people to do that.

Awesome! So, you mentioned WordPress as an example of content piece-let’s use that as a segue to talk for a few minutes about WordPress. We have an episode all about great plug-ins, themes, and ways to trick out your WordPress site with David Vogelpohl of WP Engine so we don’t need to do a big deep-dive into WordPress but I mean, you’re a WordPress expert having the WPBeginner site, which is such a valuable resource for so many people. How many visitors do you get in WPBeginner? How big of a site is it? Could you give us a sense of scope?

Absolutely! We have over 300,000 email subscribers on the website and we get over 2.5 million visitors on it every month.


It’s the largest free WordPress research site hands down with the amount of articles that we have and the amount of resource, which are all free.

That’s great! And why did you start this free resource?

I was trying to get out of the service space and this was a resource to give to my clients so they don’t bother me.

Okay, got it! What would be some of your favorite tips regarding WordPress that you want to share with our listeners?

Oh, man! There are so, so many different tricks-it really depends on what you’re trying to do in WordPress. If you want to create an archive page-I hate the way WordPress archives look. The little sidebar links that just put months and just go down April or March and if you’ve been blogging for about three months, that would be super long so I created this small little plug-in called Compact Archives, and it makes it look really, really nice. That’s really neat. If you’re using the WordPress visual editor, a lot of people are conditioned to click on the ‘Add Media’ button and then drop the images in there but a lot people don’t know that you can just drag the image inside as you’re writing the post and it will upload and you don’t even need to click the ‘Add Media’ button. It’s kind of like the little things that a lot of people don’t realize that are available. There are shortcuts that you can use if you enable them on your profile. You can start using shortcuts to create headings, do underlining, and all sort of stuff, also undoing and redoing. Those are just some of the little tricks but man, there’s a plug-in for just about every single thing that you can think of. If you’ve thrown me a more specific question, I think I’ll be able to add a lot more value to it. Another one of my favorite plug-ins is Edit Flow-if you, guys, are not using it, you should use it. It helps you manage your editorial workflow, allow you to create custom statuses so you can say, “Oh, this is a pitch!”, then when you want to assign it to a specific author, you can assign it to them, and when they’re working on it, they can move it to “in progress,” and when they’re done working on it, they will change the status to “pending review,” then the editor will go in review it, and move it to “ready to publish,” and then you can go and schedule the article out. It really allows you to streamline that workflow if you have a multi-author website or even if you’re a single-author website. I use that plug-in all the time, even in my personal blog, I use it just because it helps me stay organized.

There’s a plug-in for just about every single thing that you can think of.

Very cool! So, that’s called Edit Flow?

Edit Flow, yeah.

Awesome! And then the key shortcuts that you mentioned-how do you enable that?

You have to go on your profile and enable it.

Okay, very cool! I want to have you back to talk about all the WordPress stuff. We didn’t even cover YouTube. I mean, you get such a massive subscriber base and number of views-you’ve created something pretty phenomenal there with your YouTube channel-so, if you’re game, I’d love to have you back at some point soon-ish here on Marketing Speak to talk about these things.

Absolutely! We should find a time in the calendar and book it.

Awesome! All right, for you listeners, I really encourage you to check out OptinMonsters-is there a free trial?

No, we don’t offer a free trial but there is a “no question asked” money-back guarantee for 14 days. I’ve written about a refund policy-it’s pretty awesome. We don’t ask you any questions. We, literally, just issue a refund because it’s cheaper for us. So, yeah, go ahead and give it a try. I’m sure you’ll fall in love with it!

And that’s OptinMonster.com?


How would somebody work with you-if that’s even available? Can they get coaching or consulting? Is there any way to work with you because you’re a freaking genius?

Yeah, I’ve been out of the consulting space for quite some time so I don’t really offer consulting anymore. We’re in the product space and that’s what we do best.


If you have a dying question and you think my experience would help, you can go on Clarity.fm/SyedBalkhi and you can book to call me but it’s pretty expensive-just to let you know that so use it wisely! The best ways to catch it with me is to find me at an event. Usually, I’m in a very helpful mood and I have nothing better to do, so I love chatting people, learning about what they’re doing in, and what they’re struggling with so if one of my experiences can help them, I’m always happy to share. However, consulting-with the different products that we have, time just doesn’t allow.

Yeah. That makes sense! Clarity.fm-that’s the site where you can buy an hour of an expert’s time for, usually, quite a lot of money like, thousands of dollars an hour.

Yeah, or minutes! You don’t really need an hour!

Yeah, right.

You just need to have your questions right.

Yeah, so Jeremy Schoemaker, who I’m sure you know?

Yeah. He’s a friend.

He told me about that site and that I should use it. I’ve never considered offering my time by the hour or by the minute. I’ve never done that but he’s like, “No, you should totally do that and check out my page!” I think I saw it at about $17 a minute?

Yes, that’s that’s the highest that Clarity will let you put it at. You’ll find people at a $1-per-minute range. I’ve been on Clarity since it first started when Dan Martell started it but now, he sold it to a different company-to the guys behind Startups.co-but yeah, I’m there but the rate is the maximum that they let me set it. If they let me set it higher, I would probably set it higher.

Yup! But Jeremy, speaking of him, we just recorded an episode yesterday…


So, that’s going to be a lot of fun. He’s a character!

He definitely is but he’s a good guy!

He is, very much. So, ShoeMoney-definitely check out that episode too! So, OptinMonster.com and for WPBeginner, is it dot-com or dot-net?


So, it’s WPBeginner.com. Any other sites that you would recommend in your portfolio sites for listeners to check out?

Yeah, if you want to just check out my personal blog, SyedBalkhi.com, that’s where I share a lot of the behind-the-scenes of what we’re doing, how we’re doing it, different tips, and insights. Sometimes, I share life lessons as well. But, yes, SyedBalkhi.com and you can find out all the companies that we have.

Awesome! All right, well, thank you, Syed! Thank you, listeners, for your time and attention. By all means, check out the checklist that will be accompanying this episode. It’s going to have some great stuff and, of course, get shownotes with links and just take action because this is a great, educational, and entertaining content but if you’re just passively sitting and listening, you’re not going to get the benefits. You’re just going to be entertained and educated and then on to the next thing so take action. Go to MarketingSpeak.com, opt-in for the checklist, which, hopefully, soon have an OptinMonster pop-up inviting you to get the checklist, and we’ll catch you on the next episode!

Important Links:

Your Checklist of Actions to Take

☑ Use additional offers with your content upgrade to boost interest. For instance, an article on 73
types of blog posts that are proven to work could have a bonus of a download with 50 catchy headlines formulas.

☑ Check Google Analytics for the 10 pages on your website that get the most visitors. Disregard the home and about page, and then create personalized pop-ups for the others.

☑ Try OptinMonster to start converting your visitors into subscribers today-They have a no question asked money-back guarantee for 14 days.

☑ Don’t be afraid to A/B test or mix and match different types of pop-ups. While a visitor may not
choose offer, they may take the next option.

☑ In your WordPress account, go to your profile and enable shortcuts. This will make tasks like undo/redo, underlining, and creating headlines much faster

☑ If you have additional questions or need advice, you can go to Clarity.fm/SyedBalkhi and book a call with Syed. Make sure to use your time wisely and be prepared, because it can be expensive!

☑ If you currently have a “join my newsletter” offer, get rid of it, as they generally have the worst conversion rates. Instead, add an offer for a free gift, piece of advice, or eBook to boost those numbers.

☑ Create two pop-ups and set OptinMonster to use real-time behavior to give your visitors the offer that they want at exactly the right time

☑ For every blog post, create a PDF version of the article or a 5-10 point checklist of items that the reader can use. When you offer a download, people often choose to view it later.

☑ While you can always use templates, try to personalize your opt-ins to your brand.

About Syed Balkhi

Syed Balkhi is the creator of WPBeginner, the world’s largest WordPress resource site, and in 2013 he launched his product OptinMonster. OptinMonster helps businesses grow their email list and has over six billion impressions per month. You can find Syed on Twitter @syedbalkhi.

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