If you’ve spent any time roaming the Internet, you’ve encountered the dreaded pop-up.
Maybe you clicked on a fascinating article and started reading it before a pop-up appeared and asked you to subscribe to some email list to “read more.”
Maybe you were about to leave a less-than-fascinating webpage, but a pop-up appeared and demanded you download the site’s latest offering (it’s FREE!).
Almost every site you go to nowadays has some form of a pop-up, and it can feel overwhelming. But then you think, hey, if everyone has one, they must work right?
Well, here’s the thing…
Yes. They really do work (and that’s why everyone has them).
Here’s what you need to know…
A pop-up – also called an overlay or modal window (since they don’t really open in new windows or tabs anymore) – is a window that will appear upon a certain trigger in order to get users to complete a certain action, often interrupting their ability to interact with the current page until it’s complete.
While it may seem like this is the epitome of annoyance, studies show that pop-ups can drive up to 1375% more subscribers than having nothing at all, with some case studies reporting a ten-fold increase in conversions overall.
The success of pop-ups relies on two things:
- The interruption of normal flow
- A value proposition (an offer that can’t be refused)
The reason many people find pop-ups so annoying is that they practically shout to get your attention. Unlike a traditional ad, which whispers, “come look at me” from the dark and dreary sidebar of a landing page, the pop-up ad will force you to stop and read it.
Though annoying, they work because they add perceived value. They will tell you about a product, service, or offering that will enrich your life in some way, but that you never would have thought of before that moment.
The moral: Pop-ups are invasive, yes, but they grab the right attention, which is why they work.
So how do you get started on the pop-up bandwagon? There are typically two versions of pop-ups that are most common: the entry (or welcome) pop-up, and the exit pop-up.
Entry or welcome pop-ups appear when a visitor first comes to your homepage, or to a specific landing page. They can be triggered after a certain amount of time (usually a few seconds) or after a user scrolls down to a certain point.
But the real question is: Do they work?
For the most part, people are coming to your site because they believe you have something they want, even if they don’t know it yet. If you have a target market in mind, it’s easy to customize an offer that they would be interested in.
Most welcome pop-ups are lead generating in that they try to get subscribers to sign up for newsletters or discounts, which works great for many e-commerce stores looking to gather emails for a marketing campaign.
In fact, one Shopify site that was receiving only 10 to 15 subscribers per day despite getting over 44,000 unique visitors each day implemented a popup with a 60 second delay and began receiving 100-150 emails per day.
The key to success with entry pop-ups is to understand what your target market wants. Do they want discounts? Are they after specific content? Do you have an eBook or article or white paper they would find interesting? Is there a product they should really know about?
Whatever the case, using a pop-up to communicate an additional piece of value that you have to offer can be great for engagement.
Exit pop-ups (or exit overlays) are another effective tool for increasing conversion rates. In fact, they may be more effective than entry pop-ups. Why? Because it doesn’t take as much marketing effort to get someone to come to your website than it does to keep them on your website.
In fact, most people will leave a website without converting for any number of reasons, including:
- Your site not being relevant to their needs
- Your site was poorly written or designed, or hard to navigate
- They were interrupted or distracted
- They couldn’t afford what you had to offer
- They just weren’t ready to commit
If you’re looking for maximum conversions, it’s important to re-engage the user before they abandon your site completely. The exit pop-up is the perfect opportunity to shout, “Wait! There’s more!” before they click off your site for good.
But maybe you’re thinking that it will seem too desperate, or that you don’t want to annoy an already annoyed visitor. While exit pop-ups may annoy certain users, they still work at improving conversions. In fact, this case study by Picreel shows that exit pop-ups can increase conversion rates by up to 27% or more.
So, if you’re experiencing a high abandonment or low conversion rate, consider using exit pop-ups to keep people around longer.
Pop-Ups that Work
In terms of the type of pop-ups or overlays to use, there are some strategies that work better than others. Here are a few different options you might try to improve conversions (be sure to A/B test for best results):
“Limited Time” – It’s a limited-time offer, which not only justifies the interruption but provides significant incentive for them to click (it ends soon!).
“Get It Free!” – Everyone loves something free, even if they don’t need it. They will trade their email for it, too.
“Enter to Win…” – The contest or raffle is an extra special bonus item that your visitors would never have dared to dream about when they first came to your page. Plus, everyone loves the chance to win something cool, so it makes for great conversions.
“Stay Up to Date…” – If there’s one thing people hate, it’s FOMO (fear of missing out). They want access to your latest content, so make sure they know how to get it.
“Wait! Before You Go” – This tactic can use several of the above methods by combining them into a compelling offer that stops someone before they leave.
The possibilities of pop-ups are only as limited as your imagination, so don’t be afraid to get creative. Also, don’t forget to A/B test for better results.
While pop-ups can be annoying, there’s also a reason they are used so often: they work.
But the key to success is to know what type of pop-up will work for your audience. Consider using them to advertise a discount, a promotional event, an email course or campaign, or upsell a service that people may have otherwise missed.
And if you really want to grab people’s attention, implement an exit pop-up that offers them one last chance to grab something of value.
But whatever you do, don’t overlook the usefulness of the pop-up.