What marketers need to know about popups and website conversion

Popups earned a bad reputation when they were first introduced. They were abrupt, interruptive, impertinent, and rude, like a bad party guest. In fact, popups used to be the most hated type of web ad, and Google penalized search rankings for popups that interfered with content delivery.

But popups are enjoying a renaissance, thanks to a better understanding of how to use them.

3 things to remember about popups

1 – When a website popup is irrelevant to the UX, users leave the site. So make sure popup content has meaning for the visitor. Example: A popup that reminds the user of limited product availability and offers free or expedited shipping has both relevance and value.

2 – Website popups come in many flavors. “Welcome mats” are full-screen popups. “Overlays” (aka Traditional popups) mask underlying content but do not eclipse it. “Click-activated” popups are just what they sound like, often used to present a form without overcrowding the page. And “slide-on” popups enter from the bottom/side of the page to be less obtrusive. There are more options, and the right ones depend on your site design, conversion funnels, and the users themselves.

3 – Website popups work. Offer-driven, value-added popups can elevate site conversion by up to 9% – although the average remains in the 3% range. It’s also worth remembering that mobile popups convert 40% less than desktop popups.

3 ways to use popups to boost website conversion

1 – Select the right triggers. There are many triggers you can use to initiate the delivery of a popup. Exit intent is among the best for reducing shopping cart abandonment. Inactivity triggers are a simple nudge to complete a transaction after a set period of time goes by. Scroll triggers happen when users reach key places in scrollable content – such as product details.

Maybe the most underrated trigger: The “page/click count,” which shows a popup after a certain number of clicks or page views.

Why we like it: It’s based on deeper engagement with the site and its content.

Honorable mention: A user’s “visit history” triggers a popup based on previous activity, a good way to deliver offers and messages based on proven areas of interest.

2 – Commit to A/B tests. Create multiple versions that use different offers and visual elements to see which ones outperform the rest. Some guidance: Base your variations on user research, but don’t settle for what Google gives you. Go deeper with heat mapping and screen recordings to understand how people relate to your site. Talk to us, we can help.

3 – Concision counts. Popups have about one second to be effective. So make your message minimalistic and concise. Example: If you’re asking for an email address, simply present the data field with a conversational, human CTA (Examples: 1. Let’s stay in touch. 2. We’ll only email you our best offers. 3. OK, sign me up!). Include value-added offers but make it short and sweet. And don’t forget to use consistent branding in design, graphics, and fonts.

Popups have potential. The key is to align the timing, tone and message with an intimate awareness of what the user wants.

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