The Anatomy of Pop-Ups

Mitch Tarr

Today we are going to talk about pop-ups.

It's a topic that is really emotional for many marketers out there.  Most people I talk to don’t like them, but the truth is they absolutely work.  

Pop-Up Conversion

Source: Lead Pilot

When used right, pop-ups can help grow your email list, bring in leads, convert sales, or whatever else you’re trying to accomplish with your email marketing efforts. This is probably why so many marketing experts use them, not just as part of their marketing campaigns, but as a crucial element of their inbound traffic, lead generation, and e-commerce strategies.

So, the choice is yours –– you can stay firmly opposed and avoid the use of pop-ups all together Or, you can put aside your personal distaste for pop-ups and take advantage of the potential benefits they have to offer. If you do decide to try them, here’s how to make sure you get it right:

1. Benefits & Features

Real estate for text on pop-ups is limited, so use this valuable space to share information that will drive your visitors to action. That means providing a clear incentive –– preferably only one per pop-up. When you use a pop-up, you’re inserting your brand into the reader’s attention span, so it’s important to follow up with something of actual value. Highlight the features and benefits that you have to offer and that might sway visitors to join your list. This is a marketing basic, but you’d be surprised how many people miss the mark.

Pop-Up Conversions

Source: Wisepops

Another point to keep in mind is that playing hard to get never works (when it comes to online marketing). Your pop-ups should offer a balanced trade-off to visitors. If they share their email address, it should benefit them two-fold. Don’t be tempted to use pop-ups as gatekeepers to valuable content, because your readers will be quick to lose interest if you restrict your offerings. 

Lastly, tailor the messaging of your pop-ups to align with the buyer’s journey. For a first-time visitor to your site, it makes sense to promote free trials or sweepstakes. But for a frequent visitor or someone who has added inventory to their cart, consider pushing discounts and free shipping. 

2. Location & Timing

Timing and location are the cornerstones of good popups. Where and when you serve them to your visitors makes a huge difference, so let’s start with the “where.” You can set your pop-ups to be active on every single page of your site, from your homepage to your landing pages and blog pages. With this approach, visitors will see your message no matter where they navigate to on your site. The other option is to be more selective and control where your pop-ups appear. There’s no right or wrong here, but it’s nice to know that you have control over this aspect.

Another approach is to set pop-ups so repeat visitors don’t see them. If you’re doing remarketing or retargeting, you can set your pop-ups up so that they aren’t served to people who are visiting your website for a second or third time. Cookie-based triggers can be used to ensure that repeat visitors and/or subscribed users are not hit with another pop-up (unless you want them to be). This is a good way to place user experience first.

Pop-Up Conversions

Source: Campaign Monitor

The next thing to consider is the “when.” Does your pop-up appear immediately when visitors enter your site? You don’t want to risk coming across as pushy and abrasive by serving a pop-up before your visitor has even had a chance to look at your page. But you also don’t want to wait too long. Most of your bounces are going to take place in the first 15 seconds or 10 seconds that a visitor is on your site. If you wait too long, you might miss your window to engage with them. Best practices show that setting the timing to 60% of the average time visitors spent on your site can be effective. We’ve tested things anywhere from 15-90 seconds and if somewhere along works best for you, try it. 

Exit pop-ups are also a low-risk strategy worth trying on users who have had enough time to digest your content. Exit pop-ups can also be used as a reclaim on users who have exited your shopping cart without buying. 

4. Look & Feel

Historically, pop-up boxes have been viewed as spam. A badly designed pop-up will drive down sign-up rates or be side-lined quickly by visitors. A well-designed pop-up, however, doesn’t disturb your visitors and can actually drive conversions. Some things to keep in mind when designing your pop-ups are:

  • Match the branding of your pop-ups with the rest of your site. Keep the colors and text consistent.
  • Don’t go overboard on copy. Pop-ups shouldn’t be text-heavy.
  • Position your CTA as the centerpiece of your pop-up box.
  • Make sure your pop-ups are dynamic. They should work with different screen dimensions.
  • Experiment with video. It’s a popular and versatile format for getting a message across.

Lastly, don’t ask for too much information from your visitors. This is a big pitfall for most pop-ups. Your visitors shouldn’t have to spend more than a few seconds interacting with your pop-ups, so limit the intake fields to just asking for an email address unless it’s appropriate to ask for more (e.g. size, industry, etc.).

In Summary…

Pop-ups are becoming a popular driver for building email lists, and the options for personalizing them are growing. If you haven’t tried them yet, consider giving them a chance and letting the numbers change your mind.

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Mitch Tarr President ZinMarketing

About The Author

Mitch Tarr is the author of Email Marketing Mastery: Accelerate Your Business Using Email Marketing.