Is your popup strategy scaring customers away?

Pop-ups have long been considered a nuisance by users and marketers alike. If pop-up ads were a person... they'd be that pesky encylopedia salesman desperatley trying to make commission.

Ethan Zuckerman, the boke who invented pop-up ads, has apologised to the world in a lengthy explanation of what he really meant to do. You can read more over this way.

The internet has evolved a lot since the days of marhcing ant borders and those flashy, super intrusive pop-up ads packed with sound that tried convincing us to download dodgy software.

Pop ups do still work (shocker I know!) and deliver good user experience if they provide real value to users. That's a BIG old IF.


Wait: whould we still be using popups in 2022?

Yes, IF you're not annoying. Otherwise you'll just increase your bounce rate, and nobody wants that!

There's a few things which get in the way of pop-ups these days. Internet users and web browsers have fought sketchy third-party banners that would basically ruin any website's user experience. Borwser and security based ad blockers have emerged as a popular option to shield visitors from being overwhelmed by flashy, dodgy pop-ups. Business Insider reports that 30% of all internet users now use ad-blockers on a daily basis!

That's a lot of folks who don't even see the pop-up in the first place... everyone else just kills them right away... right?


Pop-ups can be effective if used properly. Banner blindness occurs just as frequently on your website as it does in display advertising. Pop-ups grab attention and have a 100% view rate because they require interaction to dismiss. Depending on who you read, pop-ups have a conversion rate of around 2-3%, which may not sound that impressive, but 3% of every website visitor becomes a significant number over time.

So popups are still a great way to get some one on your email list,

Whether or not your popup campaign will be successful depends on many factors including your web page content and your target audience.

Here are some expert tips for creating effective popups as part of your marketing strategy that actually get results.


A Timed Popup

A timed pop- up will only appear after a certain period of time has passed. For example 10 seconds. It's based on user activity on a page. If the user is on the page for 10 seconds, there's an excellent chance that they're beginning to interact with the content and may not be so annoyed with the pop-up appearing.

Another example might be waiting one to two minutes (yes, enough actual time!) and offering first-time visitors a discount in exchange for their email address. Given that an email address is valued at $20 or so, make sure the discount is a worthwhile exchange.


Scroll based pop-up

A pop-up that shows when a user is scrolling through the site, is working on an activity basis. The pop-up will appear when the user has scrolled down to a certain percentage of the page (e.g. 50%). Once the user has scrolled halfway down the page, the pop up will appear. Again, as this is action based, it means the user has chosen to engage with the website.

For example if you have pop-ups on blog posts and you know you get a lot of traffic some those posts, don't trigger your pop-up until the user gets most of the way through the content.


Page based pop-ups

When a web browser encounters a page-based popup, it may either trigger because the user visits a certain number of pages in their session, or because they visit a specific page e. g. pricing or a specific category of product. The key to making these pop-ups work is to make the content or promotion you're showing relevant to the page they're on, and make the value you're delivering (exclusive content like an ebook, discount, etc.) front and center.


On-click pop-ups

You can set a popup to appear only after a user clicks an element on your page.


Placement of pop-ups

Pop-up ads can be shown in many ways. One of the most common (and jarring) is a full-screen pop-up. While these can work, they do interfere with the browsing experience heavily. Better options would include a modal centred pop-up (not full screen), a banner at the top or bottom of the website, or a slide-in option from the lower left or right corner.


Pop-up Frequency

You need to carefully manage pop-up frequency so as not to overwhelm visitors or frustrate them. You should set a limit on the number of times someone will see a pop up during their browsing session. You should also use a cookie to ensure that the popup doesn't appear again after the user closes it.


Exit intent popups

A pop-up asking if they want to leave a website is still quite an annoying and intrusive experience for someone who has already decided to leave. It can certainly win back customers with the right message, but must be used sparingly and with great caution. This type of pop-up is best used for a limited time promotion.


Make pop-ups easy to quit

Feature the “x” or “no” button clearly or allow people to click off the side of the pop-up to close. Don't hide the exit option. A lightbox popup or modal popup can also usually be closed by clicking anywhere off the canvas, but when used as a mobile popup may have issues as there is not so much background to click on, making that exit button even more important.

Different types of pop-ups can be used to executed different parts of your marketing strategy. Make sure always to be helpful and not get in the way! This reader has lended on your site after all to read, purchase, or browse - exactly the behaviour we want.

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