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How to Create Conversion-Boosting Pop-Ups (That Aren't Annoying)

May 13, 2021

There are a variety of tools on the market to help businesses increase conversion rates on their websites. Amongst these solutions lies the infamous pop-up. Travel back in time to the early days of the internet and the term “pop-up” may trigger flashbacks of the pure rage you felt trying to surf the internet in peace while being bombarded with spammy and virus-inducing windows.

Flash forward to the current iteration of the internet and it’s a very different place. Businesses now have ways of implementing pop-up messages that not only look good aesthetically, but also help increase the probability of a desired action being taken on a web page.

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In this post, I will go through some of the best tips and strategies for getting the most out of your pop-up conversion tools. I'll cover:

  • The benefits of pop-ups
  • Types of pop-up strategies you can adopt
  • The best ways to deliver your pop-ups
  • How to measure your pop-up performance

Why pop-ups?

As with all conversion-focused marketing collateral, there is a process by which the individual viewing the content makes a decision to act or not. Regardless of how great your offer is or how well it converts users visiting the page, there will always be those who do not complete your desired action. Therefore, the pop-up can be used strategically to increase the probability that someone will complete an action, whether it was the initially desired one or perhaps one with less friction.

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What should my pop-up strategy be?

Like landing pages, pop-ups are designed to encourage users to take action. Design, copy, format, etc. are all important. How and when your pop-up is triggered is another factor that is crucial to consider while planning your strategy. There is a fine line between an enticing useful offer and an irritating pop-up that stirs up flashbacks from the '90s.

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Cringe

Although many of the same principles apply across industries and verticals, I tend to separate pop-up strategies between two types: the funnel strategy and the ecommerce strategy.

The funnel pop-up strategy

The strategy behind this method is to essentially expedite the nurture path for leads who have shown intent.

If you are operating a business that is not entirely ecommerce-focused, it is likely that you have some form of a marketing funnel—containing lower friction offers with lighter intent at the top and offers closer to sales and your overall business objective at the bottom.

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Understanding the dynamics of your marketing funnel allows you to build your strategy more effectively.

Let’s say, for example, you are driving traffic to a landing page focused on a free trial or a sales demo of software. This “low-funnel” landing page may have a decent conversion rate but there are likely a number of individuals visiting it who are not ready to take that specific action.

With a pop-up tool, you could trigger a higher funnel offer to show if the user has not converted on the original. This higher funnel offer could be anything from an ebook to a webinar that you may use elsewhere. This strategy essentially gives you two opportunities to convert users.

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Using the marketing funnel as the foundation of your strategy, you can also utilize pop-ups for thank you pages—that is, the page that users are directed towards once they sign up or fill out a form. This would allow you to drive traffic towards a higher funnel offer like an ebook or webinar and subsequently deliver a pop-up on the thank you page for a lower funnel offer.

For example, let’s say you have a webinar closely aligned with your product and a user submits a form that takes them to a thank you page. On that page, you can deliver a pop-up for a free demo or free trial. The strategy behind this method is to essentially expedite the nurture path for leads who have shown intent. Instead of relying on an email nurture strategy to convert them over a longer period of time, you can try to get the lead to take the action you want immediately after converting.

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The ecommerce popup strategy

The goal with this strategy is to cater your popups to different stages in the funnel.

If you do have a business model that is focused on selling or ordering online, then you’ll want to keep the pop-up focused on the products or services that the user is intending to purchase. There are a few steps in the buyer’s journey and you will want to decide when the pop-up is delivered and how it will help complete the purchase. To help explain, let’s break the buyer’s journey up into three stages:

Inquiry stage: Here, the user is viewing a specific product page. I would not suggest triggering an exit pop-up at this stage on your organic pages because the user may browse through multiple products, and receiving a pop-up every time will become infuriating. However, if you are driving traffic to a specific product via a paid advertising campaign, then I would suggest using a pop-up.

Add to cart stage: In this stage, the user has added a product to their cart but has not completed the purchase yet. From my experience with ecommerce clients, many who add products to their cart get cold feet and wind up leaving the website without ever purchasing the product(s). A pop-up that triggers when the user is about to exit the page or after an extended period of idle time on the page would be recommended.

Checkout stage: Here, the user is on the checkout page with their desired products visible in their cart. At this stage in the game, a pop-up that would include any discounts or timely promotions would be recommended. If the user knows they are going to get money off their purchase by inserting a promo code you could see checkout-to-purchase conversion rates skyrocket.

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What are the best ways to deliver my pop-ups?

How your pop-ups are delivered to your site visitors is just as important as the content of the pop-ups themselves. As mentioned, there is a fine line between useful and annoying (which can be said for pretty much all marketing activities). You’ll want to deliver your pop-ups at the right time in the right place. If you apply the principles from the two strategies I have mentioned above, then you will have a higher likelihood of ensuring the pop-up offer you are showing to the user is as relevant to them as possible.

Depending on the tool you use, your flexibility in how the pop-up can be triggered may be different or limited. With the tool that I use, the options are as such:

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You would most likely want to use on page load, on scroll, on bounce, or on click for the use-case of landing pages and conversion rates. Most pop-up tools on the market have these features available and perhaps even more. You may also have the flexibility to limit the number of times one particular user would be delivered a pop-up. Let’s run through some of the use-cases on these triggers:

On page load: This pop-up will be delivered after a specified amount of time that the page has loaded. Typically, you would want that period of time to not be too short or too long. If you have an understanding of your “time on page” metrics for the landing page you may be able to properly time the pop-up to deliver when users typically bounce.

On bounce: One of the more commonly used triggers, you have the ability to deliver a pop-up when a user is about to exit out of the tab within their browser. This is useful for last-minute discounts or other ways to re-engage site visitors.

On scroll: You will usually see pop-ups that trigger on scroll on blogs. If you are scrolling through a piece of content you may be presented with a “subscribe now” prompt to submit your email. However, you could use the scroll feature on landing pages that have more information below the fold than others. Some platforms will enable you to trigger the pop-up to appear once the visitor has scrolled past a certain point on the page.

On click: This trigger can be used on buttons and links and is useful for delivering a pop-up on form submissions. For example, someone adds a product to their cart and they are delivered a pop-up that gives them a discount or sales promotion to help complete the transaction.

How do I measure the results of my pop-up campaigns?

As stated, there are a number of pop-up tools on the market that allow you to do most of the things that I have mentioned in this post. Privy is a very popular tool used by many ecommerce-focused businesses while I personally use Ucentric for my marketing clients. Within Ucentric, you are able to design elegant pop-ups (referred to as “Nudges”) and accurately measure results through conversion tracking tools built into the product.

Within your Nudge dashboard, you can view and export statistics on performance that are very similar to the dashboards you would see in a paid channel like Google Ads. This gives you the ability to run multiple campaigns with specific triggers based on the user’s actions on your website or landing page. As a result, you can directly tie revenue back to the Nudge Campaigns you set up through the platform.

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Start developing your pop-up strategy now

Pop-ups have evolved from obnoxious invasions to personalized experiences that can actually be appealing and helpful. They can expedite the buyer’s journey down the funnel and help ecommerce businesses to increase completed purchases.

Let’s finish off with a quick recap:

  • We covered two pop-up strategies: the funnel strategy and the ecommerce strategy.
  • Common types of pop-ups include: on page load, on bounce, on scroll, and on click.
  • Measuring the success of your popups is important in being able to tie revenue back to specific pop-up campaigns.

Now that you have the guidelines you need for using pop-ups, it’s time to start increasing conversions through these useful tools. Get started now!

Brett McHale

Brett McHale

Brett McHale is the founder of Empiric Marketing, a digital marketing agency dedicated to scaling startups through paid search and social.

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