Should You Shutdown the Pop-Up?

By Sarah Malcolm
Ready to flip thumb down to a thumb up on pop-ups? Don’t use them to annoy people to death with your brand. Use them the right way! Effective pop-ups can grow your email marketing and subscriber list. They’ll funnel leads and promote your content. 

Ready to flip thumb down to a thumb up on pop-ups? Don’t use them to annoy people to death with your brand. Use them the right way! Effective pop-ups can grow your email marketing and subscriber list. They’ll funnel leads and promote your content. 

Facts on the pop-up

The big question: do pop-ups really work? Or do they just irritate website visitors?

One study from 2016 had around half the participants rate pop-ups as “very annoying,” and “extremely annoying.” Talk about strong feelings.

But when you look at metrics, pop-ups generally have good results. In fact, they’re usually higher than other kinds of digital advertising. Some pop-ups convert around 40 percent of website visitors into list subscribers and capture potential leads. 

Sumo studied 1,754,957,675 pop-ups. The average conversion rate for pop-ups, says one study, is 3.09 percent. But the highest-performing pop-ups average 3x the conversions. So if 100 people visited your website every day for thirty days, you could gain up to 270 sign-ups from a subscriber pop-up ad.

The numbers show pop-ups can work, and they can do it without annoying the crap out of your website visitors.

How to make pop-ups better

#1. Context. 

The pop-up context is everything. One study found pop-ups with good context have conversions rates over 40 percent

Say a visitor just landed on your homepage. A pop-up immediately asks them to sign up for your newsletter. 

Wait a minute. They just showed up on your doorstep. How do they know your newsletter is worth their time based on what they see on the home page? 

Place that pop-up on the blog or on online copies of said newsletter. Now they’ve got context. They showed up to read something of value, and now you offer them more value. 

#2. Timing

Ever been asked to get hitched on a first date? If you did, you probably said no. Why marry a total stranger?

Ditto with the pop-up. Why would someone commit to a brand they just met? Use time-triggered pop-ups. How long to wait to trigger the pop-up is something you’ll need to experiment with. Just don’t immediately trigger the pop-up when landing. Give the visitor some space to browse.

#3. Benefits

The pop-up must tell people what’s in for them. Some of the best converting pop-ups are stupid simple. “Sign up for coupons.” Note: this short ad text only works when matched with the right context.

Be concise and precise, but tell them what’s in it for them. “Sign up for Friday newsletter,” or “Get the latest updates on this project,” or, “Download our latest ebook, <title.>”

#4. Display

The pop-up needs to distinguish itself from the rest of the page. Contrast the colors, the fonts, or put it in more than one place. Maybe it travels down the page with the content. Do try to avoid being so invasive it blocks the content. Forbes is a good example of pop-up video advertising that isn’t intrusive but contrasts with the articles.

Getting pop-ups to work

In the early days of marketing, you couldn’t open a webpage without a dozen spammy pop-ups decorating your screen. Pop-ups faded away, but they’re back and it seems everyone is doing them. To get the most benefit from them, you need an ATYPICAL strategy that makes them unique. Think about your goals and the context to maximize pop-up results.

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