Website pop-ups have been part of the online landscape for decades. For much of that time they’ve had a pretty poor reputation – but is it justified? Is it time for detractors to reassess their relationship with the humble pop-up? Are they an unfairly maligned element of the web browsing experience?
In my opinion, pop-ups have had a rough ride, and they need a defender. It’s time to switch up the narrative and discuss the advantages of pop-ups, as well as how — and why — brands should make use of them.
What is a website pop-up?
A pop-up is, quite simply, a small window that pops up when a visitor is on a webpage. They’re often used by brands to highlight something — a discount code or an opportunity to sign up to a newsletter, for example — or to provide additional information.
Some might suggest they interrupt the browsing experience, but if used properly, there’s no reason why they can’t actually enhance a visitor’s time on a website. In fact, when utilized effectively, pop-ups can kickstart a long-term relationship between customer and brand.
Why use a pop-up?
Pop-ups are generally used by brands who have a very particular goal in mind. More often than not the pop-up’s role is to generate leads, which usually means capturing a consumer’s email address or phone number.
The key is to give the consumer a reason to hand over their personal information. This can be done in a number of ways, but the underlying concept is always the same – provide them with something they consider worthy of trading their email address or phone number for. Exactly what this is will differ from brand to brand.
While nearly all brands are aware of the importance of capturing email addresses so as to send direct marketing to people’s inboxes, it’s becoming increasingly clear that getting customers to opt-in to text message marketing can be just as — if not more — effective when it comes to encouraging sales and sending personalized comms. Text message marketing is on the up.
Want to know more about growing your text opt-ins without sacrificing email? We’ve got you covered.
Types of pop-ups
There are a number of different pop-ups, and each has different advantages and uses.
Exit intent pop-ups: Exit intent pop-ups are arguably the most advanced types of pop-up. They will be presented to a consumer when it looks as though they’re about to leave your site. They’re a fantastic way of encouraging a user to either continue shopping or to come back in the future. This tends to be done by offering a discount code or offer in exchange for an email address or phone number.
Entry pop-ups: An entry pop-up will be shown to a user as soon as they arrive on your site. These tend to be used to grab attention immediately, and generally have to be interacted with so that the website can be accessed. They can be incredibly powerful because they give brands the ability to capture consumer data from the off, but they will undoubtedly turn some people off.
Timed pop-ups: These do just what the name suggests – they pop-up when a user has been on the site for a particular length of time. They tend to be used for offers very specific to your target audience, rather than just a fly-by-night visitor. By being on your site for, say, a couple of minutes, they’ve shown that they’re genuinely interested in what you do, and are therefore probably interested in what you’ve got to say.
Using pop-ups effectively
When deploying pop-ups on your site, there are a few key things to remember:
- Be clear and concise. Pop-ups don’t give you a lot of space to work with, so get straight to the point, and make sure your message is accurate and tempting.
- Inject personality. Don’t be afraid to showcase your brand’s personality. This helps to build relationships and establish rapport.
- Offer value. If you’re not providing a tantalizing benefit or offering a tempting reason for a consumer to exchange their details, your pop-up won’t perform well.
- Don’t overwhelm. Don’t bombard consumers with pop-ups. Use them sparingly, and ensure that you have a very clear idea of what you’d like them to achieve. Once you’ve captured a visitor’s data, make sure they don’t receive introductory pop-ups.
- Get them before they leave. It seems like an obvious point, but make sure your pop-ups actually pop up. Exit pop-ups, designed to capture attention when a visitor is on the verge of leaving your site, can work well, but the offer needs to be attractive – a 10% discount, free delivery or free gift with purchase, for example.
Website pop-up examples
If you’re an eCommerce business, the pop-up might offer a discount on shipping, while if you provide high-tech agricultural software, it might be best to go down the route of offering a research paper showcasing the product’s benefits. Whatever the offer, it needs to speak directly to your audience, and needs to offer them something they’ll find valuable.
There are various types of pop-up that you, as a brand, can employ. Want to highlight a new product line as soon as someone enters your website? Use a pop-up. Want to encourage someone to sign up for your newsletter? Use a pop-up. Want to give someone a discount just before they exit your site? Use a pop-up.
Pop-ups, when used appropriately, can encourage a user to do something that they perhaps otherwise wouldn’t have done. If the value exchange you offer is compelling enough — their email address or phone number for a 10% discount, for example — you’ll not only gain a customer, but you’ll have someone you can market to in the future.
Advantages of pop-up ads for brands
Brands should consider website pop-ups as prompts. They’re there to encourage or entice customers to do something, be it enter a competition or download a specific piece of content.
Pop-ups are powerful because they offer a single point of focus; not only do they draw the eye, but they demand to be interacted with. If the pop-up’s message is alluring, and the benefits to the customer are made clear, they can be a great way to build a database of people who like what you do.
And, once you’ve captured a consumer’s data, you’re likely to gain value from them long into the future. That initial 5% discount on a hoodie is a small price for a retailer to pay for a loyal, dedicated customer. Wunderkind data shows that, with the right strategy in place, brands can achieve a pop-up conversion rate of around 18%, which is absolutely not to be sniffed at.
How to use pop-ups effectively
When deploying pop-ups on your site, there are a few key things to remember:
Be clear and concise: Pop-ups don’t give you a lot of space to work with, so get straight to the point, and make sure your message is accurate and tempting.
Inject personality: Don’t be afraid to showcase your brand’s personality. This helps to build relationships and establish rapport.
Offer value: If you’re not providing a tantalizing benefit, or offering a tempting reason for a consumer to exchange their details, your pop-up won’t perform well.
Don’t overwhelm: Don’t bombard consumers with pop-ups. Use them sparingly, and ensure that you have a very clear idea of what you’d like them to achieve. Once you’ve captured a visitor’s data, make sure they don’t receive introductory pop-ups in the future.
Get them before they leave: It seems like an obvious point, but make sure your pop-ups actually pop up. Exit pop-ups, designed to capture attention when a visitor is on the verge of leaving your site, can work well, but the offer needs to be attractive – a 10% discount, free delivery or free gift with purchase, for example.
It’s important to realize that even the most carefully crafted pop-up won’t work every time. While it’s certainly valuable to let a campaign run so performance can be observed over time, it’s also worth trialing new concepts, copy and images, as well as different offers, to figure out the ideal formula.
Pop-ups are by no means the scourge they have historically been purported to be; they have a lot to offer brands and consumers alike when used appropriately, and can very quickly become a primary means of gathering first-party consumer data that will, once cookies disappear, be even more essential to a brand’s marketing efforts.