Website pop ups are one of those lead generation tools that evoke strong emotions.
Some people find them to be beyond annoying. At the same time, there are marketers that see them as an effective way to generate leads. So who’s right? Should pop ups be a part of your marketing strategy or not?
When we say pop ups you know what we mean. Those little boxes that seem to appear from nowhere, and it’s not just when we first click a site. They can pop up anytime during our browsing experience.
The image below gives you an idea of what QuickSprout uses as a pop up option, complete with what sounds like a pretty good deal on one of their products.
Why are they there? Some clever marketer out there wants us to take action, whether that’s visiting another website, entering our email address to take advantage of an unbeatable opportunity, or answering a quick question about ourselves.
Below is an example pop up from Capital One — financial companies are notorious for using pop ups. But then again, many businesses across various industries use pop ups. It’s not uncommon at all.
Well, are they annoying or effective?
We don’t have a definitive one-word answer for you, but it really depends on how you’re using pop ups and what you hope to achieve with them.
Why pop ups Work (and Why They Might Not)
No matter how frustrating you might find pop ups when they’re part of your web surfing experience, the undeniable reality is that for the most part, they do work.
A few reasons they work?
- As humans we tend to like things that divert our attention from the subject at hand, even for a second. If we’ve been looking a particular web page for a while and we see a pop up, it can be an excuse to temporarily focus our attention elsewhere.
- pop ups direct your audience’s attention right where you want it. It’s tough to capture the attention of website visitors. You want to make your most important content stand out to your audience — one of the reasons pop ups work. You’re differentiating your call-to-action from everything else on the page.
- If you time your pop ups correctly, they can provide actual value your audience. For example, let’s say you write a brilliant article and have your readers’ attention as they’re nearing the end of your post. They loved the content and would like to read more similar articles in the future. Boom — a pop up appears, offering them the chance to enter their information and join your email list for weekly blog updates in their inbox. You’re generating leads while offering value to your website visitors.
But what about when pop ups don’t work?
Well, one of the primary ways to kill your pop up efforts is to use them as a gatekeeper preventing entry to the rest of your website.
Think about how annoyed you are when you want to look at something on a site, only to be stopped by the hate-inducing entry pop up.
The takeaway? It’s all about the timing.
Consider the pop up below from Zales—it’s asking you to sign up for special offers right away, which can be a big turn-off to would-be subscribers.
It’s tough to make an entry pop up work because you just don’t have your audience hooked on your content or offerings yet.
This next one is even worse because it doesn’t even let you bypass the pop up — an immediate deal killer. Take a look at the following entry pop up on the National Geographic website. The user experience is launched with something negative, and it’s likely they’ll just leave your site and go elsewhere.
While the general bad perception of pop ups might turn you off in your lead capture efforts, we’re not done convincing you.
Consider the following, from Unbounce: blog author Mauro D. Andrea shared his experiences with using pop ups to get subscribers for his email list.
You might be shocked by what happened, which was a conversion rate of 14.47% for everyone who went to his blog. Pretty compelling, right? Take a look yourself at this graphic he shared on Unbounce.
Okay, we’ve spent enough time convincing you that pop ups are worth a try, so what’s next?
Simply put, your pop ups can’t suck.
Before we go into some specific best practices, take a look at this survey from ProBlogger.net. These are the most annoying pop up design elements according to respondents, compiled by NNGroup. Whatever you do, avoid these pop up design mistakes:
The takeaway is that pop ups don’t always work, especially if you don’t follow some best practices. Without following the tips below, you run the risk of misusing pop ups, turning off your visitors, and damaging your brand.
Designing pop ups That Actually Generate Leads
Limit Your Use
We’d be doing you a real disservice if we didn’t give you this number one piece of pop up advice: don’t bombard your visitors. Keep it to one pop up per unique visitor to your site. If you’re trying to add one on every page, you’re quite possibly going to drive visitors to the brink of insanity, and you can go ahead and kiss that lead goodbye.
Give Them A Way Out
We touched on this above. If you don’t give your visitors a way to quickly and easily eliminate that pop up from their screen, it’s a problem. Don’t make it a trick, or you’ll annoy your visitors and lose out on potential leads. No one likes to feel tricked or trapped, and it won’t produce positive results in the end.
Be Careful and Thoughtful with Timing
Everyone has a slightly different take on this, and it’s hard to set a concrete rule which applies to everyone.
However, we like Kissmetrics’s advice, which is to aim to display a pop up at least one minute after your user lands on your page, or after they’ve scrolled at least 75% of the way through a page. That’s a pretty good standard, to ensure you’re getting a decent level of on-page engagement from your visitors before showing them a pop up. You can tweak your timing a bit depending on your parameters, but that recommendation gives you a baseline.
SumoMe created the graph below showing what their findings for optimal pop up timing — five seconds seems to be the winner. However, we’re more in-line with the Kissmetrics model of thinking, because if you wait anywhere from 30 seconds to one minute, you’re likely to have more engaged visitors who are ready to enter their info and take the next step. This may help with generating more qualified leads who are likely to continue interacting with you.
Optimal pop up times vary based on factors such as your industry, business type, and target market. You should conduct split testing to determine which timing works best for you.
Keep It Relevant AND Valuable
Yes, that’s right, your pop up needs to be both relevant and valuable. As we mentioned at the start of this post, you’re less likely to make your visitor angry or annoyed and more likely to capture a lead if your pop up builds on content your user’s already been looking at.
You want to use it as a way to provide answers, solutions, value, help — however you want to phrase it, your visitors (at least some of them) should appreciate the pop up or you’re not doing it right.
You can also use pop ups to redirect your users, perhaps to a piece of your best-performing content such as a quiz.
The pop up below from Elegant Themes is an excellent example of what to do when you’re designing a pop up. It gives the reader detailed information on what they’ll receive in exchange for their information, there’s no guesswork there, and the design is clear. The value is defined, as is the relevance. Wording is simple, the design is clean and it just feels fresh and to-the-point.
A few other quick tips:
- Keep your pop up design consistent with the rest of your site and your overall branding.
- Make sure your CTA is clear, compelling, and actionable. It shouldn’t be a guessing game. Tell them what to do and why the should do it in the simplest terms possible.
- The less information you ask for, the better. Don’t ruin it by asking for their life history in a pop up window, or people will leave your site and find an alternative. Just an email address will usually suffice.
We like the pop up below from home goods retailer Joss & Main. It’s consistent with their branding, it’s easy, it asks for limited information, and it gets the job done.
Okay, to sum it up: pop ups work.
If they’re not annoying. And not being annoying isn’t that hard.
Just think about everything you hate in a pop up and try to avoid doing that. The tips above should give you a pretty solid starting point as well.
P.S. if you want to learn more about effective ways to generate leads, check out our Leadquizzes software. You’ll get the tools you need to capture qualified leads with engaging content, and you might even come up with some better ideas for your next website pop up.