And here we are, back at it with all the popups talk again!

Like we have mentioned earlier, popups have always been scrutinized. There have been those in the industry that have claimed they bring down the results a website could generate. But there have also been those who have experienced their effectiveness and almost swear by them!

Here’s a graph we have shared before, but definitely need businesses and marketers to take into account while judging the effectiveness of popups:

popup stats

Why do popups work?

Popups come with their own share of good and bad. While in some cases they can be intrusive in nature and completely ruin the user experience for a website visitor, in other cases they are the ones that encourage the visitor to convert.

Here are the primary reasons why popups work:

  • Internet users have a very short attention span and the already less time is only decreasing by the day. Most of them don’t make an interaction with the business – not because they didn’t like the content or what they saw, but because they got distracted or bored, or probably couldn’t ‘instantly’ find your CTA.
  • Popups grab their attention almost instantly. Whether you implement them after a specified time spent on the website or during their exit, their leaving gets interrupted. This gives you the opportunity to interact with them.

Also read: Popups don’t suck, your strategy does.

Most readers and website visitors are focused on consuming valuable content these days. They take it to be a task that needs their undivided attention. But by the end of it, they immediately leave to take ‘action’ on the content.

Popups break the monotony for such visitors. While letting them consume the content is important, a slight nudge at the right time could encourage them to share it in their circles as well.

What are the different kind of popups you can implement and why are they good?

1. Scroll popups: These are popups that get triggered only after the visitor has scrolled past a predetermined point on your web page or landing page. It is advisable to let the visitor scroll past at least 50% of your content, before being displayed the popup.

2. Timed popups: These are popups that get triggered based on the time a visitor spends on your website. Most case studies suggest that the optimal time for a popup to be triggered is less than or equal to about 60 seconds after the visitor has landed on your website.

3. Entry popups: These popups are generally used by businesses for their first time visitors. They provide the perfect opportunity to let the visitor know what to expect on your website without interrupting their experience.

4. Exit intent popups: These popups are considered the most effective type. They get triggered only when the technology predicts the exit intent of a website visitor. This means they are given sufficient time to consume the content offered at their own pace and only their exit is interrupted. Since these popups grab the leaving visitor’s attention, businesses can use them for any of their campaigns – redirection, promotion, lead generation, etc.

5. Click popups: These are popups that don’t really act as additional element on your website. They infact, become a replacement for your page links. Instead of opening a new tab to share more content with the visitor, these popups become the platform to do the same. The visitor gets to learn something more and gets to also remain on the original web page on closing the popup.

Also read: Why you should stop using entry popups and use exit intent instead

Experimenting different triggers for your popups is important. But it is also important to keep in mind that you don’t implement more than one kind of popup per page. If each of them get triggered at different instances and actions of the visitor, he is more likely to get overwhelmed by the experience and leave.

Which brings us to the next important thing when it comes to using popups – the best practices.

Best practices to keep in mind when implementing a popup

The first and foremost tip we give to our users is to use the popup to add additional value to the visitor. Be it additional information, an incentive or a quick message that lets him know what to expect from your business, this retargeting opportunity must be leveraged from strategically.

Based on your business and its target audience, identify what would possibly appeal the most to your visitors and test the same on your popups. The idea is to use the opportunity to not just grab their attention, but make them feel like they need to interact with you right then. A visitor who leaves your website without any kind of interaction, is as bad as a lost customer.

For instance, if you’re running an eCommerce business, your target audience would be online shoppers. The only way to grab their attention and make them complete a purchase on their first visit itself is to offer an incentive. A discount coupon or notifying them of an ongoing offer, can increase the chances of a conversion on your website.

For example, The House of Folklore used the exit intent campaign to draw their leaving visitor’s attention to their Christmas special sale. This not just increased that web page’s visits, but also the number of sales.

folklore-exitbee3 - ecommerce case study

Even though adding value to your visitor via the popup should be your prime focus, here are a few more best practices you must keep in mind:

  • Give the option of closing the popup to the visitor – not just a decline CTA, but also a ‘x’ button somewhere on the popup.
  • Ensure you’re not targeting the same visitor with the same popup campaign over and over again.
  • Even if a visitor hasn’t converted on your popup, don’t bombard him on every visit with the same message – it is almost like spamming him.
  • Fade the window or turn it translucent to increase the focus on your popup.
  • Create clear call-to-actions. Using a contrasting color from the overall theme of the popup can draw the visitor’s attention to it and encourage interaction.
  • Experiment with typography and various popup designs that are more likely to grab the visitor’s attention.

For instance, here’s a popup we created that gets triggered by the exit intent of a visitor. The rest of the page turns translucent when the popup slides in. The hand shape of the popup is instantly more eye catching than the usual rectangular or square popups that websites use.

social 4 popup

The strict no-no’s for popups

Just like the best practices, there are a few things that are an absolute no-no on popups. Here’s taking a look at them:

  • Don’t use popups that look similar to a browser box – they might confuse the visitor and make him think it is some kind of an error.
  • Don’t target different users with the same campaign. Make personalization a priority in all your popups.
  • Don’t let the visitors feel trapped on your popups. Doing so will only make them feel more suspicious and nudge them towards an exit.

Here’s an example of a popup that would never work:

bad popup2


Using popups should be a strategic move, instead of just a desperate one to convert your website visitors. Spend time researching and analysing the behavior of your target audience before implementing a popup campaign.

Once you understand what they expect from your business or what they are looking for, you’ll be able to find the right triggers and the right messaging for your popups. The more relevant or contextual they are in nature, the more likely are your visitors to convert.

Think you would like to give behavioral triggered popups a try on your website?


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Pavlos Linos

Founder and CEO at Exit Bee. I enjoy working on customer development and marketing optimization. I mostly write about how you can turn more visitors into customers.

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