Popups have been a controversial website element for years now.

While some strictly believe that they ruin a visitor’s experience on the website, there are those who consider it to be that necessary nudge to the visitors for a conversion.

We fall in the latter category because..

popup stats


Whether you believe it or not, popping an overlay from your website is a very effective of technique of getting the visitor’s attention to what you want. Be it an ongoing offer, a request to subscribe or simply follow you on social media, a popup is known to hold back the visitor long enough for him to consider your value proposition – unless of course his experience on the rest of your website is horrible!

But as effective as the tactic might be, there are times when we have come across popups that are nothing more than ‘bothering’ and ‘ugly’ to look at. They steal the website’s chance of setting an impression on the visitor and instantly lose a conversion.

This is where the importance of understanding the anatomy of a perfect, high converting popup comes in.

After going through hundreds (maybe, thousands) of popups being used by different businesses, across different industries, we formed what we call ‘the anatomy of a perfect popup’!

And it’s up for you to see and try..

1. A compelling hero message

Understand one thing – a popup is your second chance at a converting a visitor who wasn’t convinced with your web copy. So the first and foremost thing you need to do is understand where and why you’re dropping off visitors.

Analyse their online behavior and what they came looking for to create a hero message that they can instantly relate with. It needs to stimulate their interest enough to convert within the next 5 seconds of them seeing the popup.

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Make it all about your visitors
  • Keep the copy short and crisp
  • Use your target audience’s lingo
  • Keep it aligned with your brand message
  • Maintain the same ‘tone of voice’ in your copy as the website

2. As compelling a sub text to support the hero

Now you can’t practically have a hero title state your value proposition – you barely have a few words at hand! So why not put some thought into creating a subtext that is as compelling as your hero message.

Once the visitor has your attention from the hero message, it is important to quickly take him to the next step – where he understands what he is being offered in seconds. The subtext is basically a description of your hero title.

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Make sure it is correlated to the hero message
  • Keep it crisp, short and yet, descriptive
  • Use the simplest of languages for explanation
  • Maintain the same ‘tone of voice’ in your copy as the website

3. A crystal clear call-to-action

The moment a visitor has consumed your hero message and understood what it means, it is time to nudge him to convert. The popups are implemented to serve as that final push a lead needs for a conversion, so you should not miss out on this element!

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • The CTA button must stand out from all other elements
  • Copy of the CTA should complement the hero message and subtext
  • It should be the first element that draws the visitor’s attention
  • It should seamlessly lead to a conversion

anatomy of a popup

4. A secondary (not so clear) CTA

In not so rosy cases, there are chances that a visitor might not still like what your business has to offer. In this case, he would want to decline what you’re offering. This is where you need a secondary CTA on your popup.

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • The secondary CTA should always be used for a negative response
  • It should not stand out on the popup design
  • Use a CTA copy that makes the visitor feel he would lose something on declining the offer

5. An option to close the overlay

If your visitor is accessing your website via a poor internet connection, chances are that your overlay doesn’t completely load. This could also happen if the rest of your website content and elements are not optimized enough.

In this case, you don’t want the visitor to be viewing a blank screen or a half screen that gives away nothing – it will make the visitor feel the website is still under process or the link is broken.

Hence, give this visitor the option to close the overlay if it doesn’t load completely for him, or if he doesn’t want to reply in yes/no to the message on it.

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Keep the cross/close button subtle
  • Choose a position where it is visible to the visitor when the need be

6. An eye catching design

An overlay or popup can only grab someone’s attention, when the design is eye catching. You couldn’t possibly even expect yourself to read through a poorly designed popup that is hurting your eyes!

Hence, it is important to focus on the design of your popup as much as your website. Choose a design that compliments your overall website and brand image. Experiment with different shapes, sizes and positions for the popup to see what works the best for your audience.

Tip: Try to not make it look out of place or too jarring!

7. The perfect timing!

And of course, the one element that directly affects the conversion rates on a popup or overlay – the timing.

Popups are considered intrusive by many marketers and internet users because on most websites they are poorly timed. A visitor is barely there on the website for a minute, and he is bombarded with various popups from all directions. This is bound to ruin the on-site experience and make you lose a possible conversion.

It is important to analyse and understand how long do your visitors stay on your website, which sections they are paying most attention to and what they are probably looking for. Give them enough time to then consume this data from your website before targeting them with a campaign.

We suggest two approaches for nailing the perfect timing – target them at exit or simply target them based on the actions they take on your website.

  • On exit – when a visitor is just about to leave your website or switch tabs, target him with your popup with a message that is guaranteed to hold him back long enough to convert.
  • On action – when a visitor interacts with your website – for example, when he clicks on a certain element on your webpage, target him with the popup campaign you’re running.

Tip: The idea behind finding the perfect timing to show the popup is to make it less intrusive in nature. You don’t want to lose a visitor simply because he was overwhelmed by too many irrelevant messages!

Getting started..

If you think now you are totally ready to create your very own pop-up on-site retargeting campaign, let’s get you started!

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Vanhishikha Bhargava

Content Marketer at Exit Bee. Most of the times found trying to create compelling copies for blogs and digital campaigns, keeping a watch on what's happening on social media or ranting on Twitter. At all other times, not found.

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