In 2014, if you used the Internet to read a blog, browse for shoes or find a recipe, chances are you were exposed to one of the biggest trends in digital marketing.
B2B and B2C brands alike decided to say “yes” to popups.
For years we’ve heard about the damages of popups to your business’ reputation. They’re annoying, they decrease conversions and cause potential customers to bounce from your page and likely never return.
Then why are the biggest brands and publications using them?
Popups are effective. They capture new leads and grab potential customers’ attention when they’re most ready to engage. Popups can lead to a 60% reduction in your bounce rate and 50% more time-on-site.
The Five Types of Popups
Before looking at some real-world examples, you should have an understanding of the types of popups available and what differentiates one type from another.
Let’s quickly break down the five different popup types:
Entry: The most controversial form of popup, entry popups appear as soon as a visitor arrives on the page. They’re risky to use in some situations, but are a great way to give discounts or inform visitors about a promotion before browsing the rest of your site
Exit: Exit popups appear when visitors are about to exit a page or create a new tab. They are a great way to capture leads with an enticing last-ditch offer such as when a visitor is about to abandon their shopping cart.
Timed: Timed popups appear on your page after a visitor has reached a certain time threshold. It is up to you to decide exactly what that amount of time should be.
Scroll: Scroll popups are displayed on screen when a visitor to your site or page scrolls past a certain point. Common thresholds tend to be 30% or 70%, meaning the visitor has read or seen 70% of your page. This usually implies that they are more interested in your products, services, or information — meaning they’re more likely to convert.
Click: Click Popups opens when a visitor clicks a call-to-action button, link or image on your webpage. Click popups are less annoying than forced popups, as the visitor takes the first step to engage with the popup. It serves the same function as a lead-gen page, but reduces the time visitors are spent waiting as a whole new page doesn’t need to load.
1. The Entry Popup (B2C)
Retailer Forever 21 has chosen to use this entry popup on the Canadian version of their e-commerce site, displaying their offer to visitors as soon as they arrive.
As mentioned earlier, an entry popup is a great way for e-commerce retailers to give discounts to site visitors or inform them about promotions right away. Few people looking to shop or browse online are going to say no to saving money and knowledge of the discount increases the chance of them engaging (why it’s important to put it front and center immediately).
For a visual product like clothing, a relevant image can positively affect your conversion rate. The model dressed in Forever 21 clothes visually grabs the attention of the site visitor. The most effective image for conversion has proven to be a smiling woman, so perhaps Forever 21 should try this image with the girl smiling to see if it results in more conversions.
But, Forever 21 could also make some changes to their entry popup to maximize conversions.
What I Would Change:
While the headline is clear and stands out from the background, it’s not clear what the visitor is signing up for. They know they are saving 10% but are they signing up for a newsletter? I would suggest making the text below the headline and form more clear to convey the exact details of the offer.
They should also consider changing their call-to-action button copy. If there’s just one thing you need to remember for any call-to-action button, it’s to not use the word “submit.” It has been proven that using this on your CTA button can actually lead to lower conversion rates. Forever 21 should instead try using actionable copy such as “Get my discount now!” or “Save now!”
An entry popup is one of the most underrated forms of popup as essentially every visitor who comes to your site is guaranteed to see it. Your popup appears before they have even been able to engage with your page. They can be risky as they are forced upon visitors, but when used properly they can work well.
2. The Exit Popup (B2B and B2C)
The WordPress Beginner site, where they give hacks and tips to users of the service, currently uses this exit popup. When a user is finished reading an article or browsing the site and moves their cursor to the back button or is about to close the browser, it appears in the middle of the page.
Exit popups are the most common form of popup, grabbing the attention of visitors before they bounce. In this WordPress example, the popup swings down onto the page and shakes, making it hard to miss. People also tend to find exit popups less intrusive as they are interrupted when leaving a page, rather than when they’re in the middle of reading or otherwise engaging.
I like the call-to-action button WordPress has used in this example, as it stands out from the rest of the form and popup in bright, contrasting green. The copy is also actionable, telling users exactly what they will get by clicking through and converting. Using an arrow as a directional cue pointing directly at the CTA brings the user’s attention to the most important feature of the popup, pushing potential leads towards conversion.
Exit popups are the perfect way to make sure page visitors are paying attention. Ensure that you don’t spam your visitors with an exit-popup each time they visit your site as this can lead to them being annoyed or existing leads unsubscribing. Think of last-ditch offers that would entice visitors and make them want to engage with your site again in the future and display them in an exit popup.
3. The Timed Popup (B2C)
Timed popups appear to your website visitors after a certain amount of time on your site or page. An example of a timed popup can be seen below from the clothing store brand Aritzia.
Many people may find this Aritzia popup too assertive as it jumps out at visitors after 5 seconds on the site, and the offer gives them no immediate benefits. If it included a discount or free shipping offer they would see a higher conversion rate as it would act similar to an entry popup.
Timed popups need to be tested extensively as certain increments may not be effective in capturing leads. Anything under 20 seconds on your blog pages can come across as aggressive to those just looking for information, but over 45-60 seconds and visitors may bounce before you can show them your offer.
I like how Aritizia has chosen to black out the background page, using the entire browser as the popup itself. The white writing stands out boldly from the dark page and the headline is catchy and attention-grabbing. They have kept text to a minimum, making the page appear clean rather than cluttered and the large “X” in the top right makes it clear how visitors can exit the popup. The one thing I would test is the copy of the call-to-action button as by now you should know “submit” can be a conversion killer.
It’s crucial that you optimize how long visitors are on your page before your timed popup appears as it is different for every business. Use Google Analytics to track the average time on site, and set your popup accordingly. Always A/B test the timing to see what threshold leads to the best conversion rate.
4. The Scroll Popup (B2B)
Scroll popups are often seen as a substitute to timed popups. Scroll popups appear when a visitor reaches a certain percentage threshold of your webpage. An example can be seen below from Visual.ly.
This popup appears on screen when you get about 30% down the community page. Scroll popups are beneficial as you can set them to only appear when visitors have seen the majority of your page or read a certain amount of your content. Whereas a timed or entry popup can cause visitors to bounce immediately, with a scroll popup the visitor has shown interest in your brand by scrolling down the page.
This popup has a clean design, visually displays the offer with the green image of the book and the headline makes it clear what the offer contains. I also like the pink call-to-action button which stands out boldly and the black border encapsulating the popup from the background webpage.
A scroll popup is a great idea for a newsletter signup form or an ebook download, as if a visitor has scrolled down your page, they have shown partial interest in you and your products. Many marketers find success with scroll popups on blogs, as if someone is reading an article on a subject, they’re more inclined to want a guide or ebook on similar content.
As with the timed popup, ensure you A/B test the scroll percentage that maximizes conversions. It will depend on your product or service and the offer you are giving away on that individual popup.
5. The Click Popup (B2C)
A personal favorite, click popups are the least intrusive as they only appear when your site visitor first takes action. An example can be seen below on the left side of the site for Amazon’s Fire TV.
The image of the TV box and remote in this case acts as the click popup trigger and when clicked, a video autoplays explaining the system and its amazing features.
This is the perfect example of a click popup as it saves the visitor time by appearing instantly, rather than having to wait for a new browser tab or window to load. Click popups load in the background when the visitor arrives to your site, and are only activated when the trigger is clicked.
Click popups are exclusively shown to those who are actually interested in your product or service as they have to take the first action. For lead generation you would, of course, want to include a call-to-action and form field within your popup. But the Amazon example shows the versatility of click popups. Anywhere on your blog or website sidebar where you have a CTA banner leading to a lead-gen page when clicked, consider making it a click popup. Your conversion rate will thank you.
Popups are no longer something to be ashamed of. Each of the five types serves its own purpose and should be used to reach a specific goal with a specific offer.
It’s not a coincidence that major B2B and B2C brand have all started implementing popups on their websites — they are effective and they work. Give them a try and you will be rewarded with a high conversion rate and valuable leads for your business.