Thanks to the days of the early internet, pop-ups got a bad rap. Think about what just came to mind when you read the word “pop-up”. It probably looked something like this…

Old School Pop-Ups

Ugly, unwanted, intrusive, entirely unhelpful, annoying, and spammy. Those are the words that tend to come to mind. That may be where pop-ups started, but they’ve come so far since the early days of the internet, or, at least for those that decided to make them better. Pop-ups have evolved alongside the internet, becoming a necessity for e-commerce retailers, online publishers, and SaaS providers alike over the past several years. 

Today’s pop-ups can provide personalized experiences, tailored to each individual, and drive significant lead generation for your site. They’re so much more than an ad – they’re an expertly designed lead capture for your latest Instagram ad, a banner featuring the countdown timer from your flash sale emails, and a product recommendation based on previous orders.

Let’s take a look at what it takes to build high-performing pop-ups that take your onsite experience to the next level rather than an annoying,  one-size-fits-all experience for your visitors. 

Build Compelling Promotions to Collect New Subscribers for Email & SMS

Let’s start with the most common use for pop-ups: collecting new subscribers for your email and SMS databases for consistent lead generation. This is the foundation of every onsite strategy to collect information from website visitors so you can re-target them with marketing campaigns rather than miss out and let them leave without a plan to bring them back.

This can be a new visitor lead capture, targeting those coming to your website for the first time, or a returning visitor strategy targeting those who have come before but still not opted in. For those comfortable with offering discounts, an incentivized opt-in is a great way to go. But that doesn’t work for everyone—other options include free shipping, free gift with purchase, gated content, and more. 

Lead Capture Popups

What’s important here is a personalized experience based on where this traffic came from (especially if you’re spending money on paid media campaigns) and what channel you’re wanting to sign them up for.

Create different lead captures targeting each paid campaign you have so that the money you’re spending driving traffic isn’t wasted on a less than stellar post-click purchase. Target these via UTMs so that each lead captures’ copy, image, or offer to match what they saw in the ad for continuity. Then create a campaign for other traffic, direct, organic, etc. featuring offers and messaging that would appeal to these audiences. 

Cocofloss UTM targeting

Next up, take into consideration their visit history. For first-time visitors, this is your opportunity to make a good first impression and for returning visitors this is a great time to up the ante by offering something of higher value than before. By returning to the site, they’re displaying intent so this is your chance to seal the deal.

Finally, consider the channel you’re asking them to opt into. SMS is a fast-growing channel with considerable ROI while email is still the traditional channel many default to. We encourage a staggered approach based on: the visitor’s device, previous behavior, and your business’ priorities.

  • If they’re on desktop, prioritize email. If  on mobile, prioritize SMS. Fortunately, SMS collection is made even easier via tap-to-text opt-ins that only require two “clicks” to sign up.
  • If they’re a returning visitor that has opted in to email but not SMS, target them with an SMS opt-in. You’ve had a chance to prove your value to them, now ask for the more intimate channel to connect on. This even works by waiting until after their first purchase to ask for their number, a perfect combo for shipping and product updates
  • Prioritizing SMS growth? You can collect solely numbers from all your traffic or opt for a two-step lead capture that has both email and SMS fields to collect double the contact potential. Make sure to follow all necessary rules for SMS collection! 
tap to text

As always a clean on-brand design is key for lead captures as they can take many forms and should be based on your branding guidelines, visitor’s device, and triggering point in the visitor’s session. Here are some tips for picking the right design:

  • Gamified pop-ups are great for collecting first-time visitors’ information, they boast an average 13% opt-in rate and can be customized to be almost anything. Spin-to-wins, mystery prize, scratch-offs, and slot machines are a few games you can set up with the possibilities for customization being almost limitless. But this style doesn’t fit every brand and can collect more low-intent leads than other styles.
  • Center pop-ups are the traditional style, they’re great for desktops as they’re not overly interruptive and average a 9% engagement rate. These are also great for mobile when created with the proper SEO guidelines in mind and can be set up to have a floating tab appear once closed so visitors who change their mind can easily re-access the offer & sign-up. These can also take on a variety of shapes to give them an extra oomph on the screen.
  • For brands who want to forgo the “popping-up” aspect of lead captures altogether, there is the option for in-page lead capture. This will appear native to their website & allow visitors to subscribe on their own terms as they browse pages. Commonly used as a newsletter subscription option on homepages, in footers across websites, etc.
  • Banners can also have lead capture fields in them for a low-profile opt-in experience. We actually use these on our own blogs to allow readers who are interested to sign up for our newsletter or hear more about a specific topic from us! See this strategy in action for yourself on this blog.

Personalized Product Recommendations

Product recommendations have come a long way from a simple “People also bought” with a slightly related item of maybe the same color. They can be used to recommend everything from other items shown in a specific product photo, like a model’s entire outfit, to related accessories and the item(s) a customer bought on their last visit.

Different Recommendation Placements

Let’s dive into the placement options & strategy behind product recommendations at every stage in the customer journey:

  1. New Visitors: Place a best-sellers carousel on your home page. This gives you the best possible chance of grabbing their attention with your star products and encouraging more pages to be clicked through. This can reduce bounce rate and increase time on site both of which are great for core web vitals (CWV) plus, direct traffic to the pages most likely to lead to a conversion.
  2. Returning Visitors: If they left something in their cart, you can pull that into a recommendation that pop-ups up when they return. This reminds them what they were looking at before and increases the likelihood of a conversion. If they didn’t add something to their cart, you can have a carousel of related items on the product pages they browsed to try and lead them to what they’re looking for.
  3. Returning Customers: Use cross-sells on pages they browse to suggest items related to or complementary to those they’ve already purchased, for example matching tops to the leggings they bought or the carrying case for the radio they bought previously.
  4. Current Shoppers: If you’re offering a free gift with purchase and there are several options, trigger a product recommendation upon adding an item to cart. This gives them the chance to select their gift, giving them ownership over what they’re getting and increasing the likelihood of purchase. 
  5. In-cart/checkout: Whether in a slide-out cart or on the cart/checkout pages themselves, cross-sells of related items can fuel impulse purchases for a last-minute AOV boost. 
Return Visitor Recommendation

These are just a few suggestions of how you can use product recommendations for a better website experience, giving your customers pop-ups that delight through helpful, relevant content. Take things even more granular through specific targeting rules and e-commerce platform tags for maximum optimization.

Rescue Abandoned Carts & Exiting Traffic

This is another common use case of the pop-up, one that is targeting visitors exhibiting exit behaviors (via the back button on mobile or breaking the screen on desktop). Exit offers tend to refer to those who are simply leaving while abandoned cart promotions refer to those leaving with items added to their cart. They are typically used interchangeably, but the distinction is important to know. 

Abandoned carts are a huge problem for e-commerce retailers, with as much as $18 Billion being lost every year. That’s why it’s important to have a strategy for rescuing carts and a targeted approach to messaging. Depending on what your strategy is you can create a two-pronged approach to these: a high-value and a low-value campaign. For those who are the same size or larger than your average order value, take an aggressive approach. Giving them a great offer and a compelling reason to convert that session. If you’re not offering free shipping to all customers, you should certainly offer it to those where the order size offsets the cost. From there, maybe 5-10% discounts higher than any other offer you’ve presented (if margins allow), and add in a countdown timer for FOMO to drive same-session conversions. 

Pro Tip: Since free shipping is the number one reason for abandoned carts, we recommend using a banner that dynamically updates how much more someone needs to spend to unlock it. We’ll cover this below

For the low-value campaign, find what makes sense with your margins: a small extra bonus for converting now, a free gift (can be a product you’re trying to clean out), or something like gift wrapping/personalization. Balancing the order value with what you can offer to close the sale will be the key to success!

Banners For Site-Wide Messaging

Finally, we come to banners, the low-key but high-performing option for pop-ups. These are great for site-wide messaging you want to make sure every visitor sees without being annoying or for a consistent multi-page reminder to shoppers for important information. 

Banners can do everything from dynamic thresholds, showing visitors how much more they need to spend to unlock something like shipping to a countdown for purchase cutoffs for holiday guarantees. They’re a major player for low-profile onsite messaging that can be used to supplement other pop-ups or as a stand-alone.

Dynamic (Shipping Threshold, Grace & Lace)

Advanced Targeting Options for Pop-Ups

We’ve outlined the different types and placements for a variety of pop-ups with some suggestions for how to target them as well. However, it would be irresponsible of us not to go into targeting on its own as advanced triggers are a key part of the evolution of pop-ups. Long gone are the days of a spray & pray strategy as we’ve covered. Instead, there are countless options for sophisticated targeting rules that can combine any one of these pop-ups with another to create a delightful experience.

  1. Open upon click: This can go one of two ways, triggering a pop-up to fire based on the visitor’s clicked element whether that’s a website element like an add to cart button or the floating tab you set up to reopen a pop-up. This is a great option for very-specific pop-ups designed to target certain behaviors or give visitors control over their pop-up experience. 
  2. Time on page or % scroll: These allow you to trigger a pop-up based on the time spent on a certain page or the percent the visitor has scrolled. Both of these signal high intent and a great use case is on blog pages. The longer they’ve spent, the more high-intent a visitor they are, and you can trigger a pop-up for lead capture or recommend related content. This is something we do on our own blog, to collect high-intent demo requests or recommend another piece of content based on their interests. 
  3. Geo-Targeting: Based on where the visitor is located you can show specific pop-ups like exit offers to direct them to nearby brick-and-mortar locations to avoid shipping delays, banners letting them know exactly what day the cut off is for holiday shipping, or if there are shipping restrictions like those for CBD or alcohol retailers. Justuno offers this down to the zip code for pop-ups so you can get extremely granular with location-based messaging.
  4. Matching element exits: Target site-specific information like if they have logged in, loyalty program details, and more. This rule is limitless on Justuno, if it exists onsite, you can target it!
  5. Channel-Specific Opt-Ins: Know which of your visitors are subscribed to email vs. SMS or both to show the right lead capture or none at all. 
  6. Cart contents down to specific product variants: Target pop-ups to specific items in cart, not just the cart total. This is great for targeted product recommendations with complimentary items or those with high-abandonment rates on specific products for a pre-emptive exit strategy. 

These are just a few of the advanced targeting rules you can apply to your pop-ups to create the personalized experience that visitors are looking for! 

The strategies we’ve outlined in this blog can be applied to practically any industry and are meant to serve as a jumping-off point for how you build out onsite experiences. No matter the vertical, businesses’ using pop-ups should live by the mantra: right visitor, right message, right time. Today’s pop-ups enable just that, through elevated design, advanced targeting, and in-depth strategy that puts the customer at the forefront of it all. 

Try Justuno free for 14-days to unlock advanced targeting rules, granular audience insights, and pop-ups so personalized our customers see an average 135% lift in revenue during their first year! Get started building today!