This is a guest post from Ivan Kreimer.
Here’s the truth: pop-ups work.
However, there is a certain stigma attached to pop-ups and this is largely due to poor marketing practices. This is why some people find pop-ups annoying.
So if people find pop-ups annoying, why do they work? The reason they work so well is that they’re designed to convert.
There are plenty of case studies that have shown how extensively pop-ups have helped companies build their email list and increase traffic conversion.
If you still don’t understand why this happens, read on.
In this article, I will show you what makes a pop-up convert, and how you can design one so you can grow your business.
(And be sure to check out the bonus resource at the end of this article with a checklist of all the things you need to do to implement each tip to increase your pop-up conversion rate.)
Why Pop-Ups Convert
Before we get into the nuts and bolts of how to make pop-ups convert, we need to understand what makes them so effective. If some people can get pop-ups to convert at a 5% rate, then they must be doing something really well. However, it’s not a matter of copying what they do best, it’s more of understanding what motivations they tap into that make so many people sign up.
First and foremost, let’s define a pop-up as a box that offers a site’s visitors something they value so they sign up to get it. It can go from “getting the latest news” (ugh, so cliché these days), to a free webinar that explains the ultimate way to make more money while you eat your cereal.
This is a great example of a pop-up done well: lots of value, good image and copy, clear message and CTA.
Based on this, we can assume what we offer our visitors is what makes all the difference. Even though that’s true, there’s one other reason why people end up liking pop-ups (even though they deny it when you ask them).
Do you remember the last time you came across a pop-up? It probably went like this: you were reading a great article, like the ones you can find on this very blog, and all of a sudden, a pop-up came up. What?! Why did this happen? You were learning a lot and all of a sudden you have to read something that isn’t the article.
This “surprise” creates what some people call a “pattern interruption“. This is what makes them annoying. But at the same time, it’s what makes them so effective.
Before you throw your coffee mug to the screen, let me explain. When you interrupt your visitors’ reading experience, and when you do it right, you can actually make them “solve a problem” that they are focused on throughout the article.
For example, if the visitor was reading about how to design pop-ups, and then they get a pop-up that says “Learn How to Make Your pop-ups Rock”, they might want to sign up to that for two reasons:
- The pop-up broke their reading pattern, which caught their attention, and;
- It showed something they want based on the topic of the article, which makes it relevant.
Ramit Sethi shows you this pop up on a quiz page where you are being told what’s your earning potential. Totally relevant.
Now you know why pop-ups are effective, and what you need to do. Let’s move on to the actual techniques that make high converting pop-ups so you can rapidly build your email list.
Offer Something Relevant and Valuable
There are three rules your pop-ups need to follow:
- Be well-designed
- Be relevant
- Don’t be irrelevant
SNL got it right when they laid these rules of living upon us.
Jokes aside, as I mentioned before, you want to give your visitors something that makes them want to subscribe. That “something” needs to be an offer they can’t refuse, helps them achieve their goal, improve their lives, and solve a problem. That is what will drive visitors to opt-in in the first place and make them come back to your site in the future.
How do you find that relevant “something”? And how do you know what’s relevant and what’s not? These are two great questions, and they can be answered simply by starting with your customers.
Who are your customers? This isn’t a rhetorical question, this is a serious question you need to answer. You need to have a clear picture of you are targeting with your content. Create a persona if you have to, but before you try to offer something, and before you even start with your pop-ups, start by having a crystal clear idea of the people you want to show your pop-up to.
Then, what are your customer’s main pain points? For example, without having done any thorough research, I assume Justuno’s visitors’ main problems are:
- They don’t know how pop-ups work
- They don’t know how to create and design high-converting pop-ups
- Their current pop-ups aren’t converting
That’s why I wrote this article, which I believe solves the third problem. Based on that, the content team at Justuno can create a PDF that explains how to drive more pop-up conversions with a few simple tweaks, the same I explain in this article. That’d be an excellent lead magnet that is completely relevant to their audience’s problems.
At the end of the day, there’s no right or wrong offer you can present to your visitors. Rather, there are more relevant or irrelevant offers. The more related the offer is (whether it is an ebook, an email course, or a few tips) to their stage in their buying journey, the more willing they will be to sign up for it.
Use CTAs that Make People Want to Click
We have all seen the same CTA over and over: “Subscribe Me”. That’s the most boring CTA in the history of CTAs and it doesn’t work for two reasons:
- It’s not actionable
- It’s used all over the place, and people have grown used to it, which lessens its effectiveness (let’s call this CTA fatigue)
Ugh, please, take it out of my face! It hurts!
A CTA, an acronym for “Call to Action”. These are the last piece of a pop-up, but one that matters more than most people would suspect. Yes, you can have the most amazing pop up with the greatest offer of all time and still have a high conversion rate even if you have a horrible CTA. However, if your offer and copy are OK but your CTA is not, you may be lowering your conversion rate more than you should.
Let’s take a look at one company that improved their CTAs and grew their business thanks to it.
Pierre Et Vacances, a French-based holiday booking site, conducted an A/B test in which they tried to see which CTA converted better. The copy of the A version was “Book”, while the copy of the B version was “Check Availability”.
The latter increased the CTR by 92% and helped increase the hotel bookings by 13.6%. One simple change in the CTA ended up having a huge impact on the final results.
What was the difference between the high converting one and the mediocre one? Its action-focused copy and the relevance to the offer.
You should always use action-focused copy on your CTAs, which will drive your visitors to take the desired action. If you want people to download an ebook about improving an e-commerce store conversion rate, “Sign Up”, a commonly-seen yet mediocre CTA copy, won’t get the job done. “Sign Me Up”, although a bit better, is still not actionable enough. “Yes, I Want to Download the Ebook” or “Yes, I Want to Improve My Conversions” is much better.
Probably the world’s best CTA.
The second part, the relevancy of the copy, takes your offer into consideration. In the previous example, since your visitors want to improve their conversion rate, adding those precise words into the CTA will make it relevant to their core problem. If on the contrary, you had used a copy that said “Download Ebook”, although actionable, it wouldn’t have been that relevant.
Remember this: if you want people to act, make them want to. Your CTA can help you do that.
Time It Well, or Annoy Your Visitors
Every profession has its own catchphrase. For real estate agents, it’s “location, location, location”. For crazy tech CEOs, it’s “developers, developers, developers“. For marketers, it would be “timing, timing, timing“.
You want to present your visitors with a great offer at the right time. For instance, if you show your visitors a pop-up as soon as they land on your homepage, they probably won’t even read it because they probably don’t even know what is going on yet. On the other hand, if you time your pop-ups a few seconds before they leave (either using exit-intent technology or based on your analytics), they will be more willing to see what you have to offer.
This time-based trigger is one way you can set up the timing of your pop-ups. Some other triggers you can use are:
- Action-based (i.e. after a visitor click on a button or performs another action on site)
- Exit-based (i.e. after a visitor attempts to leave your site)
- Scroll-based (i.e. after a visitor has scrolled a certain percentage of a page)
- Page-based (i.e. A visitor lands on a certain page or pages)
- Time-based (i.e. after a certain amount of time), as previously described
All these triggers can work especially well when they are used together. For example, if you know your visitors’ average time on site is 1 and a half minutes and their pages per session are 2.5, you can trigger your pop up to show up after they visit 1 minute and as soon as they visit 2 pages.
Another highly effective tactic you can use is to customize your pop-ups according to the page they visit. If a visitor is on a product page, you can offer them a discount, whereas if they are on your blog, you can offer them an ebook about solving a relevant problem. What Ramit Sethi did is a good example of this idea.
This is a somewhat relevant offer on LemonStand which is shown on exit. Quite good, but not necessarily relevant to my interests.
At the end of the day, the best way to know the right timing is to know your customers, based on your research, and understand their behavior based on what your analytics provider tells you.
Now It’s Your Turn…
Pop-ups can be one of the most powerful ways to grow your business. They are the bridge that takes your visitors and converts them into customers. As a consequence, making sure your pop-up converts a high percentage of traffic is one of the best investments you can make.
This article has shown you three ways you can increase the conversion rate of your pop-ups. Now it’s time to take some action.
If you are ready to grow your business, then you definitely want to download this FREE step-by-step checklist I put together for you.
It contains all the actionable tips from this article so you can implement them whenever you want.
Written by Ivan Kreimer
Ivan Kreimer is a content marketing consultant that helps SaaS business increase their traffic, leads, and sales. Previously, he worked as an online marketing consultant helping both small and large companies drive more traffic and revenue. You can follow him on Twitter and Facebook.