Why do pop-up windows actually work?

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Pop Goes My Heart

Some people love them, some people hate them.

Ok so “some people love them” is a bit of an exaggeration. It’s more like “most people don’t mind them, a few get really annoyed and a teeny-tiny fraction love them” (yes, those are the official stats). Pop-ups are windows that appear after a few seconds on a website, either drawing your attention to something in particular like a new collection, offering you a discount, or asking you to subscribe to their mailing list.

Pop-ups are used by tons of sites, and for the “most people that don’t mind them” and the “teeny-tiny fraction that love them” constituencies, they can be extremely helpful in growing your business. This post goes over a few examples of companies that have done pop-up windows well, and how to set them up yourself.

What’s the point of a pop-up?

The whole point of a pop-up is to deliver a very strong call to action (you can read more about crafting the perfect CTA here). That means telling people exactly what their next step should be - browsing a particular collection, adding something to their cart, or most often joining your email list.

And the thing is, pop-up windows work wonders

Some of the evidence is showing that pop-ups are almost a miracle cure for low engagement. Compared to sidebar opt-in forms, for example, one test showed pop-ups rose email collection rates by 1,375%. Collecting email addresses is a critical step in running effective email marketing campaigns and getting customers to come back or refer their friends.

You can learn a lot about your customers from pop-ups, and you can message them differently. For example, you could:

  • Answer a common question before your visitor asks it, for example about your free shipping or the time a sale ends
  • Give a discount code right away, or require email signup to receive the discount
  • Offer a place to view content, like your video collection or testimonials
  • Ask for customer opinions on upcoming products with a simple poll

Another way to look at pop-ups is by their triggers. Professional advice on which type of pop-up varies, but in general exit-intent pop-ups are highly recommended. Here are the types of pop-ups available:

Don’t Leave Me

Exit-Intent pop-ups track your viewer’s cursor, so when they seem like they are about to click on the little X in the corner or hit the back button, they’ll get a last-ditch-discount offer

You See Me Scrollin

Scroll-based pop-ups appear when your viewer has seen a certain percentage of your landing page. Similarly, timed-based pop-ups appear after a set amount of time (30 seconds or 45 seconds is usually a good rule of thumb). The idea is that they’re already engaged with your site, and need a bit of an extra push.

But wait, there’s more

Content-based pop-ups only appear on certain pages. So, if you’re offering a sale of a particular item, you can have that pop-up appear only for people who have already taken a step toward it. For example, marketing a 10% off sale of bright yellow high heels might not get you that far for someone who is more interested in men’s briefcases, but may be really interesting to someone who has already clicked on “Women’s Clothes and Accessories” on your site.

Keeping tabs

Pop-Outs open up a new tab in your viewer’s browser, instead of directly opening on their screen. This can be less distracting for viewers, but also might not get your message across.

Are you adding value?

One thing to always keep in mind when you make changes on your website, including setting up and using pop-ups, is the value-added you’re contributing. How does this pop-up help my customer? If you can’t answer this question quickly, restrategize.

Who’s popping and lockin’ it in?

Here are just a couple of examples of websites that use pop-up windows effectively. You can find some more examples here.

THINX directs us straight to their testimonials

THINX has an exit-intent popup that appears when you move your mouse toward the back button. I like this one because it’s not as clear about trying to get you to add something to your cart. Obviously that’s the end goal - but instead of encouraging you to buy right away, they want you to see their testimonials.

This gives a signal that they are extremely confident about their product. They know it’s good, they’re buyers know it’s good, and they’re sure that soon enough the prospective customer will too.

They’ve also got a pretty humourous email sign up pop-up toward the bottom. This one’s not too in-your-face but is still more prominent than a side bar. They also build up their trust and branding with some cheeky quips.

Source: THINX

The Reformation cuts the fluff

It’s simple, it’s straightforward, and it’s got personality. This email signup pop-up appears right as you enter the site, and doesn’t let you go until you click the x (whereas some others let you scroll away).

Source: The Reformation

The Economist offers a choice of subscriptions

Their scroll-based pop-up appears at the bottom and is a bit fuller than some others. It offers a friendly welcome message that clearly demonstrates their current promotion on their subscription plans.

Source: The Economist

Ellevest tells you what your email address gets you

Ellevest, a feminist online investment bank, doesn’t just collect your email address so you can vaguely “stay in the know”. Their messaging is clear, with the logo of their newsletter embedded in the top of their exit-intent popup. By putting your email address in, you’re signing up to their newsletter. They’ve also included a punchy headline that offers you the promise of their brand (slaying at work, being your own boss and controlling your financial future) when you sign up.

Source: Ellevest

How do I set them up?

Some Shopify themes already have pop-ups built in. Be sure to check yours out before embarking on a popup search.

There is a plethora of pop-up add ons you can get from the Shopify App Store. One that’s trusted is Privy which has tons of trigger functions (what someone needs to do to get a certain type of pop-up) and integrates completely with MailChimp and Shopify.

If you're in need of something specific we can help by building custom popups directly into your Shopify theme. Whether you require a completely seamless popup which looks and feels exactly like your store or you require different popups to appear on different pages and function in different ways, we can do it all!

Popping out, fitting in

There are a bunch of ways to do pop-ups, whether it’s content-based and appears after a certain amount of time, or whether it’s email signups as someone is about to leave. Regardless of how you design your pop-up, it’s all part of your overall engagement campaign. You’re trying to get your audience - people who have already shown an interest in your company - to stay interested, buy, and come back for more. Pop-ups help out by offering a clear and concise action your audience can take to stay engaged, and help you build up your email marketing base or learn more about who’s using your site.

Pop-ups are therefore more effective when you’re using data alongside them. Services like MailChimp can help you find out how many people are signing up through pop-ups, and how many of those people are actually buying from your store. Information like that can help you better design and test marketing campaigns to use your resources most effectively.

If you’re interested in learning more about how to create effective pop-ups and grow your business, talk to us today.