eCommerce site owners often claim to fear popups. Between breaking navigation flow and suppressing content, they draw user attention away from the page (whoosh goes your revenue). They’ve even been purported as the epitome of terrible UX.

That’s the dark side of popups, the side that annoys your visitors. These kind of popups led to the creation of popup blockers that stop the sleazy window from asking visitors to leave their email address after they’ve left a site.

The good news is this side of popups is extinct. With the evolution of popups, a lot of annoyance has been cleaned off of them. We’re at a point where popups have been proven to be extremely effective at driving traffic to certain pages, collecting email addresses, and sometimes helping your site with conversions.

Today, popups make a positive impact on your site visitors when done right, the problem is that really few site owners know how to leverage popups effectively.

Common Mistakes While Using Popups:

  • Providing no clear way to exit the popup
  • Triggering a popup as soon as a visitor lands
  • Making popups appear too often
  • Not using a clear or enticing CTA (call-to-action) in the popup
  • Forcing an action on a customer
  • Too many words and too few images
  • Using a popup that doesn’t match the style of your site

These mistakes are what give popups a bad name, and they degrade the user experience.

How to Use Popups the Right Way

Popups can substantially make a difference to your eCommerce site conversions when they strike the right balance. Below we look at some of the ways to effectively use popups without annoying your visitors.

1. Be Careful with Popup Timing

The best way to annoy visitors is to slap a popup right off the bat. Avoid doing that by giving visitors enough time to get a feel of your site.

You can set popups to appear after 10 seconds, 20 seconds, 30 seconds, a minute or even 5 page views – setting such parameters will let visitors gain better knowledge of your site before they are asked to take action. A/B testing is going to play a crucial role as effective popup timing varies from site to site.

You can use timed popups to show offers to people who are interested in staying on your site. Elegant Themes uses a timed popup which displays after 30 seconds on their site.

popups elegant themes

Another thing to consider is whether popups are displayed to the right visitors at the right time. For example, you would want to use exit-intent popups for visitors who abandon a shopping cart on your site to save the sale. These popups will only appear when the visitor is about to leave the site. Here’s an example of an exit-intent popup.

popups hang in there

A 10 percent discount displayed while visitors are about the leave the site is the perfect way to bring them back.

Wider Funnel displays a popup to its visitors while they browse the ‘case study’ page. Such visitors are expected to have gone with the service, and are experienced enough to look for references.

popups you're smart

You’ll need to test what popup timing works best for your site conversions.

2. Incorporate Consistency in the Popup Design

Optimize the design of your popups for maximum relevance. Don’t simply go with the default design. You don’t want something that appears very different from your site’s overall branding. An inconsistent design can make visitors think your popup is spam, rather than something beneficial.

It helps to make the color scheme of your popup similar to the color scheme of your site. Switch your primary and secondary colors for a nice contrast; the popup will be less intimidating to visitors when colors and font types match your website’s outlook. This should make your customers feel at home.

Here’s an example of an elegant design from My Jolie Candle. The colors in the popup and the images are in line with the site’s style: note the use of pink and ample white space which fits the overall color scheme. The white space makes the rest of the elements stand out.

popups MyJolieCandle

If you use a smaller popup window than in the example mentioned above, you can darken or blur the background a little for better visual exposure. As for visuals, if your brand image portrays real-life people, perhaps an image of your employees in your popup would convert better. You can use solutions like Wisepops to customize your popup and preview it before it goes live.

3. Use a Simple But Compelling CTA

When deciding on the call-to-action to use in the popup, the rule of thumb is to keep it clear and concise. Visitors often skip popups because the CTA doesn’t explain what the subscription or signup will imply.

The CTA should also convey maximum value. It needs to make visitors want to click by giving them a compelling reason to try something that can change their life for the better. Here’s an example of a CTA asking visitors to click to get a discount. The visitors will decide in an instant whether an offer has any value to them or not.

popups 10 percent

Here’s another example of a compelling CTA that is supporting the popup copy. Visitors are being asked to enter their email address to ‘discover the truth’. They aren’t being forced to take action, but being given an option to sign up for something informative.

popups barefoot

Avoid using a CTA that is not compelling or risk-reducing. Ineffective CTAs will make your popup appear as a barrier to your visitors. Here’s an example.

popups first to know

Submit the email address in return for the latest news from the brand (or get left out?) – That may be a little too high pressure for the taste of your visitors.

4. Ask for Less Information

Visitors don’t want to spend more than a few seconds filling out a popup form – remember that you can interrupt user experience by asking for more information. Therefore, say more in a few words and ask for the least amount of personal information.

Think about the exact information you want from visitors; consider who you sell to. Usually an email address is all that your popup should ask for. After users submit an email address, you can ask for more information (if there’s really a need) as visitors have already taken the first action. It’s less invasive that way. When you are creating popup forms, ask yourself: What information do I really need?

popups jossmain

Ask for less information, and you will receive more conversions in return.

5. Appreciate the Signup & Provide an Exit

Don’t leave visitors in the dark once they enter their personal information. After the popup closes, acknowledge the action by welcoming the signup. This can be done by confirming the subscription within the popup. Rue La La displays the following confirmation message in its popup.

popups you're here

If somebody doesn’t want to signup for the incentive provided in your popup, or simply doesn’t want to enter their personal details, provide an exit. A distinct cancel option at the top right or bottom corner works best. Don’t make it difficult to find, if they want to exit then let them.

Following these tips will result in better conversions while at the same time minimizing the annoyance to your customers.

pop ups beginners guide CTA