Pop-ups have earned a bad reputation in the last several years, but that doesn’t mean you should necessarily avoid using them
Come to think of it, why are website pop-ups still around, given the bad reputation they’re getting?
And why do some of the highest-authority, high-traffic sites continue to make use of pop-ups, if these are so bad for a website?
There’s one possible, logical reason why pop-ups aren’t dead: because they work.
In fact, they work incredibly well at times. Most especially they work well if used in a smart, respectful, interesting and helpful manner.
- This test showed how Pop-ups acquired 1,375 percent more email subscribers than a fixed sidebar opt-in form
- “Pop-up forms” with a specific design (darkened background, two fields only to fill) increased sign-ups by 50 percent, this industry test showed.
There are many more examples.
I have chosen these two because they also show something else: they have very specific designs. This means that for pop-ups to work, you have to use them right.
The right pop-ups won’t drive your visitors away, but instead will draw them to you for a longer time. You have to write, design and present them to fit the needs and preferences of your audience.
Useful Pop-up Resources
Needless to say, compelling your potential customers to heed your call-to-action without being too in-your-face can be tricky. Some of these resources may be helpful as you try to find your balance:
- The last thing you want your pop-ups to be is rude and bothersome. Here are 10 tips from Kissmetrics on how to create pop-ups that won’t be such a nuisance to visitors.
- This video gives a qualified “yes” to insistent pop-ups when they are specifically intended to help build email lists (with interesting readers’ push back on out-of-keeping pop-up behaviour).
- Pop-ups, to be effective, require good copy, great design, smart timing … and more, actually. If you’re looking for inspirations, check out Neil Patel’s roundup of pop-ups that will “blow your mind.” The list is worth studying because for every example on the list, the author identifies pop-up best practices that you can easily follow and apply.
- Thinking about email subscription pop-ups? To appreciate the do’s and don’ts of pop-up optimisation, take note of the takeaways from Unbounce.
- People shy away from pop-ups that look spammy. To avoid this, try to make your pop-up design aligned with your website design. Kissmetrics says the most effective pop-ups are those that look like an organic part of your site, and in this article they provide a list of the best pop-up scripts and plugins (some of them free) that you or your website designer can use.
Here’s some comments people have made about pop-up behaviours that annoy them. You might use it as a checklist if you decide to add pop-ups.
- Multiple pop-ups on a page
- Pop-ups that are difficult to close
- Those that keep endlessly coming back (more especially if you have already signed up)
- Floating pop-ups that obscure part of the text and interrupt your flow
- Those that don’t resize for your browser window when it’s not at its maximum size
- Those appearing on mobiles, especially when they dominate the screen or are difficult to close
- When the close button or method is not obvious
- Where the message is totally unrelated to the page
- Those appearing before the page loads, before you know what the site is about
- When the sign-up asks for too much personal information
Harnessing the Power of Pop-ups
As with any marketing element, the “right” pop-up strategy depends on the specifics: the specific goals of the business and the unique preferences of your audience.
It means using pop-ups (or any other website feature) in a way that is complementary rather than confronting.
Thus, the deeper your appreciation of your readers and their needs, the better use you can make of pop-ups without giving offence to your audience.