To Pop-up or Not to Pop-up?

June 8, 2017

By Chris Franks

That Is The Question

Do the words, “Stupid pop-up, get out of my way and let me get to what I was trying to see!”  sound familiar?

Joking aside, there is more to pop-ups than meets the eye, beyond the instant irritation factor and the sometimes godawful looks. Pop-ups do serve a legitimate business purpose. Sometimes, they are the best tool for a particular job.

We’re not talking about the pop-up windows that are usually associated nefarious, sleazy-minded websites trying to trick you into thinking your computer is infected with all the viruses ever made. No, the ones we’re talking about are the ones you see come up inside a web page. They usually ask you to subscribe to a site’s newsletter, blog or other marketing initiatives.

OMG! Who Cares?!

As performance marketers, we only care about one thing. Do pop-ups work?

Yes. 100% resounding yes. We have the experience and the data to prove it.

Our own experience with pop-ups varies. Conversion rates for pop-ups can stay at 0%, or they can be as high as 33%.. On average, we’ve found pop-ups convert at around 10% or so which in the marketing world is a huge win. Just like with anything in marketing, a pop-up’s success will depend largely on your target audience, and what your pop-up is doing, or trying to get your user to do. However, if done properly, a pop-up ad will generate conversions that you’d otherwise not get, without impacting the user experience… that much.

We have a breakdown of the various types of pop-ups plus how and when to use them and most importantly, when NOT to use them.

Content Subscribe

These pop-ups are quite common. They say you can get smarter, better, faster, yada-yada-yada by subscribing to their blog, newsletter or something similar. *Hopefully* the timing was right that you got a pop-up from us right as you were reading this part!

As the name implies, this makes sense for blogs and other content vehicles. Get subscribers your content in their inboxes as soon as you publish it. You’ve probably signed up for a few of these types of services already. I know I have. These kinds of small pop-ups or at times bars across the top or bottom of pages are usually non-intrusive or are very easy to use. They’re popular for a reason.

In case you missed it, this is our simple blog subscription pop-up.

No Don’t Leave

Oh shit, someone is exiting my page and I’m going to lose them forever and I have to account for a higher bounce rate if I don’t stop them. Pop-up time!

Did you know that some 98% of people will leave your website without giving you any of their contact information, never to be seen again? If only there were a way to grab their information before they departed into the world wide web.

These are exit-intent pop-ups, and they are glorious, glorious marketing tools. These types of pop-ups are incredibly popular because they deploy when someone is moving their mouse to exit the page. Even if you only get a handful of email addresses this way, it’s more than you’d have without the exit-intent pop-up in place. The plain and simple fact is they work if you do them right. Just give people something free, or guilt trip someone with them!


The least committal of pop-ups as you’re simply asking someone to pick one direction or another on something. These are great because your visitors risk nothing by saying yes and it makes your website a little more interactive and draws the visitor’s attention to a part of the website they may not have found on their own.

Floating Bar

These are floating bars, boxes or other semi non-intrusive things to get people to do something else that may catch their fancy other than what’s on the page.

These take a passive approach but have an excellent conversion rate for directing people to a particular offer or capturing a small amount of information from them.

A very simple floating bar pop-up with a yes or no question.

Content Blockers

Give us your contact info or you don’t get our glorious content!

These work astoundingly well for what you might think would be perceived as a nuisance. Of course, the content you’re offering must be worth the person’s contact information, otherwise, people will just leave your website without your content, and you without their contact information.

These block content on your site. Use with caution.

Full. Page. Takeover.

We like to refer to a full-page takeover pop-up as the MOAP, or the mother of all pop-ups. There’s not a lot to be said about these risky pop-up ads, but do be sure to watch your bounce rates when you implement one of these bad boys. You might see a spike of highly irritated people that would rather eat rusty nails than deal with your full-screen takeover. However, if implemented properly (as in, giving your user a VERY decent incentive to give you their contact information) can do wonders for the number of prospects in your sales funnel. Yes, these can be a real drag on your website’s UX, so monitor closely.

One of our clients’ full page pop-ups.

Our Favorites

Now that you have a basic understanding of what pop-ups are around, you might have asked quietly to yourself, “Hey CleverFunnel, what’s your favorite kind of pop-up?”

For us, we’ve found quite a bit of success with pop-ups that involve a quick capture for name and email, as well as a quick, one-line summary of what you’re offering. Just accept that people don’t want to read all the content you curated and slaved over for weeks and give them what they want. The quick and dirty.

How do you decide which to use, how and when? 

Without getting TOO much into the weeds on this, pop-ups can be configured to the Nth degree and customized for the type of visitor, referral source, the device someone is on, time on page, # of visits. and much more.

Needless to say, as simple as these seem to be when they invade your precious screen space, we put a lot of thought into our pop-up strategy as it fits into any website, landing page, ad campaign or otherwise prior to rolling one of these babies out to get the perfect combination of in your face but not TOO in your face.

Other important things to consider when rolling these out are what the offering is. You don’t want it to be too commital as it’s still intended to just capture email address. Here’s a quick list of the best things you can offer in a pop-up.

  1. Free Trial
  2. Blog/Content Subscription
  3. Job Opening
  4. Video Demo/Tour
  5. Press Release/Company Announcement

Your Turn

So what do you think about pop-ups in general? Do you like them? Hate them? Are you somewhere in between? Let us know.