Why and how you should be using pop-ups

Yes, they’re annoying—but they work. Here are statistics about their efficacy, as well as tactics to get the most pop for your investment.

Why and how you should use pop-up ads

How do you feel about pop-up ads?

You think they’re annoying, I think they’re annoying, but out there in the real world, they’re incredibly effective.

Case in point: My colleague, Laura Petrolino, recalls that while researching a blog post, she clicked over to an article on Playboy.

A pop-up flashed on the screen:

Do you read the articles? Of course you read the articles! Here’s a free t-shirt that says, ‘I read it for the articles.’

She recalls: “It was clever, funny, and exactly what I was thinking at the time, ‘I am on Playboy, reading the articles.’ So it worked. And now I receive a daily email from Playboy—which does have good articles.”

Show me the data!

The stats show the average conversion rate is 3% but can be as high as 9%. That’s significantly higher than almost any other online conversion, which ranges from 1% to 3%.

Even if you’re on the low end, 3% can turn a lot of traffic into subscribers, which can turn into a lot of customers.

Let’s say you have 1,000 site visitors every month and you have a 3% conversion rate from your pop-ups. That’s 30 new subscribers.

Taking that a step further, let’s assume your sales conversion rate is 20%. That’s six new customers.

And let’s say the lifetime value of each customer is $10,000. That’s $60,000 in new revenue—simply from a well-placed, on-brand pop-up.

“But wait,” you say, “That’s too easy. Six new customers from website pop-ups?”

Of course it’s not that simple. You don’t gain six new customers every month from pop-ups. You gain six new customers every month because you have a smart, measurable PESO model communications plan in place and use website pop-ups as a tactic within that plan.

Once someone subscribes from your pop-up, they have to go through a smart and strategic lead nurturing campaign that ends with their being a qualified sales lead who can then be converted into a customer.

Different types of pop-ups

There are many types of pop-ups, with even more options for designing their actions on your site. Let’s go over a few: 

  • There is the traditional pop-up, which we’re all accustomed to seeing. It pops up while someone is on the homepage and can be triggered within the first five seconds of a visitor landing on your homepage.
  • There is the exit pop-up (which we prefer). It shows up only when someone goes to click away from the site.
  • There is the time spent on site pop-up, which shows up after a person begins scrolling, visits more than one page, or spends more than a certain amount of time.

As well, there are notification requests and live chats. Though not pop-ups per se, they have the same purpose—to get the visitor to take action.

  • A notification request is found in the navigation heading of website, which prompts you to opt in for push notifications. Though you don’t have to provide an email address, you are allowing the site to send you alerts for new content, news, updates.
  • The live chat typically shows up in the sidebar of a site, which redirects the visitor’s attention to a call to action. 

Creating funnels from your pop-ups

If we go back to the Playboy example, the funnel might look like this:

  • Subscribe and receive a free T-shirt. (This gives them your email address and your home address.) We know their end game is to get you to subscribe to the magazine.
  • Once they have your email address, you’re subscribed to their free content.
  • Then you get teasers for paid content and for the gear they sell.
  • Eventually you buy something, ideally a paid subscription.

That’s pretty simple, but think through three steps for your own process:

  • What do you want visitors to do? Subscribe is the easiest, but it might also be to buy something at a discount or use a code for a new visitor gift or what have you.
  • Once you have their email address, what is important for them to know? What will give them enough information to buy? How will you stay top of mind?
  • Then think through what triggers a purchase decision. Maybe it’s a free trial or a software demo or reading reviews. Whatever it happens to be, include it in the end of your nurturing process.

For the most part, this all works extraordinarily well, particularly if your process is engaging, valuable and consistent.

Gini Dietrich is the founder, CEO and author of Spin Sucks. A version of this article originally appeared on the Spin Sucks blog.

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