Using web popups is no rocket science; any webmaster or website admin can do it with a WordPress plugin. However, what separates a good web popup from a great one is that the latter is built on a solid foundation of rules and best practices. If you want a higher than average conversion from your web popups, these best practices can help tremendously.
In this section, we will dispel some myths and share some truly effective tips for web popups.
An effective web popup strategy is never the “one-size-fits-all” approach. The number one rule of high-converting web copy is the relevance to the customer. You may have segmented your emails to target customers for their own unique interests. Your web popup strategy should also follow a similar approach. The variations in the message delivered to different segments need not be much. However, the subtle difference can be decide whether a customer clicka your web popup button or ignores it.
There are so many variables that you can consider for customizing the web popup text, design, and timing. Consider these:
Once you have created segments, you will start seeing discernible characteristics (a different identity) for each group. This makes it a lot easier to find the most relevant messaging for that group. You can then leverage dynamic texts in web popups to deliver personalized messaging for higher conversion rates.
Some companies tend to communicate a lot in the web popup copy. Their web popups are filled with too much text, communicating so many benefits.
Addressing a horde of features will make your web popup text look unfocused and unprofessional. This kind of a web popup also distracts the website visitor from the core benefit.
Instead, pick up one key feature of your product that addresses your customers’ biggest interest. Use your creativity (or hire a copywriter) to craft a powerful but crisp copy for that one target.
Using too many colors, too much text, different types of fonts - all these make a website popup look unprofessional.
For better conversions, ensure that your popup doesn’t have more than two colors chosen from the color scheme of your website. Choose colors that portray a nice contrast with the rest of your website.
Avoid fluorescent colors; they are an eyesore! Keep the fonts simple.
Fortunately, you don’t need to hire a designer to build you web popup. Many marketing automation tools provide free templates for web popups that are designed using solid conversion principles. Paid templates are also available, and they're often better designed.
The goal while customizing these popup templates is that a web popup should have a clean and minimalistic design.
Mobile screens are much smaller. First essential is that the web popup should dynamically adjust its size to fit on the smaller screen.
Wide popups are also not advised for mobile pages. If these web popups are not sized dynamically, they end up looking quite large and bulky on mobile phones.
The safest way to create mobile-optimized web popups is to display them at the bottom of the screen as a flat bar popup. This will require you to stack the email field and the CTA right next to each other in a single row.
The close button also has to be more prominent. The best way to make sure users don’t miss it is to add some text to the close button and place it next to the CTA.
Some websites take full-page web popups to the next level by placing an ad on it. As explained above, they spoil the user experience and can attract a Google penalty for your website.
There is a third downside to full-page ad interstitials: if you use them, your website ends up looking like a cheap and spammy knock-off - a design that is typically used on third-rate gambling and pornography sites.
Typically, full-page web popups like age filter for sensitive content, a login prompt, or verification of a legal agreement are all fine. These are mandatory and should always be used; it could be a violation of rules if you removed them.
Google considers these full-page web popups a necessary part of the user experience and doesn’t penalize them.
Any concerns that marketers may have with web popups began with entry popups. In the early days of email marketing, no one knew how to work smartly with web popups. Most marketers conceptualized the web popup as a “splash screen”, which was commonly used in new desktop software. This was a wrong application of web popups - it was used as an introduction, not as an add-on.
Entry popups disrupt the user experience. The conversion rate suffers.
Why are entry popups dangerous? The customer comes to your site for content, not for freebies, and most definitely not to share their email id right away. If the first thing you show them is a splash screen asking them their email or contact details, they will leave as fast as they came.
For Google, user experience is paramount. They want users to land on an ad-free page with genuine content. While delayed popups and opt-in forms are okay, full page popups (also known as “interstitials”) are actively penalized by Google.
So, full-page popups not only hamper the user experience, it’s essential to avoid them from an SEO point of view too.
If you have web popups being shown after a certain amount of time, it is worth noting that the time you have set will have crucial ramifications on your conversion rates.
You may annoy your visitor with a quick popup, or you may lose a potential subscriber with a delayed popup. Unfortunately, there’s no formula for knowing the optimal time that guarantees maximum conversion rate.
So how does one know when to pop up the popup? There are several suggestions from some of the biggest blogs in the industry. Some say let the popup trigger at 60% of the average time on site. Some also give a fixed time interval (say, 15-30 seconds) for all sites, regardless of the niche or time on site.
A simpler way would be to first check how much time your website visitors spend on your website on average. From your Analytics report, you can find a time-range with concentrated visitors, i.e., the amount of time after which most users leave. Set your popup to trigger about 10 seconds before this time.
This is largely a guideline, not a rule. You can always test different variations and find out a time that yields maximum conversion for your site.
Some marketers tend to keep the close button transparent so that it mixes with the background of the page or the popup. They think that by making the close button hard to find, the user will stay a few extra seconds on the popup, and might just click on the CTA.
This strategy usually backfires; instead of improving their conversion rate, it ends up annoying people who want to close it.
Conversion should be a function of the web popup copy, its position, and its timing. Trying to achieve better conversion by using cheap tactics like hiding the close button only ends up ruining the user experience.
As mentioned earlier, Google wants the best user experience for its users. This means they have strict rules for first page loads on any website. If a user hits your web page directly from Google’s search results, it is taken as part of user experience.
To be on the safe side, you must avoid anything on the first page load that blocks a search engine user from seeing the content (and is not part of the experience).
There is a bright side to this rule - it applies to only the first page load. When the user clicks an internal link and moves on to visit the second page, that is not controlled by Google. Marketers have more freedom from the second page onwards.
While many plugins have made popup generation very easy, there are also instances of businesses overusing them. For example, a coupon for a free phone case is suitable for the purchase of mobile phones, not on a page that displays USB speakers.
Similarly, if a user is ready to buy (i.e., close to the end of the sales funnel), sharing a free eBook will only be considered a sub-optimal match.
For this reason, web popups are suitable only on the most relevant pages. As a thumb rule, if there is no direct connection between the page content and the web popup content, you should not use that popup.
Unfortunately, some companies still treat web popups as user registration forms. Over the years, a clear distinction between the two has been realized by inbound marketers. You don’t need anything more than an email id and a first name on your web popups.
However, there may be exceptional cases where more information may be necessary. In that case, the web popup must be designed very carefully. Only a few relevant fields should be included.
Make sure that all of them are not pure text fields. Don’t make the user type everything; no one who is surfing online has the time or patience to type in many details. Instead, make other controls clickable with the help of radio buttons and combo boxes on the web popup.
We hope that these pages have helped you understand what web popups are, why you should use them to promote your products better and build a large contacts list, and what you should avoid while designing and triggering your web popups. EngageBay has a lot more to offer; take a look around if you need to learn more about inbound marketing.