Pop ups are questionable, to say the least. Many developers have contended that they ruin the user experience of a website; whilst many marketers contend that they boost conversions.
I am not here to make a claim to either side, so don’t beat me up. I’m simply here to warn those who want to use pop ups and guide those who have already made up their minds to do so. First the warning.
Pop Up at Your Own Risk
Every time a pop up is used it is a risk because they are literally designed to interrupt the user. Think of your website as a journey where users are guided to the desired end goal (purchasing a product, making a donation, filling out a form, etc.). A web developer’s job is to make that journey as smooth and engaging as possible. A pop up is a distraction from that journey; therefore, it risks the user being confused, annoyed, or uninterested in the rest of the site.
If you are bound and determined to use pop ups on your site, I suggest starting out with a trial run, while closely monitoring your analytics so you’ll know exactly how your users react.
When to Pop Up
Getting someone to your website is not easy. If you don’t believe me, just ask All Web’s SEO ninja, Brock (see his article “SEO is a Data Deluge…And I Love It“). It takes a lot of strategy, experience, and Red Bull. So, when you do eventually get someone to your website, treat them with respect. For all those eager websites out there, I’m going to let you in on a secret: demanding people to sign up for your email list as soon as your page loads isn’t very friendly.
Pop ups must be properly timed to appear when the customers have already received a good idea of what you are trying to sell them. This time will vary from site to site, depending on how informational your content is and how high it is on the page; but on average, I suggest that you wait at least 5 seconds or until the user has exit intent. And never ever ever make a pop up appear more than once! That’s a surefire way to make someone bounce.
Where to Pop Up
Not all pop ups are the same. There are some that pop up from the side, some from the bottom or top, some are just pretentious and pop up smack dab in the middle and stay there till you fill them out. Where you decide to place the pop up should depend on what your pop up displays. For instance, if a pop up is telling the user that they need to be over 18 to continue on the site, that pop up needs to be as large and clear as possible. Whereas, a less important pop up offering you a free eBook can just show up somewhere less obvious. You also have to consider that your pop up will take up a lot of room on a mobile device, which can effect both user experience and search rankings.
In 2016, Google released that their “Mobile First” update will penalize pop ups with too much coverage. They suggest pop ups come down as a banner from the top and rest at the top of the screen like this:
What to Pop Up
What your pop up says or doesn’t say is paramount to its success. It needs to be worth interrupting the user by offering them something; for instance, offering someone a coupon if they sign up for your newsletter. This pop up will not only add another person to your email list, it will increase their desire to use the coupon at your store and make them fill their shopping cart.
Your pop up also needs to be clear and concise. Don’t use vague wording, that will just lead to distrust in what you’ll be emailing them. Give a brief description of what you’re offering them and why they would love it, like this:
This pop up tells them exactly what they will be emailing the user, not leaving any room for suspicion. It also uses what they know about the user to appeal to their interest. It’s respectfully inferring that if they like what’s on the website then they’ll probably want some more of it in their emails, too.
As perilous and controversial as pop ups are, there is a chance they could be worth it on your site. But remember that every website is different. For some websites a great pop up might boost conversions, while on others it won’t. Again, if you do decide to give them a go, test them out before permanently having them on your site, so you can see if they work for your audience. And of course, if you need some help feel free to reach out to us!