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Using Popups to Boost Clicks, Conversions and Sales

Using Popups to Boost Clicks, Conversions and Sales

Popups have a bad rap. When they were first introduced, they interrupted user flow and had annoying sound effects, blinking, and deception tactics, making them one of the most hated marketing techniques.

However, popup design has evolved and they can actually be one of the most effective tools you use in your online store! Whether you want more email subscribers, to offer shoppers an exclusive discount, or redirect their attention before they click away from your store, popups are scientifically proven to be effective at encouraging people to take action. 

It's easy to create any kind of popup you like using a great Shopify popup app. But to create a successful popup, you first need to know what people find annoying versus what makes them click.  

Popup practices to avoid

Let's start with what makes a popup annoying and potentially harmful to your brand. 

Too many of them

Popups are used to intentionally break a train of thought, like leaving a store, or to help engage customers by giving them one clear and easy call to action. If you're using more than one or two popups in your online store, you need to rethink your strategy.

Imagine popups as a way of virtually tapping your customer on the shoulder. If you were to follow a shopper around a brick-and-mortar store bugging them every ten seconds with a different offer, they would absolutely leave and likely not come back.  

Firing too quickly

Customers need time to get a feel for your site before being asked to take action. Springing a popup on them right off the bat is jarring and a great way to send them running for the exit.

There is no one-size-fits-all timing strategy, but a good place to start is to analyze how much time people are spending on the page you want to add a popup to. Then, you can set the popup to activate at 50%-60% the average time on page. So, if people are spending 60 seconds on a page, your popup would fire around 30 seconds after they arrive on that page. This is a good way to set a baseline, but it will take some trial and error to see what works best for your store. 

Too intrusive

While popups are meant to disrupt a train of thought, you want to avoid outright startling your customer. Full-page popups are generally overkill as they completely block out the page the user was looking at, the virtual version of blocking someone's view by shoving something right in their face. Full-page popups can have a time and place, but are best to avoid in an online store where you want your customer to feel like they have the freedom of choice. 

Too many choices

The goal of a great popup is to make things easier for your customer. There's a phenomenon called choice overload, where users can't make a decision because there are too many options. Popups are a great way to disrupt choice overload by breaking the train of thought and presenting one clear call to action like, "Sign up now", "Take 30% off this product", or "Bundle these items and save". 

If your popup presents the user with more than one option, it will defeat the purpose of presenting a clear call to action.

How to create the perfect popup

Make it relevant

Your popup should be relevant to what your customer is already looking at. Take into account what is on the page your popup is firing on. The content of your popup should relate to the content on the page because it's what your customer is showing interest in.

Make your call to action appealing

Punchy and to the point, that's the secret sauce to an engaging popup. Visitors will often close popups because the call to action doesn’t clearly explain why they should click, or because it’s just not that inspiring. Coming up with a clear, concise, and compelling call to action can be tough, so start by asking yourself why the customer should care. Is it a once-in-a-lifetime offer? Will they learn something valuable? Will they save a lot of money? Once you nail that down, try and say it in as few words as possible. 

Make it urgent and intriguing 

Make your popup copy enticing by inspiring curiosity or urgency. Users click call to actions because they either want to know what will happen after they do or they want an offer that feels special. Words like, "limited quantity", "exclusive", "secret", and "for subscribers only" create urgency and intrigue well.

Make it simple

Your customer wants to put in as little effort as possible in order to get the benefits of clicking your popup's call to action. If you are asking them to input anything more than an email address for an email signup popup, your success rate will plummet. If you're promoting products or a sale, only feature one option. This will tell the customer, "This is the thing you want, click here to get it."

If you want them to conduct a simple action, make it a simple thing to do. 

Make it personalized

People like to feel special and connect emotionally to online shops who show they understand their customers. An easy way to connect with customers is to create a popup for a certain type of shopper that speaks to something they're uniquely interested in. We'll explain.

Most popup apps allow you to target popups to different visitor segments. Want to thank your Canadian customers for their support by offering free shipping in Canada? Create a popup that displays only to customers with Canadian IP addresses. How about offering up some exclusive content to customers browsing your button-up shirt collection? Create a popup that displays only on the product pages for that category. Targeted popups like these draw a lot more attention than generic ones, while also encouraging sales.

It’s also worth noting here that people don’t like being asked to do something they’ve already done. For example, if you have a popup that’s designed to capture email addresses, it might be a good idea to switch it off for users who either arrived at your site from an email link or who already subscribed during their last visit. Use the opportunity to show them something else!

Make it on-brand

Yes, you want your popups to stand out and attract attention, but you don’t want them to look like they're not from your store. If your popup design doesn't use the same visual language or colour scheme as your store, customers could mistake them for spam or a computer virus. It’s true that good popups “pop,” but we think the best ones also blend.

Done right, popups should visually reassure customers that they’re in the right place, while providing an experience that’s consistent with the brand. the Pixel Union app Pixelpop was designed with this in mind and features a collection of customizable popup themes to ensure that every popup looks great and on-brand.

Make the type fit the content

Your popup content is likely now locked and loaded, so you need to pick what kind of popup works with it. 

For example, if you want to display a cookie disclaimer—which, if you sell to customers in the EU and use cookies, you’re legally required to do—do you really want a pop-up that's in your customers' face? Or do you want to discreetly remind them using an unobtrusive bar or modal popup? We'd recommend opting for the latter and reserve the former for promoting huge, once-per-season offers and flash sales.

Don't be afraid to offer a couple different kind of popups, without overdoing it of course. You can mix it up and offer them beneficial content in a variety of forms and you’ll keep your customers happy, engaged, and coming back for more. 

If you’ve never created a popup, or if you want to step up your popup game with great design and functionality, we’re offering a 14-day unlimited free trial to new Pixelpop users. 


Find more helpful articles in The ultimate guide to starting an online store.

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