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Imagine the frustration—you’re invested in content, and out of nowhere, a pop-up appears, asking for your email address or other details. Annoying, right?

We’ve all encountered unexpected windows while browsing online, and while they’re disruptive, they don’t have to be the enemy. 

In fact, they can be powerful tools for your website. When used strategically, they can have conversion rates as high as 11.09%. Plus, research by Conversion Sciences suggests that exit-intent pop-ups (triggered when a visitor shows signs of leaving the page) can recapture up to 15% of abandoning visitors—a huge win for engagement!

This guide will explore four actionable pop-up strategies you can implement to your website to boost your conversion rates. 

What is a pop-up?

A pop-up is a window that appears automatically at the top of a webpage. It prompts visitors to take a specific action, such as purchasing a product, subscribing to updates, or joining an event.

Pop-ups can be triggered in a few ways. Some appear as soon as you open a webpage, while others might show up just as you’re about to leave. There are even pop-ups designed to appear based on your activity on the site. For instance, you might see a pop-up offering live chat assistance if you struggle to find something on a website. 

Why are pop-ups necessary for your website?

A good pop-up isn’t annoying. It considers the visitor’s browsing behavior and time on the page before it shows up. It doesn’t bother them often and appears at the right moment with an offer they cannot resist. 

Before we discuss the best pop-up strategies, let’s explore the incredible benefits they bring to your website:

  1. Capture attention and drive sales

Getting people to visit your website is just the beginning. The true challenge is turning those visitors into customers. That’s where popups are helpful. 

Popups offer enticing deals, such as discounts, free shipping, contests, or giveaways. But it’s not just about the offer itself. When and how you show the popup are key to grabbing visitor attention and boosting conversions.

Take exit-intent popups, for instance. They target visitors who are about to leave your site. By showing them a compelling offer right at that moment, you can push them to stick around and make a purchase. On average, exit-intent popups alone have a conversion rate of 2–4%.

  1. Build customer connections

Turning website visitors into loyal customers can take time and trust. First-timers, especially, have a natural hesitation before making a commitment. They’ll research, compare options, and weigh their needs carefully.

To stay in touch with potential customers, you need their email addresses. Lead generation pop-ups can help by showing forms to collect email addresses, phone numbers, and more. This valuable information lets you connect with them later and guide them toward a purchase.

  1. Understand needs and improve experience

Your visitors can abandon your site for many reasons—bad design, products that miss the mark, or unappealing prices, to name a few. The key is to understand why visitors hit the close button so you can improve.

Using well-designed pop-ups can be quite useful. They let you ask quick questions to people who are about to leave. These questions can be simple, with one key question, or offer multiple choices to assess the customer’s experience.

If you put these popups in the right spots and time them well, you can learn a lot. You’ll understand what visitors were hoping to find and see if your website met their expectations.

  1. Win back abandoning carts

Shopping cart abandonment is a common challenge for online stores. This happens when customers add items to their cart but leave without buying them. There are several reasons for this, including indecision or a lack of incentive. 

Hotjar reports that nearly 70% of people leave your site without finishing their purchase.

A well-designed pop-up can help win back these abandoning customers. These pop-ups can offer special deals and free shipping or remind customers of why they wanted to buy in the first place. This creates a win-win situation: the customer gets a good deal, and your business makes a sale.

4 best pop-up strategies 

Let’s explore the four best pop-up strategies you may use on your website to reduce bounce rate and boost conversions: 

  1. Focus on exit-intent pop-ups

Using exit-intent pop-ups can significantly boost your conversions with minimal effort. These clever tools can recapture leaving visitors, turning them into subscribers or customers. For instance, a study found that simply showing these pop-ups to 20,300 visitors led to nearly a 4.95% conversion rate. If you haven’t tried them yet, you should.

Here’s how exit pop-ups work: They appear just as someone is about to leave your site, either by moving their cursor off the page (desktop) or swiping up (mobile). It’s your last shot at keeping them engaged before they leave for good.

One effective strategy is to ask for visitors’ email addresses or offer a lead magnet (valuable content like an ebook or discount) in exchange for their email addresses. This small change can help you build an email list, allowing you to connect with your potential customers and have a big impact on your site’s success in the long run.

Another effective strategy is not to bombard users with generic exit pop-ups. Use segmentation to target specific audiences with relevant offers. For instance, a young man browsing a streetwear store might respond better to an exit pop-up for a discount on graphic tees than a pop-up for a business productivity guide. 

Most pop-up builders, such as WordPress, Shopify, Squarespace, and Ghost, offer easy ways to add exit pop-ups. Simply install the plugin and customize the message for your audience.

  1. Take advantage of one-time or limited-time offers

People hate missing out on a good deal (FOMO is a real thing!), and that’s why limited promotions or offers can be so effective. In fact, seasonal offers, such as Christmas or Valentine’s Day, have conversion rates as high as 11.88%.

These limited-time pop-ups create a sense of urgency. Unlike a typical store visit, customers know they can’t wait around and come back next week for the same offer.

We believe you can increase the conversion rate if you encourage purchases with promo codes, coupons, or exclusive deals. For example, when a visitor comes to your site, a pop-up could urge them to act now to get a discount. It could even include the discount amount in the call to action button, like “Save 20% Today.” Additionally, you could offer free shipping for a limited time to further sweeten the deal. This way, customers feel they might miss out if they don’t act quickly. Therefore, by adding value and creating urgency, you can make your offer irresistible.

Before designing a limited-time website pop-up message, try to put yourself in your audience’s shoes. Consider which offers would encourage them to take immediate action. 

For example, if you sell physical items (like clothes), you could offer free shipping for a limited time. For digital products (like an online course), providing something as simple as a free consultation in exchange for a multi-month subscription could work. 

One effective strategy is to look to your best-sellers for inspiration. What features or benefits resonate most with your customers? Create limited-time offers that highlight these and create a sense of urgency. This winning combination will lead to pop-ups that convert.

  1. Tailor your approach to products and services

There’s a difference between selling products and services, and that difference extends to your pop-up strategy.

Pop-ups for products:

These product pop-ups work just like any other—you can customize various actions to trigger them. However, the best pop-ups don’t always have to offer discounts or freebies.

For instance, many baby care brands like Pampers use pop-ups to invite viewers to a live stream hosted by parenting experts. Now, why would someone be interested, you may ask? Because if you’re on Pampers’ website, you’re likely a parent seeking advice—exactly what the live stream offers.

Pop-ups for services:

Now, for services like online courses, the concept of a “lead magnet” comes into play. A lead magnet is a marketing phrase for a free product or service (samples, white papers, e-newsletters, trial subscriptions, and free consultations) offered in exchange for an email address. 

For example, many online course companies prefer offering a free guide to users going through their courses. This way, the user gets valuable information, and companies gain potential customers. 

Remember, the key is always relevance. Offer something your audience truly wants, like a comprehensive cooking ebook if they’re reading about cooking or a guide to top snorkeling destinations if they’re shopping for a snorkeling kit. Tailor your offer to their interests, and you’ll see a positive response.

  1. Gamify your pop-up online

Attention spans are shrinking. According to research, they have reduced from 12 seconds to 8.5 seconds in 15 years. So why not make marketing fun? 

Gamification strategy in marketing has become a new norm. It offers a way to grab your audience’s attention and give them something to enjoy.

There are several ways to gamify your pop-ups. You could create a spin-the-wheel for discounts, a digital scratch-off for surprise offers, or even a quick quiz with a reward. 

Gamified pop-ups are not restricted to email addresses. You can ask users for their email and name to incentivize them to spin the wheel, offer exclusive content to encourage downloads, or even drive foot traffic to your physical store.

However, there’s a hiccup: unlike traditional pop-ups, gamified ads can attract users who just want to play, not necessarily those interested in your brand. This might lead to countless fake email addresses (“burner emails”) on your list. Over time, this can hurt your ability to get emails delivered. If you choose to gamify your pop-ups, be prepared to clean your email list more frequently.

Another hiccup is that not everyone enjoys games. Make sure to take into account your target audience’s demographics. If you’re selling to an older generation, they might prefer a more straightforward pop-up.

Once you know your ideal customer, design a wheel or quiz with enticing rewards, but be strategic. Don’t give away too much—the prize should be good enough to encourage participation without burning a hole in your pocket.

3 pop-up best practices

As you know, not all pop-ups are equally effective. Here are three pop-up best practices to create effective ones:

  1. Know your audience

Make sure your pop-ups match the visitor’s interests and needs. Just like you wouldn’t ask a first-time site visitor to subscribe to your newsletter right away, ensure your pop-ups are relevant to what they’re exploring.

  1. Timing is key

Avoid showing pop-ups too quickly after someone arrives on your site. Think of it like giving customers space to browse in a store before offering assistance. Pop-ups appearing within 0-4 seconds of arrival are less likely to convert.

  1. Offer real value

Provide added value to your visitors. For example, if someone views clothes on your site, offer them a discount on those clothes to encourage them to make a purchase. Identify reasons why people might be leaving your site without completing a purchase, such as a lengthy checkout process or unclear pricing, and address those issues.


How can I ensure that pop-ups don’t annoy my website visitors?

Here are some ways you can ensure your pop-ups don’t annoy website visitors:

1. Timing matters. Wait a few seconds before displaying a pop-up online to let visitors explore first. Consider using exit-intent pop-ups that activate when visitors are about to leave.

2. Ensure the pop-up offer matches the visitor’s interests or the page they’re on. Avoid generic ads that don’t fit their browsing journey.

3. Use a clear pop-up design without flashy animations or overwhelming text.

4. Always include a visible X to close the pop-up without requiring visitors to fill out a form.

5. Keep the information brief. A compelling headline and a clear call to action suffice.

6. Offer something valuable, such as a discount code or exclusive content, in exchange for their information.

7. Avoid showing the same pop-up repeatedly to the same visitor. Utilize cookies or tracking methods to control pop-up exposure.

What size should a pop-up be?

There is no one standard size for pop-ups, but for best results, aim for a clearly visible size without taking over the entire screen. A good rule of thumb is to use a website pop-up around 500 pixels wide by 400 pixels tall for desktops and 375 pixels wide by 660 pixels tall for mobile devices.

What are some best practices for designing effective website pop-ups?

Here are some website pop-up best practices:

1. Know your goals, such as collecting emails or promoting a sale. Design your pop-up to achieve that specific goal.

2. Don’t overwhelm visitors with too much text or information. Get straight to the point.

3. Offer visitors something they want, like a discount, free content, or early access to a product.

4. Tell visitors exactly what you want them to do with a strong button.

5. Make sure your pop-up looks good and functions well on all devices.

6. Don’t trap your visitors. Include a clear and easy way to close the pop-up.

7. Show different pop-ups to different visitors based on their interests or browsing behavior.

8. Track your results and make changes to your pop-ups to improve their effectiveness.

How can I measure the effectiveness of my pop-ups?

Here are some ways to measure the effectiveness of your pop-ups:

Conversion rate – shows the portion of visitors who act on your pop-up by signing up or purchasing. A higher rate means your pop-up is more effective.

Click-through rate (CTR) – reveals the percentage of visitors who interact with your pop-up by clicking a button or link. A higher CTR means your pop-up is catching attention and encouraging engagement.

Bounce rate – indicates the percentage of visitors who leave your site after seeing the pop-up, possibly because they find it annoying or irrelevant. A high bounce rate suggests your pop-up might need adjustment.

Customer feedback and surveys – get direct input from visitors through surveys or polls to understand their thoughts on your pop-ups. This feedback can provide valuable insights into what’s working and what’s not.

Tracking these metrics can help you assess the performance of your pop-ups and identify areas for improvement. Plus, using pop-up builders can give you useful info to fine-tune your pop-up strategies for improved outcomes.

Are there any specific strategies for using exit-intent pop-ups effectively?

Yes, there are. These include:

1. Only trigger the popup when a visitor clearly intends to leave, such as moving their cursor toward the top of the browser window.

2. Provide an incentive that entices visitors to stay, such as a discount code, free content, or a helpful tip.

3. Tailor the popup content to the visitor’s browsing behavior or the specific page they’re on.

4. Use easy-to-understand language and a clean design to avoid overwhelming visitors.

5. Continuously test different popup variations to see what resonates best with your audience.

Start winning with pop-ups!

By setting clear goals and understanding your audience’s needs, you can create relevant and even interesting pop-ups. Think of them as mini-conversations you have with your visitors. Keep the timing in mind, offer valuable content, personalize the experience, and make it easy for them to close if they’re not interested. 

With a little creativity and testing, pop-ups can become powerful tools for engaging your audience and achieving your business objectives.

  • Devin Sears

    Devin is a Senior Event Marketing Manager for the Bluehost brand. He is our brand steward for all things Bluehost and WordPress. You'll always see him supporting Bluehost at WordCamps around the world!

    Brigham Young University
    Previous Experience
    Social Media, Customer Experience, Field Marketing, Sponsorships, Event Coordinator
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