Over the years, popup advertisements have gotten something of a negative reputation from many people thanks to the fact that they're somewhat obstructive by their very nature. We've all had the experience of visiting our favorite website to dive into a great new blog post or video, only to have things suddenly interrupted by an ad at the worst possible moment. Not only is it irritating in general, but it can also harm the reputation of even the strongest brands in a way that it is difficult to recover from.
Things have gotten to the point where according to one recent study, there were more than 600 million devices around the world that are actively running ad blocking software on a regular basis. A significant majority of them (to the tune of 62%) were mobile devices - meaning that if you assumed you could sneak a popup through to someone on a smartphone or tablet, you were certainly mistaken.
But at the same time, popups themselves aren't inherently ineffective - it's just that for years, marketers of all types have been using them in an obtrusive way that certainly leaves a lot to be desired for countless people. The reality is that there are a wide array of different types of popups that you can use in your marketing campaigns that aren't just effective - they also present you opportunities to have conversations with your users and provide value to them that you wouldn't otherwise have access to.
The Art of Using Popups in the Most Effective Ways Possible
By far, one of the most important types of popups to get familiar with are click-based popups. They work exactly how they sound like they would - they only appear when a visitor to your website or landing page actually clicks on a designated link, image or even word located inside the valuable content you've already created.
So rather than slamming someone with a popup the moment your landing page loads, this one does things a bit differently. Because the popup only appears if someone takes a desired action, it's a bit like a user getting to leverage the popup format on their own terms. Because of this, they are absolutely the least intrusive type of popup that you could use.
To get an example of how this might work, let's say that you've used a tool like Visme (which I founded to empower communication and collaboration) to create social media graphics that represent your brand. If someone clicks on a link to find out more about those social media graphics, then you can load a click-based popup where they can learn how to download them or get examples of all the possibilities that are in store for them.
They've only bothered to click on the link at all because they're already interested in the social media graphics - meaning that the popup isn't actually going to bother them in any way, shape or form. Plus, you get to design a landing page that has a little more to offer than just a straight text-based experience. Suddenly, the entire page becomes a bit more engaging - which is great for warming up leads and converting them into buying users.
Another great popup format to familiarize yourself with has to do with exit popups - or the ones that appear not at the beginning of someone's experience, but the end.
One of the major points of contention of so many marketers out there has to do with the bounce rate of their pages. This is also something that Google looks at heavily when determining SEO rankings. If someone doesn't spend very long on your page at all, Google assumes that the content itself must not be that valuable - thus lowering your rankings as a result.
Where an exit popup can come in handy has to do with giving you insight into when a visitor might be about to close your tab, or hit the "back" button on their browser. This can be a great way to interrupt them from doing that and, at the very least, getting them to think twice about staying a little longer.
So let's say you've gone to a site like Respona to research topics for a great new eBook. You know that this eBook is inherently valuable because you spent so much time researching and writing it. Now, let's say someone has visited your brand's primary domain and they're literally seconds away from hitting the "Back" button and never returning.
If they get greeted by an exit popup that comes complete with a call-to-action button to download that eBook, suddenly they're still paying attention to you. Just as they were about to part ways, you've capitalized on yet another opportunity to offer them something valuable. At a bare minimum, they're going to spend a few extra seconds considering that offer. In a best-case scenario, you've just created another opportunity to convert that wouldn't have otherwise happened.
Effective Use Of Exit Popup
An exit popup can also be a great way to highlight offers that people may have missed. Maybe they came to your website because they were particularly interested in one of your blog posts and they didn't actually bother to take a look around. They were so singularly focused on that one task that they completely missed your other offers and calls-to-action. That's okay, because your exit popup will put all of this information front and center in a way that is impossible to ignore - thus showing them that your site has more to offer than it originally appeared to.
Really, the most precious resource that you have as a marketer in the fast-paced modern era is someone's attention. You won't have it for very long, so you have to use it carefully while you do. The types of popups like those outlined above are your best opportunity to do precisely that.
Overall, it's important to understand that popups are just another tool in your marketing arsenal - the same as anything else. Yes, it's absolutely possible to use them in an ineffective way that ultimately does more harm than good to your brand. Marketers have been doing this for years, and unfortunately that seems like one trends that isn't going to slow down anytime soon.
But it's also possible to use popups in a way that adds to the experience you're trying to offer people instead of distracts from it. They can be used in a way that adds value to someone's online journey in a way that reflects positively on everything you've worked so hard to build up to this point.
All you have to do is understand the finer points of the various popup formats that you're working with, and learn more about how they fit into whatever you're trying to accomplish at the moment. If you're able to do that successfully, you won't have to worry about whether or not popups are going to "put off" some of your visitors. If anything, they'll only make them more enthusiastic about what you have to say - which is an excellent position for any marketer to be in, regardless of what they're selling.
About the Author
Payman Taei is the founder of Visme, an easy-to-use online tool to create engaging presentations, infographics, and other forms of visual content. He is also the founder of HindSite Interactive, an award-winning Maryland digital agency specializing in website design, user experience and web app development.