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Pop-ups for websites and online flipbooks: dos and donts

The do's and don'ts for popups on online content

If you spend time on the Internet every once in a while, you have most likely been exposed to popups. popups are usually employed on websites, but can also be used beneficially on any online document.

They come in various shapes and sizes, all with the purpose of directing the visitor's attention to a particular piece of information that is relevant enough to make him or her enter an email address – and maybe other information too – in exchange for getting access to the information. 

But here's how it gets interesting: despite self-reporting an anti-attitude towards popup ads, people seem to click and use them for their benefit anyway. popups and slide-ins are some of the most effective ways to get new leads, even though many find them intrusive and irritating. 

The award-winning social media scientist Dan Zarrella conducted a study, which showed the following: 


pop ups work.png

Interestingly enough, the study showed that popups had no significant effect on bounce rates. If popups are set up properly, they can be a very effective marketing tool to get more blog memberships, newsletter subscribers and sales leads simply because they are highly visible, attract attention and make it super easy to sign up here and now. 

But many things can go wrong when you use popups as part of your marketing strategy. So how do you make an effective - and not so irritating - popup that converts visitors into known contacts? 

Let's have a look at the most common popups dos and don'ts that make popups appear less spammy and instead contribute to bringing value to your customers. 

#1 Consider the user experience

#2 Make it easy to close down

#3 Provide clear value

#4 Use actionable language

#5 Consider the amount of input fields

#6 Use imagery

#7 Think about the time of entry


#1 Consider the user experience

Ensure that the form complements the user experience and is not a hinder to it. It should be designed to be as unobtrusive as possible. The visitor should see it as helpful. Design the form so it engages your visitors instead of pushing them away. Your form should emphasize the benefits of signing up. Bigger isn't necessarily better. Design it so it creates interest without being to pushy and overwhelming. 

In relation to the above, make sure that the cookies settings are correct, so your popup does not come up as a disturbing element at unwanted times. For example, do not have the box appear on every single landing page. Avoid using popups to sign up for blogs, newsletters etc. at the check-out in web shops, where the primary goal is to make the customer finish the buy. 

cookie settings for pop-ups.jpg


#2 Make it easy to close down

There is no more irritating than a popup which is difficult to get rid of when you're not interested in what is has to offer. If you can't easily close it either by a "no thanks button" or the usual little "X", it's easy for visitors to get annoyed.   

In relation to the above: some popups are not responsive and hence fill out the entire screen when seen from smartphones. This is not a strategy to go after. 

Make sure the popup is responsive and optimized for conversion on different devices such as desktops, phones, and tablets. Test on various platforms, screen sizes and browsers before you go live. 

responsive pop-ups for websites.png

You don't want to frustrate your visitors and force them to sign up for something or view your offer, but instead offer them something of extra value. Which leads me to the next point. 

#3 Provide clear value

Nobody wants to receive yet another newsletter! But still, you will see hundreds of companies using exactly that word on their sign up form. 

optimize the headline on your website pop-ups

Just by changing this single line into something more relevant for the viewer, you can boost conversion rates. Try talking to the readers' needs and feelings instead of the functionality of your offer. What do they get out of signing up? An example of a good text could be "Get 20% off your next order", or "How to be an online SEO-expert. Download the guide". 

Give something of value to your visitors. The more value your offer has to the visitor, the more likely it is that he or she will give their email address to you in return. Various types of content upgrades can help you. Explain in your signup box, what the visitor gets out of signing up.

Who wouldn't like to get 600+ must have design resources, like below? 

example of good pop up.png

#4 Use actionable language

The popup should use actionable language that's both human and specific.

Make the language human and make sure he or she knows what to expect by joining (what's in it for me?). 

Some examples of actionable headlines: 

  • Download the (eBook, Whitepaper, Guide etc.)
  • Get your free (eBook, Whitepaper, Guide etc.)
  • Get your 20% discount now
  • Join the (email marketing webinar/course) now 
  • Register for the SEO-optimization webinar now
  • Yes, I want this (OFFER)
  • Claim your (discount, code, VIP-admin) now
  • Save your seat at (the Marketing Camp, SEO Webinar, Marketing Course)
  • Sign up today for instant access to (offer)

 social proof sign up with use of pop-ups for websites.png

#5 Consider the amount of input fields

The number of input fields can also have a huge impact on your conversion rate. Even though you would like to have as much information about your visitors as possible, it is a conversion killer to have too many input fields in a popup box. People do not have much patience online and want to get things done quickly. If they have to fill out a long form including name, email, address, postal code, city, gender etc. chances are that they won't sign up. 

Statistics from the Danish market show that for each input field you put in the popup on your website, the conversation rate falls by 50%. 

Research from Hubspot found that forms with tree fields have a 25% conversion rate, whereas if you expand to five fields the conversion rate drops to 20%. Eight fields give you a 14% conversion rate. 

So it might be easy to conclude that few input fields is the way to go. But that isn't always true. 

A short form might decrease the perceived value behind the form. Therefore, make your form length according to the value of your offer and where people are in the buying journey. The more value behind the offer, the more information people are willing to give about themselves. Test it. Adjust. And then test it again.

#6 Use imagery

Many people are very visual and maybe because of that some of the most effective popups include pictures. Test it for yourself. Pictures in slide-ins and popups can increase conversation rate significantly. According to Copyhackers, people understand images faster than words and remember them longer. Pictures or images can help give credibility and build trust. Our brains prioritize visual information more than any other kind and images can be a good way of making a connection with the visitors. 

Add Pop-up to Website or Flipbook

#7 Think about the time of entry

It's important to think about whether a popup is relevant to show right away as a visitor comes to your website or flipbook. Maybe it's just a nuisance when people are visiting your blog post and just want to read your content. It should not annoy the visitor to a point where he/she leaves due to it, so make sure that you measure the effect on bounce rates once you implement the use of popups for websites.

When a customer is abandoning your site without doing anything, you can use exit-intent popups to re-engage them. 

Time of entry also has a saying in whether the popups you use actually convert your website visitors into known contacts. Unbounce states that 60 seconds is the perfect time of entry. Loginradius states 1-2 minutes, in order for the visitor to get an overview of the page first. 

You should strike when your visitors have had some time to look at your site and are still interested and before they lose interest and are out again. Easy, right? It's a fine balance, which you will have to test for yourself. Test it. Adjust. And then test it again. 

About the author

Bettina Oksen Bendorf

Bettina Oksen Bendorf

Bettina is an Inbound Marketing Specialist. I have a passion for creating relevant content with focus on the receivers’ needs. Always with the customers’ point of view in focus: “What’s in it for me?”. Chocolate lover and fitness junkie.

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