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You Built an Online Store and you’re Not Using Pop-ups? You Should Read This


The number of challenges facing the business owner managing an internet store is endless. Every advantage available to the business owner may bring him the edge that will make the store more profitable. Pop-ups have become in the last years a powerful marketing tool to grow e-mail lists, to increase leads, sales and every other indicator in the area of electronic commerce. How can you add your website to the list of brand names which use pop-ups successfully? In this post you will find 7 useful tips that will help you use pop-ups and turn your website into a well-oiled sales machine!

Who hasn’t encountered pop-ups during their daily online surfing? The most renowned brand names in the world use pop-ups on their websites. In the list of companies you will find such leading names as: Pampers, Sony, H&M, IKEA, L’Oréal, AT&T, Amazon, Walmart, Victoria’s Secret and many more. In fact, according to the website Conversific.com, about 30% of the 1,000 largest e-commerce sites in the United States use pop-ups.  
No doubt using pop-ups is one of the most powerful tools in our toolbox. Pop-ups enable us to convert the traffic on our website almost without effort; and yet, when it comes to mind, pop-up carries a negative connotation for regular internet users. Why does that happen?

Pop-up as an additional Layer on the Website

It is important that we make the distinction between the types of existing pop-ups. The type of pop-up known as the most annoying is the one which opens as a new browser window with a promotional message that is not related to the site itself or to its content. This type of pup-up would mostly be blocked by advertisement blockers like AdBlock and even by some leading browsers. In this post, we will not discuss this type, but only the type of pop-up which opens up a box within the website by using JavaScript code, for example:

Credit: colgate

Even Google in its guidelines, makes a distinction between a pop-up which opens as a new window and their purpose is advertising, unrelated to the website’s content, and a pop-up which exists as an added layer within the website page.
Also by using the legitimate type of pop-ups we see many occasions when users complain that their user experience is hurt. What are the reasons for that? We identified a few main reasons:

  • Pop-ups displaying immediately without any context and without distinction – when the user encounters a pop-up before they could explore the content, they might feel that their user experience is hurt. There are cases in which a pop-up displaying immediately may be beneficial (for example, in certain cases of signing up for a newsletter).
  • The wrong message at the Wrong Time – a pop-up offering the user technical support when they visit your pricing page may gain little response. Since the visitor showed interest in prices, there is no reason to communicate about technical support at this point. It is important that the message conveyed to the visitor is the right message at the right time.
  • High frequency – a website which displays pop-ups too often (for example, every 5 minutes) is bound to annoy its visitors.

Why Pop-ups manage to create a Significant Increase in Conversion Rates? Two Case Studies

Before we understand the main reasons why pop-ups are able to create a vast improvement in conversion rates, we will review two distinct success cases in which website owners used pop-ups:

  • Nikki McGonigal is a craftswoman and a blogger who operates an Etsy online store called Nikki In Stitches. Nikki’s secondary goal on the website was to increase her e-mail list. On Nikki’s website there was a side box inviting people to subscribe to her newsletter. The box brought in an average conversion rate of 0.4%. Nikki decided to implement a type of pop-up called LightBox on her site which would have the same functionality, meaning encouraging people to join the newsletter. The pop-up gained a conversion rate of 5.5%!! That is, the pop-up gained a growth of 1375% compared to the side box (in practice Nikki reached thousands of additional users who subscribed to her newsletter).
  • Darren Rowse is a professional photographer who operates a blog on the subject of photography. Darren has gained 40 new subscribers for his newsletter every day, he was not complaining about the number of subscribers, but looked for ways to increase his e-mail list. Darren, who is an enthusiast of internet marketing, decided to implement pop-ups on his website (using a rather basic design…). Thanks to the pop-up which offered visitors regular updates about blog posts, Darren managed to increase the number of his newsletter subscribers to 350 per day, an increase of 875%!
Credit: digital-photography-school.com

When analyzing the great success achieved by pop-ups, we find some basic elements that are relevant every time a pop-up is displayed successfully and produces high quality conversion.

The primary reason for success is the fact that most pop-ups demand the full attention of the user at a given moment. The pop-up forces the user to take action: close the pop-up or perform the action (like subscribing to the newsletter, leaving a lead, making a purchase or others). This is also the reason why pop-ups may be perceived as annoying in cases that the timing and the message are not right. Likewise pop-ups which do not demand full attention, such as pop-ups on a top or a side bar, gain similar success because they remain in the background without disturbing the visitor.

The facts speak for themselves; marketers of e-commerce websites invest a lot of resources bringing traffic to the site, but as soon as a visitor leaves the website, we lose the value of that visitor. Think of a hot air balloon which is filled non-stop with hot air. If we leave holes in the balloon, we will see how the balloon slowly loses altitude. The air in this case is the traffic on the website, and using pop-ups is one of the tools to use in order to close the holes in the balloon, by re-engaging the users who are already on the website anyhow (additional tools include mailing, re-marketing and more). The purpose of the pop-up is to strengthen the relationship with the visitor, who has become more sophisticated and has greater expectations of his surfing experience in your online store. Visitors expect you to surprise them with special personal attention, and a sophisticated pop-up display with accurate timing will achieve this goal.

7 Sophisticated Uses of Pop-ups on your Online Store

Common to all the uses which I will present to you shortly is that they integrate two critical elements for a successful pop-up: accurate timing and the right message (micro-copy at the right time and place will do wonders). Correct use of the tools which I will present to you will help you communicate better with your customers, and as a result, will boost your store’s profit.

1.  Fighting Cart Abandoners – Reducing Churn Rate on the Site: one of the major problems in the area of e-commerce, no matter in what niche your online store operates, are users who place products in a shopping cart, but do not carry on to the payment stage. These users are called in the professional jargon “cart abandoners”, and every marketer always looks for solutions to help reduce the rate of cart abandoning. Luckily, exit intent pop-ups are a great solution for the problem.

By combining a pop-up which gets activated when leaving the window, and is implemented only in the shopping cart, you can approach those people who try to abandon the cart at the right time, and offer them a solution for the problem. A large part of those abandoning their carts do so because of delivery prices – you can use the opportunity to offer a discount coupon on shipping.

exit popup behappyme
exit popup behappy.me

2.  Hot off the Press Updates on your New Products or Deals:  you launched a new product and you wish to update all your relevant users about the launch. One of the best ways to update your users (besides updating your e-mail list) is by using a pop-up. You can update users who belong to a specific category on your online store, or all of the users. Do you have a new special deal? Your visitors should know about it!

3.  Buy Now! – create a feeling of urgency by pop-ups with a limited time for action: you probably know the sales of Cyber Monday, Black Friday or other sales events that limit the time for action to a certain period. It turns out that our mind works differently when there is a deadline on the agenda. Creating a feeling of urgency makes us exploit opportunities and make decisions faster. You can use this conditioning by presenting special deals with a deadline of a few hours/days for realization. Users, who realize that they have a one-off opportunity, would be much more prepared for a conversion.

4.  Recommend Relevant Products to your Customers: pop-ups are an excellent platform to recommend to the visitor relevant products. Visitors on a certain page may be interested in other products, so why not let them know about it? As long as your recommendations are relevant, the users will appreciate them and will reward you by increasing your sales share.

Relevant products

5.  A Second Chance to make a First Impressions – Grow your E-Mail List: know the saying “you’ll never get a second chance to make a first impression”?  Well, by using pop-ups wisely you will be able to approach your users again and interest them with something special you have to offer. In most times after visitors leave your website without buying a product, they would not think about you anymore unless they happen to run into you again. The most common use of pop-ups today is for adding the user to your e-mail list. Once a user gives you their e-mail address, you can e-mail them and in this way keep the relationship alive. You could also add the user directly into your CRM system.

subscription popup

6.  Targeting the Marketing Message according to the Advertising Channel: what if you could present a different marketing message to your target audience according to the source of its traffic or the level of interest in specific products? Now it is possible and simple to do! By smart targeting you can offer visitors arriving from Google a specific message, and to visitors arriving from Facebook a different message. You can also do smarter segmentation and present a specific message to visitors arriving from a specific website – you can present a special benefit to the visitors of that site and strengthen your collaboration with them.
Using segmentation according to the source of the traffic can help you get the most accurate and correct message for any user individually.

7.  Speak with your Customers: your visitors expect to get personal attention, the age of huge faceless brands is over; your visitors want to know who is behind the brand name.
Most likely your visitors have many objections regarding your online store. Think about it this way: you are asking your visitors to trust you by entering their credit card number and to be sure that the product will reach them as was promised on the site. Displaying a pop-up for technical support or for a virtual chat at the right time will help your visitors talk to a person and get a complete response to all the objections that prevent them from making a purchase.


Pop-ups have become widely used over the last years, and e-commerce websites that understood the potential in using pop-ups correctly, managed to increase conversion rates significantly. Don’t be afraid to be creative, the right message at the right time can do wonders.
Pop-ups are a great way to convey your message to the visitors, use the pop-ups to offer something relevant according to the type of visitor and their behavior on the site.
After you enter the loop, use A/B TESTING to find the phrases, suggestions and best timing for a winning conversion rate.

Do you have any questions, remarks, or just feel like talking? See you in the comments 🙂

Highly driven entrepreneur, co-founder of Poptin and Ecpm Digital Marketing. Nine years of experience in the digital marketing field and internet project management. Graduated with a Law degree from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. A big fan of A/B testing, SEO and optimization, CRO, growth hacking and numbers. Enjoys testing new advertising strategies and tools and analyzing the latest start-up companies.