Monday 01 February, 2016

Pop-Up Marketing – Are Pop-ups Bad for Your Site?

We’ve all seen pop-ups before. These are windows that ‘pop up’ when you’re viewing a site, offering promotions, new content, surveys, downloads, and whatever else the site owner really wants you to see. They’re extremely common, but there’s a major debate among marketers regarding whether pop-ups are site essentials or annoying distractions.

Why Marketers Use Pop-ups

Marketers use pop-ups because they virtually shout at the site visitor. While they’re viewing the page and trying to decide which content is most interesting to them, the pop-up window appears and grabs their attention.

If you ask a marketer why they use them, they’ll give you the simplest answer in the universe – they work. A quick look at the numbers will tell you that pop-ups without a doubt increase conversions. Whatever action you want site visitors to take, they’ll be much more likely to take it when it’s in their face like that.

Annoying Marketing Tricks

On the other hand, there’s another analytic you should look at – bounce rate. Pop-ups are everywhere and lots of people find them terribly annoying. There are many web surfers who will instantly click away as soon as one appears. They may be trying to read your blog or enjoy your video, and then the window interrupts them.

People are sick of the hard-sell approach and that’s what a pop-up is. This is especially true of online consumers, who are looking for useful information and don’t want a sales message shouted at them. It feels pushy. After all, they just hit your site and they’re still on the fence – and then you’re suddenly making offers at them!

At the very least, people tune out when they see a pop-up window (or that’s what they say they do… the analytics may say otherwise). In other words, at worst you’ll drive them off. At best, they’ll click the little X box and make it disappear forever.

Using a Pop-up Effectively

Marketers will disagree about the effectiveness of pop-ups. All this tells us is that they work sometimes and they don’t sometimes. But there are a few things you can do to make the most out of them.

First of all, think about relevance. If your pop-up’s message is relevant, it will increase your conversions. If it’s not, it’ll be clicked away into oblivion. For example, if you’re asking site visitors who may already be subscribed to your list to subscribe, you’ll certainly annoy them. On the other hand if your visitors have come looking for golf products and you give them a few minutes before hitting them with a promotion for a discount on your products, you’re likely to get takers.

The other thing to consider is user experience. Does your pop-up make your site more entertaining or interesting, or the opposite? If you want to see a great example of an innovative use of pop-ups, check out WiseGeek ( This is a general information site like Wikipedia or While you’re reading about a topic, you get hit with a pop-up, but it’s something unique you didn’t expect to see. What the pop-ups do is present you more information on the topic you’re reading about that’s visually interesting, causing a WTF Moment. Instead of ruining the experience, the window heightens it.

Bob Steele

Bob Steele

Bob Steele is an entrepreneur, software developer, marketer, and author living in the Denver metropolitan area. He’s an avid outdoorsman who loves skiing, hiking, fishing, boating, and just plain having fun. His interests include games, space, technology, physics, cooking (well eating actually), economics, business, internationalism, and team sports. With over thirty years of professional consulting experience, Bob has been exposed to many diverse business models and has gained a sensible approach to life. Bob’s company, WaveCentric is focused on commerce, marketing, and entertainment related products.

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