Gini Dietrich

How to Determine the Effectiveness of Your Pop-Ups

By: Gini Dietrich | October 1, 2019 | 
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Determine the Effectiveness of Your Pop-UpsHow do you feel about pop-ups?

You know, the annoying little forms that pop up and obstruct your view on websites?

(Not the shopping pop-ups that are appearing everywhere in urban settings.)

You have to click out of it to keep reading the page you were on and sometimes it pops back up.

There are pop-ups for discounts and sales. Pop-ups for subscriptions and incentives. Even pop-ups for brick-and-mortar visits.

When I get sucked into our marketing and communications world of “everyone hates it” or “everyone does it”, I’m reminded of when Marketing In the Round was published.

My mom told me how proud she was of me. I said,

Meh. Everyone writes a book these days.

She said very sternly,

Maybe everyone in your world writes books, but out here in the real world, it’s a big freaking deal.

That applies to pop-ups, as well. You think they’re annoying. I think they’re annoying.

But out there in the real world? They’re incredibly effective.

So let’s talk pop-ups.

Why the Playboy Pop-Ups Work

Laura Petrolino tells a great story of how well pop-ups work, even for the most cynical among us.

She says a few year ago, while doing research for a blog post, she clicked over to an article on Playboy.

A pop-up flashed on the screen. It said,

Do you read the articles? Of course you read the articles! Here’s a free t-shirt that says, ‘I read it for the articles.’

Laura goes on to say,

It was clever, funny, and exactly what I was thinking at the time, “I AM on Playboy, reading the articles.” So it worked. And now I receive a daily email from Playboy—which does have good articles.

Show Me the Data!

Because of the general displeasure among our industry with pop-ups, we spent a lot of time internally discussing them and trying to decide if we would use them.

We studied the stats, which show the average conversion rate is 3%, but can be as high as 9%.

That’s significantly higher than almost any other online conversion, which ranges between 1-3%.

Even if you’re on the low end, 3% can turn a lot of traffic into subscribers, which can turn into a lot of customers.

Just for a quick analysis, let’s say you have 1,000 visitors to your site every month and you have a 3% conversion rate from your pop-ups.

That’s 30 new subscribers.

Taking that a step further, let’s assume your sales conversion rate is 20%.

That’s six new customers.

And let’s say the lifetime value of each customer is $10,000.

That’s $60,000 in new revenue—simply from a well-placed and on-brand pop-up.

“But wait,” you say, “That’s too easy. Six new customers from website pop-ups?”

Of course it’s not that simple.

You don’t gain six new customers every month from pop-ups.

You gain six new customers every month  because you have a smart, measurable PESO model communications plan in place and use website pop-ups as a tactic within that plan.

Once someone subscribes from your pop-up, they have to go through a smart and strategic lead nurturing campaign that ends in them being a sales qualified lead that can then be converted into a customer.

Different Types of Pop-Ups

There are many types of pop-ups you can use, and even more options of how to design their actions on your site.

Let’s go over a few of them. 

  • There is the traditional pop-up, which we’re all accustomed to seeing. It pops up while someone is on the home page, and can be triggered with the first five seconds of a visitor landing on your home page.
  • There is the exit pop-up (which we prefer). It only shows up when someone goes to exit out of the site.
  • There is the time spent on site pop-up, which shows up after a person begins scrolling, visits more than one page, or spends more than a certain amount of time.

As well, today there are the notification requests and live chats. While not pop-ups per se, they have the same intent—to get the visitor to take action.

  • A notification request is found in the navigation heading of website, which prompts you to opt-in for push notifications. While you don’t have to provide an email address, you are allowing the site to send you alerts for new content, news, updates.
  • The live chat typically shows up in the sidebar of a site, which redirects the visitor’s attention to a call-to-action. 

Why Should I Use Website Pop-Ups?

Even though we have physical proof and data to show how well pop-ups work on Spin Sucks, I’m still a bit reluctant to use them like a crazy person.

If you visit the home page here, you’ll notice two things:

  1. There is an option to subscribe in the sidebar; and
  2. The subscription pop-up will be there when you go to exit. But it shows up only the first time you visit the site and then not again for 90 days. So if you visit today and see it, you can come back every day for three months and not see it again. (And I hope you do come back every day—there is always new content there to see!)

I should also note that the reason we’ve provided the ability to subscribe in both the pop-up and the sidebar is because we’re testing it.

Are you ready for the stats?

The sidebar has a 1% conversion rate.

The pop-up? 6.39%. Boom!

Once They Subscribe, What’s Next?

It certainly depends on the intent of your pop-up and your organization’s buyer’s journey, but this is where the PESO model comes in.

For Spin Sucks, once a person subscribes, they go into what we call the new subscriber sequence.

This gives them seven days of information to help catch them up on all things Spin Sucks-related.

We are very conscious of the fact that joining our community and subscribing to our blog is a little bit intimidating.

There are LOTS of inside jokes, buttons that are pushed, peers doing business together, and quite a bit of reference to things such as the PESO model.

So our new subscriber campaign gives our new visitors an opportunity to catch up in the hopes that it doesn’t feel clique-ish, but warm and inviting. 

It’s not completely altruistic, though.

New subscribers are also offered a special discount to buy the Modern Blogging Masterclass.

If they do that, they then go into a different funnel for the other types of professional development we offer, both free and paid.

Creating Funnels from Your Pop-Ups

If we go back to the Playboy example, their funnel might look like this:

  • Subscribe and receive a free t-shirt (this gives them your email address AND your home address). We know their end game is to get you to subscribe to the magazine.
  • Once they have your email address, you’re subscribed to their free content.
  • Then you get teasers for paid content and for the gear they sell.
  • Eventually you buy something, ideally a paid subscription.

This is pretty simple, but it’s easy to think through three steps for your own process:

  1. What do you want visitors to do? Subscribe is the easiest, but it might also be to buy something at a discount or use a code for a new visitor gift or what have you.
  2. Once you have their email address, what is important for them to know? What will give them enough information to buy? How will you stay top-of mind?
  3. Then think through what triggers a purchase decision. Maybe it’s a free trial or a software demo or reading reviews. Whatever it happens to be, include it in the end of your nurturing process.

For the most part, this all works extraordinarily well, particularly if your process is engaging, valuable, and consistent—which is another topic for another day.

There will be people who get upset by the whole thing—from the pop-up through the communication and content.

I once had a guy email me in all caps YOUR EMAILS DO SUCK!

(Our pop-up says Emails Suck. Ours Don’t.)

And then he gave me examples of people he thought were doing email marketing significantly better than us.

I kindly manually unsubscribed him.

Don’t let one or two outliers derail your process.

Keep an eye on the numbers.

If your pop-up conversion rate stays high, your click-through rates are high, and you are consistently adding sales qualified leads to the pipeline, Negative Nelly’s be damned. 

Do You Love or Hate Pop-Ups?

Sure, pop-ups suck if not executed well—just like anything else.

But if you test and let data guide you, they can work well for any organization.

Now it’s your turn.

We’d love to know if you use pop-ups, what your experience is like, and what works and what doesn’t work.

The comments are yours.

Photo by Alex Munsell on Unsplash

About Gini Dietrich


Gini Dietrich is the founder, CEO, and author of Spin Sucks, host of the Spin Sucks podcast, and author of Spin Sucks (the book). She also has run, built, and grown an agency for the past 14 years. She is co-author of Marketing in the Round, co-host of Inside PR, and co-host of The Agency Leadership podcast.