Whether you call them pop-overs, pop-ups, light boxes, and so on, they are technically the same thing: a region that appears inside the current browser window in a separate layer over the page’s content, at a specific moment in response to a triggering logic of some kind.
Good vs. Bad
If you search on Google about whether to use them or not, you end up with contradictory information. It appears that some folks think they are bad, yet others think the opposite. Looks like there is no consensus on this matter.
At this point some of you might rather disagree with me if I say: it depends. It depends on the niche your website is operating in, and it depends also on the pop-up’s timing and trigger type you might use.
As a matter of fact there are two opposite goals here:
- To make the user experience as pleasant as possible;
- To maximize the conversion rate of your site.
It is known that pop-ups can boost the conversions, but can also chase your readers away.
The Biggest Mistake
The worst case scenario IMHO would be to make the pop-up appear right after the page load, or even after a predetermined amount of time.
The visitor most likely doesn’t have the time to read what he intended in the first place by following a link, and BANG! A pop-up blows right into his face! This will definitely worsen the user experience and will generate high bounce rates.
How to Deal With It
If you decide that a pop-up is necessary for your website, it’s probably more beneficial for the visitors to use one of the least intrusive triggers: exit intent or scroll percentage, or a combination of the two.
The way you deal with pop-ups on your website depends greatly on what do you want to favor: pop-up optins or content consuming.
Here are some recommendations favoring the content and user experience:
- Exit intent trigger displays the pop-up when you move the mouse towards the top of the window anticipating the user’s intention to leave your site. So, why not drawing his attention trying to keep him longer on your site.
- Scroll percentage trigger displays the pop-up when you scroll the page towards the end past a certain percentage of it’s height. The logic here is to make the pop-up appear when the visitor already finished reading the article.
- Consider activating the pop-up after x pages based on cookies. Visitors leaving your website after one page only are very likely not interested in your content. If you force them to subscribe, later they will try to figure out how to unsubscribe from your list, anyway.
- Avoid displaying the pop-up too frequently for the same visitor. I mean, if the pop-up will display every time you navigate to the next page, this will surely annoy the visitor and he will most probably run away. Better use a cookie based system to force the subsequent activation not before x days after the last one.
Favoring Optin Rate
Some tests have been conducted revealing that a more aggresive pop-up usage actually increases the optin rate, if you are obsesses by numbers.
Read more insights in this article: Opt-in Pop ups, the good, the bad and the ugly (and 1 tip to make them 300% more effective).
As I mentioned in the beginning of this post, there is no consensus about whether are pop-ups good or bad. There are so many conditions that may dictate your best choice.
Anyway, the best thing to do is TEST, TEST, TEST…