Misleading pop-up ads from third-party advertisers give pop-ups a bad rap. Pop-up forms can be used as part of an inbound marketing strategy to convert website visitors and gain new subscribers. The data even shows that they're effective (when they're done right).
Should you use pop-up forms on your website or not? You want your visitors to have a positive experience, so it's a good question.
And if there’s one thing people hate about the internet, it’s pop-ups. It’s probably safe to assume they’ve led to a few smashed keyboards and broken computer screens. But even today, you’ll find pop-up ads on some websites, informing you that you’re the one-millionth visitor and you’ve won an exclusive contest.
Pop-up blockers are now ubiquitous. In fact, most web browsers come equipped with them by default. When pop-ups do emerge, most people will say they click away from them like they're swatting a mosquito.
This begs the question: Why do marketers use pop-ups at all?
Third-party Pop-ups Are Out
In the past, most pop-ups were created by third-party advertisers. If you were reading an online publication, a pop-up might block the screen with an ad for a completely unrelated product or service. You wouldn’t be able to continue reading until you clicked out or converted.
Pop-ups offered publications and other websites a loophole to sell ad space without associating their brand with the content of said ads. Unfortunately, these ads rarely peaked users’ interest. Most people found them annoying (shockingly). They also had a poor ROI.
By the early 2000’s, advertisers were already switching to organic search, paid search, native ads, and embedded banner ads. Third-party pop-ups declined pretty rapidly. They’re still around, but you rarely find them on well-built, authoritative websites.
The Rise of Pop-Up Forms
Pop-ups took a nose dive for several years, but inbound marketers have recently started embracing them. However, they aren’t using the same ill-fated third-party pop-ups of the past. Instead, marketers create their own pop-ups for their own websites. Most pop-ups now contain some sort of opt-in form instead of a vague offer or the promise of untold riches.
These pop-ups usually look like an overlay, a banner, or a box that slides in from the side of the screen. They’re usually simple, asking only for a name and email and providing some sort of free offer. Perhaps the most common ones ask the user to sign up for a regular newsletter.
While these pop-up forms mirror the old-school third-party popups, they have a few key differences.
First, they are branded to match the website on which they occur, which makes it clear that they weren’t created by a third-party.
Second, they contain action language that is clear about what they want the user to do and what will happen when they do it. Instead of a button that says “Click Here,” it might say, “Download the Report,” “Sign Up for Our Newsletter,” or, even better, “Get the Latest News In Your Inbox Weekly.”
Third, they are relevant to the page or at least to the website where they live. For example, if a user is reading a blog post, they may wish to subscribe to the blog. If the user is looking at the pricing page, they may be ready to have a free consultation.
And lastly, they don’t take the user away from the website they were viewing. In many cases, they simply disappear after the user converts.
How Well Do Pop-up Forms Work?
You may be saying to yourself, “Pop-up forms are still pop-ups. There’s no way they work.” But believe it or not, they can sometimes have a higher conversion rate than embedded forms.
According to HubSpot and Sumo, the top performing 10% of pop-up forms convert at 9.3%. HubSpot also reported that an email marketing firm created a pop-up form that converted 1375% better than traditional forms.
These types of pop-ups are an underrated and underestimated resource, but only if they’re implemented correctly.
Pop-ups work best when they adhere to the inbound marketing methodology. They should always be helpful rather than interruptive. In many cases, they represent a chance to convert a visitor who might not otherwise see a form on the page they’re viewing.
If you’re thinking about implementing pop-up forms on your website, just remember to keep them simple, relevant, and helpful. Make sure it’s clear that they are your pop-ups and not somebody else’s, and make it easy and clear for visitors to exit the pop-up if they want to.
Tools for Creating Pop-ups
- Hello Bar
- Indeed Smart PopUp for WordPress
- Ninja Popups for WordPress
- Popup Domination
- Popups - WordPress Popup
- WordPress Notification Bar
- WP Unlimited Pop-ups