Listen, I know you love your popups. I know they convert visitors into subscribers better than a lot of other things you’re trying right now.
But for the most part? You also secretly hate them too, don’t you?
Oh yeah, I know that struggle. That struggle is real.
So let’s have a chat about your popups and how you can stop both appreciating their conversion rate while hating yourself (because you think popups suck dicks).
The other day I was involved in a very interesting thread on a Facebook group. The thread was about popups.
Now, do you know what the first thing people say when asked what they think of popups?
About 70% will say “OMG I HATE POPUPS AND BASICALLY X THE FUCK OUT OF ANYONE’S SITE WHO HAS THEM, THOSE POPUP-USING SHITHEADS!!!!!” or words to that effect.
Then 29.99% will be weird mix of of “I use them, but I kinda hate myself for doing it” and “I use them and they seem to work ok, but OH YEAH, IF SOMEONE PULLS THAT SHIT ON ME ON THEIR WEBSITE, THEY’RE A GONNER”.
Then whoever’s left will say, “Actually, I love a good popup”
So, what gives?
Things we can glean from this:
Popups are effective if you want to increase the number of subscribers on your lists.
Despite the return on sign-ups, most people hate them and will apparently never use your site again.
OK, that doesn’t sound right, does it? So they INCREASE your email subscribers, but apparently nobody uses them? WHO THE FUCK IS LYING?
I think there’s a disconnect here, and that’s what really shone out in the discussion yesterday. Y’see when people say, “ERRR MERR GERRRD, KILL POPUPS WITH FIRE”, they are talking about a particular type of popup.
Imagine for a second you’ve googled something – “do I have Dengue Fever”, perhaps. A result comes up with Dengue Fever symptoms which you click So there you are, reading through the post, and you’ve been there for, oooh, about 5 seconds, you’ve spotted that, yes, headaches are one of the symptoms (shiiiiiit…) and BAM! Annoying popup asking you if you want to continue to the UK version rather than the US version. There’s no immediately visible way to tell it to fuck off, and when you do spot the minuscule “X” in the top corner and despite trying to repeatedly mash your finger on your mobile phone screen, you end up being taken off to the Google Play store asking you to download the app for this medical site. All the while, you’re screaming, “BITCH! I MIGHT HAVE DENGUE FEVER! I JUST WANT TO READ THE SYMPTOMS!!!!!”
Yeah, THAT is the type of popup people hate. All people. No exceptions. Not even the Dalai Lama.
If you use popups NICELY and EFFECTIVELY with CONTEXT to their surroundings, most of your visitors wouldn’t even notice them in a negative way. If they help the page flow, or help to pre-empt or suggest what the user should do next when they are just starting to wonder that themselves, popups are – GASP – helpful.
If, however, you are the type of person who has the same popup for every page and it pops up in five seconds of landing on that page (especially on a page you want people to read), you are (unfortunately) the type of person that people want to burn.
OK, so how can we add some good, honest, HELPFUL strategy to our popup game?
1. Stop using the same popup for every single page
If you are using some lame-ass free email popup plugin, you can’t do this easily, I know. There’s a quick fix for that: use a different plugin.
I swear by PopupAlly (the free version to start) which allows you to implement two different popups AND customise where you want to show them. Two is perfectly fine to get started and test the waters to see what works, but what I want you to do is customise your popup content for two different areas of your site. For example, one for your home page and the other for all posts within a specific category. On the homepage, you might want to come in with a immediate popup (stick with me here) that introduces your subscriber content, for example;
“Want to follow along on my journey to earn £1000 a month from blogging? Enter your details here… Or go straight to my personal finance blog [make this big fat link that helps people actually get somewhere]”
“Get my free e-course on how to create copy so compelling, even you’ll want to buy your own stuff.. Enter details or Go to the site [again, big, fat link to allow people to move off]”.
WHY? Because this sets the precedent for the tone of your site – you talk about personal finance? Great! Let them follow your journey. You’re a copywriting whizz? Excellent! Give a flavour of why you’re so good. That also means that if you’re a web designer, don’t talk about, I dunno, dinosaurs unless it actually relates to your content.
On a specific blog post category, you can use another popup, something designed around the specific content on the page. For example, say on your copywriting site you have a category dedicated to guest posting. Create some information on guest posting, and bundle it all up in one place, or one PDF, or video or whatever works for you and use this as the free, mega-useful content for anyone wanting to subscribe. Alternatively, as a broader option, you can simply use “If you enjoyed this, make sure to get more useful content on x, y and z by joining the community, enter details, or continue reading”
If you want MORE popup options, then I’d highly recommend investing in the PopupAlly Pro plugin. That way, you can really tailor your popup content even down to specific posts.
2. Set suitable timing for your popups
Now, the key is with any content page to NOT have the popup appearing after five seconds, because NO. Either use the “on exit intent” option in PopupAlly, OR hire someone to code a popup that appears when say, your reader has scrolled 90% of the page. That way, your visitor has scrolled through the content, hopefully liked it, and then – oooh, look! You can give them MORE of what they’re after. Helpful, see?
For the homepage, or other pages, exit intent works fine OR IF you are offering up helpful pointers that guide your user or give them valuable content 1000% in alignment with your site which are saving them time, money and effort, you can use it immediately.
Remember: BE HELPFUL. USE IN CONTEXT.
3. Stop trying to sell things on popups
So, not only have you popped up in my face in five seconds of me trying to read your content, but you’re trying to sell me shit, too? BITCH, PLEASE. If you smile at a guy in the street, does it mean you’ll have sex?! NO. SAME THING APPLIES. Never expect anyone to just buy right off the bat.
4. Check your popups on desktop AND mobile
Seriously, if you have popups (polite or rude as balls), just go and check this now. Exit intent popups won’t work on mobiles, but if you have other ones, just see how easy it is to cancel out of it. If it’s not easy, change it.
Yeah, I know you wish everyone would sign up, but as a rule of thumb, 5 people out of every 100 will actually give you their details. That means 95 people want to be able to cancel out of your popup and go on with their day, so don’t be a dick; avoid making your visitors hate you with the amoeba-sized X of doom. Make sure there are either options to cancel out easily OR just don’t show them on mobile.
5. Stop using the generic styled popups
If you’re using a popup that is branded nothing like your site – y’know, different fonts, different colours, using the same generic copy that the plugin suggested rather than your own words and phrasings – then this will immediately trigger The 2002 Popup Fear . This is a very real, evolutionary (sort of…) fear, and reminds us of the days when it was deemed appropriate to add about three thousand popups to a web page, all of which warning you in flashing gif form that your computer has a virus and trying to get you to download the dodgiest bullshit “malware detector” the world has ever seen.
You can easily fix this by making sure that the colours at least GO with your brand and that the wording matches up with your own voice. If you can, change the font style, too. Consistent branding CREATES TRUST. Inconsistent branding creates The 2002 Popup Fear and consequently, the Bullshit Radar.
If popups are something you want to consider on your site, then you can stop hating yourself. Just make sure that they play nicely with your content and with your visitors.
YOU ARE WELCOME.