A Guide to Popup Types: How to Choose Your Popup Type to Maximize ROI

A Guide to Popup Types: How to Choose Your Popup Type to Maximize ROI

Did you set up your first popup campaign, but you’re not seeing the results you expected? Are you frustrated by the conversion rate?

According to our experience, many website owners don’t spend enough time to carefully consider which type of popup is best for their website and their goal.

When you take the time to choose the right popup campaign and configure it for your needs, you’ll greatly increase your chances of success.

In this article, we’ll look at all the options you can choose in detail, then tell you which questions you should ask to choose the right type of popup for your website.

Let’s jump in!

6 main popup types

Each type of popup offers distinct benefits and suits various purposes, from email list building to reducing cart abandonment.

Let’s delve into the 6 main types of popups and explore how to use them to optimize your site’s performance and user experience.

1. Standard pop-up overlays

Standard popup overlays are the most popular and most well-known form of popups. They appear in the center of your website.

Standard popups are highly effective because they focus your website visitors’ attention on only one message, eliminating the paradox of choice.

These popups can be used for email list building, providing offers and coupons, or stopping cart abandonment.

Standard popup overlays are great when you want to display a secondary offer to site visitors who are between two actions. This moment can be when your visitors:

  • Get to the end of an article
  • Are about to close the page
  • Are inactive for several seconds
  • Or, when they click on a call-to-action button

These are the best moments to get your visitors’ attention with standard popups.

Here’s an example of a standard pop-up:

Standard pop-up ad example

2. Fullscreen pop-ups

Fullscreen popups are similar to standard pop-ups. You should use them similarly – when visitors are between two actions. The only difference is that fullscreen pop-ups cover the entire screen.

They can be used for the same reasons as popups: email list building, providing offers and coupons, or stopping cart abandonment.

In our experience, fullscreen pop-up campaigns often work better than standard pop-up overlays. Because they focus the attention of visitors, and they do it in a BIG way.

Check out this fullscreen pop-up example that works like a mini landing page:

Fullscreen popup form example

3. Sidemessages

Sidemessages are mostly popular when it comes to email list building. They appear on the right or left side of your website and stick there while people continue browsing the page.

Sidemessages can also be used to redirect people to a different page. One reason people choose sidemessages is that they are less intrusive than standard pop-ups. They don’t disturb visitors while reading an article or reviewing a product on your website.

Why are they great? If you have a regular offer – e.g. promoting your newsletter subscription – you can display it all the time without stopping your visitors and distracting their attention. You can also use them when you have a new eBook or a brand-new product you want to make sure everyone sees when they visit your website, without “throwing it in their face”.

Here’s a great example of a sidemessage promoting an eBook:

Sidemessage pop-up example

4. Sticky bars

Sticky bars are sticky notification bars. They appear at the top or bottom of your website and they stick there as visitors browse your pages.

For this reason, sticky bars are often chosen because they are less “intrusive” than standard popups. They don’t cover the content or cause a major disturbance to visitors who are browsing.

Depending on the design of your site, sticky bars may even be less intrusive than sidemessages.

They are great a way to promote your hottest deals and offers, or to remind visitors about their coupon codes. You can also use sticky bars for cart notifications.

Take a look at this example of a sticky bar appearing at the bottom of a website:

Sticky bar pop-up example

5. Lucky wheel popups

Lucky wheel popups help you to create a memorable website experience, mostly because they’re a lot of fun! Visitors can spin the wheel for a chance to win certain rewards or discounts.

The lucky wheel is good for email list building.

People like to win and winning something will make them feel special. It’s definitely one of the most engaging pop-up campaign types.

If you’d like to create a more memorable experience that leaves your visitors with a positive feeling, you want to choose this campaign type.

Here’s what a lucky wheel pop-up looks like:

Lucky wheel popup form example

6. Multi-step campaigns

Multi-step campaigns can be used with standard popups or with fullscreens. They work by displaying multiple pages in a series of popups.

First, you only ask a YES or NO question. Then you ask for an email address on the second page.

Results show that it’s easier to convince your visitors to take some action first, rather than persuade them to provide their name and email address immediately.

Clicking on the YES button on the first “YES or NO” popup puts your visitors in a positive mindset and makes them more receptive to your offer.

Multi-step popup form example

How to choose the right pop-up ad for your website?

Now let’s take a look at the questions you should consider when choosing the right popup campaign type for your online store.

1. What’s your goal?

Would you like to…

  • save cart abandoners?
  • grow your email list?
  • promote your eBook?
  • remind visitors about an offer?

Your goal is the most important thing you need to consider. For example, if you’d like to stop people who put something in their cart but are trying to leave without finishing the purchase, a gentle reminder in a sidemessage or sticky bar won’t stop them.

On the other hand, a standard popup overlay or a fullscreen campaign can work wonders to stop cart abandonment.

If you’d like to grow your email list, the lucky wheel is one of the best options you can choose.

Multi-step campaigns work well for eBook promotions, and sticky bars and sidemessages are the best for reminding visitors.

2. How aggressively do you want to push your message?

If you don’t want to push your message too much, don’t want to appear too aggressive, or don’t want to risk the chance of annoying visitors, you should use a sidemessage or a sticky bar.

However, if you used advanced segmentation and you know that your visitors will be happy to see your offer, then you should use a standard popup.

With a well-targeted campaign, your visitors will be grateful that you brought the offer to their attention.

3. Where is your website traffic coming from? What is the traffic source?

If your visitors are coming from a newsletter or an ad that promotes a specific offer, you should use a sticky bar to remind them of the offer.

If they come from organic search, display a standard popup or lucky wheel campaign.

4. Are your visitors coming from mobile or desktop?

If most of your traffic comes from mobile, you shouldn’t set up a fullscreen campaign because it covers the whole screen, visitors will leave immediately if they don’t know where to click.

A lucky wheel is also not a good choice in this case unless you use the setting to only display these campaigns on a desktop.

A sticky bar or a standard popup is the best choice when you want to display your campaign on mobile and achieve the best results.

5. How much of a commitment is what you’re asking?

If you feel like what you’re asking might be too much, or your visitors may need a little bit of encouragement, use a multi-step campaign.

It will put visitors in a positive mindset, as the results will put you in a positive mindset too.


What factors should I consider when choosing a popup type for my website?

When selecting a popup type, consider your specific goals (e.g., email list building, sales promotion, user engagement), your audience’s preferences, the user journey on your site, and how intrusive you want the popup to be. Balancing effectiveness and user experience is key to maximizing ROI.

Are fullscreen popups more effective than standard popups?

Fullscreen popups can be more effective in capturing attention and delivering a strong message due to their size and prominence. However, their effectiveness also depends on the context and audience; they may be perceived as more intrusive, potentially increasing bounce rates.

How can I ensure my popups do not annoy my visitors?

To avoid annoying visitors, use popups sparingly, target them wisely based on user behavior (e.g., exit intent, time on site), make them easy to close, and ensure they provide value to the visitor, such as a discount code or useful information.

What are exit-intent popups?

Exit-intent popups are designed to detect when a user is about to leave your website and display a popup at that moment. They aim to capture attention and offer something valuable (like a discount, ebook, or newsletter subscription) to either keep the user on the site longer or convert them into leads before they leave.

Which type of popup tends to be the least annoying to website visitors?

Sidebars and sticky bars are generally considered to be the least annoying types of popups. This is because they are less intrusive and do not interrupt the user’s reading or browsing experience as much as other types do. They provide information or offers in a way that’s easily accessible without taking over the entire screen or disrupting the visitor’s intended action on the site. These popups can effectively draw attention without causing frustration, making them a preferred choice for both site owners aiming to maintain a positive user experience and visitors who still want access to valuable offers and information.

Wrapping up

By carefully choosing the right popup campaign, you can achieve better results with popups.

There are quite a few things you need to consider when choosing your campaign type. What is your goal? How do you want your visitors to respond? How well-targeted are your campaigns?

When you take some time to consider these questions and the options we covered in this article, you’ll master the process and soon you’ll know exactly which popup campaign is right for each of your marketing efforts on your site.

We hope this article helps you get more conversions on your site. If you’d like to get started with popups, create a free OptiMonk account now.