When You Should And Shouldn’t Use Popups?

When You Should And Shouldn’t Use Popups?

Deciding whether or not to use popups on your site isn’t always easy. And if you’re using popups, maybe you’re not able to maximize their potential to the fullest. Either way, utilizing popups at the right time and in the right place is a crucial part of optimizing your conversion rate.

That’s why I’m here to help. I’ll be discussing the reasons for and against using popups in specific situations.

Let’s get started!

The 5 top reasons to use popups

First, let’s have a look at some instances where you should use popups no matter what.

1. Low returning visitor rates 📉

It doesn’t matter what kind of business you’re in, if your returning visitors are below 30%, you’ll need some channels to bring them back. (The screenshot below shows you where you can check your returning visitors in Google Analytics.)

Owned channels (like email and SMS marketing) are a great way of getting visitors back to your site. And when it comes to building a list, no other tool comes close to the effectiveness of popups.

google analytics returning visitors - When You Should And Shouldn’t Use Popups?

2. Being a DTC Brand 📦

Building and nurturing an email list is especially important when developing your own products and brand. To be successful, you’ve not only got to convince your visitors that they should buy from you, but also that they don’t want to buy from the (possibly) hundreds of other choices in your niche.

In most cases, this can take a lot of time. You can’t expect to convert every user on their first visit. 

Rather, you need to use a “lead nurturing” approach. This involves learning about your visitors’ interests and preferences, keeping in touch, and offering personalized recommendations. In our privacy-focused world, you need to build your own channels to be able to do this. 

Check out how a DTC brand, The Oodie builds an email list with a popup:

the oodie popup - When You Should And Shouldn’t Use Popups?

3. Long buying cycles ⏰

A buying cycle consists of various touchpoints. It usually takes several interactions with your business before a purchase will be made.

Using Google Analytics, you might check how many touchpoints your customers go through on average before deciding to purchase a product, though these numbers are often quite misleading due to attribution difficulties. No matter how much you focus on data collection, you won’t be able to capture all touchpoints (think: Word of Mouth or offline marketing).

Asking your customers “where have you heard about us” right after they purchase might give you a better idea of the true attribution.

4. You are selling “vitamins” 💊

There are products that people buy no matter what. We call them “medicine,” because these products are like medicine to your customers. You don’t need to nurture the relationship or ramp up the urgency. They’ll be buying regardless. In this case, you can operate without popups. 

However, if your products are more like “vitamins” that people don’t necessarily need to buy, it’s just a nice thing to have, then it’s a good strategy to subtly increase the Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO) using popups. That can help decrease cart abandonment and to increase conversion rates instantly.

The 5 top reasons not to use popups

Now that we’ve seen when to use popups, let’s have a look at when you shouldn’t.

1. You already have high conversion rates 📈

If you already have high conversion rates and you don’t want to offer any extra incentives or push people to join your list, then you probably don’t need to use any popups.

2. Mostly returning visitors 🔁

B2B brands that mostly offer services to just a few customers who return to their website frequently, (e.g. a procurement management company) don’t have a reason to use popups. You already have a customer base and don’t need to urge them to convert or to subscribe to anything.

3. You already have an ultra-strong brand 💪

Why don’t popular websites like Amazon use popups? Because they already have a super-strong brand and they don’t have to convince customers with USPs or discounts that they’re the best place to purchase something. Customers will buy and return either way. 

If you have a brand that’s similarly well-known and strong, you probably don’t need to use popups either.

4. You don’t need a list 📧

Not every brand or ecommerce website needs to go all out on building a list. For example, if you’ve built a microsite for a specific occasion (like a seasonal sale), you can do well without using any popups. 

In general, if your business goals with a site are only short-term, you might don’t have to invest in building and nurturing a list. 

5. Industry regulation 🚫

In some cases, you would be able to get extra conversions by using popups, but there are industry regulators in the way. It’s unfortunate if you aren’t allowed to use popups, but we all need to comply with the relevant laws where we do business.

The takeaway

As we’ve seen in this post, popups are a flexible tool that can vastly increase your conversion rates; however, they aren’t a one-size-fits-all solution. You should be thinking about adding popups to those leaky parts of your conversion funnel where you’re losing customers, but not where you’re already doing well.

Do you have any questions? Let me know and let’s discuss them!

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