Back in the day, popups used to be the bane of the Web and deservedly earned a bad rap. Fast-forward to the present, and popups are considered an excellent way to capture your visitor's attention and significantly improve your conversion rates.

But they're a big responsibility, too; and if not done properly, they could still annoy your customers and ruin the customer experience.

So, if you're thinking of using popups on your e-commerce or other types of site, here are few tips for using them effectively.

1. Make it easy to close

The goal of a popup is to convert online shoppers or visitors—not to annoy them. Popups with inactive or hidden close buttons leave no choice for your customers but to leave the site. So don't go for the hard-sell; give your customers an easy way out.

If you give your visitors the option to easily close down the popup, there'll be fewer hard feelings and minimal increase in your bounce rate. Make sure your popup displays a prominent close button at the top right-hand corner, which is where users expect that button to be.

2. Design your popups to fit your brand

The design of your popups should match your brand's look and feel. If your popups are not consistent with the rest of the site layout, they will look spammy to shoppers and site visitord.

But that doesn't mean you have to keep them so plain and simple that they're all but inconspicuous. Test different colors schemes and pick one that works well with the overall site design and helps you convey the offer so that it stands out. Also, avoid using generic images in your popups; they'll make your popup look obstructive and irrelevant.

Popups can increase your conversions many-fold if they are well designed. However, if not designed well, they can annoy your users.

3. Think about mobile

More and more people are using mobile devices to browse and shop. If your popups are not displaying correctly on these devices then it will cost you your customers. Your popups should be clear, visually pleasing, and should enable the visitor to sign-up or avail the offer with a single click.

Make sure your popups display correctly on smartphones and tablets. They need to not only work, but they should be easy to close as well for those who are not interested in your offer.

4. Personalize your popups

Popups can be infuriating if not targeted well. Bounce rates go through the roof when visitors are interrupted with popups (especially in the case of popups asking for opt-ins).

So, instead of showing the same popup to visitors and customers, personalize your popups based on customer's unique behaviors and order history—what they have purchased, what products they are viewing, etc.—and show different promotional offers to visitors vs. customers.

Adding personalization is the key to create popups that are effective rather than interruptive. For example, if repeat visitors come to your site, instead of showing a general opt-in popup you can show a targeted popup based on search history.

By doing so, you show them that you're interested in enhancing rather than hindering their online shopping experience.

5. Pay special attention to your offers

Popups are great for capturing the attention of your shoppers. However, it's the offer that ultimately persuades people to take the desired action.

If, for example, you want them to give you their email address, make them an offer that makes it worthwhile for them to do so.

6. Test your copy

Generally, marketers test their email and landing page copy, but they don't focus on the copy in the case of popus. Always test the copy in all your marketing campaigns. Sometimes, simple changes in the copy can make a big difference in the conversion rate. Test the following elements:

  • Headline copy
  • Body copy
  • CTA copy

Test those elements separately, and go with the ones that perform best.

7. Use a friendly tone

Popups have been around for a while now, and almost every marketer has tried them or has though of trying them. But most of us focus on the offer, and more or less ignore other elements, forgetting that personalizing the tone and adding humor in the popup copy can be just as important as picking the right offer.

After all, your visitors aren't going to click on the offer unless you persuade them in a way that speaks to them and accurately targets them.

8. Don't overdo popups

Don't show the popup on every single page of your website, or use them more than once per visitor session. Also, ensure you're using cookies to track visitors so you don't show opt-ins to people who have already converted into subscribers.

The moment you decide to use a popup, you should be clear about your goal and the people you want to target with it. The logic is that your visitors are not all the same, so targeting everyone in a similar manner will take you back to the days of interruption marketing.

9. Use a compelling call to action (CTA)

No matter what type of popup you run, your main goal should be to encourage visitors to take the desired action. So don't leave it to your site's visitors to figure out what they're supposed to do; use a CTA that tells them exactly what you want them to do.

Your CTA should be interesting and attention-grabbing. Use action-oriented words to spark interest. Make sure your CTA buttons are large enough for a shopper to tap easily even if she is browsing on mobile.

A well-designed CTA has a massive impact on your popup's conversion rate. So test everything—shape, size, color, and copy—to optimize conversion.

10. Make them valuable

Popups offer you an enormous opportunity to capture your visitors' attention while they're on your website, so don't limit yourself to only capturing email addresses and making sales. Use them to guide, thank, and help your customers.

People hate popups that interrupt the browsing experience. But you can use popus to improve your shoppers' experience. For example, you can show a popup to ask shoppers to pick their geographic location (if you are an international retailer) so that you can show products that you deliver to their locations, or to offer help if they would like to speak with a customer service representative.

If your popups assist a visitor in solving a genuine problem, then they won't be perceived as annoying.

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10 Tips for Making Popups Go the Extra Mile for Your Business

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image of Reshu Rathi

Reshu Rathi is the director of marketing at MarketJoy, a B2B sales development company.

LinkedIn: Reshu Rathi

Twitter: @reshurathi