Note: this article was originally published in August 2016 and updated in September 2017.

Oh, I bet you know the feeling so well…

You created a perfect exit popup. Poured all your energy into writing an attention-grabbing headline, decided on a great offer your visitors would not want to miss, and created two versions of a call to action you’re going to split test.

But in spite of your efforts…

…nothing happens.

True, a handful of visitors clicked on the popup. But that boost of conversions you were hoping for just didn’t happen.

Damn!

So how do you improve exit popup’s performance? How do you ensure that visitors don’t click it off the moment it pops up on screen but actually act on your offer?

That’s exactly what I’m going to tell you in this post.

I’ll show you 5 exit popup hacks that will get you more sales almost right away.

Ready? Let’s get right to it then.

#1. Target the Offer to the Page a Person’s Leaving From

It’s a common mistake:You launch a single exit popup hoping it will cater for all your site’s visitors.

And as a result, you display an irrelevant message to them.

Here let me explain:

Imagine a person simply window shopping on your site. She browses through a couple of product pages and then, decides to go somewhere else. And just as she’s about to leave you display an exit popup prompting her to sign up for your newsletter.

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Sure, there’s a chance she might sign up. However, since the person bounced off after viewing a specific product, she stands a bigger chance to act on a discount instead.

Naturebox

Similarly, a person exiting from a blog article is unlikely to respond to a discount. However, they might act on an exit popup suggesting another piece of content or a lead magnet.

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So, target your popups to specific pages your visitors might be leaving from. Here are some ideas how:

  • Show discounts and other offers to visitors who exit from product pages.
  • Point blog readers to additional resources and lead magnets to convert them into email subscribers.
  • And if a customer decides to abandon the shopping cart, use the exit popup to remind them of their purchase.

As John Komarek, an eCommerce conversion specialist from Pixelter points in this article:

“Always make your visitors relate to the pop up you are displaying and offer something that will make them think twice or else they will just proceed abandoning your site – and possibly not come back!”

#2. Optimize the Popup for Fast Display

I’m sure you know that when it comes to conversions, speed matters a lot.

For example, according to the data by Kissmetrics, even a single second delay in page load time can decrease conversions by a staggering 7%!

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(image source)

And the situation’s no different with exit popups.

As Brian Massey, the renowned conversion specialists and the founder of Conversion Sciences says:

“You have less than 200 milliseconds to show the visitors your message before they actually click on the X button. In fact, you should decrease this lag to less than 50 milliseconds.”

This means that including anything that can slow down its load time might have a catastrophic effect on your conversions.

So, strip your exit popup of anything that might slow its appearance down:

  • Remove heavy images and use lighter graphics, optimized for fast loading. Here’s a great guide to optimizing images for the web by Drew Coffin.
  • Refrain from using special effects. Although they make the popup look cool, they take the time to load, eating up the precious milliseconds you need.
  • Reduce the popup’s size and content, to have fewer elements for the browser to load.

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#3. Show New Visitors a Once-Off Deal

You know:

According to Hybris, a real-time remarketing platform, only 0.25% of new visitors to your site will make a purchase. 

The rest follows a pattern known as the “window shopping” – they visit a site, just to browse its products. But intend to do more research and perhaps come back one day to make the purchase.

But using exit popups offers you an opportunity to interrupt that pattern and convince a person to act now.

However, to achieve it, you might need to use a strong enough offer for a person to take action.

And when it comes to your site’s first-time visitors, offering a once-off offer works particularly well.

Therefore, hit first-time visitors leaving your site hard with a once-off offer they will never see again.

State explicitly that unless they act now, they’ll never see the offer again.

onetimeoffer

To set this option up, specify your exit popup’s platform to stop displaying the message for every first-time visitor after the first showing.

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#4. Limit Purchasing Options for Returning Visitors

The previous hack targeted first-time visitors.

However, if you want to increase sales from people who have seen your site before, use another powerful persuasion strategy called Urgency.

The easiest way to define urgency is as:

A method to motivate buyers into taking action by changing the way they think about the purchase and suspending their natural procrastination.

You see, when we are facing an urgent situation (for example, danger or a deadline), our brains suspend deliberate thought or judgment and jump straight into action.

Why this behavior work with exit popups, though?

Think about your returning visitor. If they’ve been coming back to your site over and over, then the chances are that they consider making a purchase.

However, for one reason or another, they procrastinate on taking action.

By using urgency, you can make an argument why now is the best time to act and move them into buying.

Here’s how:

Use a time-based discount a person would have to act on immediately or within a short span of time.

Udemy, for example, offers only a 48-hours window for purchasing a course at a discounted rate.

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This site uses a countdown timer to communicate how little time a person has to avail of the offer.

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Limit the amount of stock available for purchase.

You know, time isn’t the only factor that could rush your visitors into action.

For example, limiting the stock can also help to communicate the loss of not taking immediate action.

zappos

#5. Use Surprising Design

Look:

One of the biggest challenges when converting users with exit popups is actually getting them to pay attention to your message.

Busy buyers, in a rush, to find products they’re looking for, tend to ignore marketing message, be it a popup or a website banner.

As Babar Suleman points in this article on Crazy Egg:

“Your visitors have ADD. Well, not literally but they do share some characteristics with people who suffer from ADD (Attention-deficit disorder): They are inattentive, easily distracted, don’t like to do things right away and forget all about coming back. All of which spell doom for your landing page.”

Luckily, you can prevent this… by surprising your visitors.

Various psychological studies proved that we pay close attention to anything that surprised us.

Be it an out of shape call to action button…

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…or an unnatural style of an exit popup, they throw a visitor off their guard by surprising them with something they didn’t expect.

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And as Oli Gardner, the CEO of Unbounce, points:

“While you don’t necessarily need to have a naked man streaking across the page – you could try something as simple as taking your Call To Action button and rotating it by 30-45 degrees to create an unexpected design shape.”

Conclusion

Fact: exit popups can drive sales and actual monetary conversions.

However, just displaying a single message can rarely help you achieve such effect.

Instead, you need to use clever targeting, timing, and various offers to entice customers to take action.

And I hope that after reading this post, you know exactly how to do it.

 

  • Pawel Grabowski