Exit-Intent Technology: What Is It? How Does It Work?

The exit-intent technology allows you to detect when a visitor is about to exit. It’s the technology used to trigger exit-intent popups.

Cool, isn’t it? Let’s see how it works and how you can make the most of it.

What Is the Exit Intent Technology?

The exit-intent technology allows marketers to detect visitors who are about to leave a website. They can then use this signal to trigger an exit overlay.

This strategy is particularly effective. First, because exit popups don’t interrupt the visitor’s navigation and don’t have any negative impact on the user experience.

Second, because they provide a last chance to reach visitors before they navigate away from a website.

How Does It Work?

Exit-Intent on Desktop

On desktops, Exit-intent detection relies on mouse cursor tracking. When a visitor is about to close the page she’s on, she has to move her mouse upwards to reach for the close option.

The exit-intent script detects this mouse movement and sends a signal triggering the popup to appear.

Here’s a demo on Leesa’s website.

an exit popup on leesa.com
An exit popup on leesa.com

As it analyzes the user’s mouse movements, this kind of exit script doesn’t work on touch-screen devices such as mobiles and tablets.

Exit-intent on mobile

On mobile we can use a different approach and consider that the user is about to exit when:

  • She hits the back button
  • She scrolls up a little to access the URL bar

Both actions can be tracked using a mobile exit intent script.

Exit-intent Use Cases

Exit-intent detection is mainly used to trigger what we call exit popups or exit-intent popups.

Curious to know more about the superpowers of these popups? Here are 3 examples which can help you supercharge your website.

Collect emails

Exit popups are particularly powerful to collect emails. Early 2017, we studied thousands of email popups created by our customers. We discovered that popups triggered on exit collect 5% more emails on average than those displayed on landing.
But we’re not the only ones who noticed the amazing results of exit popups to build email lists:

  • Jane Friedman, a blogger, was able to double her email list with a single exit-intent popup (link to the study)
  • Brian from Backlinko also doubled the number of email addresses he was collecting by adding an exit popup (link to the article)
  • Omnisend, an email solution, tried adding an exit popup to the website of one of their clients. They increased their client’s email list by 66% in one week only (link to the case study)

Here’s a quick example from bookbaby.
an exit popup displayed during the checkout process

Retain abandoned carts

According to SalesCycle, up to 74% of carts are abandoned on e-commerce websites in North America. Exit popups provide a simple option to retain those abandoned carts.
Here’s an example on GlobeIn.com. The popup offers a free shipping coupon to convince visitors to complete their purchase.
a cart abandonment popup example


And another one from theceshop.com:

An exit-intent popup used to recover abandoned carts

This kind of popup can help recover as many as 20% of abandoned carts. Let’s do the maths together.

  • Let’s say your website receives 30,000 visitors/month.
  • We multiply that figure by the average add to cart rate in the US (source: Monetate Quarterly Study), 8.32%, we get 2,486 carts.
  • 75% will be abandoned. So you’re left with 624 confirmed purchases.
  • If you recover 20% of your abandoned carts, you’ll save 374 additional purchases.

Impressive isn’t it?

Ask for feedback

When you’re collecting feedback, timing is key.

Ask too early and the user won’t have anything to say. Ask too late and she/he might be gone already.
Using exit-intent allows you to catch your visitors at the right moment. The user is about to leave so she/he knows what navigating on your website is and she/he can still provide feedback.

One of our templates for feedback collection.

a popup survey displayed on exit

On average our customers get a response rate of about 4%.

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