Conversion rate optimization

29-Point Checklist for Creating a Great Exit Popup

Wondering how to create an exit popup that convert visitors into leads?

Exit popups help stop leaving visitors and engage them with a relevant offer and a call to action, converting them into email subscribers and customers in turn.

But…for your exit popup to work, you need to ensure that it includes the right elements and that you use them in the correct way.

Lucky for you, that’s what I’m going to show you in this post. I’ll give you a 29-point checklist you can follow to create the ultimate exit popup that converts.

Ready? Let’s do it then.

Part 1. The headline

Undoubtedly, a headline plays the most crucial role on your popup. A good headline helps you accomplish four things:

  • Attract visitors’ attention. As the biggest element on a popup, it becomes the first thing a person sees when it activates.
  • Convey your offer. A headline tells a person what they can get by acting on the call to action. Download a free eBook? Receive a coupon code? Snatch a discount?
  • Tell a person if your offer is for them. In other words, it preselects your audience, in turn, ensuring the rest of the popup is relevant to a target customer.
  • And finally, entice them to read the rest of the popups. Typically, only 2% of your visitors will read more than the headline. And so, a good headline must encourage at least that many to check the rest of the popup’s copy.

This popup meets all the criteria:

An exit popup on featuring a strong headline

It grabs a person’s attention with the underlined word “win”, clearly indicates what’s on offer,  and entices to read the rest of the copy.

When writing your headline, ask yourself:

  1. Does it clearly describe your offer? Are you making it obvious for a visitor what you’re offering?
  2. Are you using plain language you audience will definitely understand?
  3. Does it include numbers (if applicable)?
  4. Does it include a power word or an active verb?
  5. Does it follow one of the headline formulas ideal for exit popups?

 Here’s another example of a direct headline that works:

It states the offer in just two words, grabs attention, and includes language relevant to the audience (shoppers still unsure about buying from the store). It also includes numbers that immediately attract attention, and features an active verb (and a power word at the same time).

Part 2. Subheading / description

Depending on your popup design, you might need to include a sub-heading or a full-blown description. Regardless of which one you choose, it will be the element that tells a person more information about your offer.

The tricky part with writing subheadings or descriptions is that they have to be short and snappy but at the same time, communicate everything visitors need to know to want to act on your offer.

If you offer a financial incentive to sign up, your headline needs to tell the basic T&Cs so that the person knows what they’re getting and when.

However, if you’re trying to entice a person to sign up in any other way, writing description copy becomes more problematic.

All in all, when explaining your offer, ask:

  1. Is the subheading/description brief and easy to understand?
  2. Does it communicate the value of your offer?
  3. Is it relevant to the audience’s pain point?

Smartblogger asks their audience questions in the description that make the copy and the popup relevant to their pain points. And they follow with a very sharp copy, outlining the benefits of signing up for the offer.

This Ecommerce store uses the description to not only explain the offer but also, communicate the next steps in the process:

Part 3. The Offer

Let’s face it; your exit popup could feature a killer headline, compelling description, and engaging images.
But unless you offer visitors’ something they’re willing to exchange their email address for; your campaign will fail.

Enter the offer.
I define a popup’s offer as what a person is going to get once they act on the call to action.
It’s not what they do but what they get in return.

And that’s the trick in coming up with enticing offers. To craft a compelling one, you need to understand the benefit a person gets from it.

Look at this example from AmericanApparel. Notice that apart from offering a discount, the company also highlights additional benefits of signing up.
Since they target price a conscious buyer with a discount, it also makes sense to highlight exclusive offers a person will get access to after signing up.

American Apparel opt-in popup

Questions to ask when crafting your offer:

  1. Is it relevant to your audience’s needs?
  2. Is it something they need?
  3. Is it easy to understand?

Part 4. Signup form

Since technically it’s not part of the popup’s content, signup form often gets little attention. And yet, it will most certainly affect your popup’s conversion rate.

Many studies proved that in spite of offering a compelling offer, and communicating it with engaging copy, lead generation campaigns failed. And all because of a poor signup form.
For example, asking for too much information might deter a person from signing up.

And it makes sense if you think about it. After all, you’ve interrupted their action (leaving the site). And now you ask them to complete another, even more complex task.
This exit popup from Dental Art asks a visitor who decided to leave the site to schedule a consultation. Granted, it might be working (I honestly don’t know), but my gut feeling is that displaying a full form to someone who decided to leave the site might not be a good idea.


When thinking of a signup form, consider the following:

  1. Is it short enough so the person can complete it relatively quickly?
  2. Does a person need to make decisions to complete it?
  3. Is the information clearly labeled on the form?
  4. Can a visitor clearly see the form on a popup?

Tim Soulo from Ahrefs uses a short form, asking only for the most important information, and uses contrasting colors to make sure that visitors can see it right away.
Also, note instructions in the form field as to what information a person should include.

Elegant Themes also include clear instructions as to what a visitor needs to do.

Part 5. Visuals

Although not required on a popup, visuals can help increase conversions.
For example:

Lewis Howes’ exit popup features an image of him gazing towards the headline, naturally directing our gaze at it too.

This popup, on the other hand, features the product, along with various visual cues that help a visitor imagine themselves using it.

When considering using visuals on a popup, ask yourself:

  1. Is the visual relevant to the offer?
  2. Does it show visitors what they’ll get?
  3. If it features people, do they exhibit the emotion I want my visitors to feel when getting the offer?
  4. Do they look towards the element you want visitors to pay the most attention to?
  5. Is the image professional?

Part 6. Call to action

A call to action (CTA) is the second most important element of a popup, after the headline. It tells a visitor what you want them to do and how to complete that action.
And the trick is that even if the person entered their email in the form, you still need to convince them to click the submit button.

When writing a call to action button copy, you should consider:

  • Does it communicate the action the person needs to complete?
  • Is the action relevant to the offer?
  • Does it include an active verb?
  • Does it focus on the positive (while the secondary call to action targets the negative)?
  • Does the button itself stand out on the popup?
  • Does it include no more than 3-4 words?

A popup featuring an enticing call-to-action on

Part 7. Privacy and security

Trust is a major factor affecting our online behavior. As customers, we’re aware of potential dangers of handing over our email addresses to unknown companies.
Therefore, your popup should include elements that convince a person to trust you:

  • Privacy statement, and
  • Trust seals

When designing the popup, consider the following:

  • Do you include a privacy policy under the form to reassure visitors?
  • Do you feature trust marks and trust seals to highlight that it is safe to sign up to your list?
  • Do you include social proof that reassures a person of your trustworthiness?

Elegant Themes include Norton badge on the popup denoting that their site is regularly checked for security.

And, that’s it.

Answering all these questions should help you create an exit popup guaranteed to convert visitors.
Good luck!

Pawel Grabowski Pawel is an SEO and content marketing consultant working exclusively with SaaS brands.

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