Conversion rate optimization

Are Your Website Popups Annoying Customers? Here Are 3 Ways to Fix ‘Em

With all the noise of the internet, and attention spans getting shorter and shorter, website pop-ups are still the best way to grab customer attention and keep it.

But what about that niggling detail I know you want to ignore? The fact that many visitors find website pop-ups annoying.
So how do we make the most of pop-ups without regressing to the role of Slimy Marketer?

Let’s say you own a store that sells body products and a customer enters. You could either be that annoying salesperson who follows her around and comments on everything she looks at, OR you could greet her warmly, step back, and subtly pay attention. You only offer to help only when she looks lost.

Just like in-personal sales, pop-ups aren’t annoying when they’re thoughtful.

How can a pop-up be thoughtful? Read on.

Problem 1: Your popup is impossible to close

You’ve just clicked a link from Twitter. You’re excited about watching this cat video. But suddenly – ugh – a pop-up appears, blocking your view. You’re too distracted by your desire to watch said cat video, so you immediately try to exit the pop-up, barely glancing at its content.
But the damn thing won’t close. There’s no x in the corner and clicking outside the box isn’t working. You just watch this damn YouTube video. Suddenly you don’t care about cats and instead you’re pissed at the website. You exit without ever watching those cats play patty-cake.
can't close annoying website popupNotice a complete lack of closing options.


Sure, you might get more sign ups if your pop-up won’t close, but you damage your brand if you try to force people into action. This means you’ll get less repeat visitors over time, especially if those visitors can barely browse your site without being interrupted. By demanding an email address you’ve lost out on a video view and potential long-term visitor.
Lesson: make your pop-up offer easy to decline.

You have three closing options:

  • An “x” to close. This is the most common, and traditionally appears in the top right-hand corner.
  • Clicking outside the box. You can choose to pair this with an “x” so it’s even easier to exit.
  • Negative call to action. This is a button or link that says something like “no thanks” or “I don’t want a discount”.

Problem 2: Your website popup appears too soon

Back to the cat video.
Ideally, that pop-up wouldn’t display to new visitors until the video had played. If content is at all part of your marketing plan, don’t use pop-ups that block said content.

When a visitor lands on your site for the first time, they want to see what your website has to offer, not be inundated with marketing messages. There’s nothing wrong with pop-ups on landing – this is great for highlighting a sale or other time-sensitive event – but give it a few seconds while your visitor gets acquainted with your site.
annoying website popup negative call to action


Let’s say this cat website was fast to load and I got to watch the video. Amazing! I love me some cats playing patty cake. Now I’m happy. Now is the perfect time to show me a popup that says, “Love cat videos? Sign up for weekly updates with our favorites.”
Simply adjust your pop-up timing. Instead of harassing visitors immediately, display your popup on exit, after scrolling or once they’ve clicked a second link. These metrics show visitors are already engaged.

Problem 3: Using different pop-ups on every page

Imagine you’ve landed on a website and after closing one pop-up, another appears on the next page you load. Then another after you try to exit.

Suddenly it’s 1998 and 100 images of naked women have crashed your orange iMac. No bueno.
multiple website pop-ups can't closeWisepops won’t show multiple pop-ups on one page, but if you’re creating a new pop-up for every product and action, visitors will feel bombarded.


If you’re going to have multiple campaigns firing at once (which you definitely should), get crystal clear on who sees what and when.
If you have:

  1. One pop-up aimed at all new visitors
  2. Another on exit for Facebook referrals, and
  3. Another on your about page with a discount code…

…you might want to pair down.

Prioritizing your marketing messages is an important exercise for any business. But this will also help you determine: What single action do I want visitors to take when they visit my site? If the answer is “buy a product” or “sign up for a newsletter”, great. Do that. But if there’s more than one? Separate your pop-ups so new visitors only see the most important one and recurring visitors see something completely different.
You can also add a “please don’t display again” link that will ensure visitors no longer see any pop-up for 30 days.

Your turn: Do you think your pop-ups might be annoying customers? Ask us any question in the comments and we’ll try to help you troubleshoot how to fix it!
**All the pop-ups in this post were created using Wisepops. Like ‘em? Try it yourself for free.

Marian Schembari Marian is an award-winning blogger and the puppet-master behind Wisepops' stories.

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