Content Marketing
6 Reasons Why Your Pop-Ups Aren’t Converting (and How to Fix Them)

6 Reasons Why Your Pop-Ups Aren’t Converting (and How to Fix Them)

December 6, 2022
8 min read

Are pop-ups still worth your while? While they may seem outdated and annoying, they have the potential to deliver a 150% ROI!

The key is to avoid making mistakes that give Google cause to penalize your site and visitors reason to leave it. Take inventory of your current pop-up ads. If you aren’t seeing CTR of at least 10%, you’re below average.

Read on for 6 mistakes to avoid at all costs to help boost your pop-up ad success rate.

Key Takeaways: 

  • Pop-up ads aren’t dead. But they are specific! A well-done pop-up ad will deliver a conversion rate of up to 42%.
  • Keep it simple and worthwhile with to-the-point copy and irresistible offers. 
  • Visuals are everything, within the pop-up itself and its placement. 
  • Always test what works best for your audience and optimize your pop-ups frequently. 

Is Creating a Pop-Up Even Worth Your While?

First things first, what is the purpose behind creating pop-up ads? You won’t see success in pop-up conversions without understanding what you should be looking for!

Your pop-up should be a powerful, obvious and easily actionable CTA. But, as all facets of marketing, they have to be executed in a certain way to be effective.

The nature of a pop-up is interruptive, it’s even in the name! But Google has been penalizing ads deemed “intrusive” since 2017. Even though this sounds contradictory. It doesn’t have to be. One great example is exit pop-ups. They only appear when a user is about to leave your page, so they don’t ruin their experience on your website.

When done correctly and tastefully (aka not ruining your user’s experience) pop-ups can convert at a surprisingly high rate. The average conversion rate for pop-ups is 11.09%, which is already a pretty impressive number! Optimized pop-ups stand to convert as high as 42% of website visitors in some cases.

So how do you make your pop-ups some of the more successful ones? Here are some things you have to avoid like the plague when it comes to creating a pop-up ad.

6 Mistake to Avoid

1. Weak Offer

The biggest issue that ultimately impacts the success of a pop-up has to do with the offer you are presenting. Put plainly, if your offer is weak, your audience is not going to convert.

But what does a weak offer look like exactly? Here are some questions to ask that can help you decide if your offer is too weak:

  • Do you think your offer is worth what you’re asking for? Consumers are naturally wary of providing their personal information to companies and brands. Is the offer you’re presenting worth it? If all you’re promising is email updates and announcements in exchange for an opt-in, the answer is probably no. Your website visitors need to feel like they are getting access to something special that no one else will have access to unless they subscribe.
  • What are your competitors offering on their pop-ups? Have you visited the websites of your competitors recently? What kind of offers are they presenting to website visitors? How do those offers compare to yours? The answers to these questions will help you build more compelling pop-up offers for your potential customers.
  • Is your offer specific and relevant enough? Will your offer be compelling to your audience specifically? Will they feel within a few seconds of seeing your pop-up that they have to opt-in? If so, you likely have a pop-up that will convert. To make your offer specific and relevant, you have to use the right images and language. More on that later.
  • Would you offer your information in the pop-up? Put yourself in the shoes of your visitors—if you were presented with the pop-up you created, would you engage with it? If not, it might be worth revisiting.
  • Does your offer remain static over time? Are you testing multiple offers over time? Launching a/b tests on your pop-ups is one of the best ways to boost conversions and understand how to optimize the language and other components you use to try to connect with prospects on your website as a whole.

How to Fix:

To create stronger offers, try implementing the following 3 tips:

  • Tip #1: Ask your customers. In order to determine which offers would be most compelling to your website visitors, take some time to ask some of your best and most loyal customers. Send them 1-on-1 emails or get on the phone with them to discuss three options. Offer them a discount or a perk for providing you with insight.
  • Tip #2: Be specific. Make sure your language and imagery aligns well with the audience you’re trying to attract. Be specific and help your website visitors understand why they specifically should engage with the CTA you include in your pop-up.
  • Tip #3: Test often. Don’t let your pop-ups sit for too long. Always be testing different language, graphics, button color, size, placement, and offers.

And if you need some inspiration, check out the highest converting types of pop-ups:

Image Source: OptiMonk

2. Too Much Copy

Your conversions and engagement could also be low because of the amount of information you’re trying to squeeze into your pop-up. Too much information in your pop-up could be overwhelming people, especially if they are visiting your store for the first time. When you try to include too much copy in your pop-up, it can make it look too busy, too “loud”, or too forceful.

How to Fix:

To improve your pop-up copy, consider implementing the following tips:

  • Tip #1: Trim the fat. First things first, read through your pop-up copy and determine if there are any extra words that aren’t needed. Your goal is to help your store visitors understand your offer within just a few seconds. You might think that using clever or illustrative language in your pop-up will convince people to take action, but it’s actually more likely to distract. Use as little language as possible in order to attract, inform, and motivate. Let your brand voice and style shine on your product pages instead.
  • Tip #2: Get user feedback. Before ditching your pop-up strategy altogether, it’s worth getting some feedback from other people in order to determine what’s working and what’s not. Recruit your friends, family members, or colleagues in the industry and ask them to take a look at your pop-up. Give them specific questions to answer when they go to review it (ex. Do you understand the offer being presented? Is it an attractive offer? Do you understand what you’re supposed to do next? Would you actually follow-through on the action?) The answers to these questions will ultimately help you optimize your pop-up for future website visitors.
  • Tip #3: Explore better writing. If your pop-up isn’t driving people to convert in the way you expected, it might just be because your writing isn’t compelling enough. To learn how to write conversion-driven copy, explore this helpful resource.
  • Tip #4: Find other examples. If you’re not sure what your pop-up should look like or what language you should be using to motivate your website visitors, look for examples on other ecommerce websites. Most are using pop-ups in some way or another (to build their email list, to announce a new product, to share an exclusive offer, etc). If you’re looking for a place to start, spend time looking through the 40 website pop-up examples featured in this article from Printful.

3. Poor Visuals

In the ecommerce, visuals are everything. As I’ve written about before many times, you can’t drive online consumers to buy without effective visuals placed throughout your ecommerce store. Why? Because consumers are used to buying products in brick-and-mortar stores—stores that they can physically visit to see and touch the products they’re thinking about buying. In ecommerce, you can’t offer that same shopping experience, unless you’re one of the few brands that let’s customers try before they buy (the shopping experience made famous by Warby Parker).

Visuals help you bridge the gap. Well-placed, well-produced visuals can help build a brand identity, differentiate from competitors, attract your ideal customer, and sell more products. On the flip side, poor visuals can wreak havoc on your ability to get your visitors to convert.

Visuals can make or break your pop-up. A great visual can create excitement, urgency, and action. A bad visual can breed hesitation, uncertainty, and a lack of trust.

How to Fix:

To ensure that you’re using the best and most effective visuals possible in your pop-ups, follow these tips:

  • Tip #1: Understand how to take great product photos. The best thing you can do is spend time understanding how to excel at product photography.
  • Tip #2: Use photos of people using your products. Don’t just feature your product—feature people happily using your products. It’s a great way to quickly connect with visitors who are landing on your website and seeing your products for the very first time.
  • Tip #3: Keep it simple. Don’t use complex images or backgrounds in your pop-up. Focus on the product and the type of person who would benefit from using it.
  • Tip #4: Avoid using low-res photos. Avoid using low-quality or blurry photos. If you need to, hire a graphic designer or developer who can help you export and upload photos correctly.

4. Bad Placement or Timing

In order to get any sort of ROI from showing pop-ups to your ecommerce store visitors, you need to make sure that they are being displayed in the right places and at the right time. A poorly placed or poorly timed pop-up can leave the wrong first impression, prevent would-be customers from moving forward with the purchases they intended to make, or worst of all, drive visitors away from your website and store altogether.

There are a few ways you can format your pop-ups. You have to take inventory of your audience and decide which version will work best for them. Take into account the kind of content your pop-up will appear on. If it’s your homepage, a welcome mat pop-up might work best. A pop-up on your blog page should be less distracting, since your visitor came to your page to read your content, not an ad.

image of different types of pop-ups, welcome mats, banners, overlays and slide in

Image Source: HubSpot

How to Fix:

To ensure that you’re displaying pop-ups at the right time and place, follow these tips:

  • Tip #1: Delay homepage welcome pop-ups by at least 5-7 seconds. Give visitors a chance to see and familiarize themselves with your homepage for a few seconds before bombarding them with an offer.
  • Tip #2: Don’t show pop-ups too often. Use pop-up software that allows you to customize how often the same person sees your pop-ups. For example, don’t show them the same pop-up to a person each time they navigate back to your homepage during the same visit. Prevent a pop-up from displaying again to the same website visitor until a certain amount of days has passed.
  • Tip #3: Don’t show pop-ups on shopping cart or checkout pages. Reduce friction by preventing your pop-ups from showing up on pages that take customers through the buying journey. Make it as easy as possible for them to complete the process.
  • Tip #4: Don’t show pop-ups on mobile. Avoid complicating your mobile shopping experience with pop-ups. Pop-ups that cover too much website content on mobile devices can result in penalizations from Google.

5. Too Salesy

To win in ecommerce today, you can’t sell products. You have to sell experiences. Online consumers don’t want to be sold to—they want to interact with brands that will help them create experiences and memories. They want to engage with companies that can help them achieve their goals (travel more, eat better, exercise more, become more productive, etc).

If your pop-ups haven’t been converting, it might be because they are coming across as just a little bit too salesy. Because the nature of a pop-up is already inherently forceful to most people, it’s your job as an ecommerce marketer to present them with messaging that doesn’t come across as aggressive or forceful.

How to Fix:

To ensure that your pop-ups aren’t overly salesy or pushy, follow these tips:

  • Tip #1: Know your audience. Understand how your audience prefers to be communicated with. Use the language that they are used to seeing and hearing when building your pop-up and writing your copy.
  • Tip #2: Don’t use gimmicky language. Just because you see a phrase somewhere else, doesn’t mean it’s actually working. Avoid using cheesy sales language and conversion-driven words that make eyes roll.
  • Tip #3: Present a legitimate offer. This goes back to the beginning of this article—if you’re going to present a pop-up to your website visitors, you better be making a good offer. If not, you’re only going to make your visitors feel like you’re only interested in figuring out how to get their money as fast as possible. Remember: your goal is to build relationships and sell  the idea of an experience to the people who land on your website.
  • Tip #4: Make it easy to opt-out. Don’t make opting out of your pop-up a mystery for people. Make it easy for your visitors to understand how to collapse or dismiss a pop-up if they don’t want to interact with it.

6. Not Optimized Through Testing

If your pop-ups aren’t converting and you’re not taking the time to launch different variations for your website visitors to see and engage with, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to learn about your audience and what actually compels them to take action.

How to Fix:

This one is plain and simple: use pop-up software that allows you to launch A/B tests of your pop-ups, and then actually take the time to build and launch your tests! Review results, gather insights, and make changes accordingly to drive more conversions.

Over to You

How do your pop-ups perform when compared to these mistakes? It’s never too late to make a change! The key is to always be testing different versions of your pop-ups until you find the one that works best for your audience.

If you’re thinking of starting a blog for your website and aren’t sure where to start, schedule a free consultation with us now! Check out our SEO Blog Writing Services for more information. 

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Giana Reno

Giana is the Director of Content for Marketing Insider Group, a top-rated Content Marketing Agency. Connect with her on LinkedIn to stay up-to-date on all things MIG.