Website popup ads have a questionable reputation. A lot of users just find them annoying. At best, these people quickly close the window without reading a word; at worst, they leave the site. However, popups are also known to be highly effective at directing attention, collecting leads and personal data, boosting sales, and generally improving conversion rates—when they’re well done.
That’s the big caveat, of course.
Poorly thought-out and poorly executed popups are all over the place online, and they’re exactly why these ads make such a bad impression on so many people. But if you steer clear of the following common website popup mistakes, you can drastically cut down on the number of visitors you turn off, and significantly increase the number of times you achieve certain on-site goals.
Common Website Popup Mistakes
- Bad timing – This is undoubtedly the most aggregious and most common website popup mistake. These boxes don’t have to appear the instant a person lands on a page. For example, a popup asking people to subscribe if they love your content shouldn’t appear the second someone opens your blog; they haven’t read any content yet. Instead, the popup should open after a certain amount of time or scrolling down the page. Think about what makes sense and when the popup actually provides value to the user.
- No targeting – Popups need to align with the purpose of the page and the intent of its visitors. Don’t prompt people to download an e-book on your home page; there’s no reason to expect them to want that at this point. On the other hand, a popup encouraging people to request a free quote fits nicely once people scroll to the bottom of a blog post about what to ask when getting a free quote. Always consider the intent of the users on a particular page, and design a popup that aligns with it.
- No real value – If a popup doesn’t offer something users can appreciate—at that exact point in time—it’s a useless interruption of their experience with your site. An opportunity to save money is usually welcome, at least when users are probably considering a purchase. But a generic popup on the home page that only says “Sign up for our newsletter” doesn’t do anything to help the visitor understand why they should subscribe, and it’s unconnected to anything they’ve done.
- Offputting design – Popups should be visually appealing. People don’t want to be assaulted by ugly color combinations or patterns, flashing components, or an illegible font. They generally don’t like when music or sounds start playing unexpectedly, either. They’re already taken a little aback by the sudden appearance of the popup. An unattractive or unprofessional design also comes across as spammy and undermine trust in your site and brand. Keep popups tasteful, simple, and easy to read and follow.
- Unprofessional copy – What your popup ad says is just as important as how it looks. If your copy is wordy, hard to understand, vague, boring, or it contains spelling or grammar errors, it can’t be effective. And this too undermines trust in your website and brand. Popup copy must be written correctly, clearly, concisely, engagingly, and in your brand voice so that it speaks compellingly to your target audience.