5 Tips for Designing a High Converting Website Pop Up (Plus 4 Bonus Conversion Tactics)

It’s no secret, website pop ups have changed the way online businesses engage, interact, and convert their visitors. Whether you like them or not, they are incredibly effective, especially when used right. Still, many marketers are missing the boat when using pop ups on their website. In this article, we’ll cover the key elements of a high converting website pop up and how you can pop up conversions with a few simple tweaks.

What a website visitor wants

Before we jump into the fun stuff, we have to look at things from the website visitor’s perspective. Here’s a short list of things to consider from a visitor’s point of view.

  • They expect something of value
  • They are hit with marketing messages and pop ups daily
  • They are visual creatures
  • They have short attention spans
  • They are human

How can we market to them in a way that is unique, provides value, and ultimately, effective?

What you want as a marketer

As a marketer, your needs are different than those of a website visitor. Here’s a list of things that I value as a marketer and I’m guessing, if you’re reading this article, you have a similar list to mine.

  • You want a high converting pop up
  • You want to make a good first impression
  • You want qualified leads
  • You don’t want to damage your website experience
  • You want more opportunities for conversions

Key Elements of a High Converting Website Pop Up

What if I told you that you could design your website pop ups to cater to your visitor’s needs while also fulfilling your marketing needs? You definitely can and it’s not rocket science. After considering the marketer’s and visitor’s points of view, here are the key elements of high converting website pop ups. This is the last list (possibly) that I’ll put in front of you.

  • Branding and Design
  • Actionable and Relevant Headline
  • Highlight your offering
  • Clear CTA Copy
  • 3 Form Fields or Less

Pop Up Branding and Design

It’s in your best interest to invest some time in designing a pop up that grabs attention, represents your brand, and matches your website design. I could throw out the obvious “it just looks better” argument, but there’s much more to it.

As mentioned earlier, consumers see pop ups daily and the vast majority of them look something like this.

While I’m all for using pop ups to convert visitors, the truth of the matter is that these are far less effective and they are conditioning people to ignore the marketing message because they all look exactly the same.

Design and branding is your opportunity to stand out from the other guys and engage a visitor with something that will actually grab their attention and get them to convert. A well designed pop up will stand out, convert at a higher percentage, and won’t damage the website experience or brand perception. Here are a couple of examples that really stand out from the pack of mediocre pop ups.

Simple, distinctive email pop up from Greetabl

Effective gated content pop up from Momentum Mag

Actionable and Relevant Headlines

“Join our Newsletter” just doesn’t cut it anymore. That’s a statement that implies benefit to you, the business, and absolutely no benefit to the visitor. I’m not bashing newsletters because I know they can provide value to subscribers, but you must craft a headline that clearly states what value the subscriber would receive. Is it a discount? An e-book? If you don’t have an added incentive, let your visitors know why your newsletter is of value.


Highlight Your Offering

This is an extension of your headline. Your headline should grab attention and display value while the pop up copy persuades the visitor to take further action. Here’s a great example from Evo.

Remember, we’re dealing with short attention spans so be clear and concise when describing your offering. This copy should tell visitors what value they will receive, what action they need to take to receive the benefit (email opt in, social follow, no action at all), and when they will receive the benefit ( monthly newsletter, instant coupon code, email containing e-book to download, etc.)


Clear CTA Copy

Consistency in your marketing message is key for a high converting pop up. This applies to your call-to-action (CTA) button. Again, don’t be generic and please, do not use a CTA labeled “submit.”

Be clear, spur action, and show some personality if possible. A CTA i used recently was “Get My Free E-Book.” It clearly states what will occur when a visitor completes the form and presses the button. Here’s a list of words to use within pop ups and CTA’s.

  • Now
  • Quick
  • Fast
  • Hurry
  • Rapidly
  • Instant
  • Get
  • Approaching
  • Close
  • Never
  • Seconds
  • Again
  • Over


Three Form Fields or Less

We want to eliminate barriers that prevent visitors from actually converting within a pop up. One major barrier is the number of form fields. If you’re presenting a pop up to a first time visitor, the goal is to get a conversion. For this reason, just ask for an email. Email capture provides the greatest benefit to your business and it should be your main focus when using pop ups.

If you must ask for more information, don’t go over three fields. Anything over this and it appears to be too much work in the eyes of the visitor. This lowers your chance of converting that visitor. Also, make sure the information you’re asking for is relevant to your marketing and the visitor. For example, if you’re selling shoes, ask for a shoe size so you can deliver more relevant marketing emails.


A Note on Mobile Pop Ups

Mobile traffic is different and therefore should be treated differently. This change the way you design and write copy for mobile pop ups. A few things to consider: use less text, bigger font size, and blatantly showcase your offering.

In addition to this, Google has recently updated their policies regarding mobile pop ups. In short, Google does not want you to present a pop up to visitors immediately after they click through from a Google search result. Besides that restriction, you are free to use mobile pop ups on your website! Here’s an article that provides a full breakdown of Google’s policy update and best practices for mobile pop ups.


Bonus: Give these conversion tactics a try

2 Step Pop Ups

2 step pop ups use micro-commitments to drive visitors to convert. Micro-commitments are small actions that you ask visitors to perform leading up to a bigger conversion step. In this case, the higher conversion step would be an email opt-in or purchase.

Simply pose a question like “Want a discount?” Then provide two calls to action: one that is a “Yes” response and another that is a “No” response. This presents visitors with a decision that they must make. When an individual selects a “Yes” response, they are psychologically inclined to behave consistently with the “Yes” commitment. It’s not a sure thing but the visitor is much more likely to stay on the same path and convert. Using an a/b test, this ecommerce business discovered that pop up conversions increased by 104% when using a two step pop up!

Cheeky Opt-Out Text

Using some negativity may actually help conversion rates. Try using some clever opt-out text to give your visitors a fear of missing out on some value. Here are two variations of the same pop up. One has a basic close button and the other has a close button with some cheeky text. The one with cheeky text outperformed the other variation in email opt ins by 15.51% and sales conversion by 217%.

Full Screen Pop Ups

If the goal is to interrupt the visit and bring full attention to your pop up, a full screen pop up could be your best bet. This conversion tactic can be very effective, especially when implemented at the right times. Consider using a full screen takeover with exit pop ups and cart abandonment pop ups to ensure that your message will not be overlooked.

Countdown Timer

Creating urgency during a website visit is an excellent way to drive action. A simple way to do this is to use a countdown timer within your pop up. This timer could be the amount of time left to engage with the offer. It could also be used to let shoppers know how much time is left during a current sale. Here’s more info on how to create urgency on your website.

Create a High Converting Pop Up Today!

Now that you have some direction on how to optimize your pop ups for conversion, it’s time to implement some changes! Making a few simple tweaks to your website pop ups can drastically increase conversion rates and the design process can actually be quite fun.

For additional design inspiration, here’s 10 more examples of pop up designs and why they work

  • amazing content!

  • Good stuff. Another point I’d suggest considering, is timing. For example, many stores do the immediate homepage in your face 10% discount popup that is becoming standard. Instead, try showing category specific popups after X seconds of browsing that page. It’s more relevant and could have a more specific opt-in offer.

  • Great article, thanks for sharing.

    As mentioned, it is best to keep forms as short as possible. Otherwise they can be real deal-killers. Certain details are often required, though, making it very difficult to keep forms short.

    We have created a solution, however, that all but eliminates the need for forms. We have created a network of marketers that can form alliances with each other withing the network. When partnerships are formed, our platform allows for customer’s details to be passed over to other member stores. This is done with the customer’s permission of course.

    What this does is to allow customers to create accounts at new stores within the network without filling in forms. The stores can advertise each other’s goods and when an ad is clicked on by a customer, they are taken straight through to the buying page. This friction free approach helps to increase conversion rates considerably. It also helps to provide an enhanced experience for the customer.

  • Reconnect Support

    That’s a very cool article. I would also like to mention Actonlytics.

    It is a pretty neat tool (I am a part of the team, which is working on it) that tells you what actions you could take to improve your store’s revenue. Additionally, it integrates with some popular ecommerce platforms like eBay, Amazon and more.

    We are at the stage of collecting feedback from users so if you could check out our service and let us know what could be improved, we would really appreciate it.


  • Well most of the time I don’t read the pop up, I just close it. I believe many users are like me.