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How to Design a Website Exit Pop-up That Significantly Boosts Email Sign-ups Here are some best practices for exit intent pop-ups based on our experiments and extensive research.

By Olga Mykhoparkina Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

oatawa | Getty Images

Conversion rate optimization (CRO) is nothing new. However, as you surf the net, you can't help but notice plenty of web pages that are just begging for optimization. Obviously, not every business is using CRO to its full capacity. Meanwhile, small tweaks to your website have the power to significantly boost the number of sign-ups, subscriptions and sales.

One of the underestimated CRO hacks is the exit intent pop-up. Put simply, it's a pop-up that appears once the visitor is about to navigate away from the website. Usually, it encourages site users to sign up with an email, introduces a special offer or motivates visitors to stay otherwise.

A number of websites, both big and small, have already taken advantage of this simple and easy-to-implement technique. For example, Sumo has witnessed amazing results of growing its email list by 40,000 subscribers thanks to the exit intent pop-up. Our marketing team at Chanty has also tried the trick and is happy to confirm a significant 25 percent boost in sign-ups thanks to the exit pop-up magic.

CRO is all about experimenting and testing. An exit intent pop-up isn't an exception. Chasing the silver bullet, our marketing team has tested different pop-up sizes, and experimented with pop-up frequency, designs and texts. Here are a few exit pop-up best practices, based both on our experiments and extensive research.

Men's Health

Come up with an irresistible offer.

There should be a compelling enough reason for site visitors to stop and consider your offer before hitting exit. Some of the things to include in your pop-up: downloadable content (ebook, checklist, cheat sheet, etc.); special deal (discount, coupon); newsletter sign-up; contest or giveaway entrance; prelaunch opt-in; or an invite to follow on social accounts. Obviously, the more attractive the offer is, the more likely you are to keep potential customers from bouncing.

As an example, Men's Health invites users to "Get Jacked for FREE!"

Related: 6 Proven Facebook Advertising Offers You Can Use to Attract More Business


Leave no room for distraction.

When it comes to size, there are two main types of exit intent pop-ups -- a full-screen pop-up that hides the website underneath it, and a window-style pop-up that partially overlaps the site content. While it's completely up to you and your branding which one to go with, our experience shows that switching from a window-type to a full-screen pop-up doubles the conversion rate. The psychology behind this is in placing visitors' complete focus on the pop-up. As a result, they don't automatically close the pop-up like they do with a window-type one.

The above example from PCMag.com shows a full-screen pop-up.

Disneyland Paris

Avoid a cliche call to action.

While "Be the first to know" and "Sign up now" call to action (CTA) messages are completely fine, you can turn on your creativity and come up with something more engaging and eye-catching. Think of a CTA that triggers emotions and addresses the pain point of your buyer persona. Make sure it also aligns with the overall branding.

Disneyland Paris's CTA reads, "Add some Disney 'Ooohh!' to your inbox!"

Related: 11 Call to Action Hacks to Boost Clicks and Conversions


Steal attention with graphics.

Sumo's research on pop-ups shows that images and bright colors remain the driving force of visitors' engagement. Moreover, our experiments have confirmed that animated graphics perform even better, resulting in 15 percent more sign-ups. The visuals you choose for your exit pop-up should trigger emotions and resonate with the audience. Therefore, let's leave the cheesy stock images behind. Whether it's an image or a GIF you've picked for an exit pop-up, it should excite, shock, surprise or make people laugh. What it shouldn't do is leave visitors completely indifferent.

Check out this eye-catching pop-up from Visme.

Related: The Psychology of Color in Marketing and Branding


Make it hard to say no.

Rather than saying "No, thank you" or "Remind me later," you have a unique opportunity to discourage visitors from bouncing in a creative and compelling way. I've picked a few phrases website owners use as a "No" option in their exit intent popups:

  • No, I don't want more clients.
  • No, all of my customers buy.
  • No, my business is already perfect.
  • No, thanks, I'd rather learn the hard way.
  • No, I'd like to pay a full price.

Marketer Neil Patel uses the phrase "No thanks, I don't want more traffic" on his site.


Respect your website visitors.

The general rule of thumb for an exit intent pop-up is to have a close button that could be seen clearly and instantly. An exit pop-up isn't something your visitors have asked for. Therefore, they should have the ability to close it the moment they feel like it.

The same goes for exit popup frequency. For our website, we stop exit pop-ups from showing after one day for those who decided to close the window; one month for those who clicked the "no" option; and one year for those who signed up. You can start by applying our advice or develop a custom appearance frequency based on your buyer persona.

Showing a full-screen exit pop-up could sometimes lead to confusion. Visitors may think they've been redirected somewhere and opt to bounce away. A transparent popup background helps to avoid this. Seeing the web page through the pop-up gives people a confident feeling they are still on your website.

Respecting visitors is all about providing a non-intrusive and seamless experience for your website audience. The more trusting visitors you earn, the more browsers you will eventually turn into buyers.


Add a personal touch with referral detection.

Personalization has been a big deal in marketing for the last several years at least. Just like any other aspect of marketing, exit pop-ups couldn't be left unaffected by this trend. Imagine your website was featured on Entrepreneur.com and a fair share of traffic flowed directly to your website. Wouldn't it be great to craft an individual message and give special attention to those visitors? Tools like Privy, OptiMonster and OptiMonk let you not only implement the exit intent pop-up for your website, but also detect the referral source, creating personal experience for site visitors.


Experiment to find what works for your site.

Exit pop-ups, if done right, can significantly improve website conversion rate. Luckily, it takes only a few minutes to implement thanks to modern software tools. Moreover, now that you're familiar with exit pop-up essentials and best practices, you have a solid starting point to work from.

However, the creative part is quite tricky. Coming up with the right offer, CTA and visuals, requires far more time and effort. This is when the CRO mantra comes into play -- experiment with the exit intent pop-up offer, texts, images, sizes and frequency, conduct A/B tests and optimize according to the test results.

Good luck boosting your conversion rate!

Olga Mykhoparkina

CMO at Chanty

Olga Mykhoparkina is chief marketing officer at Chanty, a simple AI-powered business messenger and a single notification center. She is responsible for Chanty’s online presence strategy, getting things done to change the way teams communicate and collaborate.

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