In the great pop-up debate should we let logic dictate?

Ugly discussions take place regarding the use of ecommerce pop-ups.

From the informed ‘I hate sites that use popups’ to the evangelical guarantees of 10x growth, opinion is divided.

Here’s the problem. As a tactic, yes pop-ups are intrusive and can often disrupt purchasing processes when used incorrectly.

Playing their part in an overall acquisition strategy? Then pop-ups can and should be used. Smartly.

The logical question to ask is whether the pop-up delivers access to something of value to your customer at the point the pop-up is actioned.

  • Does the pop-up deliver discount at the point where a customer may be hesitant to purchase due to price?
  • Does the pop-up deliver confidence at the point where a customer is concerned over delivery times or costs?
  • Does the pop-up offer access to products that would be of more interest to your customer than the products they’re currently viewing?

What you don’t do is present a ‘Get our newsletter’ templated message. Newsletters, as a mechanism, don’t offer value. There’s no value exchange taking place.

Let’s head back to my earlier point. Strategy. Does the pop-up sit within a marketing process that builds trust and offers value to your customer?

  • Is the pop-up presented to a specific website visitor? (by country, source, etc)
  • Is the pop-up message specific to the page the visitor is viewing? (delivery times, product pages, etc)
  • Is the pop-up created to win new customers or keep existing customers? (voucher promotion, loyalty codes, etc)

What you can’t do is simply launch and hope. The majority of integrated pop-up providers ( Privy, Optimonk, OptinMonster etc ) allow for targeting. They allow for customisation.

How dumb is it to drive traffic from an email newsletter and the first touchpoint your subscriber sees is the pop-up introducing the newsletter subscription form?

Just a few tweaks and you can avoid this from happening.


Stop showing pop-ups to email subscribers


Pop-ups work. I’ve seen countless successes where the behaviour-triggered overlay has had a significant impact on growth. The very reason they exist is to create awareness of a value that the customer may not know exists.

Nobody likes popups. You’re not meant to. The vast majority you witness are launched at you without thought, without strategy.

The pop-up is just a mechanism. It’s neither good nor bad. It’s simply a mechanism. The message? It’s the message the defines the success of the mechanism. It’s your job as a marketer to make that message matter. To the right person at the right time.

So review your current use of pop-ups. Ask yourself whether, logically, the pop-up adds value or is a mere distraction. Relate to your own shopping experiences. You don’t want to wade through a sea of pop-up messages to get to the detail you require – the product page.

Use pop-ups sparingly, but use them wisely. The game isn’t to drive impressions, it’s about conversions. What conversion rate is best? The conversion rate that out performs last week’s data.

Like any valuable tool available to the marketer, you need to do your research. To deliver value you need to first understand what value to add and at which point in your customer’s journey. And then test.

  • copy
  • imagery
  • call to action
  • behaviour triggers
  • timing
  • desktop vs mobile vs tablet
  • new vs returning

There’s a lot of learning that needs to take place before you decide whether pop-ups rule or not.

Written By:

Ian Rhodes


Founder of Ecommerce Growth Co. Equipping ecommerce brands with the strategies, tools and processes that drive profitable growth. Sharing 20+ years of insight building and growing ecommerce brands.

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