5 Real-Life Popup A/B Tests That Will Help Boost Your Conversion Rate (Based on Actual Case Studies)

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Do you think your popups are converting at their highest potential?

I’m guessing that unless you’ve been testing them to figure out what makes your audience tickprobably not.

Luckily, you can figure that out by, well, testing, of course :).

And if you’re wondering what to assess first, I have some suggestions. As Head of Customer Success at WisePops, an intelligent popup builder, I’ve reviewed hundreds of A/B tests. Based on this experience, I’ll share 5 popup A/B tests that can make a difference in your future and existing campaigns. (One of our customers almost tripled the number of emails they collected with a simple test.)

Plus, I’ll also explain why each test worked so well and show you how to use them to improve the performance of your popups. Of course, what works for our customers might not work for you. But these examples present a set of interesting hypotheses to test.

Disclaimer: Although these stats come from real tests conducted by real companies, we decided not to publish or reveal the brand names.

Test #1: Delaying the Popup

The best time to display a popup isn’t necessarily right after someone lands on your site. It’s when they’re the most susceptible to your message.

If you display the popup right away, you might disturb visitors in their journey through your site. At the same time, waiting too long might result in visitors leaving before they’ve even had a chance to see your offer (except if you’re using an exit popup, naturally).

It can be difficult to determine the perfect moment. And A/B tests can help with that.

That’s exactly what one of our customers did. They tested three different delays – by 10 seconds, 20 seconds, and 40 seconds.

Here’s the actual popup tested:

And the results? The company discovered that the best time to display their offer is after a person spent 10 seconds on the site.

Here’s the full breakdown of the test’s performance:

test performance

As you can see, longer delays resulted in displaying the popup to a smaller audience. And although those popups generated a slightly higher subscription rate, the company collected fewer emails.

Now, of course, your results may differ. But this test shows how crucial it is to identify the best time to ask visitors to take action, without disturbing them during their visit.

Test #2: Shortening the Popup Copy

Your popup copy should catch a person’s attention and then engage them emotionally to evoke action. Your visitors are busy. They might not have the time to read overly elaborate copy.

And the only way to find out the optimal information you need to present to a visitor is to test the copy length.

That’s what another one of our customers assessed with their A/B test. They compared the performance of a copy-heavy popup with a much shorter version:

10 percent off

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As it turns out, the lighter copy performed better.

better performance

Here’s why:

1. Shorter copy means less time required to process the information and make a decision to act

The goal of a popup isn’t to sell something but rather to convince a person to take a simple action. So visitors need less information to make a decision compared with buying an actual product. Shorter copy allows you to drive a person to subscription in an instant, without getting them to analyze and ponder on it for too long.

2. Fewer words help build better personal connection

Notice how shortening the copy forced our client to cut the word “our” from the headline. The implications of this might seem insignificant at first. But notice that what’s left is the word “your” – one of the most powerful words in sales. Switching focus from the company (“our”) to the visitor (“your”) helped them address the visitor directly and build a stronger connection with them.

3. Less copy is an opportunity to make the text bigger

Fewer words mean that you can make the text bigger. And if you didn’t know already, various marketing tests have hinted that using a larger font could significantly improve conversions.

4. Fewer words help make numbers more prominent

According to Unbounce, website visitors prefer headlines and other copy if it includes numbers.

overall headline preferences

Image Source

And shorter copy makes those numbers stand out even more. Just notice how easy it is to spot the 10% offer on the variant popup.

Test #3: Writing a Bolder Headline

The headline plays a powerful role in popup conversions:

  • It attracts a person’s attention
  • It states the offer or at least makes a bold promise of a benefit a person shouldn’t want to miss
  • It helps confirm to the person that the offer is for them
  • It convinces the person to read the rest of the copy if there is any

And I’m sure you’ll agree, achieving all this isn’t a small feat. For example, should you state the offer clearly or try to use a more ambiguous headline?

Another client decided to test that.

They compared two distinct ways to communicate the same offer:

As you can see, one makes a very bold offer ($2000 worth of watches) while the other uses a less striking one (20 free watches).

At the end of the day, the bold headline achieved 2x the subscription rate.

Here, see for yourself:

  • Headline 1 subscription rate – 13.40%
  • Headline 2 subscription rate – 6.70%

Test #4: Matching Display Time to Engagement

Delaying a popup for a set period of time isn’t the only way to display it when a person is ready to see your offer.

Another is matching the display time to engagement.

Visitors who’ve spent more time on your site are more likely to engage with your message, right?

In another test, a client measured the effect of targeting the most engaged users.

They displayed the following popup in two scenarios:

  • Right after landing on the site
  • After visiting 2 pages

gold phantom

Naturally, there was a significant difference in the audience size. After all, only a percentage of the total visitors browsed 2 pages on the site. As a result, it’s difficult to pick a real winner in this A/B test.

variants data

The variant focusing on the most engaged users had a much higher subscription rate because it targeted only the people who were genuinely interested in the company’s products.

But the variant displayed on landing reached a broader audience and ended up collecting almost 3 times more emails.

Test #5: Adding Mystery to the Offer

Curiosity can alter our behavior. And as another test proved, it can help you boost popup conversions.

Our client tested two headlines:

The first one, quite traditional: GET 20% OFF CLOTHING AND ACCESSORIES FOR A LIMITED TIME

The other, however, played on a person’s curiosity. It read: Mystery offer – Sign up to claim your discount

As you can guess, the second one performed significantly better, achieving a 10.6% subscription rate (compared to 6.4% for the traditional offer).

That’s a 152% better conversion, in spite of visitors not knowing what offer they would get.

Incredible, right?

Wrapping It Up

Testing popups isn’t that different from testing ecommerce websites or landing pages. From their copy to their design to their targeting – every element – everything must be tested.

Sure it takes time. But you’ll get a better picture of the psychology of your customers along the way. Plus the return on your investment is often almost immediate.

About the Author: Greg d’Aboville is Head of Customer Success at WisePops. He’s a popup expert (of course) and a CRO and online marketing enthusiast.

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