How To Optimize Your Exit-Intent Popup to Increase Conversions

by Sid Bharath

Last updated on November 14th, 2018

optimize-exit-intent-popups-introduction

I love exit-intent popups.

I know, I know. They get a lot of hate. People complain about how annoying or irritating they are. But here’s the thing – they work!

We already know that attention spans are low. People land on your site, browse around for a bit or read a blog article, and then they leave.

Cart abandonment and bounce rates are high. Add to that our short memories, and most people who leave may never come back.

Unless you try to give it one last shot, a Hail Mary if you will. Because you have nothing to lose.

Your visitors are already on their way out, they have signaled their intent to leave, and their attention is quickly being focused elsewhere.

Your options are to do nothing, and perhaps never be able to count them as a returning visitor, or take your best shot, display a popup, and try to convince them you are worthy of their time.

Here’s the catch – your users are smart, and if you simply throw up some generic image and CTA, they are going close the window and never look back. Just like everything else on your site, your popups need to be optimized in order to yield the best results.

In this post, we’ll look at the 4 components of exit-intent popups and how to optimize them.

1. Targeting

Targeting, or segmenting, is vitally important to making sure the right message reaches the right user. Just like matching landing pages to the source from which they originate, you want to make sure the popup that a user sees matches the section of your site from which they are leaving.

For example, if a user leaves from the ecommerce part of your site, meaning a conversion equates to them making a purchase of some sort, you might follow Pura Vida’s lead and offer the chance to “win” a discount in return for their email:

optimize-exit-intent-popups-pura-vida

There’s also an element of whimsy here. The visitor gets to sping the wheel to find out what amazing offer he or she will get.

We live in an increasingly gamified culture. If you can add fun to your exit popups, you’ll please even more of your visitors.

You can also target your audience with content they’ll love. If your visitor is reading one of your blog posts, for instance, you know they’re hungry for information.

You can follow in the footsteps of Optimonk and display a popup that’s relevant to what they were reading:

optimize-exit-intent-popups-optimonk

The worst thing you can do is display something that has nothing to do with a user’s session. For instance, since you’re reading this post, I imagine you’re interested in conversion rate optimization. Showing you a popup for a book on web development would not make any sense, but if the book was on CRO, you might be inclined to download it.

Remember, it’s likely that the user’s focus is already waning, so the easier you make it for them to relate the popup to what they were doing, the better your chances are of converting them.

2. Design

Remember what I said about avoiding generic images? Quality popup design is all about meeting your visitors’ expectations, meaning it should fit the style and theme of your site. The best ways to achieve this are to use colors, fonts, and images that are similar to your main site.

Anything too different will detract from the message that you are trying to convey.

To see what I mean, check out the homepage and popup for Stikwood:

optimize-exit-intent-popups-stickwood

optimize-exit-intent-popups-stikwood-2

Look at how well the design elements match between the two. Repeating the yellow accents and using the same minimalist design, Stikwood ensures that you don’t feel as though you’ve left the site. It’s part of the overall experience.

Another design option to consider is going full screen like Hello Bar:

optimize-exit-intent-popups-hello-bar

This literally removes all other distractions and meshes well with his simple message: create an account.

Also, removing the X-to-close button like Clarity is an easy way to encourage one last look at the popup:

optimize-exit-intent-popups-clarity

What’s interesting about this is that people expect to see the ‘X’ in the top-right corner, but instead they see, “Wait – Don’t leave empty-handed!”

This forces them to look at the rest of the popup to find where the close button is. Sure they can click away or choose “No thanks,” but the absence of the close button will give your popup a bit more time to work its magic.

3. Copy

I cannot overstate the importance of quality, relevant, and straightforward copy. Even if you do everything else wrong with your exit-intent popups, getting your copy right will win you some conversions.

Now is not the time to be long-winded or vague. There’s really no space for that on a popup. Plus, your visitors are already losing interest, so you need to focus on getting your message across with as little interference as possible.

There are two things you need to do when writing popup copy: focus on the offer and personalize whenever possible.

exit-popup-example

This is a great example from Privy on how to focus on the offer. It’s seasonally relevant, targeted to a specific audience, and easy to digest

Personalization is another tactic worth implementing, but in this case I don’t mean matching the information to the user. What I mean is incorporating personal pronouns to speak directly to the user and making your copy sound conversational.

optimize-exit-intent-popups-taft

This popup is a great example of speaking directly to your users. It almost mimics an actual conversation in a retail store.

You can imagine a sales rep coming up to you and asking you if you want a discount on your purchase, and you answering with the given options.

4. Calls to Action

Calls to action are the last link in the popup conversion chain. Your users have presumably been compelled by your offer, filled in some information, and are now ready to seal the deal.

The worst thing you can make them do now is think twice, so your CTAs need to drive the point home without causing confusion.

Maintain Your Message and Theme

Now is not the time to change things up and introduce some crazy color or terminology. You want to keep the user focused on what they are about to gain by tying in your CTA with the rest of the popup.

optimize-exit-intent-popups-backlinko

Backlinko does just that by pretty much repeating the same copy in both their popup body and CTA. If a user was interested the first time they saw the message, I doubt seeing it again is going to change their mind.

Guide Their Decision

While it’s true that your users will make the final decision on whether to convert or not, there are things you can do to influence their choice. The first is by increasing the visibility of the choice that you prefer them to make.

optimize-exit-intent-popups-social-triggers

If you look at the color scheme of this popup by Social Triggers, it’s almost entirely black and white with one exception – the CTA that triggers a conversion.

You’d have to be blind to miss it. It was the first thing I looked at when I saw this popup. Bonus points for making the opposite choice as bland and boring as possible.

The other thing you can do is creating a negative call to action where a negative effect is implied by not converting.

optimize-exit-intent-popups-negative-cta

I love this popup.

While it’s not clear what you will receive by clicking yes, it is clear that you will continue to dwell in your mom’s basement if you click no. It goes without saying that this is a joke, but the effect is the same – click yes and be awesome, click no and be boring.

Another option is to guide your visitor to take a quiz, like the exit popup does at NeilPatel.com.

optimize-exit-intent-popups-neil-patel

People love quizzes. Plus, the reassurance that it will take only three minutes of the visitor’s time helps, too.

Exit Intent Popups That Will Inspire You

Seeing exit-intent popups at work can make a huge difference in how you approach your own creative assets. These exit intent popup examples might spark your imagination.

Our first exit popup example comes from KlientBoost:

optimize-exit-intent-popups-klientboost

It mixes the whimsical with the serious and uses a bright, obvious CTA to capture your attention. You also have the option to click two “No” options, one of which will allow the popup to appear again in the future.

This is a great example of a company that knows its audience. It includes the words “free proposal” and “custom proposal” to highlight the value of the offer. Plus, that background is adorable.

Next, check out the exit popup from PetFlow.com.

optimize-exit-intent-popups-petflow-com

It’s hard to resist a cute pug, right? Plus, the copy fits extremely well with the rest of the website and the target audience. It’s simple, to the point, and logical. I like it.

Finally, check out this exit intent popup example from Uniqlo:

optimize-exit-intent-popups-uniqlo

This is different from many of the others we’ve showcased. The dark, gritty image instantly pulls the reader in, and the $10 off offer is sure to compel some visitors. I love how they take it a step further by asking your gender. It’s a nice touch.

How to Optimize Exit-intent Popups: Checklist

You’re ready to create your own exit-intent popups now, right? Let’s make sure you have everything in order and don’t miss any steps:

  • Target your offer to your specific audience
  • Make sure the design is attractive and reflective of your site’s aesthetic
  • Write compelling, actionable copy that readers can instantly understand
  • Create a CTA your visitors will find too compelling to resist
  • Keep your theme and messaging consistent
  • Help your visitors make the right choice by guiding them in the right direction
  • Consider using a quiz or whimsical element to add interest

You’ll also want to A/B test your exit-intent popups. You can refine each element of the popup until you know what combination best resonates with your audience.

Conclusion

There’s nothing wrong with exit-intent popups. In fact, they can rescue dollars you might otherwise have lost.

The trick is to make the design elegant, the offer obvious, and the CTA as compelling as possible. Let your visitors know you would never waste their time.

The best exit popups have been A/B tested so they’re highly targeted to their audience. You can do that with Crazy Egg easily.

Once you’ve created one exit popup, consider making another. You can have different popups depending on the page your visitor lands on.

There’s nothing stopping you now. Go create a fabulous exit-intent popup your visitors won’t be able to resist.

4 Comments

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Sid Bharath

Sid is an entrepreneur, growth hacker and writer. To find out more about him or get in touch, check out his personal site.

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  1. Mike S says:
    July 17, 2016 at 7:39 am

    >I love exit-intent popups……here’s the thing – they work!

    I would have to see the actual webstats to believe this statement. Our sites saw a HUGE bounce rate increase when we implemented a simple exit intent pop-up survey- we didn’t we didn’t even ask for email addresses! I would think twice about implementing them because it takes a LOT to rebuild trust when your intended audience only barely knows you.

  2. Al Mackin says:
    June 20, 2016 at 5:08 am

    If you’re using popups at the end of the funnel (so for e-commerce after adding to basket/during checkout) then there’s some interesting use cases for non-discount/non-newsletter signup popups. I believe this is where your exit intent strategy can see real benefits.

    For example:

    1. User has added to cart, goes to exit and is given the option to save the cart so they can come back to it. Psychologically this makes a return to the site appear easier.

    2. User is in checkout process, goes to exit and is shown social proof (e.g. We’re five star rated, or a quote from a customer). I’ve seen a smaller number of these popups but they work well because they consider the mindset of the user AND they’re not discounting someone who was fairly likely to buy.

  3. Krisztina Heréb says:
    December 1, 2015 at 12:21 am

    Hi Sid, this is an amazingly thoughtful and informative article with great examples, I really hope it will encourage people to trust exit intents a bit more. Also, thank you for including OptiMonk, it’s an honour to see our tool here 🙂 Keep up the good work!

  4. Cathy Goodwin says:
    November 30, 2015 at 4:55 pm

    Sid,

    Thanks for this article! I’ve been using LeadPages for popups, which means limited options for customizing and graphics. I’ll be looking into some other software that doesn’t create a conflict. I can see there’s a fine line between creating a distraction and introducing something unique and customized.

    I do use exit pops on my site (with LP they’re popups that appear after a certain time, not intent) and they can be more effective than traditional landing pages. I think part of the question is the context – do you use them on blog posts or on sales pages so people who don’t buy will grab something free to get on your list?

    Nice post – I’ll be tweeting momentarily.

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