Why We (Still) Love Popups

While everyone says they hate popups, you’ll be in for a surprise when you take a look at conversion rates and how popups (still) deliver that cash money.

Popups drive absurdly high sales

Marketing is not about what delivering what we think people like - we have the data to tell us what they actually do. And, as it turns out, as much as you hear people verbally eye-rolling popups 24/7... they do like popups.

Although the average conversion rate for entry of email into a popup is around 10%, according to Klaviyo’s findings, the Welcome series - the automation most commonly triggered by the seemingly dreaded on-site popup - are universally among brands' top-performing flows. Compared to campaigns, Welcome email flows boast 63% higher open rates and 86% higher click rates. And those opens and clicks predictably translate into even more staggering figures: the Welcome series alone often accounts for over 10% of total ecommerce revenue.

How much difference does that extra 10% make to your bottom line?

Popups grow your list

Aside from the extra cash that popups do (factually) rake in, they're in it for the long haul.

To start with, ecommerce brands see an average shrink of about 30% every year. This is perfectly normal - and even healthy. But it also means that you need to make up for that drop by hunting down new subscribers to maintain and grow your business.

Popups are the simplest tool to cover a chunk of that.

The results are repeatable and predictable - as long as they're set up properly.

Elements of a high-converting popup

Pestering potential customers is never a good idea - and by no means do we make light of experiential annoyances. But a strong customer journey can and should include popups in a seamless and naturally occurring manner - not only for first-time buyers, but also to nurture returning customers.

By implementing time delays, triggering popups by exit intent, or showing them only on certain pages or in certain locations, the risk of irritating visitors can be effectively mitigated.

  • Design: Eye-catching design sounds like a no-brainer to attract attention. Yet, according to OptiMonk’s recent study, images are far less important than you’d think. Optimization is key, though: they should look different for desktop and mobile.
  • Layout: Store owners are naturally afraid of running intruding popups. In an effort to make them as unobtrusive (read: sneaky) as possible, they insist on popups with two windows. Pro tip: three-window popups tend to convert better.
  • Copy: Similarly to design, there is also no need to overthink popup copy. Focus on the incentive, add a sense of urgency, and keep it simple. You literally have seconds to grab the attention of your visitors before they hit the Close tab button.
  • Offer: Time-sensitive discounts and limited offers generally work best for distracted consumers. Think of it as a fair price to pay for people’s trust - and their email addresses. It is in fact an investment in growing your list: to put it another way, acquiring zero-party data you’ll take advantage of for years to come.


(A quick side note here: buying lists is not a good idea. Not only is it considered a shady practice in half of the world and downright illegal in the rest, the benefits are practically nonexistent. People on these lists don’t know the first thing about you, so all you get is a highly unengaged audience who are unlikely to buy anything from you. What’s worse, your sender reputation will go down faster than you can say “Well Hello”. Always, always make sure your popups are privacy-proof.)

One caveat: Don’t get greedy

There are a gazillion ready-made popup templates to choose from and many will encourage you to ask for more data from your visitors. Conversational popups seem to enjoy a growing popularity, so that may also be worth a shot. But first, let’s take care of the basics.

If your primary goal is simply to collect email addresses, stick to that.

Put yourself in your customers’ shoes. If this is the first time they’ve seen your popups, they will treat you like a stranger. Just how much personal information are you willing to give away to some random store? And how much time are you prepared to spend filling out a form, even if the offer seemed exciting at first?

So no, this might not be the best time to ask for more. There's always the option to run popups for returning visitors or - more critically - to ask for additional information in campaigns and flows.

TL;DR: Popups are a powerful tool for e-commerce stores. Missing out on using them to capture leads is literally like setting money on fire. Try different layouts, texts, and incentives, and find out which one works best for your audience.

And as always: when in doubt, A/B test the living daylights out of any theory you come across.

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