101 Big-Brand Popups: 9 Ways to Improve Your Lead Generation

A few weeks ago I was on the hunt for some new gym clothes.

There's been an explosion of online fitness apparel brands in the last few years so I thought it was about time I gave my gym-style a refresh.

After taking a look around and not finding anything of interest, I followed the trail of an Instagram fitness personality and landed on a site with fitness apparel that looked to be my style.

I browsed their newest stock and put together an outfit that I liked BUT I wasn't ready to pull out my wallet just yet. Like every other savvy web shopper, I wanted to keep exploring my options.

As I moved my cursor to close the window and abandon my shopping cart, a friendly exit intent popup displayed and offered me 15% off and free shipping to complete my order — I was sold.

How could I resist!?

Popups are a touchy subject amongst internet users but ask any webmaster, marketing pro, or ecommerce owner — they work.


In the digital world, where we're bombarded by content, ads, and multimedia all day long, popups command attention amongst the noise.

Popups are made to snap us out of our zombie-like states when we're going from website to website, mindlessly clicking and succumbing to what marketers call "banner blindness."

Ask any marketer here at Wishpond, there aren't many tools that are able to improve sales or capture leads better than popups.

If you're not optimizing your popup, or worse, not using a popup, there are visitors landing on your website, looking around, and leaving without any prompts for action. You're leaving money on the table.

That's why we've analyzed 101 popups from some of the biggest brands in the world and arrived at 9 ways you can improve your popups.

First things first, a few relevant statistics…

  • 12% of all the popups we reviewed used a negative CTA (ie. "No I don't want to save money"), whereas the others used a simple close button.
  • 49% of all the popups offered some sort of lead magnet like an ebook, free content, tools, templates, promotions, or discounts.
  • 36% of all the brands include the word "free" somewhere on their popups.

9 Popup Takeaways

1. Have a clear exit method on your popup

I can't tell you the number of times I've completely closed a webpage because of a popup I couldn't get rid of. Like a pesky fly, an annoying popup can completely ruin a visitor's browsing experience and force them to leave prematurely.

Popups MUST have a clear exit method, whether that be a small "X" in the corner or an amusing negative CTA. By improving the usability of your popups, it'll save your visitors a ton of hair-pulling frustration and improve your bounce rates over time.

Take look at how Tim Ferriss uses his exit intent popup over on fourhourworkweek.com. If you're about to leave his website, an exit popup offers to "10x Your Per-Hour Output" with tools and tactics sent directly from Tim himself.

If that doesn't pique your interest, there's a clear way to close the popup and continue on your way.

2. Ecommerce stores must use an entry or exit intent popup

Like Batman's tool belt, entry and exit intent popups are essential tools for the ecommerce pro.

Wishpond, for example, has seen a 3.9% conversions rate on the exit intent popup on our pricing page. These are visitors that would have left our website instead of becoming a valuable lead for our sales team.

  • Entry popups can be used as a tool to catch a visitor's attention right when they land on your website. Maybe you've just stocked your shop with new product. Maybe there's a new promotion you're running. Or maybe you'd like to direct them to a new epic piece of content you've just released. Whatever you'd like to alert your visitors about, an entry popup is the tool for the job.

  • Exit popups are a tool for that last second pitch. Online shopping is prone to a lot of spontaneous actions, meaning users jump around from website to website constantly. An exit intent popup is built to capture your visitor's attention and make an offer to try and save a sale or a lead.

3. A popup can help you push your visitors toward your goal

No promotion or lead magnet to offer at the moment?

If you don't have anything to offer your visitors a popup can still be a useful tool to lead your visitors towards your desired goal.

A popup can still be a powerhouse tool to employ for…

  • Navigation. Popular photography and travel blog, StuckInCustoms, uses their entry popup to help their visitors navigate directly to the topic they're looking for.

  • News and updates. Are there new and exciting updates your visitors need to know about? An entry popup, like the one used by Sephora, can give your visitors a heads up before they start browsing through your website.

  • Surveys and feedback. Website usability and experience plays a huge role no matter what your conversion goal is. Ford Canada uses their entry popup to ask their visitors to fill out a small survey so that they can improve their website.

4. Your popup must only have one offer or value proposition

One element of an effective website popups is speed. Not the speed at which your popup displays but how fast your visitor understands your offer or value proposition.

The quicker your visitor understands the message of the popup the better. Confusing language or multiple offers on a single popup is confusing and will likely lead to a quick exit.

Your visitors need to understand the offer or value proposition of your popup immediately.

Take a look at this excellent popup from ThePlayersTribune...

  • The text is clear and immediately understandable.
  • The exit button is easy to find.
  • The unique selling proposition is defined: "Read more from your favorite athletes."
  • The call-to-action is powerful and benefit oriented, "Get closer to the game."

5. Popup timing is critical

Like with anything in sales and marketing, timing is crucial. Approach a buyer too soon and you'll scare them off. Approach too late and the decision to leave has already been made.

Aside from entry and exit popups, timed and scroll popups are able to display at a point of your choosing.

*When is the best time for timed and scroll popups to display?

If a visitor has been lead to the blog portion of your website they'll need an appropriate amount of time to absorb what they're seeing before you make a pitch with a popup.

40 seconds for a timed popup or 30% of the page with a scroll popup are deemed the most effective by marketing pros. It's an appropriate amount of time for your visitor to take a look around and get a good sense of what your website is offering.

Once they've read the intro of your new piece of content, for example, you can offer that blog post in a downloadable pdf like marketing guru, Sujan Patel. Sujan uses a perfectly timed popup that displays once his visitor has had time to read some of his blog post. This way they've had enough time to see what value he has to offer and understand the relevance of his popup's offer.

6. Your popup must have a clear and compelling CTA

Your call-to-action (CTA) is the final knockout punch of your popup. An expertly-crafted CTA message, design, and location can be the difference between a new lead or a lost opportunity.

Of course, testing multiple CTA messages, designs, and locations is always the best way to go but there are best practices you should follow from the start.

Let's take a look at the popup used by socially conscious footwear makers Toms.

  • High contrast. The bright contrasted colour and bold typeface make the CTA standout on the screen.
  • Defined and benefit oriented. "Join the movement" evokes a sense of belonging. By joining the Toms email list you not only receive 10% off but join something else in a larger sense.

7. Popups are most effective when they're relevant.

Imagine shopping for a bicycle and getting sold on camping equipment. Or shopping for a new iPhone and being told about a discount on Beats headphones. Neither help towards making a sale because the relevance is low.

The same goes for popups. Popups are more effective when they are directly related to the content on the page.

Reading about ways to improve your landing page conversions? How about an ebook we wrote on the exact topic?

Looking for a new tent? Checkout our selection of new tents for the upcoming camping season.

If you're exploring the new recipes on the BlueApron there's a strong chance that you'd also like to receive free recipes directly to your email inbox. The relevancy of BlueApron's popup is high because their offer relates directly to the content on the page.

The website made for thrill seekers, Thrillist, uses geolocation targeting as a prompt in their popup. This way they're able to deliver content related to the city their visitor is browsing from. Is it creepy? A little, but it does a great job of grabbing attention and personalizing the browsing experience for visitors.

Looking to add popups to your website? Check out Wishpond's Free Shopify Popup Builder App and Free Wordpress Popup Builder App.

8. Creativity goes a long way

The mark of an effective popup is one that can effectively grab a visitor's attention and get them to notice what you're offering.

Creativity here plays a huge role in determining how much your popup can hold the attention of your visitor. Popups are commonplace enough now that they can be easily ignored by most web users BUT a popup that has maximized on creativity is a different story.

Take WaitButWhy's popup for example. The relatability in the communication and the fact that the text opens with the word "shit" makes this a popup that you won't see anywhere else. They've stuck to their shockingly honest approach, one that resonates with their readers, and used it in their lead generation strategies as well.

9. Only collect the information you absolutely need

To ensure that your popup gets the most clickthroughs possible you'll only want to collect the information you absolutely need for your goal.

Studies have shown the higher the barrier the entry, the lower the conversion rate. Unless you're offering the greatest lead magnet in the world, your visitors will likely only tolerate so many form fields.

Think, what information do you need from your visitors to help you connect with them on a personal level?

For Pat Flynn of SmartPassiveIncome, it's his visitors' first name and email address. As a subscriber to Pat's weekly emails myself, I know that Pat likes to address all of his subscribers by name. It helps his emails seem more personalized and tailored for what each person wants to know. Sure Pat could leave out the first name form field and see an increase in conversions BUT that isn't his ultimate goal. His goal is to be seen as a real and authentic entrepreneur whose first priority is to help others achieve their career goals. And for that he needs the first name of all his subscribers.

Wrapping Up

Hate them or love them, popups work. They work because they grab the attention of visitors aimlessly browsing the web. Popups command action, whether that be to claim your offer or close the window — action is a must.

We analyzed 101 popups from some of the biggest brands on the web and arrived at 9 ways to maximize the effectiveness of your popup.

  1. Have a clear exit method on your popup
  2. Ecommerce stores must use an entry or exit intent popup
  3. A popup can help you push your visitors towards your goal
  4. Your popup must only have one offer or value proposition
  5. Popup timing is critical
  6. Your popup must have a clear and compelling CTA
  7. Popups are most effective when they're relevant
  8. Creativity goes a long way
  9. Only collect the information you absolutely need

Do you use popups on your website?

What results have you gotten from them?

What are some creative ways you've seen popups used?

Share your insights with me in the comments below!

If you have Shopify or use Wordpress, check out Wishpond's Free Shopify Popup Builder App and Free Wordpress Popup Builder App.

Written by Jordan Lore

Jordan is a Content Marketer & PPC Manager at Wishpond. Follow him on his budding twitter account @jordanlore6.