Popups are one of the most versatile and effective tools any ecommerce marketer can use to build an email list, promote sales, and increase the average order value.
There are many different types of website popups for different objectives, all of which you can trigger based on a wide range of user behaviors.
In total, there are over a dozen ways you can design and use a popup on your ecommerce website.
In the next 15 minutes, you will see over 30 website popup examples. By the end of this article, you will know exactly what type of popup you should use and how you can use them in your store.
Let’s get started.
- How many types of popups exist?
- Modal popup examples
- Slide-in examples
- Fullscreen popup examples
- Trigger-based popup examples
- Lead generation popup examples
- Promotional popups
- Upsell & cross-sell popups
- Informational and navigation popups
- Abandonment stoppers
How many types of popups exist?
We can organize the different types of popups depending on their format, triggering conditions, and use cases.
When speaking of popup formats, they can be divided into three groups:
Modal popups: These are the “traditional” popups that show up on your screen within a given page. They usually blur the background, forcing the visitor to focus on the message presented.
Slide-ins: These are popups that appear from the side of your screen. They usually appear from the bottom but can also appear in the top part (floating bars) or side (sidebars). They don’t interrupt the visitor as much as modal popups.
Fullscreens: Also known as “welcome mats,” these take the entire screen, usually with an animation. Marketers typically use this popup type to present time-sensitive offers and interactive content, like spin-to-win wheels.
This is what different popup formats look like on a webpage:
When it comes to their triggering condition, popups can be categorized as follows:
Welcome: Triggered as soon as the visitor lands on a page for the first time or on their first visit to a site.
Time-delayed: Triggered after a visitor spends a given amount of time on a page or your site. Behavior-based: Triggered following a specific visitor behavior, like products in cart or past purchases.
Scroll-based: Triggered after a visitor scrolls a given amount within a page.
Click-based: Triggered after a visitor clicks on a certain link, image, or button.
Exit-intent: Triggered when visitors behave as if they are about to leave a page.
For example, this is what a welcome and an exit-intent popups created in Getsitecontrol look like:
By use case, website popups can be divided into five groups:
Lead generation (email capture) popups: Used to build an email list. They can include newsletter signup forms, lead magnet promotions, and invitations to participate in a contest.
Promotional popups: Used to generating sales, often while building a list at the same time. They can include sales promotions, coupon offers, and limited-time deal announcements.
Upsell & cross-sell popups: Used to increase the average order value (AOV) based on the product a visitor has seen, added to cart, or bought in the past. They can include related product recommendations, Buy-One-Get-One free promotions, and shopping cart order bumps.
Informational or navigational popups: Used to inform or guide the visitor to a page, usually of critical importance for fulfilling an order. They can include free shipping bars, cookie banners, and announcements of upcoming events or store schedule changes.
Abandonment stoppers: Used to stop a visitor from abandoning the store, usually after adding a product to their cart. They can include last-minute discount offers, exit-intent email captures, and abandonment surveys.
Modal popups examples
Modal popups are the simplest and most popular type of popup marketers use. They show up in the center of the screen and present an offer to the visitor. They are called “modal” because they force the visitor to interact with the popup, whether that's to close it or sign up for its offer.
Modal popups offer a balance between slide-in and fullscreen popups, the former being the least intrusive and the latter the most intrusive for visitors.
Although popups have earned a bad rep, they still perform well: our data shows that the top performing popups can convert more than 10% of visitors.
To make your modal popups work, you must offer something relevant to the visitor. Think about what page you are showing them on, so you offer something the visitor wants to see related to that.
For example, a visitor on a product page will appreciate a deal that entices them to buy, such as a discount or a free shipping coupon. But they would probably like to see that only on a product page after they have spent some time on it. Triggering your popups like this will make them less irritating.
To reduce some of the negative effects popups can induce, Anna Kaley from the Nielsen Norman Groups recommends keeping the background intact and even making the popup “nonmodal” so that the visitor can still interact with the rest of the page uninterrupted.
Slide-ins are a more user-friendly method to interrupt and convert a visitor since they are non-modal and rarely dim the background. However, that also means it’s easier for a visitor to ignore them… and that’s not good.
Just like modal popups, slide-ins need persuasive copy that highlights the main benefit the visitor will get from acting on the message. The design is crucial as slide-ins need to work harder to get the reader’s attention.
Here is an example of a slide-in from The Jordaan store. Notice how the slide-in stands out compared to the page design:
Slide-ins work best when combined with scroll and time-based targeting. You want the slide-in to show up when the visitor has scrolled at least 10 to 15% of the page and has spent at least several seconds on your store (we’ll talk more about timing in a moment).
To make your slide-ins a bit stronger (i.e., more intrusive), you can make your slide-ins larger or add graphics, like Box’d Night In does:
Fullscreen popup examples
Fullscreens are the most aggressive type of popup, something that can disturb a lot of people. However, when used correctly, the benefits can greatly exceed the risks.
Consider using fullscreens to promote an offer that rewards your visitors and your business greatly.
Time-sensitive discounts, lead magnets proven to deliver sales, and special events are all perfect offers for fullscreens.
Use graphics and images to paint a picture in your prospect’s mind. Fullscreens are like mini landing pages in and of themselves, so use the space available to make the most out of your message.
Thanks to their size, you can present more than one offer on your fullscreens. The main goal should be to get someone to check an upsell or cross-sell, to buy, or sign up for your email list.
You can also present a navigation bar with different links that lead to other high-value offers or pages.
Always test your fullscreens against the other two types of popups. You want to ensure they outcompete modal popups and slide-ins and that the bounce rate and AOV don’t worsen.
Trigger-based popups examples
Time is one of the most popular triggers you can use to target your popups, thanks to their simplicity. All you have to do is define how long you want to delay your popup before showing it.
As a rule of thumb, you want to wait at least several seconds before showing your popups to not overwhelm the visitor. However, you should check your web analytics first to see the average session duration.
If your visitors spend 30 seconds on average, present your popup five to ten seconds before that mark.
The same goes if the average session is longer than a minute or any other time frame.
For example, CAP POINT presents a first-time purchase discount in fullscreen to new visitors after five to ten seconds of arriving at their site.
Welcome popups usually trigger on the first visit for every unique visitor, but some marketers also use them on every first visit from a returning visitor. The angle they use is that they present a time-sensitive offer for the new visitors, encouraging them to take on it.
For example, Aplos offers a free shipping coupon to its first-time visitors, 24% of which complete their order after interacting with it.
Click-based popups are ideal for non-transactional offers, such as a lead magnet to build an email list or a contact form for those seeking help.
Scroll-based popups are a less popular alternative to time-delayed popups. They are a good idea to consider if you have a high variance in your time on site (i.e., if many visitors spend less than a minute and others spend more than ten).
If possible, test the performance of scroll versus time-based popups, or better yet, use them together. Such is what CAP POINT does, which presents a slide-in five to ten seconds after someone lands on their site and after they have scrolled 30% or so of a page:
Another method is to segment the offers based on visitor behaviors. Often ignored, this allows you to present something that targets the unique needs of a visitor at a specific point in time. You can target based on:
- Products in cart
- Shopping cart price
- Brands they’re viewing
For example, Caffeine Melts presents this popup for visitors with fewer than three products in their shopping cart.
You can also present a survey to customers after they complete a purchase or communicate with your customer support team. In the former case, you’d need to place it on the purchase confirmation or order status page (and it will be called a post-purchase survey):
One final trigger-based use case is exit-intent popups, which marketers love to use because they target potential customers with a time-sensitive offer and give you a chance to convert abandoning customers.
Here is an exit-intent popup displayed to the Lucky Dog boutique customers who add a product to the cart and start heading to exit without checking completing the purchase:
To make these popups work, you want to segment those who have spent more than the average session time on your site or page or, better yet, who have added a product to their cart, but decided to leave without checking out.
Lead generation popup examples
One of the most popular ways to use popups is to build an email list full of leads and subscribers.
The idea is simple: you offer a gated, content-based gift full of information your buyers would like to see before buying from you. The gift is usually an ebook, a recipe, a guide, an email sequence, a video, or a webinar.
Companies that sell expensive and complex products usually offer buying guides or other similar gated content types — these work as well as the previous option as they help the buyer educate themselves about their purchase.
For example, ROOM, a company producing soundproof phone booths, offers a product guide to their prospects in exchange for an email address:
You can also offer your subscribers to sign up for your newsletter exclusively. Although this generally doesn’t work as well as gated content, you can give them the option to sign up for other lists, such as one where you send special deals.
For example, here is a popup you’ll see when you scroll through the MUD\WTR, a company producing an adaptogenic mushroom drink, homepage:
Notice those preference checkboxes? They help you segment the list of subscribers into interest-based groups, so that everyone receives exactly what they opted in for.
Promotional popups examples
Promotional popups are designed to offer coupons and automatic discounts and incentivize people to make a purchase during their visit. These often include a purchase-related incentive like a dollar-off discount (or any other currency).
For example, this is how the Jordaan Store greets their first-time visitors. When they click on the action button, a 5-euro discount is automatically applied to the shopping cart:
Another option is to present a percentage-off discount. Both work the same way but differ in how they present the discount. Fort skincare chooses this approach to convert new visitors into email subscribers and encourage them to make a purchase right away:
This approach allows Fort skincare to collect emails of potential customers and reach them later with a promo newsletter, even if they didn’t complete the purchase during their first visit.
One Blippr survey found that 74% of buyers prefer percentage-off discounts to dollar-off discounts. However, you should test which option works best for you and your visitors.
The delivery tactics may vary too. For instance, some brands prefer using stylized click-to-copy coupon boxes to offer a discount:
Promotional website popups are great to create a sense of urgency and feature limited-time deals. However, make sure the visitor understands that the offer is valid only if they sign up for your list and applicable to their first order:
However, you can still promote a product or a deal without making visitors sign up for your list. That means the visitor won’t have to do anything to take advantage of it, which can incentivize them to buy more.
A good example of this is a flash sale announcement you can place at the top or bottom of the screen:
Upsell & cross-sell popups examples
Ecommerce marketers often add upsells and cross-sells in their product pages and in post-purchase email sequences. But popups can perfectly fit the bill as well.
The best option would be to use a slide-in, as the offer should be subtle, not aggressive. A popup or a fullscreen would be too disruptive for the visitor.
To set up an upsell or cross-sell popup, you’ll have to define what product or offer you want to present on each product page. Alternatively, you can create a more universal order bump and offer it to your customers right in the shopping cart.
Although it can be a lot of work, the fact that you can increase your AOV will make it all worth your while. Moreover, you don’t have to use this strategy on every product page — only on those you think make the most sense.
Here is an excellent cross-sell popup example from Crockpot Creations:
As an alternative, you can try to add a bundle (a cross-sell) to promote a group of similar products that work best when used together.
Informational & navigational popups examples
Another overlooked way to use popups is to present relevant and targeted navigational menu bars. For this purpose, modal popups and slide-ins are your best bet.
For example, a modal popup can link to a current sales promotion, your latest collection, your bestsellers, or categories.
A sticky bar presents a more summarized version of the previous example. For instance, Enkel, a conscious shopping concept store, uses a minimalistic bottom bar to help visitors navigate through the best deals:
You can also use website popups to let your customers know about any ongoing changes and upcoming events.
Swedish linens, a premium textile brand, does an excellent job at this. Not only do they inform customers of the time off, but they also encourage everyone to slow down with them – and grab a discount as they do:
Last but not least, floating bars and non-modal popups have become a popular option during Covid-19 and after the implementation of the GDPR. Since these urgent issues must be tackled openly, a popup (modal or otherwise) doesn’t represent a large inconvenience for visitors.
Abandonment stopper popups examples
Cart abandonment is one of the most profit-draining issues ecommerce stores face. As I explained in this article, the main reason why it happens is due to unexpected costs (like taxes and shipping).
Offering a discount through a popup is a simple and effective way to overcome them (even when some of these costs aren’t the retailer’s fault).
Such is the case of exit-intent discounts, which Conversion Sciences explains can encourage 10 to 15% of visitors to stay and buy.
But if you don’t want to offer a discount, you can still learn why the visitor wants to leave with a survey. You may end up learning that the reason why someone leaves isn’t cost-related at all (saving you a lot of money).
For retailers with more complex sales, you can offer assistance. Whether you answer their last-minute questions or learn why they don’t want to buy, this option won’t cost you a dime and can save some lost sales.
As you have seen, website popups are a versatile and useful tool in every ecommerce marketer’s arsenal. You can use them to build an email list, guide visitors, promote your products, encourage visitors to complete their purchases, and even increase your AOV.
If you haven’t used any popups in your store yet, pick only one of the website popup examples you’ve seen today. Design it using one of your preferred tool's templates (like the dozens we have on display) and write the copy.
Once you have decided to add more popups, make sure they don’t trigger at the same time or one over the other. You want to guide your visitors, not overwhelm them.
You can have as many popups as you want. And if you can manage them all without any hiccups, your store will prosper.
Ivan Kreimer is a freelance content writer for hire who creates educational content for SaaS businesses like Leadfeeder and Campaign Monitor. In his pastime, he likes to help people become freelance writers. Besides writing for smart people who read sites like Getsitecontrol, Ivan has also written in sites like Entrepreneur, MarketingProfs, TheNextWeb, and many other influential websites.
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