Is A Pop-Over In Your Future?

During a recent discussion at an email marketing conference on next-generation best practices for list-building, the conversation turned to a tactic that interrupts a page visit with a floating data-capture form, called variously a pop-over, slide-over, interstitial, modal, pop-under or div layer.

More than In-Your-Face Opt-Ins

These are not the reviled pop-ups that launch new browser windows or redirect the user. Instead, they are part of the page itself and are becoming a very popular acquisition tactic, especially for retailers and publishers.

But they can do so much more, too. Pop-overs and their many variants can be part of a whole new strategy to acquire data for automated messaging and onboarding programs beyond the initial address capture.

Should You Try It?

While many marketers have used these tactics successfully, some companies relayed that the new customers acquired with these methods were of lower value than customers acquired through other methods. Digging deeper, however, the implementation process and incentives some of these companies used may have been more responsible for that result than the pop-over itself.



The following questions can help you decide whether to test pop-overs for your email program. (Note: I'm including the entire category of interrupt forms in the term "pop-overs," even though they differ somewhat in their unique characteristics and coding.)

1. How important is significant list growth to your business? If you need to expand your list dramatically and quickly, the pop-over generally yields a significantly higher opt-in rate, often two to five times that of a standard web form.

2. Is the pop-over style consistent with your brand and customer focus? Many companies may think twice about implementing pop-overs because of the format’s more aggressive nature. Keep in mind, however, that as pop-overs are adopted by more marketers, they are gradually becoming the new opt-in approach, so consumers are increasingly familiar and comfortable with them.

When you add the fact that consumers can easily close out pop-overs -- along with their potential higher acquisition rate -- this technique becomes even more attractive, balancing concerns about brand focus.

3. When should you launch the pop-over? Marketers are launching their pop-overs at many different times. Below are a few potential scenarios:

  • Immediately, as soon as users visit your website.
  • After several seconds on your site.
  • When the visitor moves to an interior page.
  • Delayed until one to several minutes into the browsing session.
  • After visiting specific pages.
  • After inaction for specified timeframe.
  • Or using a div layer that remains at the bottom of the visitor’s window.

4. What business rules do your pop-overs need? Pop-overs have an annoyance potential because they temporarily stop users from doing what they want on your Web site. So, you need business rules to govern pop-overs for different users:

Some potential rules:

  • People who have already subscribed are not shown the pop-over.
  • Not showing the pop-over after a certain number of visits or time period.
  • Showing a new pop-over that captures additional preferences and demographics for existing subscribers.
  • Timing the pop-over not to compete with other pop-overs, such as live chat or click-to-call invites.
  • Serving an “update” pop-over for subscribers associated with a bad or inactive email address.

5. What do you really want your pop-over to do? You can use this format just to capture email addresses, but that seems like a waste of such an attention-getting piece of real estate. Instead, you can slot your subscriber into a progressive profiling program, collecting data for an automated messaging program.

One client adds a short list of "Yes-No" qualifying questions with checkbox answers in its pop-over, then slots subscribers into appropriate content-based tracks.

6. Should you add an incentive to the pop-over? If you offer an incentive with your other opt-in approaches, you'll want to test it with a pop-over. A $10 discount offer on a standard web form might not be needed or even negatively affect ultimate conversion rates.

One participant in the pop-over discussion said his company saw lower conversions using the technique. However, the company also used an aggressive incentive in the pop-over, and it wasn't clear whether its generally older customer base was reacting to the pop-over, the offer or a combination of factors.

7. Are you prepared to test your pop-over strategy? The pop-over might be small, pixel-wise, but it can have a huge impact on the user experience for your primary website. So, you should test thoroughly before you launch it:

  • Acquisition with and without the pop-over
  • Timing: Immediate, delayed on the page, after the visitor clicks to an interior page
  • Creative approach
  • Acquisition with and without an incentive and with different incentives
  • Number of form fields
  • Persistent versus self-destructing
  • Static versus float, slide-over or pop-under
  • Progressive data capture

Are you a pop-over lover or still waiting on the sidelines? Does your company use them? If so, what were the results? Please post your comments and questions below.

Until next time, take it up a notch!

3 comments about "Is A Pop-Over In Your Future?".
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  1. Pete Austin from Fresh Relevance, February 22, 2013 at 5:02 a.m.

    Here's a suggestion. EU legislation basically forces you to implement a pop-over to tell visitors that you use cookies. I never understood the point of this, except to annoy people, because it's not like they ever give you a choice. Anyway, if you're going to do a pop-over anyway, may as well repurpose it to collect an email address and relegate the cookie part to tiny, linked text saying "about cookies" at the bottom.

  2. Dave Hendricks from LiveIntent, February 23, 2013 at 8:59 a.m.

    Great stuff Loren.

    I don't see anything wrong with a pop-up for a visitor, know or unknown.

    Web content is not free to produce. It is not a right.
    Publishers deserve to know who is visiting their site.
    More information will be reflected in better content and service

    If a publisher can improve their marketing to you, then you might be able to avoid paywalls

    email subscribers are better than anonymous web visitors.

    Registration pages and preference centers are often hidden, hard to use and unresponsive.

    While mildly annoying, they can serve a good purpose.

  3. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, February 24, 2013 at 9:18 p.m.

    When a person is reading something and a popover appears, a wtf from a potential consumer may not be the desired effect.

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