Exit-Intent Popups 101

Exit-Intent Popups 101

This post was contributed by Greg d’Aboville, Head of Customer Success at WisePops

It’s so frustrating to see a visitor leaving your site without engaging, isn’t it?

After all, that’s why you set up a live chat, launch so many calls-to-action and other lead generation strategies.

Popups, overlays, under-the-post banners, and much more help you engage visitors and generate leads.

But here’s the catch: None of these strategies work for visitors who have already decided to leave your website.

In fact, your only chance to convert them is to stop them dead in their tracks.

And in this post, I’ll show you the exact strategy to achieve just that: Exit-intent popups.

You’ll learn:

  • How exit-intent popups work
  • What you can use them for
  • The structure of a highly-converting exit popup

Interested? Then let’s get right to it.

What are exit-intent popups?

Exit-intent popups are popups that are triggered right before a visitor leaves your website.

How do exit-intent popups work?

Whatever device your visitors are using, exit-intent popups have the same goal: to stop them before they leave your website. But this translates into two different paths:

  1. Desktop exit-intent popups
  2. Mobile exit-intent popups

Desktop exit-intent popups

On desktops, exit-intent relies on a mouse tracking script.

When the cursor of the mouse moves upward and is about to reach the top of the screen, like to close the current tab or window, the popup appears.

This is what it looks like in action:

j6vsknb9w wisepops1Source: Leesa.com

Mobile exit-intent popups

On mobile, it’s not that easy. Marketers must rely on a few signals:

  • Back button pressing. This might sound too good to be true. But on mobile, you can display a popup and keep the user on your website after they have pressed the back button to leave it.
  • Scrolling up. In this case, the popup will appear when your visitors scroll up to display the URL bar and type in a new URL to leave your website.

Exit-intent popup conversion rate

What results can you expect from an exit popup?

On desktop, we observe an average conversion rate of 4%. That’s 5% higher than ”traditional” popups.

On mobile, we notice an average conversion rate of around 5%.

Why this difference?

We believe it’s mostly due to the newness factor: mobile users haven’t gotten used to this kind of popup yet, which makes them more effective than their desktop counterparts.

Now, if this doesn’t sound impressive to you, compare it with typical conversion rates from other calls-to-action:

  • Banners and ads in the sidebar typically convert at roughly 0.5% – 1.5%
  • Under-the-post banners achieve similar results, 0.5% – 1.5%
  • Sliders and Hello bars convert around 1% of visitors

So, compared to these, exit popups deliver, on average, 4 times higher results.

What can you use exit popups for?

Now that we know how exit pop-ups work, let’s see how you can leverage their superpowers.

#1. Grow your contact list

Let’s not beat around the bush: Email and SMS marketing are two of the best ways to drive high-converting traffic to your store. And exit popups can help you build a solid lead list.

Here’s an example of this strategy in action from Foundry50:

g4wsmd0ze wisepops2Source: foundryfifty.com

#2. Increase sales

I admit, it’s hard to imagine how a simple popup could help convince a visitor who has just decided to abandon a site to actually stay and buy.

But that’s where the power of targeting the exit-intent comes into play.

You see, often, the best way to convince a visitor to act is by presenting them with a hefty last-minute discount.

And what better time to do it than when they’re trying to leave the site?

Take a look:

kjcralim wisepops3Source: nativeshoes.com

#3. Reduce shopping cart abandonment

Exit popups can also be used to reduce cart abandonment. According to the Baymard Institute, up to 69% of carts are abandoned.

Popups can help you recover between 5% and 10% of these abandoned carts.

Here’s how.

For example, you could suggest saving their cart for later:

pkhct4t8q wisepops4Source: lauraashley.com

Offer a discount or another incentive to convince them to reconsider the purchase:

Source: jewelstreet.com

Or even try to change their mind by playing on their curiosity:

h30op297v wisepops6Source: pixelme.me

#4. Collect feedback on your website

Customer feedback might not directly influence your sales — but it can certainly help uncover insights to help you improve various aspects of your business.

And as it turns out, exit popups collect better feedback, since a person submits it right at the very moment when they’ve decided to leave the site.

By creating a website exit survey, you can acquire incredible and highly-valuable insights.

ryd1v111d wisepops7Source: mare.io

The anatomy of a successful exit popup

I’m sure that after reading the post so far, you’ll agree: Exit popups are an incredibly powerful strategy to stop and convert a visitor who’s just about to leave the site.

The downside? Achieving such results requires a touch more work than just setting a popup up.

For one, you need to ensure that it includes all of the elements to engage and convert a visitor:

  • A compelling offer
  • An engaging headline
  • Content that matches a person’s interest
  • Placement that makes them notice it
  • Visuals that attract attention
  • A call-to-action that compels them to act

Let’s go through all of these elements in turn, discuss what they do, and share how you can use them to stop exiting visitors.

#1. The offer

This is by far the most important element of your popup.

You see, a visitor will abandon the idea of leaving the site ONLY if you present them with a compelling offer that they won’t want to miss out on.

In practical terms, this means telling them what they’re going to get if they click on the call-to-action (CTA) button.

Typical examples of offers that work on exit popups include:


7yk8h8jkt wisepops8Source: cotopaxi.com

Exclusive information and insights a visitor wouldn’t find anywhere else:

h158gaw8 wisepops9Source: sohohome.com

A chance to win something:

m00l2k3c wisepops10Source: r-pur.com

Here’s the most important thing to understand about the offer. For it to work — to help you engage and convert visitors — the offer must:

  • Be relevant to your audience’s needs. You must offer them something they find valuable enough to be willing to act on it.
  • Be easy to act on. Getting the reward shouldn’t require a visitor to do any work (besides signing up or some other simple activity).

#2. Engaging headline

A headline is what you use to:

  • Grab a leaving visitor’s attention. After all, to stop them, you need to ensure they notice and gain interest in your popup.
  • Communicate your offer. Often, the headline includes the main benefit a person’s going to get from acting on the popup.
  • Entice them to read the rest of the popup. A catchy headline will make a person want to find out more about your offer — and read the rest of your message.

Here a couple of examples of engaging exit popup headlines:

pypa1p4f wisepops11Source: volusion.com

z9oglg2l8 wisepops12Source: luxyhair.com

35s8kp6fb wisepops13Source: lush.com

#3. Content matching a person’s interest

Once you’ve caught someone’s attention, you need to tell them more about the offer, and convince them to act on it.

What’s more, you have to do it with just a couple of words, and ensure that whatever you say relates to the person’s interest.

Many brands use the popup content to simply list details of the offer. For example:

tk5tejocg wisepops14

Others include instructions on how visitors can redeem the offer:

9j73hw60a wisepops15

If you offer a lead magnet, it’s a good idea to offer some social proof that would convince a person to sign up in exchange for the content or offer:

zrj0mlg1 wisepops16Source: sitepoint.com

#4. Placement

There’s one big risk when you’re displaying an exit popup at the last minute: falling under your visitor’s radar.

The best way to avoid this situation is by placing your popup in front of your visitor — right in the middle of the screen. And to maximize the effect, you can make the popup full screen or use an overlay.

Here’s a good example:

3bjwin61u wisepops17

#5. Visuals

Fact: Even without featuring any images, an exit popup can still convert incredibly well — providing that it already makes a strong offer, and uses a compelling headline to communicate it.

At the same time, visuals help enrich it, increasing the chances of grabbing someone’s attention. Visuals can even help reduce the amount of copy you need to include in the popup.

Here are some options for your exit popup visuals.

Use a visual that embodies what your brand is about:

7chnm958 wisepops18Source: bowflex.com

Use a visual that will grab your visitors’ attention:

g4mcuvrcf wisepops19Source: visme.co

Use a visual that helps your visitors visualize what they’ll get when they subscribe:

Source: uplers.com

#6. Call-to-action

Finally, a strong popup must also tell visitors how to get the offer: A call-to-action (CTA). A call to action tells them exactly what to do to acquire the offer.

That’s why most CTAs include action verbs that clearly define the action to take:
e8v2el1tm wisepops21ufr55m5o wisepops22

Putting it all together

I’ve shown you all the individual elements that make up a successful popup. Here’s an example of how all this ties in together:

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And there you have it… Everything you need to know to launch a successful exit popup strategy and begin stopping visitors in their tracks. Good luck!

Greg d’Aboville is head of Customer Success at WisePops, a website popup builder. He’s helped dozens of brands like Skechers, Ocado and Greenpeace increase conversions. Grab their app on the Shopify app store and check out their ActiveCampaign integration and app.

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