To Pop Up or Not to Pop Up: Knowing When This Strategy Works

To pop up or not to pop up, that is the question – and the answer isn’t as simple as you think. Sometimes a pop-up is an ad, other times pop-up content is meant as an aid or helper item that provides more information to visitors; however, it could be hurting your business instead.

Read on for the lowdown on knowing when this strategy works and when you should avoid it altogether.

The Good and The Great


Image via Flickr by jonworth-eu

Rich media ads created with HTML5 are the best way to execute pop-up content. Floating rich media pop-ups appear on top of existing content and require the user to close it before he or she can continue. However, rich media ads typically take advantage of the format and include videos or a call-to-action with a reply form.

A good pop-up would also consider the type of content a user might want to see. It’s customizable and adaptable. For example, an inbound pop-up ad should be relative to the content the user is currently viewing, as in a product. Likewise, an adaptable rich media pop-up may detect the user’s Internet speed and provide relevant content without killing his or her download speeds.

The Bad and The Ugly

Chances are you value your personal space. Well, so do your users. Pop-up messages can cause considerable viewing issues for mobile users if the content isn’t relative or mobile responsive. In fact, they can take over the small screen with nothing but a tiny corner close option to get passed it.

Other “ugly” or pointless pop-ups include those that occur at the wrong moment and interrupt the user experience. Timing is everything when it comes to advertising. Does your pop-up occur within one minute of your user’s page view? Chances are you’re interrupting his or her reading, which is more than annoying if he or she is trying to learn about your product or services.

The Right Page for Pop-Ups

The truth is: There may not be a right page for pop-ups. It’s more about understanding why you want to attract attention. Is your pop-up a call-to-action? Consider a pop-up that appears only when the user scrolls to the bottom of the page.

Does the interruptive nature of your pop-up provide additional value or does it simply annoy? A/B testing could help you determine not only the right page for pop-ups but the right way to use them. Consider experimenting with several options before settling on one.

Knowing When to Lay Low

For some users, pop-ups can lead to a slower browsing experience. If your website is already graphic-heavy and hard on the viewer’s download speeds or computer performance, then your pop-up will add insult to injury. The last thing you want is for potential customers to associate your service with the word “slow.”

Furthermore, you may want to lay low or avoid pop-ups based on your target audience. In the early days of the Internet, pop-ups were more frequently associated with spyware or viruses. If your key demographic is a bit older or not as hip with the times, your pop-up may create a sense of fear or distrust.

We want to hear from you. Do you use pop-ups with success on your site or are they your biggest pet peeve? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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By Jon Correll

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One thought on “To Pop Up or Not to Pop Up: Knowing When This Strategy Works

  1. Hi Jon,
    Really great article! I’m sure you’re familiar with a great many pop up softwares, but let me suggest a great one using exit intent technology, so it’s not bad and ugly at all 🙂 Check it at our website! Cheers

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