Pop-Up Windows: A Nuisance or a Gold Mine?

by Karon Thackston

How many times a day do you see them as you surf the Web? Pop-up and pop-under windows have become a widely used marketing tool. But do they work? Are they just a nuisance, or are they really the gold mine that all the "gurus" claim?

After doing a good deal of research, I've discovered some pretty interesting facts. After implementing my own pop-up campaign, I've had some enlightening moments. Allow me to tell you what I've discovered, and you can make up your own mind.

I started by looking to one of my favorite marketing research resources, http://www.marketingexperiments.com. They actually spent over $4,000 testing pop-up windows and compiling the results. Their experiment included using pop-ups for a biweekly ezine publisher and a computer products retailer.

The results were astounding! The ezine publisher got 100 more subscribers during a one-week period WITH the pop-up window than WITHOUT. The computer retailer received over 3,700 new subscribers by using a pop-up window. That was enough to convince me to look further into using pop-ups on my own sites.

(NOTE: One thing the experiment was careful to point out is that copy plays an enormous role in the success or failure of the pop-up. I wholeheartedly agree!)

Using my KT & Associates site (http://www.ktamarketing.com) as the guinea pig, I added a pop-up window (to show on exit) giving information about my copywriting course. Then I waited and watched. Success didn't take long!

While I do not conduct the "controlled" experiments that MarketingExperiments.com does, I do have some basic data to offer you. After an 11-day period, I checked my site statistics and was very pleased! I had gotten a number of page views (not "hits" - "page views") using the pop-up window. I had also seen a 50% conversion rate. (Meaning that 50% of those who clicked to my copywriting course site purchased the product.) The pop-up was working great!

What were the factors that made a successful pop-up window? For the folks at MarketingExperiments.com, it was an offer of some sort. The computer retailer offered the opportunity to win a prize. The ezine publisher offered the chance to enter a sweepstake. However, that leads to another issue (that I won't get into at the moment) of attrition. After the contest is over, and the prize is awarded, will the subscribers unsubscribe?

For me, I offered something of interest to my visitors. They came to my site seeking marketing and copywriting information. It made sense that they would be interested in the course. Viewers never read every single word of your Web site, so the pop-up window gave me the opportunity to tack a "PS" onto their visits. Sort of stating, "Oops! You might have missed this. Don't you want to take a look before you go?"

There are several things to keep in mind when creating pop-up windows (based on my opinion).

  1. Do make your pop-up window visible on exit, not entry, of your site. The reason being that when people enter your site and a window flashes up immediately, it blocks their view of your index page. It also can be annoying. Allow them to browse around a bit and then, when leaving, have your window pop up.
  2. Do make your message short and sweet. Giant, flashing signs and windows tend to give an overwhelming impression and cause your visitor to back away. Keeping your message short and your pop-up window small are less obtrusive and, therefore, more widely accepted.
  3. Don't use multiple pop-ups on your site at the same time. That is one surefire way to send your visitors packing.
  4. Don't put pop-up windows on every page of your site. Regardless of what the so-called marketing gurus tell you, it will backfire due to the annoyance factor.

While I can't tell you what would work for your site or your particular target market, I do recommend that you experiment a little with pop-up windows. You might just find another inexpensive marketing method that will increase your cash flow!

Most buying decisions are emotional. Your ad copy should be, too! Let Karon write targeted copy and ezine articles for you. Visit her site at http://www.ktamarketing.com, or learn to write your own copy at http://www.copywritingcourse.com. Don't forget to subscribe to Karon's free ezine!


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