What is a pop-up?

picture of a popup on a computer screen
April 15, 2020


What is a pop-up and should you use it for your online store in 2020? Learn about the types of popups, software, and best practices to increase conversions for any web page.

A pop-up (in this case) is a secondary window that overtakes the primary window when prompted by a specific trigger. A pop-up may be a tiny window that appears in the corner of your screen, or it may completely overlay the main web page you are browsing.

Here’s an example pop-up by mutesix.com:

sample popup from mutesix.com

Should I use a pop-up in 2020?

Short answer: Yes, you should have a pop-up, but only if it’s visually appealing, has a clear value proposition, and appears in a timely manner.

Long answer: The ancient Chinese proverb goes, “The best time to make a pop-up was twenty years ago. The second best time is now.” This still remains true for everyone — whether you’re just setting up your online store, or are an established business making seven figures, having a pop-up on your webpage will increase your connections and conversions. Statistics don’t lie.

Are pop-ups good or bad?

Bad pop-ups are like people who chase you down the street holding flyers until you take one. An obnoxious or poorly timed pop-up will increase user frustration, web page bounce rates, and decrease purchases; the complete opposite of its intended effect.

However, good pop-ups could be like Costco samples, enticing your customers to purchase the full product. A tastefully crafted pop-up at the right time will skyrocket customer satisfaction, conversions, sales cycles, and brand connection. A study of nearly 2 billion pop-ups showed that the top average conversion rate for pop-ups hovered at 3%; we regularly boost our client pop-up conversions to 6%.

How to build your pop-up

There are numerous types of software you can use to create a stunning pop-up:

Privy* — Pop-ups with integrations

Justuno — Highly customizable pop-up with 14-day free trial

OptinChat — Chat module to increase conversions

Hellobar — Freemium email capture tool

Sumo — #1 Freemium email capture tool

Yeps — Free customizable pop-up bar

Personizely — Free trial for website widgets

Exitget — Lead generation and exit intent detection

*Our agency uses Privy (we are not sponsored by them in any way).

Types of pop-ups

Each software offers different custom options for pop-ups.

1. Timed pop-up: Pop-ups can be triggered by a time delay. You usually customize this delay to be between 0–90 seconds. Most studies show that pop-ups are more effective when they appear under 60 seconds.

2. Scroll pop-up: After the user has scrolled past a certain amount down your web page, the pop-up will appear. These are beneficial for many online shops, as users will be pleasantly surprised with a discount after browsing down through many items.

3. Entry pop-up: They appear as soon as the user enters the web page. We don’t recommend you do this unless you know what you’re doing, because this is potentially the biggest turn-off in user experience.

4. Exit pop-up: These are triggered when the pop-up software detects an “exit intent” from the user. It is intended to interrupt the user from exiting the web page with a last-minute offer that has a solid conversion rate.

Which type of pop-up do I use?

Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. Start by picking one, and then A/B test it with other types of pop-ups. Let the experiment run and let the results speak for themselves. To get started, we recommend experimenting between a simple 15-second timed pop-up against an exit pop-up.

There are countless examples of effective pop-ups to be inspired from. Have at it!

Pop-up best practices

  • Have a clear value offer for your audience (what should you give them in return for their email address?)
  • Have clear, visible buttons and text
  • Have a clear exit button in case the user does not want the offer
  • Use a semi-opaque background around the pop-up instead of blocking out the entire screen
  • Don’t let the pop-up appear more than once anywhere on your website
  • Don’t use any jarring animations
  • Don’t use too many words

How to make your pop-up

After you decide which software to use, begin with a clear value offer. Think it about it from your customers’ shoes: do I want to give my email in return for this offer? The crux of all advertising is being able to connect with the audiences’ needs.

Next, format the text forms you need, and then put a strong call-to-action button. (For example, “GET YOUR FREE E-BOOK NOW” or “USE YOUR 10% DISCOUNT”.)

Lastly, find one variable to play around with for your A/B testing before posting it. Continually optimize it with the winner and you’ll eventually maximize your conversions!


While pop-ups are potentially annoying, all studies show that more often than not, you’ll benefit from having a pop-up. You build your own pop-up from the suggested software above, or you can let us take the reins, and we’ll create an A/B-tested, high-performing pop-up for your website.

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Written by

Jasper is an expert email marketer. He is passionate about helping sustainably driven businesses reach their marketing goes through beautiful, branded emails.