6 Easy Ways To Make Your Website Popups Look More Effective [With Examples]

6 Easy Ways To Make Your Website Popups Look More Effective [With Examples]

Table Of Contents:

1. No Playboy banner on the freeway- Page URL based targeting
2. Diamond on the first date, bill on the second – Visitor type based targeting
3. Sell your kilts only in Scotland- Geolocation based targeting
4. TGIF for Fridays, Redbull for dry days- Time based targeting
5. Size does matter- Device based
6. I will make you one last offer you can’t refuse- Based on Cart Value

Marketing overlays, website intercepts, web lightbox etc. more traditionally known as popups have been subjected to the superlative of hate by a large number of marketers and users alike. In fact, back in 2004, it was one of the most hated marketing techniques on the web. However, regardless of overlays blamed by multiple online communities for allegedly jeopardising user experience, there is something that nobody can claim to dispute- ‘overlays work’.

Exit intent overlay is one of the widely used adaptation of an overlay. It is a form of an overlay which is flashed to the user right when it is about to exit your website (browser viewport). And the reason this form is popular is because of the high success rate associated with this type.

In fact, exit intent is part of the entire product suite of WebEngage and one of our clients- Kaymu was able to increase its conversion by 30 times by using it. That’s a real incredible number and this is not an isolated case. Trust me, there are many of our clients who could boast numbers like these.

Exit Intent Popups WORK. That’s God’s honest truth

However, despite all the success stories you would find over the Internet which would suggest that exit intent works like a magic wand, the fact is that it doesn’t. Because what we essentially tend to miss while running exit intent overlay is- showing the right overlay to the right user at the right time.

Targeting, Targeting, Targeting

Yes, I am talking about targeting. As a matter of fact, the general animosity with overlays by a segment of users is also the result of non-targeted messaging.

Showing an ad of Justin Bieber’s CDs in ISIS-controlled Syria wouldn’t achieve anything more than ruining your user’s experience let alone revenue. Your overlay will be a success only if it is directed to the user for whom it meant and who do you think will be benefitted by it.

Therefore, just as we create targeted landing pages, it is imperative that we create targeted overlays too if we want to see the desired results.

In this post, I am going to highlight the best targeting practices that you should employ while pushing an exit intent overlay.

1. No Playboy banner on the freeway- Page URL based targeting

Target your visitor depending on the page they are onto.

How often do you see poster ads of burger in your pharma store? Probably never, unless of course the burger brand is Burger King.

misplaced adsSource- ifunny

The thought process of your user varies depending on the page they are onto. For instance, your user who is scrolling the home page is going to have different things going on in his head than the user who is on the checkout page. So naturally, you wouldn’t want to show the same ads to both of them.

Similarly, say you run an online store and running a discount on cricket bats. Then, popping up the discount-on-bats offer on the cutlery’s page is equivalent to running diaper ads during Superbowl. Okay, perhaps the analogy didn’t quite rightly fit, but now you know what I intend to imply.

Therefore, ensure that your ad is in the context of what the user is currently seeing.


This is the example of two separate exit intent overlays run on two different pages by one of our clients.

Disclaimer- The name of the clients has been withheld in all the examples in this post for privacy concerns.

On the home page:Exit intent technology popup

On the checkout page:
Exit intent technology popup

[There is always an exception for onsite retargeted ads in which the content of the overlay shown to users depends on the user flow or on his past activity. Read more about retargeting here]

2. Diamond on the first date, bill on the second – Visitor type based targeting

Your visitors are going to be one of the two types- new vs returning. The returning visitor is going to have a fair idea of you or your product than the new one. So naturally the message that you would want to put across to both of them has to be different.

For targeting these visitor segments, I would recommend a different approach for both of them.
Convert and Engage.

For new users- Convert

Now, nearly 70% of the traffic that comes to your website is lost forever. Which confronts us with one of the bitter marketing truths- which is that significant amount of our marketing efforts is spent only to bring traffic that never converts.

For a new visitor, it is highly unlikely that they would trust you with their email address unless he is your friend from high school. So for first-time users, “you have to make an offer they can’t refuse” and convert them into a lead/identifiable contact.


One of our top clients ran this for first-time visitors:Exit intent technology popup

For returning users- Engage

For returning users you can engage them since you are now assured they have a fair idea of who you are.


The same client in the previous example ran this exit intent overlay for returning visitors:Exit intent technology popup

3. Sell your kilts only in Scotland- Geolocation based targeting

This type of targeting is essentially governed by three logics- Location, location, location.

Whenever I talk of geotargeting I am reminded of this billboard ad by Coca-Cola that they ran in Saudi Arabia. If you are Saudi then you would know what I mean.

Coca-cola Saudi Arabia jokeSource- Binscorner

For non-Saudi Arabian readers- from the billboard ad what the Coca Cola folks essentially meant was that a man is exhausted, he drinks the Coca-Cola and he is all revitalised.

All that Coca-Cola folks had forgotten was Saudi Arabian people read from right to left.
This is essentially what I intend to derive in this point. If you are running an overlay ad you have to be well aware that the expectation of your target audience may vary with location. In Mumbai, where WebEngage is based, running an offer on raincoats may seem rational, but doing the same in any sub-Saharan country is outrightly ridiculous, if not totally stupid.

This especially becomes very pertinent if you are appealing to the international audience. Check what Utsav fashion has done:

Two different overlays for visitors in and out of India.

The message showed to foreign visitors:Exit intent technology popup

The message showed to Indian visitorsExit intent technology popup

4. TGIF for Fridays, Redbull for dry days- Time based targeting

This essentially means running a campaign depending on the time of the day, month, year it is, which makes perfect sense. So, whether it is Christmas, Thanksgiving, Diwali season or any important day relevant to your target audience, customize your ads accordingly.


One of our clients ran this during the Indian Republic day for its Indian audience.Exit Intent Technology popup

5. Size does matter- Device based

It essentially means targeting your user depending on the device they are using. In a nutshell, I am suggesting to show different messages on mobile and desktop.

Now, since exit intent doesn’t work for mobile devices, it can be compensated on mobile by time trigger popups. But people mostly tend to ignore to create separate overlays for their mobile site or web-apps mostly because the rise of traction on mobile and the pace of mobile marketing adoption by marketers is not in sync. This is necessary in light of the following statistics:

a. More than 50% of the traffic to your website comes from mobile

The percentage of mobile internet users is significantly higher than the desktop users and this number is not isolated to any specific region. So it is imperative that you place right ad strategy in place to lure this traffic.

b. Rise in mobile traffic doesn’t amount to rise in conversion

One of the astonishing stats that we have come across is that although mobile is driving more traffic, conversion on mobile still lags way behind that on the desktop. This can be greatly attributed to the different user behavior on both the devices.

People mostly use mobile while commuting on the subway, waiting in line for the cheeseburger or killing time on a boring date. The usage is highly short lived as in the active session time is relatively less. But when they use a desktop, they are in a more stable state to make decisions which explain why conversion on the desktop is higher.

Now the kind of overlay can be of two types depends on the activeness of the user on the mobile site

Case A- The user is active

When the user is active, implying that he has an interest in your product, it’s perfectly reasonable to pitch him your app without ruining his experience. Take help of a bar in the header or footer like the one below. Also, why you need to make them download your app is another million dollar question whose answer in gist could be found here:

Exit Intent Technology popup

Case B- User is inactive

Flash them an overlay giving them an incentive to convert into a lead. Don’t stress on the purchase because of the reason I have already stated.
However, exit intent doesn’t work on mobile devices. So, you can compensate for it using time trigger popup.

6. I will make you one last offer you can’t refuse- Based on Cart Value

Let’s directly learn from the example.

This was the popup showed by one of our clients for visitors who were leaving after already reaching the cart value of $500.

Exit intent technology popup

Although data for the targeting rules before cart value could be easily accessed by the plugin or service provider whom you are going to use to run ads. However, cart value data has to be passed by you to the service provider to run ads. In fact, there could be more parameters other than cart value like gender, last order value on the basis of which you can ingeniously target your ads. However, to execute this, you have to pass more data to the tool which you are using and set custom rules.

That’s all about targeting in this post.

My final thought

Overlays are intrusive by nature. Intrusive things are never found pleasant by anybody. The success lies in making it pleasant and relevant for your user.

Please do mention in the comments your thoughts around this.

See how Zivame, an online lingerie retailer, used web pop-ups to increase conversion

  • Created: 23 Oct 2017
  • Last Updated: 26 May 2022



Ajit Singh Content Marketer, Webengage

Ajit is a Marketing Manager at WebEngage. He is a power user who writes about marketing automation and everything about the customer engagement sphere. He previosuly worked as a Digital Marketing Executive at Zepo.in

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