5 website popup mistakes and how to avoid them

If you’re like me, you hate popups — the ones that are intrusive and irrelevant. Those that hurt the user experience so badly that you reach for the close tab and never look back. But at the same time, I can’t help but respect if a popup is really well done and intrigues enough to click on it.

Popups are a great way to convert your website visitors into leads. If it’s good it can take your conversion to another level. Between 20-70% of website visitors will provide their contact details when good popups are used. In fact, one study shows that popups can increase conversion rates by more than 1000%. However, if not done right, it can annoy your visitors and seriously hurt your website’s reputation with search engines.

By avoiding some common mistakes, you can create a good popup that is well-designed with relevant content and proper implementation.

Website popup types

There are a few different types of popups that can be added to the website to accomplish a variety of goals like informing visitors about your new offers, specials, and sales, or providing them useful information. Let’s have a look at the common types:

Opt-In Popup

Opt-In Popup

Opt-in popups appear as soon as a visitor lands on your website.

Exit-Intent Popup

As the name suggests, these appear when a visitor is about to leave your site. They serve the purpose of catching the attention of your visitor before they close the website.

Exit-Intent Popup
Trigger Tab

Trigger Tab Popup

With trigger tab popups, you can select a part of your webpage that prompts the popup to appear. So these popups appear when visitors click that selected part on your webpage. It can be an image, button, or text.

Timed Popup

This type appears after visitors spend a particular amount of time on your website. These popups are less intrusive than entry popups and give your visitor some time to explore your website first.

Timed Popup


These appear after visitors scroll down on your web page. With these popups, the more engaged your visitors are the greater the chances are that they will act.

5 popup mistakes to avoid

Now that we have covered the common types of popups, let’s move on to some of the most typical mistakes:

Triggering too soon or too late

When it comes to good popups, timing is crucial to get the results you want. If your popup appears too soon, it can come off as annoying and disturbing as it will interrupt your visitors. On the other hand, if your popup appears too late, you can lose a lot of new subscribers who have already navigated to another page.

So, how do you determine the best timing for your popups? Should it be 5 seconds, 10, or maybe even 30 seconds? Unfortunately, it’s very difficult to generalize the timings because your popup should only be triggered at a time your visitor is most likely to engage with your website. This is the key to determining the best timing and it varies depending on your site.

In order to figure out the perfect time for when your popup should be triggered, first you need to look at the average time spent on your website in your analytics. Based on best practices, you can set the timing to 60% of the average time spent on your website.

According to research by the Nielsen Norman Group, the first 10 seconds on a website are crucial; if a visitor stays longer than 10 seconds, odds are they’ll stick around for a while to read and explore the page.

Communicating irrelevant content

Imagine you’re shopping online and are ready to checkout. But instead of completing your purchase, you leave the site and abandon your cart. When you’re exiting the website, however, a popup appears offering you a free eBook. How would that make you feel?

Regardless of how beautifully your popup is designed if your offer is not enchanting enough you won’t get the conversion. If someone is reading your blog and never shows any indication of making a purchase, you can entice them to buy something by promoting a coupon or a sale when they are about to leave your site. Promoting relevant content to your audience is important according to their behavior on your website. The offer should be relevant to your visitor and exciting enough to compel them to react.

With popups, you can’t communicate the same message to your visitors in different stages of the sales funnel. For visitors in more advanced stages who are already considering buying a solution for their problems, you can push your sales messages like free shipping offers, discounts, etc. For early-stage visitors who are looking around and gauging their options, you can promote more informational content like eBooks or even compel them for a free trial.

Another thing you have to be mindful of is to display your popups only on relevant pages. If you have a sale going on, you should promote that on your product pages and promote your eBook on your blog page.

Providing insignificant offers in the popup

Similar to the last mistake, if you’re not providing a good and compelling offer in your popup, it doesn’t matter how beautifully crafted your popup is. If it’s not lucrative enough, it won’t get your visitors to convert.

Your offer should be unique, relevant, and exciting for your target audience. It needs to be valuable enough for your visitors to provide their information in exchange. So, when creating a new offer, note that if someone didn’t take the hook of the bait already presented on your website, they might not be interested enough in the same offer in a popup as well.

To achieve a higher conversion, try to create exclusive offers in your popups that aren’t available anywhere else on your website. At the very least, don’t try to repeat the same offer promoted on your main page. If it didn’t work once, it surely won’t work twice. Posting the same offer over and over again is likely to annoy your visitors and reduce the conversion rates of your popups.

Requesting too much information

The less information you ask from your visitors, the more likely they’ll opt in. At the same time, however, if you get more information about your visitors like name, age, gender, etc, you can send more customized and personalized emails, offers, and deals to your subscribers.

  • For one-step popups, where the form can be found on the first popup, most businesses only request your email addresses.
  • For multi-step popups, when the visitor only clicks on the first page (e.g. YES/NO popup) you can ask for more information. How is that? After the first popup captures your visitors’ interest, they are more likely to provide their contact details like first name, last name, the company they work at, cellphone number, etc.

MarketingExperiments ran a study that produced about as straightforward a “fewer fields is better” result as you could expect. They found a five-field form had a higher conversion rate and lower cost-per-conversion than a seven-field form. The seven-form field, however, performed better on both metrics than the 10-field form. Occam’s razor at play.

Bad designs

You can’t ignore the fact that something that looks attractive and pleasing is going to get more conversions. Therefore, your popup needs to be designed to fit with the overall style of your website. It shouldn’t stand out from the rest of your website and should be an integral part of your overall site.

An important part of the design is that you shouldn’t add too much content as distraction kills conversions. Try to keep in mind that “less is more”.

Essential to making a highly converting popup is to make it absolutely clear how to close them. For best practices, the delay of the close button shouldn’t be more than 3 seconds as it becomes extremely annoying after that amount of time.

In conclusion

By avoiding these common mistakes, you can produce popups that are highly converting. If yours is intriguing and has a good offer, it won’t annoy your customers. Good popups are well-timed, have relevant content, and appear on a page that has relevant content and information.