We’ve all come across pop-ups whilst browsing the web. From ‘sign up’ requests through to more frustrating spam adverts, they’re a fact of life online – but it’s only when you start developing your own digital marketing strategy that you might look into them properly.
As it happens, there’s far more to pop-ups than meets the eye. They aren’t just spam tools, and they come in a number of varieties such as interstitials. The upshot is that this somewhat intrusive form of presenting information can be extremely effective when it comes to online marketing, but that doesn’t mean that pop-ups are problem-free.
Here we take a look at some of the major advantages and disadvantages of pop-ups, so you can make an informed choice for your website.
What are pop-ups?
First things first, you need to know what pop-ups really are before you can incorporate them into your digital marketing strategy.
In essence, pop-ups do exactly as their name suggests – they ‘pop up’ on screen. This usually happens once the content of a webpage has loaded, and seconds later the pop-up will appear to deliver a message whilst obscuring the view of the freshly loaded page. That’s the general idea, but they can also be created to coincide with various website visitor actions, such as hovering their mouse close to the browser close button.
There are also interstitials, and even Google uses the term ‘pop-up’ to describe both forms of messaging. Whereas a pop-up will usually arrive once the content of a webpage has loaded, an interstitial appears whilst the page is loading, and can even prevent access to the content until the user clicks the ad or a ‘continue to site’ link.
Putting technicalities aside, both pop-ups and interstitials achieve the same thing – putting information in front of website visitors in a clear and (almost) unavoidable way.
Advantages of using pop-ups
When used properly, pop-ups can be a useful digital marketing feature that enhances your website’s lead generation and conversion rates. Naturally how these benefits apply depends on the site involved, but well-designed and properly executed pop-ups are no bad thing.
They get the point across
Above all, pop-up advertising is loud and proud. If you want a message to be seen by users of your website, there are scarcely any better ways of getting it done than with a pop-up message.
Even if they do eventually click away, visitors are almost guaranteed to see your pop-up communication – and although such a brash approach might be considered rude and intrusive by some, others will simply click through to the next step in your lead generation process.
You can capture data more easily
Aside from letting site users know about a sale or some other important feature of your online space, pop-ups can be strategically deployed to collect user data. This often takes the form of a ‘sign up’ form for mailing lists and other such subscription services.
The thing is, very few customers will actually seek out a sign-up form of their own accord – and so by delivering it to them directly, you’ll increase your chances of adding new leads to your marketing database.
They can look slick
When you think of pop-ups, your mind probably drifts to the colourful yet unappealing virus-like spam of the early 2000s. Nowadays, businesses that want to use pop-ups perform better if they distance themselves from these unwelcome website additions.
Modern pop-ups can be a slick affair, showcasing the design and development skills of the business whilst helpfully directing website visitors to the content that they’re looking for. A clear, bold message that looks good and helps users to reach their end destination will almost always go down well – and epitomises why pop-ups can be a force for good in digital marketing.
Disadvantages of using pop-ups
As we’ve mentioned, the use of pop-ups is only advantageous if they’re designed and used properly. Just as with any poorly implemented marketing, pop-ups could damage your site’s reputation and even have an adverse effect on your search engine optimisation (SEO) efforts.
They don’t have a great reputation
As we mentioned before, pop-ups are synonymous with spam. Although it isn’t such an issue these days, it wasn’t all that long ago that internet users regularly picked up viruses from online pop-ups and so it’s to be expected that many members of the public treat them with a healthy dose of scepticism.
Lots of users detest them
If an inherent association with spam wasn’t bad enough, there are plenty of people who outright dislike any use of pop-ups. For them, pop-up ads feel like an intrusion on their browsing, and they may find the ads distracting.
With these gripes in mind, it could be that a badly executed pop-up could drive traffic away from your website.
Many of them use an ad blocker
Acting on their dislike for pop-up ads and other forms of ‘annoying’ marketing, many users are now guarded against such marketing techniques by an ad blocker. Now, whilst not all pop-ups will be affected by these browser plugins, it’s worth questioning whether it’s even worth it to create pop-ups that may simply be blocked from view by a simple bit of code.
They can seriously affect your mobile SEO efforts
It’s incredibly important to optimise your website for mobile phones – so much so that many SEO experts and digital marketing agencies will make it one of the first things they do when working with a new client.
Google, Bing, and other search engines reward websites that are accessible on smartphones, and punish those that make it difficult to view and access content away from a computer. Since January 2017, Google has used most pop-ups and interstitials featured on the mobile version of websites as a negative ranking factor. With some notable exceptions (such as those pop-ups related to legal requirements), this means that using pop-ups in the wrong way could actually harm your website’s ranking on search engine results pages (SERPs).
Of course, this isn’t an issue for businesses that use website pop-ups properly – but it is an important conversation to have with your digital marketing team. Your efforts should be focussed on reaching a wider audience, and SEO penalties are not a helpful step towards that goal, after all.
Websites that work – with or without pop-ups
As with most things in the world of digital marketing, pop-ups only work if they’re used in the right way. Creating a simple and informative pop-up message could endear users to your business and help to increase your conversion rate, whilst getting it wrong could leave you with fewer customers and a disappointed SEO ranking.
Whether you’re considering pop-ups or not, our friendly digital marketing experts could help your business to perform better online. All you need to do is get in touch.
Remember: even if the channel you’re considering is all the rage right now, it might not fit your brand. Always make informed decisions that directly relate to your company. Otherwise, your message won’t be delivered to its intended audience and you’ll have wasted time, effort and money.