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I recall getting an email once from someone I didn’t know asking me to check out their new online store and asking for feedback. Although I typically ignore these requests, I clicked on the link.
When I landed on the site, the very first thing I saw was a popup that covered the full screen asking me to sign up for their newsletter.
Needless to say, I didn’t even bother to click on the “no thank you” button, but simply closed the window.
But that is an extreme example, right? Maybe.
Don’t get me wrong. Pop-ups do have their place. This isn’t a rant or an overall perspective on when and where they work. This is looking at it primarily from the perspective of an online store with several, if not hundreds of products.
I know a few plugins that do this and have been very successful. So there is a time and place, no matter how you or I feel personally about them.
The Virtual Salesperson
I imagine myself walking into the store and a sales person approaches me. Can I help you find something? Typically they aren’t super aggressive. They don’t block your access from any part of the store. They may loom around and you always feel them anticipating the kill, but yet, they’re pretty harmless.
But what if they had first approached you with a large sale banner and shoved it in your face? Or perhaps, someone walked up to you and asked for your email the moment you stepped into their store so they could put you on their mailing list? Or, worst yet, they came up and asked you, Would you like to take advantage of the sales on our hats or do you insist on continuing to wear that poor excuse of a cap in public? Okay, the latter is a sarcastic take on those “shaming buttons” marketers use. (You know, the ones that give you a box to click that says, “No thank you. I am not interested in learning how to make $5,000 a day because I am a billionaire and I already know everything about everything.”)
What Are Your Customers There For?
When it comes to shoving that pop-up into their face, even shortly after arrival, what are you assuming the customer is there for? They may be browsing, but my guess is window-shopping is better left to the brick and mortar shops vs. popping around from site to site. And if they are simply perusing your site, maybe the obtrusive interruption might be accepted.
But likely they are on a mission.
They are looking for something. Something you sell or possibly sell. If you have a deal for them, make it obvious on the site. Don’t ram it down their throats.
The Timed Pop-up
Arguably, many marketers tend to turn to the pop-up that is timed perfectly. Often those are on exit, or what you might call exit-intent. Again, for some sites they might work, but I still question them for your online store.
The obvious one is the discount. You know, don’t leave yet, because now we are offering you 20% off. This only makes me question why you did not tell me this earlier.
In the above example, you are assuming that the reason I am leaving is that it was too expensive. It could never had been that your product isn’t what I was looking for or that it simply sucks. A random assumption on the part of the store owner.
I might recall when I was in a store that I was leaving and someone wanted to make sure I had found what I was looking for. But those times were few and far between. I never had someone run up to me and say, Hey, before you go, just wanted to let you know that I can give you a nice discount on that computer you were looking at. Never happened.
If you look at the scope of follow-up and abandoned cart options in the eCommerce space, you already have plenty of strategies to consider.
Speaking of the Looming Salesperson
Although this is a subject for another episode, what about those chat bots. You know, customer service boxes often in the lower right corner of the sidebar, waiting for your question? Kind of like that salesperson who looms behind the counter, or pokes around at the clothing rack pretending to do some work but hoping you will ask them a question or worse yet, they make eye contact.
From what I have read and heard, those chats have been more successful than pop-ups when it comes to online stores. But still, there is a fine line. The ones that keep messaging you.
Welcome, can I help you?
Are you finding what you need?
Have you seen our sale on shoes?
Sometimes I just think, leave me alone.
Is There a Right or Wrong Way?
Although it may appear that I see very little opportunity with pop-ups on an online store, that doesn’t mean there aren’t. As I did more research, I found that like politics, this is a divisive topic hotly debated with strong perspectives on both sides.
Needless to say, if you have found your sweet spot with using popups on your online store, it is time for some serious testing. Between watching their actions using some sort of heat map and watching clicks vs. conversions, it just makes sense to test before seriously implementing any strategy.
Personally, the store loses me when they do this. But that’s just me. Personal. I can also say that I run into this more on smaller shops or single sales on products or services. Of course, for someone who shops primarily on Amazon, I’m not the perfect candidate to give you a perspective on a wide spectrum on sites.
In any case, it does make me wonder where VR and the in-store experience might lead. And will they consider pop-ups?