Pop quiz: Let me describe a site to you, and you tell me if it should have a pop-up. Here’s the scenario:
The site’s email newsletter is a significant driver of sales (you’re measuring this, right?)
The site tends to get a lot of one-time visitors from search engines because it has good content and is relevant to a wide geographic and demographic range.
The site occasionally gets large bursts of traffic, say, because it’s linked from the front page of Yahoo for a day.
There’s a smaller group of regulars who come read the site several times a week, and who’d lose interest if the site was only a big ad for the newsletter.
We had this situation recently with one of our favorite clients, Find-A-Sweetheart*, and we implemented a layers-based pop-up to see what would happen.
That pop-up has resulted in a major increase in newsletter signups**, and from that into much greater sales. Kathryn, the site owner, is getting about 400% more newsletter signups per month now—and it’s not that the signup form was well-hidden before: it was already (and still is) on every page!
Technically, what we did is not a pop-up because it doesn’t open a new window—thus, pop-up blocking software doesn’t stop it. It’s actually called a floating unit, but most Web surfers are not sophisticated enough to understand the difference, and tend to lump them into the same category.
At the same time, a floating unit can be less intrusive and resource intensive than a Window-based pop-up. And while, sure, no-one LIKES pop-ups, this one serves an important purpose: first-time visitors get a can’t-be-missed message from the site owner that drives them to useful content, while regular visitors don’t have to have page space used up by a message they’re unlikely to respond to because they’re likely already signed up.
Ultimately, you need to test and watch to see if this is going to work for you—driving your traffic and sales up or down. For certain types of sites, it’s an excellent option.
(* You’re one of our favorite clients too, don’t worry!)
(** We did some other things that contributed to signups, too, like a static but more prominent signup on every page, and more free content.)