What the “Pop-up” Decline Teaches About Consumer Behaviors

1 comment

Yahoo’s Panama platform has hammered the final nail and marking the end of using pop-ups with paid search landing pages to capture email opt-ins. In the past, pop-ups offered a powerful and effective strategy for generating email opt-ins. But as pop-up blockers emerged and were integrated into popular browsers as well as Google AdWords’ early step to restrict landing page pop-ups, the strategy started to disappear from the mainstream.

Yet, during the time when pop-ups were being removed from an online marketers’ repertoire because of their “interruptive” approach to the customer experience, I had a client who insisted on continuing their use for their Yahoo paid search campaigns.

Because of mounting industry research claiming that pop-up were hurting (or even abusing) customer relationships. I was initially against the client’s insistence and advised integrating an email opt-in directly into their landing page. The client pushed back and we settled on agreeing to test using the “visitor-to-pop-up form completion” conversion rate as the measure of the customer experience. A low conversion rate would mean a bad experience versus a high conversion rate indicating a favorable experience.

After launching the pop-up landing page for Yahoo, I was shocked! The “visitor-to-pop-up form completion” conversion rate averaged between 8% – 12%. And it may have been higher depending on the percentage of pop-ups that were being blocked and therefore not seen by visitors. Most importantly, the client was pulling these leads into their back-end marketing program and ultimately converting 2%- 3% of them to first-time buyers.

This experience caused me to think about consumer behaviors, best practices and mainstream publicity. Certainly, pop-ups are interruptive, like many other forms of advertising. Yet interruptive marketing like behavior targeting, pop-up live chat sessions, and automatic playing audio/video works for certain markets. I read a MarketingSherpa.com article that showcased how a company used “pushy” online chats to close an unbelievable number of website sales for a hair product for men (I couldn’t locate the article or I would have linked to it.)

I find it important to understand best practices and what the media is saying about different forms of marketing, but ultimately base your decisions on your knowledge of your customers and your customers’ behaviors as they interact with your marketing. My client understood his market and proved that pop-ups worked extremely well. The hair product company (written about in the MarketingSherpa.com article) knew their customers and proved that pushy online chat worked extremely well with them. By knowing your customers, you may be successful going against “conventional wisdom” too.

About the Author

Kevin Gold is Director of Internet Marketing at iNET Interactive, a social media company operating prominent online communities for technology professionals and technology enthusiasts. Kevin is a frequent contributing author to multiple publications including Search Marketing Standard, Practical eCommerce, DIRECT, Entrepreneur.com, ConversionChronicles.com, About.com, and On Target (Yahoo! Search Marketing newsletter).

Add Your Comments

  • (will not be published)

One Comment

  1. Alex

    Even the leading SEM website, such as SEOmoz.com has resorted to using popups to promote their premium membership. And the top web designer community - SitePoint.com - uses them to promote their books. Both are quite annoying and a bit surprising (since these are supposed to be highly respectable websites in the industry), but they have been doing it for quite a bit. I wonder how effective popup blockers really are. There just seems to be so many ways to circumvent them that if you really wanted to do popup marketing, you could. Do you think that it's only effective for email conversions or other types of marketing, as well?