On context and what to do about those popups and overlays

Popups interrupt. Whether your customer is reading, focused on an image or seeking the often mis-placed size guide, the popup will interrupt their thought flow.

So, your job is to make that interrupt one that delivers value.

And, for the majority of us, the 10% discount code (whole different subject covered here), is the simplest route to delivering a value exchange.

10% off whatever.

But here’s the thing. The software builders that create the overlays (Justuno, Privy, Optimonk to name a few) provide you with far greater targeting methods than you’re probably using.

You can target by country, by cart value, by time on site, by hair colour (sorry, they haven’t figured that one out yet), or by source. The list goes on. And yet, I’m rarely seeing these opportunities brought into play.

We still push the generic ‘Get updates. Get latest news. Get that darn 10% discount voucher’.

You’re a consumer. You see them as you shop. The moment you hit the homepage BAM! the popup. And you close it down. It just interrupts at the wrong time.

Generic ecommerce popups

To be contextual, ie. advertising your message in the right place at the right time to the right people (you know, how marketing should be), then make those popups really work for you.

I’m seeing 1% or 2% conversion rates on popups. 10% should be the achievable benchmark. Same volume of impressions, just greater context. That’s what helps you drive list growth and also allows you to build that trust and connection with your shopper.

It just takes context.

So park the blanket popup. The one that caters to all. And create unique popups for the products or categories that you want to focus on.

If your customer is browsing product pages within the, let’s say, organic sweater range, then present a popup, an interrupter, that actually offers that discount ON THAT product. Make sure the imagery, the copy, the call to action, all relate to that product or that product range.

It makes sense. Because that’s where your customer is. That’s the level of targeting that will work for you AND add value. It’s contextual. It’s impactful. It works.

And by ‘it works’ I mean the conversion rates rack up. Not just because volume of impressions is down (that’s an old conversion rate fudging trick)

It doesn’t just have to be about the popup

Promo bars, that sit at the top of your website, can easily be tailored dependent upon the page your customer is looking at.

How more powerful is the ‘Shop and save 10% today’ vs ‘Claim 10% discount on your new pair of jeans?’ messaging? It’s something you can a/b test to get a truer understanding of the impact of contextual advertising for your ecommerce store.

Knowing the product your subscriber was looking at is a valuable piece of information

This is important. As you drive list conversion rates, you’ll also begin to pull data that segments your customers by the products viewed at the time of the list subscription. That’s a key piece of data to help you better serve your customer. Segment by referring page and create sequences based upon your most popular products…

With technology comes freedom not restriction

This is important to remember. The technology you use allows you freedom to customise, to untemplate your messaging, as you see fit.

And it’s important that you set up a learning process, no matter where your business is right now in terms of size, that guides the future direction of your marketing – towards hyper-personalisation. Nice term ey? You can use that in your next marketing meeting.

This is what technology provides you. So make good use of the tools of your trade.

You know what? It may well be that the immediate 10% popup to all works best for your business. You don’t know until you trial. That’s why a/b testing is so critical to your work. You build an understanding of what works. For you.

Written By:

Ian Rhodes


Founder of Retention. Sharing 24+ years of insight building and growing profitable, sustainable ecommerce brands.

Is this our secret or shall we pass it on?

lessons on ecommerce growth

No templates or playbooks. No 10x 🚀 growth formulas (you know the type).
Just 14 lessons on how to grow your ecommerce business profitably and sustainably.

(there's never any pitching or spamming going on. promise.)