People usually find popups to be annoying. As a matter of fact, the Nielsen Norman Group survey reported that they are the most despised form of advertising today.
This is mostly because most popups are ineffective, bad, and truly annoying.
In reality, when people say they hate popups, what they actually mean is they hate bad popups.
But while their likability may be a matter of debate, their efficacy is not.
Even the most average popups converted 3% of their viewers while the best have increased email signups by almost 14x or leads by 162%.
If you are a founder of a Shopify store, popups are a tool that you can’t afford to ignore.
We’re covering the 18 Shopify popup best practices that can help you to get the most checkouts.
1. Design your exit-intent popups to be intrusive (you WANT to disrupt the exit)
One of the most crucial weapons in your arsenal is your Shopify exit popup. It is a last-ditch effort to turn a leaving customer into a paying one.
Imagine a scenario: an online visitor spends a large amount of time reading about an expensive camera and your Shopify add-to-cart popup just before he’s about to leave offers him free shipping. Is that enough to move the needle?
When it comes to the Shopify exit popup, use your nuclear option and keep copies absolutely compelling. Keep the offer relevant to the visitor’s behavior and his stage in the purchase journey.
How to build a compelling exit-intent popup:
- Use one actionable headline that directs your customers’ next steps
- Ensure the CTA button is bold & bright and has one singular message
- Include an immediately useful incentive (can grow subscriptions 6x)
- Enable social media plugs to drive micro conversions even in the absence of a sale
Here’s an innovative approach from JewelStreet.
When they realized their highest converting page was the best-selling items, they directed their Shopify exit popup on the women’s jewelry category to take all their visitors there.
They literally saved their best for last.
2. Structure your incentives to offer higher value as customers progress in their journey
Coupons or discounts are perhaps the most effective way to get visitors to subscribe through your Shopify email popups — but they’re not all you should have in your arsenal.
Across different popups including Shopify popup form, add to cart, and exit popups having the right incentive is key to driving behavior.
So when you do have an offer make sure it stands out in your popup.
You can offer incentives on your Shopify store in this manner:
Sign-up forms benefit most from a gated resource
When you’re getting customers to share their email address or phone number, you may want to tap into gated resources, such as an ebook or membership program. These have been seen to receive the highest traction when customers are already engaged and interested in knowing more.
Discounts & social proof work well for returning customers with abandoned carts
These customers are already interested in making the purchase BUT are apprehensive about a certain aspect of your website: generally price, quality, security, or delivery. For them, a discount would be appreciated but social proof works even better. They need their concerns to be eased in order to continue with their purchase.
Limited-time offers with freebies work best for customers who are continually browsing
Sometimes, customers are actively engaged and enjoy looking at your website BUT they don’t have enough of an incentive to actually follow through with their purchase. In such a case, a freebie works wonders. It’s the final nudge that gets them through to checkout. Make sure to make them limited: only offer them for 10 to 15 minutes or so.
Earlier we discussed using contrast to separate the popup from the background but color contrast can also be used to highlight elements within the popup itself.
In this popup example of discount popups, the incentive is in bigger font size and is the same color as the CTA.
3. Include images of people in your Shopify popups to make ‘em more personal
Sometimes when you’re trying to make your popup convert, it’s easy to forget that its first job is to draw attention and make the visitor want to engage with it.
The incentives, the smart copy, none of it adds value — if the popup doesn’t look appealing.
Images, GIFs, and design can make your popups more appealing and can also be used to guide user attention to the CTA button.
Including human elements in your popups makes all the difference in the world of eCommerce where everything is so digitally driven.
Here’s how you can do this for your Shopify store:
- Include GIFs to bring a sense of movement & differentiate it from the static background
- Use people’s pictures on the popups. Much harder to say no to someone you can see!
- Use a second-person narrative. Always address customers as ‘You’
- Address customers by their names. Make it even more personal
See how Luxy does it here?
4. Opt for Slide-in Popups or Opt-in Bars to make the experience less intrusive
As a customer, who are you more likely to open your front door for — someone who knocks once or keeps banging at your door repeatedly to break it down?
Popups that threaten to block the entire main content, or are too in your face, run the risk of visitors leaving. A good rule of thumb is to not have your popup cover more than 40% of screen space.
Here are a few alternative formats to the usual full-screen or middle-of-the-screen sales promotion Shopify popups:
These move in from the side or the bottom and don’t obscure the main content.
As the name suggests these are optional bars that float at the top or bottom of the page at all times rather than pop up. These are great mechanisms for Shopify email popups, active contests, event signups, etc.
Subtle notification-style popups:
To keep things truly simple and unintrusive, Beardbrand did away with the usual full-page popup and opted for this subtle email notification sign at the corner. Certainly meets the eye.
Hey, check this out: Shopify Homepage CRO: 21 proven ideas to boost conversions
5. Be vigilant with the CTA buttons on your exit-intent popups (they get the highest traction)
The CTA button must be customized to the purpose and the type of popup being used. It must reinforce the incentive being offered. Here’s a great popup example of Shopify email popups.
Note how the CTA button reinforces the incentive and doesn’t say “Sign Up”. Right below it also mentions how it’s a limited-time opportunity further driving the urgency.
Here’s another popup example of how Shopify email popups can use social proof in the call to action button to drive behavior.
Here’s how to optimize your CTA buttons:
- Use colors orange, blue, red, and green
- Use triggers words like ‘Now’, ‘Get’, ‘Free’
- Make sure your CTA buttons pass the thumb test
- Experiment with A/B testing to see what works best for your customers
💡 Use an app like Pippity to create social proof popups that show off your happy customers and boost your conversion rate.
6. Pay attention to Google’s interstitials’ rules when planning responsive design
Online retail is dominated by mobile purchases and research shows that 85% of abandoned carts come from mobile.
So it's no secret that you need to optimize your popups for mobiles.
Designs that respond to device type and screen orientation work best. For smaller screens popups need to be stripped to the bare minimum: fewer form fields, less copy, and bigger CTA buttons.
Here are Carbon38’s Shopify email popups for their desktop and mobile sites.
The mobile version doesn’t include the image, has a reduced copy, and only takes up the bottom half of the screen.
Here are some rules you can follow:
- Opt for banners instead of full-page popups
- Use standardized Shopify apps & common libraries
- Avoid directing users to another page (it’ll also hamper your SEO)
- Ensure the content below is still visible (so Google can search for it)
These rules are even more important to follow for mobile sites. Google’s algorithms penalize intrusive mobile interstitials.
This includes popups that cover the main content or hamper the user experience. Below is a snapshot that sums up Google’s POV for mobile popups.
7. Enable Contextual Popups to target all kinds of customers
Imagine you’re a customer and the brand asks you to sign up for the same newsletter each time you visit their site even though you signed up the first time or receive a Shopify exit popup that talks about free shipping when as a returning customer you already know about it.
It’s annoying, isn’t it?
Popups need to be contextualized to the visitor.
Are they first-timers? Are they returning customers? Are they loyalists? These questions should determine the format, incentive, and CTA of the popup you show them.
Contextual popups reassure visitors that the brand knows exactly who they’re talking to. It makes them feel special.
Also, the right context helps the best popups get conversion rates above 40%.
Here’s how to make ‘em work for you:
- Target your audience to when, how, why, & from where they’re seeing the popup
- Segment your popups by the content, customer history, and geological targeting
- Structure targeting with liquid variables like cart value & product category
Here’s a great popup example of an entry popup from Sephora Canada. It mentions everything upfront including free shipping, exclusive offers, and stocks in local stores. It’s also bilingual to aid visitors.
8. Use interaction-based popups to engage customers in real time
Think of your Shopify email popup as a sales call.
Here timing is everything.
If you interrupt your potential client at a bad moment your chances of conversion become nil.
When it comes to popups there are two different timings that we refer to:
- Real-time (measured in time elapsed)
- Time relative to an individual visitor and their actions (scroll depth, pages visited, mouse movement, etc.)
In determining the timing of the popup, there is a tradeoff between visibility and engagement.
The longer you take to display that Shopify email popup, the smaller its audience size becomes.
Studies have shown the optimal time for a popup is around 50-60% of their average time on page or 50-60% mark in terms of the page scroll.
Yet, most Shopify stores display popups as soon as a user lands on their website and most of them only display one type of popup.
How to make your popups less intrusive:
Use timed popups or interaction-based popups.
Instead of using entry popups or welcome popups that are displayed as soon as visitors land on your Shopify store page, implement these to make the experience more organic.
Customize popups based on the visitor’s behavior.
Timed popups enable you to use contextual targeting. Shopify lets you customize popups based on cart value, product category, sold-out items, etc. Use this to up-sell, cross-sell and reduce dropouts.
Exit-intent popups are the most important weapon in your popup arsenal.
They can help you reduce bounce rates and cart abandonment rates. A good Shopify exit popup contains the right incentive that can convert a leaving customer.
💡 Shopify Popup Maker is another great app for creating high-converting popups.
With Popup Maker, you can create popups that are triggered by specific actions, such as when a user clicks on a specific element on your page.
9. Use multi-step popups when you need extra information
Even if you get your Shopify popups timed perfectly, they can still be seen as an intrusive part of the user’s journey. You want to minimize this intrusion as much as possible.
Avoid taking them to another page and minimize the decision process.
If you need to collect more information, you can use a multistep Shopify popup form with multiple choices instead of a separate survey page.
Multistep popups use a series of consecutive popups to collect more user information. Research has shown that popups with a second step see a staggering 76% of its subscribers input more details.
How to do this for your Shopify store:
Enable a personalization-friendly popup builder app.
Shopify apps like Justuno and OptinMonster make it easy to create and customize your popups, so you can make sure they're exactly what your customers want to see.
Both apps offer a wide range of features, including the ability to:
- Target specific products, pages, or visitors
- Set when and how often your popup appears
- A/B test different popup designs
- Capture leads with opt-in forms
With Justuno, you can also create exit Intent popups, which are triggered when a visitor is about to leave your site. This can be a great way to capture those last-minute sales.
To get started, simply install one of these apps from the Shopify App Store and start creating your first popup.
Below is a great popup example of a Shopify popup form by Helinox. It mostly uses radio buttons and has an optional comment box.
10. Limit popup forms to 2 - 3 fields
One of the major reasons popups fail is that they ask for too much information from new visitors. It can annoy them.
A name and email address are enough for your Shopify email popups or gated content popups.
Multiple pieces of research from HubSpot and Unbounce have shown that conversion rate has an inverse relationship with the number of fields.
You can get up to a 25% conversion rate by using only 3 fields, two is even better. Go above 3 fields and the fall is steep.
Most Shopify stores limit their forms to the most useful information like:
- Email Address
- Contact Number
💡 Use an app like OptinMonster to create powerful opt-in forms that boost your conversion rate.
Here’s a great popup example of Shopify email popups, Grenco Science allows visitors multiple options to subscribe to their newsletter and throws in an added incentive.
11. Tweak your Shopify popup’s copy to cater to one singular message per popup
There’s a popular quote that people might forget what you said or did, but they’ll never forget how you made them feel.
Your Shopify popups can be a functional piece of communication or they can be used to evoke a feeling.
Emotion and language depend upon the purpose of the popup. Humor, wit, and feeling can go a long way to make your brand memorable and drive conversion.
Here’s how you can write powerful copy for your Shopify popups:
- Leverage fear and loss aversion to drive an emotional connect
- Overcome objections by outlining the risks of not opting in
- Speak ‘community’ & drive the point home with social proof
- Use numbers to make your argument more compelling
This popup by Long’s is a perfect popup example of well written Shopify popup. It has a catchy headline and a knowledge-driven incentive to sign up.
12. Avoid information overload (opt for a minimal Shopify popup layout instead)
A popup is like a toll booth on a highway. Nobody wants to spend more time than they have to.
A good popup minimizes time, by asking for only essential information and providing an incentive strong enough that the visitor doesn’t have to think twice about his decision.
The fundamentals of a good Shopify popup are:
- A catchy headline to grab attention
- A line or two describing the incentives and instructions
- Checkboxes and multiple-choice questions as opposed to input text
- A single, clear call to action button or bar that is contained within the popup itself
In a few seconds, the visitor can read>decide>act, and boom!
Here’s a great popup example of Shopify email popups from Alpine Labs. They sell photo accessories. The headline is catchy and immediately relatable.
Have you seen this? 22 Mistakes that Harm Shopify Landing Page Conversions (Updated 2022)
13. Save spin-the-wheel strategies to launch a new collection
When it comes to spin-the-wheel strategies or discount-generating popups, it’s important to know when to employ these tactics.
While they are engaging, they do add an extra step that customers don’t always want to take or don’t always have the time for.
Here’s when you can use these and when you really shouldn’t:
DO: Use them in the off-season (when there’s no sale or special offer)
With this, customers will actually look forward to spinning the wheel or engaging with another engagement tool. Make sure to collect some form of data to make the entire process useful for you as well.
DO: Use them to promote a new collection.
A new collection is already exciting! Build on that excitement with an engagement tool. Throw in an extra oomph.
DON’T: Avoid them when there’s another sale going on.
In most cases, customers can only access one offer at a time. Employing both strategies (a sale & an engagement tool) will cannibalize each other, leaving customers dissatisfied.
DON’T: Avoid them during the holiday season. Black Friday is an absolute no.
These are a strict no-no during the holiday season including Black Friday as customers are looking to make quick purchases.
14. Enable AutoResponder every time you offer a coupon discount
You can not expect visitors to go to their email ID and retrieve the coupon code especially if they are in the middle of the purchase process.
When it comes to the Shopify exit popup the autoresponder must display the coupon code on the popup itself as soon as the desired action is completed.
Here’s how you can use an AutoResponder to improve your Shopify popups:
Make coupon codes easily accessible
For your Shopify email popups, add-to-cart popups, exit popups, and popup forms enable AutoResponder whenever you use a discount code or coupons.
Set specific trigger actions
Depending upon the nature of the popup, these should either bring customers to convert or make sure they stay on the website. Here, all sorts of conversions work: micro conversions (newsletter sign-up) or macro conversions (actually purchasing the product).
Set incentives that will direct your customers’ next move
If customers are at grave risk of leaving, a simple ebook won’t do. You’d rather bring out the big guns and offer a substantial discount like 20%. On the other hand, if customers are browsing through several pages, they’re more likely to be interested in a gated resource (and will go through the steps to access it).
Here’s a great popup example of a timed Shopify exit intent popup from Leesa. It offers a limited-time discount creating a sense of urgency and displays the coupon code creating minimal interference in the shopping process.
15. Build a color palette with 2 - 3 primary colors & one contrasting color
Aside from using images to make your popup stand out, a good design principle is color contrast.
Using contrasting colors between the background and the popup, or solid colors with a black and white background can make your popup stand out.
Not only does this make the popup stand out but directs your eyes straight towards it. This is immensely useful for mobile popups where you might not have the space or bandwidth to display image-based popups.
You may also want to look into color psychology (& how it affects customers):
Here’s a Shopify popup example from Tula that uses a solid block of pink against a background of white for their mobile popups making it clearly distinct and visible.
16. Make the ‘X’ button prominent & accessible
It's sort of a no-brainer that holding your visitor hostage is a very bad idea. Forcing them to view the popup by hiding or making the close button hard to access is a terrible way to get their attention.
Visitors will just leave your website if the popup is difficult to close and will probably think twice before visiting it again.
Make your ‘X’ prominent and accessible especially when it comes to small mobile popups where it may get difficult to close them.
17. Mention your data privacy very clearly when requesting contact details
One of the major reasons why visitors are hesitant to share information in Shopify email popups or popup forms is privacy concerns. They’re worried about their information being sold to third parties or being bombarded by spam.
A potent safeguard against this is to clearly mention the fine print in your popups themselves.
Here’s a good popup example of Flex mentioning clearly that they won’t contact you before they ship to your country.
18. Test. Customize. Test. Repeat.
Creating the best popup is like making the best sandwich.
It’s all about picking the right ingredients that fit together perfectly.
This is why instead of experimenting with live potential customers, it’s important to constantly undertake A/B split testing. Try out various versions of the same popup by changing the timing, design, placement, wording, incentive, visuals, etc. See which combination works best.
Also, try out various types of popups to see which works best at driving certain types of behavior.
Use all the data at your disposal including heat maps, analytics, scroll maps, referral tracking, and survey responses to see how, when, and where you should structure your popups within your pages.
Heatmaps can show you which elements of your page are working and which sections aren’t. If your popups are being ignored, it’s maybe because that part of the page is being skipped. If your CTA buttons are being ignored, try upping the incentive, or changing the desired action altogether.
Popups are also becoming more innovative and less intrusive. Below is an popup example of allowing customers to open and close your Shopify email popups or Shopify add to cart popup.
Research has shown this format generated a conversion rate of 34% which was much higher than conventional sales promotion popups.
Testing your popups, especially your Shopify exit popup and Shopify email popups, is a surefire way of meeting your conversion goals and reducing bounce rates.
Optimizing popups for conversion is a continuous process.
For best results use a dedicated Shopify popup app to run them. These are optimized for speed and usability within the Shopify ecosystem.
When it comes to your popup strategy a good rule of thumb to follow is Less is more:
- Aim for your Shopify popups to be less intrusive, less complicated, and have less design clutter.
- Ensure that they cover as little main content as possible, especially on smaller screens like mobile phones.
- The only aspect where this rule is not applicable is your incentive. When it comes to incentives, more is indeed more.
In summation here are the questions you should be asking yourself when setting down your popup strategy:
When are you displaying popups? Is that the best time to interrupt them?
Generally, popups should be displayed after a 55-second delay or 3 scrolls if you want to engage with customers immediately upon landing. Exit-intent popups are also a good idea.
Does the popup match what the customer’s doing on that page?
Email signups are best used on the homepage; cart abandonment on the checkout page; abandoned cart reminders on product pages; surveys on product listing pages.
Is it grabbing attention? Is it appealing to engage with?
To make a Shopify popup truly thumb-stopping, you should use a strong headline, two primary & one contrasting color, a bold CTA button, and visuals that are unorthodox.
How much effort does it require? Is it easy to close?
Good Shopify popups should be easy on the eyes with a distinct visual hierarchy. The exit button should be clearly visible and accessible.
Does the type of popup suit your goal?
Optin popups work best for micro conversions; gamified popups help keep customers engaged; incentivized exit-intent popups often bring customers to checkout
Is the popup customized to the customer it is being shown to?
Contextual targeting is an important process for optimizing Shopify popups. You can look into segmentation based on gender, age, device, geolocation, customer history, etc.
Is the incentive good enough?
Gated resources work best on sign up forms; discounts & social proof are apt for abandoned carts; freebies help break continual browsing & bring customers to checkout. Limited-time offers tend to work especially well.
At what stages of the purchase journey are you using popups?
It is best to use popups across the customer journey but pay attention to exit-intent popups as they’ve been seen to bring the highest traction.
Are your popups optimized for multiple devices and mobiles?
When optimizing popups for multiple devices, you should pay attention to Google’s interstitial algorithmic rules. You should also conduct the thumb test, ensure your hyperlinks are obvious on all devices, and maintain a distinct visual hierarchy.
There, we’ve made it easy for you! Now, go and run your pop ups in the most effective way for the best conversions.