A Visual Guide to Exit Pop-Ups: How to Boost Your Conversion Rate by 25% Overnight

A Visual Guide to Exit Pop-Ups: How to Boost Your Conversion Rate by 25% Overnight

Written by:
Olga Mykhoparkina

Jun 16, 2018
visual guide to exit intent popups

Imagine that you only have 10 seconds to present your product to potential customers and convince them to buy it from you. Sounds impossible, right?

According to research, you only have around 10 seconds to communicate your value proposition and capture visitors’ attention. If you fail to do so, your potential customers will bounce, sooner or later.

However, even if your visitors are about to leave, there is still one more chance to engage and eventually convert them into customers. This is where exit pop-ups come into play. Yes, you know what I'm talking about: those annoying modal windows that appear when you're about to leave a site. And guess what? They're actually pretty effective!

Below are seven foolproof, best-practice tips for creating exit pop-ups that convert.

You can skim the visual summary of our exit intent popup optimization hacks below or skip ahead to read a detailed description of each tip.

visual guide to exit intent popups
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Don’t Hesitate to Use Popups. Seriously.

Pop-ups suck. Or do they?

Yes, pop-ups get a lot of hate. We like to complain about how annoying pop-ups are. But here’s the kicker: They work. Almost every website now has some kind of pop-up, and not without a good reason.

Using exit pop-ups is the equivalent to displaying chocolate bars by the checkout counter. They catch your attention on the way out and, before you know it, you buy one. Similarly, a well-designed exit pop-up can help you grow your on-site conversions.

After analyzing 1,754,957,657 pop-ups, Sumo found that their average conversion rate is three percent. This figure doesn’t seem quite impressive, but think about it for a second. If you get 100 website visitors per day, you'll gain three leads a day, hands down, by simply adding an exit intent popup.


Top 5 Advantages of Using Exit Pop-Ups

Exit pop-ups are effective.

exit intent popups are effective

There are dozens of real-life examples proving the power of exit pop-ups. Different sources report from a 30% to a 300% increase in sales thanks to this handy CRO tool. While the credibility of most of these claims is doubtful, they still have a grain of truth to them. Even a 3% increase in conversions, as found by Sumo, is still a great opportunity you can’t afford to ignore.


They are less intrusive.

visual guide to exit intent popups they are less intrusive

Unlike on-page pop-ups, the ones triggered by an exit intent popup usually don’t hurt the UX or distract the visitors as they browse through your website. They don’t interrupt the user flow by blocking the content on the website while the visitors read it. As a result, they are less annoying than other types of page pop-ups.


Full-screen exit pop-ups have a clear, distraction-free CTA.

visual guide to exit intent popups full-screen exit pop-ups carry a clear and distraction-free CTA

The more options you offer, the fewer actions your visitors will usually take. Based on this phenomenon, also known as the paradox of choice, you should use only one CTA, clear and bold, if you want more conversions. With a full-screen exit intent popup, you can draw maximum attention to your CTA. As a result, your visitors cannot help but notice it.


They offer one more chance to re-engage and convert leads.

visual guide to exit intent popups they offer one more chance to convert leads

There are many ways to take full advantage of your exit pop-ups. You can reinforce your initial offer by repeating the CTA used on the main page. In this case, make sure it doesn’t sound too pushy.

Alternatively, you can pitch visitors a different CTA. Maybe there is a reason why the original one didn’t work? You can also use a special offer, a free bonus, or simply ask them to sign up for your updates.


They are relatively risk-free.

visual guide to exit intent popups they are relatively risk free

Exit pop-ups appear only when the visitor shows intent to leave the website. As a result, the visitors you are targeting are already about to leave. So, there is nothing to lose, right? The worst-case scenario is that they close the tab anyway.

On the other hand, they might as well change their mind if you manage to grasp their attention with a tempting offer or appealing message. In any case, it won’t hurt to try.

Considering these facts, our marketing team at Chanty also experimented with the exit pop-ups. Luckily for us, our efforts paid off well: we saw a 25% increase in sign-ups. Here are some takeaways you can put to test right away.


A Detailed Anatomy of Exit Pop-Ups: How-To and How-Not-To

visual guide to exit intent popups the anatomy of successful exit pop-ups
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Your prospects are smarter than you think. Fed up with stock images and salesy CTAs, they tend to close pop-ups, leave and never come back. One click—and you’ve lost another potential customer forever. If you want to break this vicious circle, you should pay close attention to every detail of your exit intent popup. Here are some tips to get you started on the right track:


1 Pay attention to the design.

visual guide to exit intent popups pay attention to the design

Let’s admit it: Your website visitors usually do judge a book by its cover. First, they see how good your website looks and how easy it is to navigate. If you fail to impress them with design, most of your potential customers will never actually get to know your product and the value it offers.

Needless to say, your website design should reflect who you are as a company and present your product in the best possible way. Similarly, exit pop-ups should be an integral part of your website image in general. It should have branded elements and use the same colors, the same copy style, among other design elements which you can read more about here.

Contrasting colors can also trigger conversions. That’s why most CTA buttons are either green or red. Thus, they are perfectly visible and catch users' attention instantly. For example, here is an orange CTA button that stands out against a blue background.


2 Polish up your copy.

visual guide to exit intent popups polish up your copy

Unlike a full-fledged landing page, exit pop-ups have limited space. Thus, you can’t go into rhapsodies over your product. Instead, you need a short, yet bold description that will perfectly convey the intended message in as few words as possible.

Using a negative CTA instead of a simple close button is a smart trick that can help you reinforce your main message. Consider the following example: Making the choice between “paying full price” and “savings” is a no-brainer. Who would want to pay the full price if there’s an opportunity to save money?

visual guide to exit intent popups appsumo example


3 Put it into context.

visual guide to exit intent popups put it into context

It’s harder to sell someone rubber slippers when they come for running shoes. Same goes for pop-ups. The worst thing you can do is display an exit intent popup that has no information related to a user’s session.

Putting your exit pop-ups in the context of the browsing session, on the other hand, can make the difference. If you can target the right user with the right message, your chances for success will be significantly higher.

For example, when the user spends a couple of minutes reading a post on conversion rate optimization, showing a popup promoting an e-book about Facebook ads would make little sense. Instead, offering content relevant to the topic of interest is much more effective.

Here’s how AdEspresso rocks personalized exit pop-ups. The first one appears after you have read an article related to Facebook ads; the second one appears after a post about Twitter ads.

visual guide to exit intent popups adespresso example


4 Let them quit (if they want to).

visual guide to exit intent popups let them quit if they want to

It is hard to see your potential customer leave. Yet, it’s their choice and you should allow your visitors to close your exit intent popup and leave your website if they please. Your exit pop-up should always have some sort of a close button, evident and clear.

For example, visitors of the New Yorker's site can either click on the negative CTA (“I don’t want the latest from New Yorker”) or the close button at the upper right corner of the pop-up to close it.

visual guide to exit intent popups the new yorker example

It is also common practice to let visitors close a modal window by simply clicking on the blank page next to it (of course, this doesn’t apply to full-screen pop-ups).

Remember that trying to hide the close button or using a delayed button (one that doesn’t show instantly) can be really harmful to your brand image.


5 Don’t be annoying.

visual guide to exit intent popups don't be annoying

There’s nothing more annoying than having to say no over and over again. If your users make an exit intent and close the window but don’t leave the website, you shouldn’t show it to them again 2 minutes later. You need to respect the visitor’s no.

Thus, choosing an optimal frequency for displaying your exit pop-ups is a must. For example, users who simply click the close button don’t need to see the exit intent popup again for at least a day. If your visitors click the negative CTA to close the window, refrain from showing that same pop-up to them for up to one month. Needless to say, you should stop showing pop-ups to visitors who already signed up.


6 Leverage social proof.

visual guide to exit intent popups leverage social proof

Sometimes a simple call to action is not enough for a person to make a purchase decision. To make the most of your pop-ups, you should provide supportive evidence along with your CTA. First of all, show your potential customers that they’re not alone.

For example, your pop-up can show some of the known companies you’ve worked with or simply highlight your happy customers as a proof that you can be trusted. Mentioning that your newsletter already has several thousand happy subscribers can also be a powerful argument in your favor. For example, the fact that 215,000 people have already chosen HubSpot marketing blog as a source of expert tips speaks for itself.

visual guide to exit intent popups hubspot example


7 Play with formats.

visual guide to exit intent popups play with formats
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There are many types of exit pop-ups to choose from. They can differ visually (full-screen vs modal window pop-ups) or functionally (offer products, special deals, free content, or simply ask to subscribe).

Of course, the choice is up to you. Our marketing team tested out a number of designs, placement options, and types of pop-ups before choosing the current one. Here are some of the options we considered.

visual guide to exit intent popups chanty examples

Luckily, our experiments paid off pretty well and we were able to find an optimal pop-up design through trial and error. Namely, we learned that full-screen pop-ups work better than window-style ones. Case in point: After we implemented the full-screen pop-up on our website, the conversions grew twofold.

Similarly, the only way to build an exit intent popup that works for you is by testing out different options and analyzing how your audience reacts to them.



Considering the amount of effort required to implement an exit pop-up and, say, produce high-quality marketing content, pop-ups win hands down. There are dozens of various plugins and add-ons that you can use to implement a pop-up on your website within a couple of hours or even minutes. Also, you can optimize their performance and test out different copy, design or placement options.

As for the content, it is still an extremely powerful marketing tool. However, it takes significantly more time and effort to create a piece (not to mention its distribution and promotion) that will drive the same results.

In our case, an e-book we wrote brought us about 2% of sign-ups, compared to a 25% pop-up conversion rate. This is why we couldn’t be more happy with our exit pop-up performance.

We hope you will make good use of the tips listed in this visual guide. If you've already tried exit pop-ups on your website, share your insights in the comments section below!

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    About the Author

    Olga Mykhoparkina is Chief Marketing Officer at Chanty, a simple AI-powered business messenger and a single notification center. With 9 years of experience in the digital marketing field, Olga is responsible for Chanty’s online presence strategy, managing an amazing team of marketing experts and getting things done to change the way teams communicate and collaborate. Follow Olga on Twitter or feel free to connect on LinkedIn.

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