How to Use Exit Intent Popups to Boost Your Email Opt-Ins by 5-10%

leads Apr 30, 2019

Want to grow your email list? Exit popups are a surefire way to increase conversions. In this guide, we'll share how to use exit intent popups to boost your email list.

You’ve got a fabulous site. Your SEO is on point and you’re getting thousands upon thousands of visitors per day.

However, no one seems to want to sign up for your newsletter updates. As you watch your seemingly static email list gain maybe one or two new subscribers per week, you must be asking yourself “What am I doing wrong?”

We’ve all been there. 

And you know how important email marketing is, so you’re crushed that your email list isn’t increasing as much as you’d like.

Never fear– I’m here with the best tips to add an exit intent popup that’s going to boost your conversion rate by an average 5-10%.

What is an Exit Intent Popup, and Why Do I Need One?

Many people have a normal gut-reaction to the word “popup.”

If you’re like me, who lived through the early days of the world wide web and suffered through endless popup after popup that seemed to fill my screen with all manner of horrors, that reaction is likely revulsion.

And you’re not wrong. Popups can be easily abused and completely destroy any hopes you had of a great user experience.

There is a light at the end of that tunnel. That light is called exit-intent. 

An exit intent popup is an opt-in form that appears when a website visitor moves their cursor towards the top of their browser window. This allows you to show visitors a tantalizing offer just as they are about to leave your site– a last-ditch effort to capture their email address before they abandon your site forever.

I know what you’re thinking: “Whitney, popups are annoying. I don’t want to annoy my customers.”

And you’re absolutely right. Popups, on any other day, would be the bane of existence for UX. However, unlike timed and scroll based popups, exit intent popups don’t interrupt user experience.

As far as the user is concerned, the experience is already ending, so a popup doesn’t do much to break that.

And as long as you don’t have 15 of them with impossibly tiny X’s that you can’t close, they’re not that bad. Besides, there are great ways to make them more interesting and keep your customer engaged.

Now you know what, it’s time for the why: they really work. 

Not just work, they really really work. Exit intent popups end up getting 35% of visitors to sign up. If you’re getting just 1000 visits per day, 350 isn’t a bad number to add to your sign up list.

How do Exit Intent Popups Work?

What kind of voodoo do you need to do to get a great exit intent popup in place?

It’s actually a lot simpler than you might think. If you have a great email service provider that offers popups for email capture, it can be nearly automatic. All you have to do is browse their popup gallery for the kind of popup you like the best and customize it the way you want. 

From there, your popup will monitor your customer’s behavior on your site. As long as they’re browsing and active, they shouldn’t see anything popup. However, the moment they start moving the cursor up to the close button on their window or tab, a little box will appear.

If your offer is good enough, chances are, your customer will stick around at least long enough to enter their email address.

4 Exit Intent Popup Best Practices

Like I mentioned before, there are great ways to use exit intent popups that won’t irritate your customer base. As with anything, there are right ways to use them, and there are really wrong ways.

Those wrong ways are were exit intent popups get a bad rap.

But if you follow these best practices, you’ll be sure to have a great exit intent popup that doesn’t make your customer wish they’d shopped elsewhere.

1. Keep it Short

One of the biggest mistakes you can make when creating your popup is by writing a full novel in it. 

Your customer has already decided to leave your site. Guess who doesn’t have time to read your mission statement?

Don’t beat around the bush. It’s time to make your message bold, clear, and succinct.

You’ve got a matter of seconds to convince your customer not to hit the road.

So make your offer short, clear, and put your value prop on the table immediately. 

Your sign up incentive can be anything- a discount, free or reduced shipping costs, a trial period (if you’re one of those snazzy e-commerce marketers that’s jumped on the subscription wagon), a freebie, a lead magnet (like an ebook or a shopping guide), etc.

This is one of the most basic exit intent popups I’ve ever laid eyes on. But it doesn’t have to be fancy to get the point across. 

All you need is a hook phrase: “Leaving already?” is great for this case. Then the incentive is clear with instructions “Sign up and receive a $10 discount.”

If it’s your customer’s first time on your site, and maybe they think your prices are a bit high or they want to come back later, a discount is a great way to guarantee they’ll be back. 

What I really like about this example is their Call-to-Action (CTA). Instead of the standard ”SIGN UP” text in the button, they reinforce the discount by saying “GET $10 COUPON.”

Another great incentive for e-commerce is free shipping. If the number one reason a customer abandons their carts is due to elevated shipping fees, a free shipping offer might just be enough to bring them back in.

2. Don't Ask for Too Much

Have you ever signed up for something that asked you for 15 fields of information? It’s a pain when it’s something we absolutely have to fill out, and for something optional? Forget it.

Remember the mindset of your customer. They are leaving, and you’ve interrupted that. Assuming your incentive is tempting enough to get them to sign up, don’t kill that temptation by asking for the name of their dog and their mother’s maiden name. 

Ask for exactly what you need. A good place to start is their email address, so you can send them that handy coupon or incentive, along with other lovely promotions with their consent. 

After that? If you must, go for first name so you can personalize the messages you send them. 

The only other information you should be asking for is their birthday. This will help you send special email automations around your customer’s birthday (because who doesn’t like getting something special on their birthday?). 

The best thing you can do is A/B test your popups. You should be doing this for each element of the design, copy, etc. However, try it with the number of fields you add in your popup.

By testing your exit intent popups regularly, you can find out which works best for you and your customers.

3. Use Clean Design

While the example I showed above was rather minimalist, it was bold in its minimalism. This is what you want.

You want your popup to stand out from your site, but you don’t want a visual disconnection from your brand. Choose a gorgeous photo that helps get your point across and draws the eye in.

This is a great example of an eye-catching exit intent popup. You can see a clear incentive- sign up and receive 15% off the first order. You know exactly what kind of products the store is selling, because those spices look tasty. 

Not only is the 15% off incentive tempting enough, but there’s even more value to be had by signing up: “Special savings, exclusive offers, tasty recipes, how to videos, and new products." 

Even I’m interested in signing up.

I would normally be against this much text, but that photo draws you in and makes you want to know more about the offer. That’s how they get away with putting that much into their popup.

Again, you should be testing different aspects of your exit intent popups. Size is another factor that you should be testing, as something too big looks spammy and something too small doesn’t grab a customer’s attention quickly enough.

4. Use Gamification

Human beings are animals. You know what animals love to do?

They love to play. 

And humans will look for any excuse to play. 

So if you make your exit intent popup fun, your customer is going to be so much more likely to sign up, if nothing else, just to play with your popup.

This "Wheel of Fortune" popup makes the act of signing up fun for your customer. There's a whole slew of potential incentives that you can customize on your own.

You can even decide how you want the results to fall. For example, you can make it so that no one ever loses, or they only get a certain percentage off when they sign up.

Regardless of how you set it up, a Wheel of Fortune set up makes the customer feel like they’re in control of their own destiny. They try their luck and happen to win an awesome discount with the sign up form.

I even love the exit button at the bottom that says “It’s not my day.”

3 Deadly Sins of Exit Intent Popups

Remember how we talked about how irritating popups can be? 

We don’t want to be those kinds of marketers.

So here are a few cardinal sins to avoid when implementing your exit intent popups:

1. Having Too Many Popups on Your Site 

There’s nothing more annoying than closing one popup only to have another in your face not 5 seconds later. 

If you have one popup appear to a customer, set it up so that your other popups aren’t displayed. You don’t want your customer closing your page in disgust.

2. Not Targeting Your Popups Correctly

Yes, you can target your exit intent popups, and you should. Have you ever had a popup appear on a site where you were already signed up? Awful, isn’t it? 

Don’t be that guy. Set up your popups to not appear to those who have already signed up. Also, make sure you’re not sending your popups to those who have closed and opted out of signing up. That just looks thirsty. 

By all means, ask your customer for that sign up again. Just wait about 30 days or so before you ask again. Otherwise, your customer might never sign up.

3. Having a Poor Incentive (or Lack Thereof)

We talked about creating a bold, clear offer. Make absolutely sure that your offer can be understood in seconds. 

There’s nothing worse than a vague, half-offer.

“Sign up today for great deals!”

Yes because that absolutely doesn’t sound like you’re going to spam me at all.

When you want that offer to be effective, tell your customer how you’ll save them money. The customer needs something tangible to hold on to. Being vague doesn’t show them how you can benefit them.

How to Optimize Your Entire Site with Exit Popups in 5 Minutes

Here at Persuasion Nation, it takes us literally 5 minutes or less to optimize our entire site with exit popups. That's because we use a handy tool called Hello Bar.

This tool is super simple to use, super affordable, and yet it is also super powerful. All you have to do to create an exit intent popup is choose from one of their modern templates, customize it, and set it to display on exit intent.

Boom! Now you can sit back and enjoy the extra 5-10% opt-ins.

Because we love Hello Bar so much, we've partnered with them to give our fans an exclusive offer:

Claim your 30-day free trial of Hello Bar's Growth Plan here.


Building a great email list is critical to your success as an marketer. In order to build an amazing list that’s going to give you loyal, converting customers, you’ll have to invest time into list building techniques. 

While exit-intent popups are far from the only way to build a great email list, they’re one of the most effective. By creating a popup that appears outside of the user experience and incentivizes them to sign up, even if they don’t stick around, you’ve already got a foot in the door.

Once you have their email address and you send that first welcome email with their incentive, they’ll be happy to open your email. Welcome emails generate open and click through rates that are 3 times higher over other kinds of emails, and they generate 5 times higher revenue. 

With that incentive to sweeten the deal, your customer isn’t just more likely to sign up, but they’ll be more likely to purchase from you sooner rather than later.

And it’s all thanks to those amazing exit intent popups you set up.

If you keep your message bold and short, you keep the information you ask for to an absolute minimum, and you use an eye-popping brand-friendly design, your customer is sure to give your popup at least a second look, if not a sign up.

Whitney Blankenship is the Content Marketing Manager for Omnisend. When not writing awesome content, Whitney is reading up on the latest in digital marketing, ecommerce, and social media trends. Obsessed with pop culture, art, and metal. Powered by coffee. Fastest Googler in the West.

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