5 Tips for Using Pop-Ups On Your Nonprofit’s Website

In. Your. Face. That’s what pop-ups are, right? But the fact that they’re front and center when you’re on a website can be precisely what makes them so effective. Just as long as you put some thoughtful planning behind this digital interruption.

Our first part on pop-ups was about whether you should use pop-ups and its benefits. Now let’s jump into some best practices for pop-ups and some of the options available to make the most of them.

Set Timing and Triggers

While it can vary by the system you use, there are a number of options available to customize your pop-up experience for users. You can typically set your pop-ups to be triggered at any point, time or place, such as on certain pages of your site or after a visitor has visited a specified number of pages. We really like exit-intent technology, which follows your mouse and can “sense” when you might be leaving the site. Basically, exit-intent gives you one last chance to drive a visitor to action before they abandon ship (or your site, to be more accurate).

You can set your pop-up so that it only comes up once a day and appears every time a user visits your site. Many pop-ups will store a cookie within your browser if you close the pop-up, and won’t be shown to you again for a set number of days. This is a setting you can change at any time. Also, it’s a good idea to avoid having the pop-up show up immediately when someone lands on your site. Use a time delay to give a visitor a bit of time to browse your site and get to know you more before you ask them to sign up.

Use Trial and Error

You can test your pop-ups through something called A/B testing or split testing. A/B testing lets you compare two different parts of a website to see which one performs better. Not all tools and systems allow for A/B testing and the ease of doing testing really ends up being driven by the system you use. But generally speaking, A/B testing can let you adjust and modify your pop-ups depending on what’s working and what isn’t. By varying content, headlines, colors and styles, you can see what actually converts best.

Here’s an example of A/B testing with pop-ups for Brightside St. Louis. The two options differ in wording, from the heading to the call to action button, to allow enough of a contrast to appeal to different users.

Brightside A

Don’t Force It

Give visitors a clear exit strategy and make it easy for them to close out of the pop-up. You want them to take action, but not feel trapped. If you don’t give them a clear way out, some people may become frustrated and avoid your site in the future. Action Against Hunger includes the standard “X” to close out of the pop-up box, but also has a “continue without joining” link to let users opt out.

Mobile Considerations

Not all pop-ups will work well on mobile devices. In fact, some pop-ups simply may not show up on mobile, especially if you have exit-intent set up since there’s no mouse to determine when a user is about to leave your site. While there isn’t a lot of research about using pop-ups on mobile devices, we would generally suggest against it since it’s intrusive and doesn’t give people a chance to get to know what your organization is about before they’re asked for their personal information.

Concentrate on Content

Our last best practice about pop-ups relates to how it’s written: make the content count. Pop-ups are tied to a specific goal and action, whether it’s signing up for a newsletter or making a donation. Writing the pop-up so that it’s straightforward and focused on that one call to action can go a long way.

Do you have any other tips or suggestions for pop-ups? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.