PopUp: Types, Triggers, Strategies, Function in the Funnel, Impact on Bounce Rate and SEO & Tracking with GTM

Pop ups: helpful to conversions or a big pain in the co****ni?

Do you know the popup paradox? Every day a marketer wakes up, surfs the web and curses the popups that annoy him (and their author).
On the same day, the same marketer will litter the web with popups, popping up like...popcorn on the frying pan.


It's a bit the gist of Nick Kolenda's beautiful image above, which renders well the paradox of pop-ups and more generally of optins, tools used mostly, as we'll see, for the interception of leads (cold) In content marketing contexts (i.e. in the company blog).

If meddling is one of the aspects that make these instruments effectivethanks to a psychological rule calledInterruption Pattern, on the other hand it is a characteristic that:

  • could compromise the user experience, negatively affecting engagement metrics such as the Bounce Rate;
  • could also impact on SEO, especially if the pop-ups are too invasive on mobile.

Let's start by understanding what we're talking about.

Pop Up Types

Although we tend to generalize, we can distinguish different types of Pop Up: in my book Lead Generation I'll go through seven, but the most common are:

  • Classic Pop Up
  • Hello Bar (the fixed horizontal bar at the top)
  • Welcome Mat (a screen that covers the entire page)

Types of Triggers

For "trigger", a term also used in theemail marketing automationwe mean the "trigger", or the condition that triggers, in our case, the display of the PopUp. Let's look at the most common triggers.

Exit Intent

L'exit intent is activated when the user is about to move the mouse close to the TAB. It can be useful to make a "fall back after rejection", i.e. propose a small action to the user who abandons the page without having taken the required conversion action.

It is one of the options also present in one of the most popular OptIn software, OptinMonster.

Scroll / Dwell time (better if Data Driven)

We can set the pop up after a certain page scroll or dwell time. In this case we could propose a certain offer at the right time, without interrupting the reading in an invasive way.

You can rely on statistical data or better, on data related to your site, for example by analyzing the relationship between sessions, time and conversions or by intersecting the page scroll (created via Google Tag Manager and displayed as an Event) with the conversion rate:

Visitor Origin and Device

Some tools such as Optin Monster or the PopUp of Elementor allow you to operate the pop-up depending on where the visitor is coming from. This allows us to make the experience consistent and increase conversions.

New or returning

Again, you can decide to display a PopUp depending on whether the visitor is a first-time visitor or not, for example by exploiting the interest of the user who returns with a particular offer.

How (and why) to use Pop-Ups in the context of the sales funnel

From a strategic point of view, there are 2 considerations to make: why use pop-ups and how to do it in the context of the funnel of sale.

The reason is based on the need for connection, which I also talk about in depth on my book Lead Generation.

You don't need to bother with statistics including SeeWhy's above to understand that:

  • it is physiological for the first-time visitor not to convert;
  • as I like to say, the ways of conversion are endless (in terms of channels and devices) and indefinite in terms of time;
  • most of the people who leave the site on their first visit intend to come back and continue the purchasing processas long as she is allowed to returnwith retargeting and remarketing or creating a connection.

Pop ups they actually create a weak first connection, a cold leadand facilitating the next contact: and here we come to how Pop-Ups are useful in the context of the funnel of sale.

The contact acquired in fact:

  • can be made to return to the site without being dependent on the traffic sources that led him the first time (organic traffic from activities SEO, Facebook ADS…)
  • can be brought forward in the purchasing process thanks to the Lead Nurturinga succession of e-mails that re-propose the classic phases of the funnelAwareness, Consideration and Conversion, a strategy that I discuss in the Advanced Lead Generation video course:

In that respect:

Lead Generation Strategies with Pop Up

Content Upgrade

One of the most interesting strategies, which I also discuss in the book Lead Generation, is the content upgrade: to provide, through a pop up or similar, an in-depth analysis closely related to the theme of the article, exploiting on the consistency between the visitor's intent and the theme offered as a Lead Magnet.

Brian Dean of Backlinko with this strategy has increased the conversion rate (newsletter subscribers) from 0.54% to 4.82%.

Customizing the close button

Have you ever thought about customizing the POP UP rejection message?

For example, if you're trying to get users to sign up with a lead magnet On how to increase newsletter subscribers with Pop-Ups, you could include a message like "I'm not interested in increasing newsletter subscribers."

In my book Lead Generation I explain the psychological basis of this technique in theloss aversion and device involvement.

Not convinced? Here's a test that compares the conversion rate depending on the use of different abandonment messages: the shy "no thanks" or "I'm not interested" register an capture rate slightly less than 5% compared to the message "I prefer to pay full price" with a conversion rate of 6%:

Test the various triggers: the case of Organic Aromas

Convert.com reports an accomplished test for a ecommerce, Organic Aromas, based on different triggers, the result of which would seem to suggest greater effectiveness of the trigger based on exit intent.

Here are the results of the test based on the conversion rate:

  • static optin: 1% CR (Conversion Rate)
  • immediate popup at page opening: 7.4% CR
  • delayed popup (based on site engagement): 14.1% CR
  • Popup with Exit Intent: 19.03% CR

Test everything with A/B tests

Many PopUp software allow the creation of A/B Test, with which you can compare the impact of individual changes on the conversion rate.

Choose your trigger based on site engagement

A well-known industry saying goes:

"The more engaged your user, the higher the conversion and subscription rates."

As we saw above, analyzing some Engagement metrics for your blog content you might want to go ahead and set your popup trigger to a more data-driven.

Do Pop-Ups negatively affect Bounce Rate?

The answer is not necessarily: according to Dan Zarrella's studies, the occurrence of the pop up does not result in an increased bounce rate:

As always, test how it goes in your case.

Do pop ups negatively affect SEO?

Google's aversion to the Pop-ups that are too invasive and make the content inaccessible, especially from mobile.

Rand Fishkin, cofounder of the well-known software for the SEO Moz (which I used until a few years ago) has covered the topic in depth in an article that I recommend you read, pointing out the types of Google Friendly PopUp and metrics to monitor in this regard: Pop-Ups, Overlays, Modals, Interstitials, and How They Interact with SEO - Whiteboard Friday.

John Mueller confirmed also that exit intent is still a permissible trigger mode.

Tracking Popups with GTM and the Element Visibility Trigger

You can track how many people see your popup or overlay with Google Tag Manager's Element Visibility Trigger. I'll leave you with an explanatory video by the good Julian from Measure School:


Do you use Popups or one of its types? What is your conversion rate? What is the quality of the lead? Have you noticed a negative impact on site engagement and organic traffic? Let's talk about it in the comments.

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