Pop-ups are annoying, right?

Pop-up windows on websites – is your immediate reaction one of distaste? If so, I’d like you to think about what kind of sites you tend to see them on. Now I’ll tell you the answer: it’s the type of sites where the owners test out features and measure their conversions. Ones with lots of visitors, and lots of data to see what works and what doesn’t. And do they discover that pop-up windows put people off? No they do not.

A typical test which they might do is this. Firstly, have no pop-up windows. Then measure how many people visit the website, and what proportion click through from the landing page to another one. Then they try it with a pop-up window making a specific offer. They measure how many people visit the website, how many respond to the offer, and what proportion click through from the landing page to another one.

In the second case, it’s probable that a proportion of visitors are put off by the pop-up window, and leave. So they never click through from the landing page to another one. On the other hand, the site gets a number of people responding to the offer in the pop-up window. So it’s a trade-off.

However, the data shows that the number of people responding to the offer in the pop-up window makes it worth having. And the proportion of visitors who are put off by the pop-up window turns out to be tiny – so it’s a good trade-off. How do we know this? Because if it wasn’t the case, the pop-ups would quickly have been withdrawn.

Now, most of us don’t have enough traffic to be able to test out features like this. But we can learn from those who do. And I reckon the verdict on pop-ups is that they’re a good thing. If you have an offer that you’d like to make to your website visitors, might this be a good way of doing it?