Click to expand Click to hide New call-to-action

Best Practice for Web Site Pop Ups

Written by James Self

Apr 28 2017

pop ups.png

Are you using pop-ups and lead flow widgets on your site? Should you be?


What comes to mind when you think about site pop-ups?

If you’re lucky enough to remember the internet of the late 90’s, you might picture an obtrusive, garish (probably flashing) pop-up that offers a great, yet suspicious sounding prize and is impossible to close.

It’s no surprise that pop-ups gained a bit of a bad reputation.

But things have changed. While it’s true that many terrible pop-ups can still be found in suspect corners of the internet, as browsers and search engines have become smarter, this style of pop-up has largely faded away.

However, recently, pop-ups and lead flow widgets have reemerged as an effective strategy to help site visitors reach the best content for them; driving conversion, subscriptions and lead generation.

These pop-ups are a very different animal from their interruptive ancestors. Used in an inbound way, modern pop-ups should make the most of each visitor’s context and blend natively into a site; clearly there to help rather than irritate site visitors.

How Have Pop-Ups Changed?

Pop-ups today come in a range of styles and appearances (HubSpot users may already be making the most of HubSpot Lead Flows) and can be used to achieve a number of page goals, such as directing the user to other relevant site pages, encouraging them to convert on content, or subscribe.


Related: Best Practices for your HubSpot Blog Design


Not all pop-ups are bad! For pop-ups to fit in an inbound context, they should improve the user experience in some way and be contextualised to offer unique visitors something they need, or want to know.

Styles of pop-up you might have come across include:

  • Top banners, which appear at the very top of the page
  • Overlay modals that appear over the centre of page content
  • Slide-in banners that appear from the sides, top, or bottom of a page

Pop-ups can be triggered on a page by a number of things, such as:

  • Opening a page (Page entrance)
  • Hovering over, or clicking on a specific part of a page (Element interaction)
  • Scrolling a certain distance down the page (page scroll)
  • Scrolling to the top of the page to leave (exit intent)
  • The length of time a visitor has spent on the page (time on page)

Often, pop-ups will be styled to blend natively into the site, making them discrete, helpful, and ideal points for enhancing conversion.

“But I thought Google viewed pop-ups as a bad thing?”

Although many modern pop-ups are now being used in a positive, helpful way, not all pop-ups follow that mandate. As a result, in 2016, Google announced that they will start to penalise sites that use ‘intrusive interstitials’, which are pop-ups that make content less accessible to users. This might mean for example that the pop-up covers and interrupts the main content the user is looking for, or that it must be dismissed before the user can access the page content

However, pop-ups that are used responsibly, such as those notifying a user of cookies or other relevant information, or banners that use ‘a reasonable amount’ of screen space and are easily dismissable, are welcome.

Pop-ups that are used responsibly; that don't block page content, use ‘a reasonable amount’ of screen space and are easily dismissable, are welcome.

When To Use Pop-Ups

Clearly, if you’re going to use pop-ups, it must be done well and in an appropriate way.

Like other tactics (such as email marketing) that have history as an ‘interruptive tactic’, pop-ups have been given a bad name. However, when used in an inbound way, they can offer an enhanced user experience, increased time on page and better conversion rates.


  • Your pop-ups occur contextually (i.e. in accordance with a visitor/lead’s known content preferences, or site behavioural action),
  • Aren’t perceived as ‘intrusive’ and don’t block page content,
  • Contain a relevant, related, helpful content offer,
  • Add to site user experience rather than detracting from it,
  • Are designed to natively blend with your site,

Then you’re on the right track.

Context plays a big part here. Display the right content for each unique visitor at the right time and you can see great results. Context should inform everything from pop-up triggers and placement, to the content (such as account-targeted content for ABM campaigns) information and advice (such as a chat window) displayed. Even the positioning of your pop-ups should be considered contextually, so they appear when and where visitors expect to see them.


Related: Prepare Your Organisation to Adopt Account-Based Marketing


Essentially if you do use pop-ups as a tactic today, the key is not to act inappropriately. Make sure your pop-ups help, rather than hindering, your visitors and you’ll see better results.

New call-to-action Share this article
B2B Marketing Zone