Using pop ups on your website to promote subscriptions and the like evokes a common response from nonprofits: “Ooooh errr. We couldn’t do that. Pop ups are so annoying.” It’s much like television commercials. “Oh I can’t stand television commercials. So annoying, so loud, so interuptive.” So much bollocks. If they are soooo annoying why do people tune in by the million to commercial TV and radio stations? And why do TV and radio stations risk offending the public? Because it works for them and it’s the same for pop ups on your website.
If you truly believe in the value of an eNewsletter, Twitter or Facebook surely you’d want to promote them often and boost subscriptions? That’s what the pop up is for – to encourage actions from visitors. Do not rely on ‘organic’ growth – consider adding a little fertiliser to the soil via a pop up.
You may not want to subscribe the visitor to anything. The desired action may be to have the visitor book a seat at the annual gala, download the latest annual report or to write a letter to an MP. The principal remains the same – grab their attention and make the ask.
Keep in mind that your pop up will appear to people who have voluntarily visited your website – they must be a bit interested in you to begin with. So why presume that they will be horrified to have a pop up tell them that they can get a special discount by booking a course with you before the end of the month? They may well be chuffed. Right people, right place, right time.
Nobody complains about seeing a listing on the real estate website for a home in their price range in their preferred suburb. “How annoying!” We thinks not.
If you use a popular content management system such as WordPress you have many pop-up technologies to choose from. We chose Pop Up Domination but there lots of others. This gives you templates which you tailor and then control. How often the pop up appears, to whom, on what pages, after how long are all up for grabs. We had our nerd install the software after which we were able to create and deploy the pop up.
Tips to help you use your pop up for good not evil.
1. Set the pop up to appear after the visitor has had a chance to look around and like what she sees. Perhaps 60 seconds or so. Don’t be pushy.
2. Never set the pop up to appear only when the visitor is leaving a page which is plain annoying.
3. Set the pop up to remain unseen by the same visitor if she returns to your site within seven days of the first visit.
4. Be playful, helpful, funny in your pop-up. It’s a commercial after all, so don’t order people around – persuade them, you smoothy you.
5. Change the pop up regularly both in terms of the content and the pages on which it appears.
6. Remember a bland website with little to offer will not encourage anyone to subscribe or take action you recommend regardless of the quality of the pop up.
We bang on about this endlessly in Online Savvy 101.
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