Are You Driving Visitors And Customers Away with Useless, Irrelevant Pop-ups?


I just had to write this short post this week, though I should have probably written it a long time ago I'm now thinking.

OK, how many times have you clicked on a search engine search result listing, only to find that the page you’re taken to takes a month of Sundays to load? (A month of Sundays meaning a very long time). A good few times I'm guessing.

I know there are many reasons why a page can take so long to load, but in this post I want to talk about one element, pop-ups!

When you land on a website you’re more often than not greeted with some kind of pop-up, whether it’s an opt-in form or an advertisement, or a social ‘call to action’ or what ever, I don’t care, these pop-ups can be really annoying, and some of them can take up the whole screen and frustratingly, take a long old time to finally load.

The moment I see a pop-up I usually hit the back button, that’s just me, when I'm browsing the web, like many other people out there I have a short attention span.

You might be asking yourself for example “well OK you don’t like pop-ups, but what’s wrong with an innocent little pop-up opt-in form?”

In my humble opinion, if someone lands on your site or your blog for the very first time, shouldn't you at least allow them to explore your site and content before shoving an opt-in form in their face? At least give them some time before they make up their minds whether the content is relevant to them or not.

And what about your regular visitors, those who are loyal to your website or your blog, do they want to see an annoying pop-up each time they visit? Granted they are probably a lot more savvy than your regular visitors, and will probably look past your pop-ups, especially ads.

Generally though I think most pop-ups are damn right annoying, that’s my personal opinion on them. So why on earth would you drive visitors and potential customers away from your site, or your blog by using them the wrong way?

In addition to increasing page load time and generally being annoying, pop-ups can produce the following two major side effects on your site –

1. They can be intrusive and create bad user experience (pop-up ads), so if your aim is to drive your visitors away and sky rocket your bounce rate through the roof, AND to kill your conversions, then by all means keep using them. That’s the big side effect in my opinion.

2. A lot of spammy looking websites use pop-ups ads, even though they might be profitable in some way or form, using pop-up ads on your website or your blog could potentially make your site look just as spammy as those other sites that use them, don’t you think?

Ads that pop-up on screen are probably the most annoying form of pop-ups I've ever come across; I don’t care how relevant they are. Unless you’re the owner of a site as large as let’s say; Business Insider or Huffington Post where you can probably get away with pop-up ads and profit from them heavily, but it’s not worth sacrificing your visitors or loyal readers with on your relatively small website.

So are all pop-ups bad then?

I said earlier that most pop-ups are annoying and create bad user experience; I didn't say that all pop-ups were bad.  A lot of bloggers and companies alike make very good use of pop-ups (leaving the ads aside).

If you’re able to make your pop-up 100% relevant to your site, something your users will greatly value from, then pop-ups can work. provides a solid example of how a pop-up can be used effectively. You run your website through their SEO analysis tool, it generates the results. Whilst you’re analysing the results shortly afterwards, a pop-up appears with a question or call to action, but it’s relevant, it’s useful and engaging.

That’s just one example of how a pop-up can be used effectively, there are countless other ways.

So like I said this is a very short post I know, but I just wanted to share with you my thoughts and opinions on ineffective use of website pop-ups.

Just to recap some of the pitfalls of using pop-ups in general -

  • They can be annoying to first time, less marketing savvy visitors.
  • They can be intrusive.
  • They can make for bad user experience, therefore drive visitors away.
  • Pop-up ads can appear spammy.
  • And they can potentially kill your conversions, (pop-up ads)

I'm not telling you to go out and remove all the pop-ups from your website, I'm not telling you NOT to use pop-ups; I'm just voicing my personal opinion on using them. If you've been doing very well without them in the past, and are considering adding a pop-up of some sort to your site, think carefully before you do and how you do it.

Your thoughts please...

If you have anything to add to the conversation or you’d like to voice your thoughts and opinions on website pop-ups, or ask me a question even, please leave me a comment below as always.

Enjoy the rest of your week folks, thanks for reading.

Fabrizio Van Marciano​

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  • Emmanuel Cudjoe

    With regards to pop ups, when they are ads they become really annoying.

    • / Fabrizio Van Marciano

      Totally agreed Emmanuel :) On smaller websites that hardly have much traffic, it’s not even worth it.

  • Cheryl Woodhouse

    An interesting case study I’m considering sharing on my blog… I have two sites, one in a general “SME” market, one in a specific industry targeted to SMEs.

    The specific industry has very few online-marketing-savvy people, it is very old-school. The popup on that site works like gangbusters, converting 10% of visitors into subscribers and it has a very low bounce rate.

    The more general SME site has many online-marketing-savvy people, and that popup has a lower conversion rate and has driven a higher bounce-rate despite almost identical copy, timing, size, etc. I’ve been considering dropping it.

    I think it not only depends on the usage and relevance (in both cases they are entirely relevant to the content being viewed,) but also to the audience. The more marketing-savvy a person is, the more ad-blind they probably are.

    • / Fabrizio Van Marciano

      Cheryl thanks ever so much for visiting and leaving such a valuable comment. That is interesting, you made a valid point regarding the two sites and the audience it’s targeting. Hey if you decide to post your case study findings on your blog, you’re more than welcome to link to it here :) Have a great day.

  • Karen Banes

    Just my opinion but I can’t stand pop-ups. I agree they seem spammy and intrusive, so I don’t use them on my own sites and I’m less likely to share content that has them. Having said that I believe statistics say that they increase sign-up rates so clearly I’m in a minority. Ultimately, each blogger/site owner decides what they’re comfortable with. I just can’t put something I hate the look of on my site, no matter what it does for sign-ups, conversions or revenue.

    • / Fabrizio Van Marciano

      I’m with you there Karen as I’ve used pop-ups before and the feedback I received from my regular readers we’rent good at all. So I never went back to using them again. But as you say it clearly works for some bloggers and if it works then that’s great I guess. I’m pretty happy with the conversions that I’m getting with they way I’ve set up my opt-ins on the site so I don’t feel the need to use something like a pop-up too :) Thanks for visiting, have an awesome rest of the week.

  • Sean Gallahar

    I generally try to stay away from spammy-looking websites, but when I’m reading a business/marketing article on a blog, and the article links somewhere else and I click the link – and the first thing that appears is a pop-up – it’s annoying. I came here to read an article on a specific subject, not be blasted with a signup button, especially when I don’t know what I’d be signing up for to begin with.

    Like you, Fabrizio, I find it annoying waiting for a website to load only to find out a pop-has been slowing it down. Yes, pop-ups may work for some bloggers, and for others they aren’t, but in general – they are annoying.

  • Andi the Minion

    Hi Fabrizio, I couldn’t agree more, I know my better half isn’t a fan either. She will hit the back button as soon as one appears and I generally close them down.

    There is a growing trend for the social media ‘Like our Facebook Page’ style pop ups to appear as soon as you start reading… I do not think I have liked one page yet due to them. I generally head for the X button and quick. I think the big issue is how they are used, they generally pop up dead centre of the page and half way through your reading which is very annoying.

    Personally I like the more less intrusive sliders that appear top or bottom or even at the side which do not interfere with what you are doing on the site.

    Great post btw.

  • Maketta

    I used to use a tool called slideupads. It came up at the bottom of the site. People said it was annoying. At the time I thought it would help get me traffic because that is what it is supposed to do. I didn’t really get any traffic from it though. So, I took it down and never used it again. Thanks for sharing this with us!