- General Best Practices
- Product Best Practices
Simply mentioning website pop-ups will likely draw out a disgruntled moan or exaggerated sigh. They’ve received their fair share of criticism due to their “hey, look at me” ubiquity on any number of websites.
However, these disgruntled moans and exaggerated sighs aren’t necessarily due to the pop-ups themselves. Instead, these grievances stem from the poor and incredibly intrusive ways many websites use to convey or request information through pop-ups.
We all know how pop-ups got their annoying reputation. They began entirely too large, flashy, and could even generate an infinite number of new windows. The worst offenders were those with auto-play videos or audio that were hidden behind the page you’re currently viewing.
Thankfully, most popular websites have figured out how to properly use pop-ups with less obnoxious multimedia usage, better designs, and without spamming too many pop-ups at once.
But expecting a completely marketing-free internet experience these days simply isn’t in the cards; there are hundreds of millions of internet users, and every company with an online presence wants to convert them into buyers or subscribers.
Simply put, pop-ups aren’t going away.
In keeping with the times, Finalsite is pleased to introduce Timed Page Pops as a part of our Inbound Marketing platform so you can craft timed pop-ups that enhance the user experience, rather than creating another unwanted hassle.
Learn how to use Timed Page Pops to draw attention to important information
What are Timed Page Pops?
Timed Page Pops are an evolution of our current Page Pops that you can use to increase engagement across your website while directing site traffic to other pages or material across your school’s website.
Page Pops allow you to add photos, videos, and links to get as creative as you’d like, and even specify when they begin and end, especially useful when promoting timed events.
Despite Page Pops’ success in driving traffic to site pages, increasing open house attendance, promoting an event, or even sharing an urgent notification, even our Page Pops could get “annoying” because they immediately interrupted the user experience.
Timed Page Pops includes all the same options as Page Pops, with the added ability to “delay” a notification until a visitor has spent at least 7 seconds on a page (up to 60 seconds), or delay the notification until the user has scrolled 50 percent down the page.
These two new options were designed to help you avoid the two most frustrating pop-up grievances: disrupting the user’s experience, and offering no extra benefit or value.
Avoiding a Disruptive User Experience
With Timed Page Pops, you can avoid a disruptive user experience by delaying pop-ups until you’re sure a visitor is interested in your website content. We can safely gauge a visitor’s interest in the content they’re viewing by measuring the amount of time they’ve spent on a page or how far down the scroll once on that page.
For example, let’s say a visitor finds your school’s website after discovering your school through a search engine. They click the link and visit your homepage for the first time. Does it really make sense to immediately prompt a pop-up asking them to subscribe to your school’s blog or newsletter, especially if the link they clicked doesn’t even take them to your blog or marketing pages?
Of course not. Instead, with Timed Page Pops, you can either delay that pop-up until after the visitor has been on the homepage for 30 seconds or more, or delay the prompt until they’ve scrolled more than 50 percent down the page, perhaps low enough to see something written about your school’s blog.
In this example, it would actually be even better to show a blog subscription pop-up only after the user has visited your school’s blog page, and then delay that prompt until the visitor has been on the page long enough or scrolled down far enough to read some of the featured posts.
Still, the point should be obvious by now: Don’t spam a new website visitor with subscription prompts as soon as they visit your website. It’s like someone immediately asking what you want to eat the second you enter a new restaurant without a chance to look at the menu.
Let’s look at another use case.
Creating Added Value
Let’s say someone visits your school’s summer camp page with the intent of learning more about the various camp activities available for their three children. That visitor could spend a half-hour visiting each individual page just to read a paragraph or two.
We know that someone is clearly interested in the content of a page they visit if they stay for more than 30 seconds, and they are likely interested in learning more, if given the chance. We can use this opportunity to give them a more engaging user experience.
Let’s do so by creating a Timed Page Pop that appears after the user scrolls 50 percent down the page, with the idea that they’re viewing multiple summer camp activities. You could configure this pop-up to offer an eBook download that contains an easier-to-read break down of every summer camp activity in one convenient package.
Preventing Unintended Disconnects
Let’s briefly revisit the first example -- the one where someone visits a website for the first time and is immediately prompted to subscribe -- for another use case. One reason this tactic fails is because of poor timing, i.e. asking them to subscribe, attend an open house, or inquire, before they’ve even had the chance to read a word of the website copy.
The other reason this example fails is because of poor targeting, created through a poorly constructed mismatching of the person you’re targeting and the offer you’re extending. It’s equivalent to offering a discount on summer clothes through a pop-up on a page that talks about how this year’s winter is colder and wetter than past years.
The disconnect is fairly obvious to see, right? Instead, make sure you match the visitor to the type of content they expect on your website.
Let’s say the bottom half of your school’s homepage is equally divided into grade levels with a few quick informational blurbs about each. Our hypothetical visitor is a parent with a child in the fifth grade, the highest grade level at this particular school.
You could use Timed Page Pops to ask that parent to subscribe to the weekly “fifth grade newsletter” once that parent has scrolled halfway down the page. If formatted correctly, the pop-up will only appear once the parent arrives at the fifth grade section of that page.
You wouldn’t want that pop-up to appear based on time (such as 10 seconds) because that same visitor could still be scrolling through the first-grade section when they receive the fifth-grade pop-up, causing an unintended disconnect.
How Finalsite Uses Timed Notifications
As always, with every pop-up you add to your website, make sure the value proposition is obvious. Finalsite uses Page Pops throughout our own website, and we found success shortly after their introduction by doubling our blog subscriptions in the first 30 days.
For example, on our own blog, we include pop-ups on the lower right corner of the screen asking visitors to subscribe if they like what they’ve seen.
However, our pop-up isn’t just a simple “SUBSCRIBE” button. We’ve made it abundantly clear the value a visitor gets when they subscribe to our blog through the text above the “SUBSCRIBE” button:
“Join the thousands of school professionals who have subscribed to our blog to get the top strategies and best practices for web design, inbound marketing, the admissions funnel, and more delivered to their inbox every week!”
In that one sentence, we’ve made sure visitors who haven’t subscribed yet know that our blog is read by thousands of industry professionals, contains useful industry-specific knowledge, and is delivered on a (at least) weekly schedule. You don’t have to go into the detail we do, but you should always make it clear the value someone gets when they interact with your pop-ups.
Pop-ups don’t have to be annoying or obnoxious when they’re utilized correctly. Instead, they can enhance the user experience by adding value that wasn’t there before, but only if you’re willing or able to invest the time needed to craft meaningful pop-ups, and choose how they appear on your website.
With this in mind, Timed Page Pops can quickly become an invaluable part of your Inbound Marketing platform thanks to the added ability to delay pop-ups until it makes sense based on how visitors interact with your website.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
As Finalsite’s Product Marketing Specialist, Andrew writes blogs and creates videos to share information about all the latest and greatest Finalsite products. Andrew has more than 10 years of video production experience and a journalism education from the University of South Carolina. He is excited about bringing his experience and expertise to Finalsite.