4 Steps to Create Website Pop-Ups That Really Work

Done right, pop-ups heighten visitor engagement and boost your dealership’s lead capture

Website pop-ups: When they’re done well, they heighten visitor engagement and boost lead capture. When done poorly, they send browsers bouncing off your page faster than you can say “digital strategy.”


What’s the difference between a pop-up that works and a pop-up that fails? Which ones grab visitors’ attention and which ones push them away?

Here’s a core principle to remember when creating an effective pop-up campaign: Pop-ups, also known as overlays or hover ads, are valuable only if they create a better experience for your website visitors.

A great user experience gets customers excited about your dealership, and eager to convert. A poor user experience sends them running to the competition.

To put it another way: When used as part of a digital strategy that prioritizes an outstanding online shopping experience, pop-ups can be a powerful tool for getting more leads and, ultimately, more sales.

To that end, here are the four main elements of the type of pop-ups you’ll want on your dealership website.

1. Functionality

This is how your pop-ups interact with visitors. Examples of pop-ups with poor functionality are one that: are difficult or impossible to dismiss; follow visitors around a page, or reappear after being dismissed; have excessive fields that take a lot of time to complete and ask for too much personal information; and persistently cover content on the page visitors want to see.

To create pop-ups with great functionality, do the opposite:

  • Take no for an answer. Make it easy for your customers to dismiss your pop-ups. When they do dismiss them, don’t continue showing them the same thing, even on a different landing page. When your customer’s “no” is respected, you’re more likely to get a “yes” next time.
  • Optimize your minimized pop-ups. If your pop-ups minimize instead of disappearing, make sure they don’t continue to cover important text on your landing page. Also, make sure that any offer that sticks around is actually valuable enough that customers may want to return to it later and convert.
  • Create minimal, simple fields. The fewer fields customers have to fill out, the more likely they are to actually do so. If you can get away with a simple name and email address, that’s ideal. Sometimes you need more information, but make sure anything you ask for is absolutely necessary.

2. Design

This is how appealing your offers are. Consider the following areas:

  • Branding. The more consistent your pop-ups are with the colors and themes of your brand—and the more they blend visually with your website—the better. Design consistency helps customers trust that they’ll get the same quality wherever they find you.
  • Copy. The language in your pop-ups should be clear, concise, and appealing. Make sure your visitors know exactly what it is you’re offering—15% off MSRP, for example, or a $500 cash allowance—and then design your call-to-action (CTA) buttons to be consistent with your offer.
  • Moments of focus. Set your pop-ups to appear in the center of the screen while blurring the rest of your website in the background. This will draw the visitors’ eyes to your offer, and create a moment of focus where they can consider converting without distractions pulling their attention elsewhere.

3. Smart targeting

Make sure the right offers are being shown to the right people at the right time. Today’s shoppers want to see content that is relevant to them, and conversely, they get frustrated when shown content that they don’t want.

With predictive analytics technology, your website visitors can have a great experience on your site in two key ways:

  • Relevance. The right technology can analyze your site visitors to understand their interests: Who is there for the first time? Who has viewed the same VDP three times? How many different landing pages has a visitor viewed? With this information, offers can be shown to people who actually want to see them: a general offer to a first-time visitor, a special on SUVs to someone viewing those VDPs repeatedly, and so on.
  • Timing. User data can also help predict the optimal timing to display an offer. It’s fairly intuitive that first-time visitors should not see a pop-up covering the entire screen the second they arrive onsite because they can’t process what they are seeing. Predictive analytics can take this a step further by using a person’s site behavior to determine the best time to reach out.

4. Mobile optimization

Your offers must be optimized for mobile, not only because Google has implemented new rules that penalize sites with noncompliant pop-ups, but also because mobile users are everywhere. Some tips:

  • Incorporate “fat-finger-friendly” form fields. Mobile customers are using smaller screens, and are often on the run. Conversion fields should therefore be minimal—but also large enough to fill out easily.
  • Use Google-compliant pop-ups. These do not block content or cover the entire screen.

Pop-ups can be extraordinarily effective when they contribute to a great customer experience on your dealership website. With the right design and technology, they can create a level of personalization online that matches your in-store customer service.

If they do, they’ll drive engagement—and you’ll see more leads.

Chaya David brings extensive experience in communications, education, and public relations to her role as head of client services at AutoLeadStar. A conversion optimization specialist, she trains and educates her team to deliver outstanding support and success. With a background in both the governmental and private sectors, she regularly contributes thought-leadership knowledge about the science of retention and upselling to small-medium business and start-up channels.

Chaya David

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