Digital Prosperity Blog

Why I Don't Use Exit Popups (And You Probably Shouldn't Either)

Earlier today, one of my coaching clients asked me if I used exit popups on my website. Which is a great question!

The answer is "no" - but before I get into my reasons for that, let's back up a little....

If you're not sure what an exit popup is, it's a script which makes a little confirmation box appear on your web page when your prospects try to close it.

We're not talking about about a window that sometimes appears when you move the mouse towards the top of the window - those are different (and a lot more ethical).

Here, we're talking about the confirmation box that appears when you physically click the "close" button to close the web page, which usually ask if you want to leave while bribing you to stay.

The typical message is usually something like, "hey, don't go! The terrorists will win and you'll miss out on this awesome thing!". You get the idea.

As recently as 2013, I was using them in my business because everyone else was. Fatal mistake!

Because after looking at my website analytics, I had to stop using them.

Here's why...

From a marketing perspective, the logic behind an exit popup is that the majority of people who land on your web pages don't take any kind of action at all.

When people visit your sales page, over 90-95% of people won't buy.

When people visit your squeeze page, around 30-60% of people won't opt-in for your free content (or "lead magnet").

So the exit popup is there to convert as many people as possible before that chance is over.

Obviously the more people you can get taking the action you want them to take, the higher your results will be, right?

Not always.

See, when people try to leave your web page, they've already shown you they're not interested.

Maybe it's not the right topic for them. Maybe they're not in the mood. Or maybe they just don't have time at that specific moment.

In other words, those people are "less than ideal" prospects at that point.

If you DO persuade them to opt-in, they're not going to have the same enthusiasm as the people who did so without being pushed into it.

They won't pay attention to your offers, they won't consume your content and definitely won't open your emails - because they'll see you as "that marketer who forced me to opt-in".

Would you open emails from a friend who wouldn't leave you alone until you became friends with them?

The same principle applies here.

Oh, and if you DO persuade them to buy through an exit popup, they'll either refund, cause problems with your support desk and/or don't convert as well through the upsell process as the customers who bought without being hard-sold into it.

From my own experience, back in 2013, I showed an exit popup to half of my visitors to offer a $1 trial when people closed the window of my Six Figure Shortcut blueprint. The extra trial sales started pouring in. "This is great!", I thought.

But looking closer at my analytics, around 10% of those people refunded their $1 (yes, true story!), and around half of them cancelled before the 7-day trial was over and they were re-billed at $27.

As for the people who left the page without seeing the exit popup...

They came back to the same page a few days later after receiving some emails from my automated follow-up sequence, and converted at full price without any issues - AND they were better customers - because at that point, they had realised it was right for them (instead of buying based on curiosity).

So I switched off the exit popup and my total profit went up.

Another downside is that the people who still don't take action after seeing the exit popup see you as a pushy "snake oil salesperson", so you have even LESS chance of getting them to take action in the future.

Plus, aside from attracting the wrong people in the wrong mindset into your business, the other major downside is that most PPC networks (such as Facebook Ads, Google AdWords, etc) will ban your account if you repeatedly advertise a page with an exit popup. No exceptions.

The way they see it, you're being unethical because you're interfering with the prospect's browsing experience.

So treading on thin ice like that definitely isn't a great way to run your business.

Instead, I've found a much better way to increase your conversions is to let your follow-up sequence do the persuading.

That way, they'll be enthusiastic about taking the action you want them to take and be a much better customer, in terms of their satisfaction and what they buy afterwards.

And of course, you can't follow up with them if they don't opt-in via your squeeze page in the first place, right?

Well that's what retargeting is for.

Set up a simple ad that says, "Not interested in [topic]? Here's a different guide which reveals [benefits of another piece of free content]...", sending them to a different squeeze page for that different piece of free content, then show that ad ONLY to the people who visited your squeeze page but didn't opt-in.

This way, you still appeal to your prospects' natural desires, instead of forcing them to take action through annoyance - which never ends well.

Have a great day!
- James Francis.
Founder & CEO, Digital Prosperity.

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8 Responses

  1. I really don't get your logic here. How is what you're doing any different? It's the same concept.

    Except, with the exit pop, it's free. You just stated that the exit pop isn't worth it because these are "less than ideal prospects." Ok, so how do you go from that, to "hey, let's spend money paying for retargeting to these "less than ideal" prospects?

    Any offer you can make with retargeting you can make with exit pops as well. Concept is the same, just one is free and the other costs you.

    Bottom line is, I don't see why you wouldn't do both. Every time I use exit pops, my sales increase. Perhaps with your offer, your logic might work, but that's a pretty broad generalization you're making there.

    1. Ok Terry, so it's all down to the experience the prospect goes through...

      If you were speaking with someone at a bar, then you said, "Ok well I better be going", then they grabbed your arm to say "hey, stay a little longer", would you be ok with that? I'm sure you'd have a bitter taste in your mouth from that experience. That's what an exit popup does. It makes your prospects see you as the bad guy, which lowers your conversion rates for those people, therefore they become "less than ideal" prospects at that point (due to the bad experience).

      Or from the retargeting perspective, it's their choice to click on the ad, and it's done without trying to be controlling about it. So they feel like they're in control and you aren't being controlling about it. Because they're in control, they're more likely to feel the purchase decision was their idea (instead of being pushed into it), and they're more likely to keep the product and follow through with it.

      Also, when you say "every time I use exit pops, my sales increase", have you tracked the effect it has on your Lifetime Customer Value? I'm pretty sure if you compared your total NET profit (after refunds, etc) between those customers gained via exit popup methods VS not using those methods, the LTV would be higher from the latter.

      But again, I could be wrong, as some markets are so overwhelmed with exit popups that the prospects are used to them. Although it's always worth finding out the facts for yourself and your own business before making a decision.

      Does this clarify things for you?

      Have a great day!
      - James.

  2. Very good article James !

    I have recently started using exit pop ups (the gentler, less intrusive version which only appears when someone moves their mouse pointer to leave the page and has an X button to close the pop-up).

    What I use for the exit pop-up is to offer something completely different, but still somewhat related to the niche (offer an eBook about raising goats for milk, when the original offer is about raising chickens, for example) since the person has already shown they are not interested in the original offer.

  3. Interesting.

    I had that exact same experience when I was using an exit pop
    to a $1.00 trial 🙂

    This is why you are the coach.

    Pretty awesome when the student and the coach experience and think the same thoughts sometimes.


  4. Interesting, thank you will apply that as you've tested it & as Isaiah says 'you care the coach' 🙂
    I also hate visiting a website where a thingy dangles in front of me saying sign up here before I can look at what I was interested in!

  5. I completely agree, James. And here's another thing about them that can hurt your sales; I got wise to the exit popups years ago. I observed that some sites would offer you the product at a significantly discounted price with the exit popup. So even when I was interested in a product, I would often close it to see if the exit popup would give me a better offer. If it didn't I would come back and buy it at regular price. But if there was a discount, I would take it. So, I already wanted the product, but they would not get as much money from me as they could have without it.
    I decide before I leave the page if I want it or not. Sometimes I might still want it but plan to come back later. And exit popup has never changed my mind.

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