A short story of an “unexpected” pop-up (which brought excellent results)

We all hate pop-ups, right? Well, not really. It’s more of a love-hate relationship. And here’s a real life example of a pop-up-related business dispute that proves my point.

One of the companies I worked for had a number of useful online tools that were available only to registered and signed-in users. Initially built as a shrewd lead generation tool, these assets weren’t really doing a great job in terms generating sign-ups.

The biggest issue was that the way to notify users that they must register was through a wee text box that said something along these lines:

“Sign-in required.”

Yes, that message was really concise.

Extreme brevity aside, the message seriously lacked information. No word on how to sign-up, where to sign-up, what the sign-up entitles you to, is it free, etc.

So, my idea was to improve *sigh* this message by including some instructions, and also to build a simple pop-up that says “Sign up to use this tool or log in if you’re already a registered user” and includes the sign-up form as well as a link to a log in form. Newly registered users would also get an e-mail telling them what they just signed up for. I opened a few tickets to make it happen, and, after some time, I had my shiny new pop-up live and working.

Soon after deployment I read an internal comment in my ticket’s thread from an IT manager that said:

“This pop-up appears unexpectedly, it’s annoying, intrusive, we should get rid of it immediately”

At first, I thought it would be fun to engage in the “pop-up wars” with a proper riposte such as:

“It’s a pop-up goddamit, how would you like it to be expected?!”

But instead, I just said that my advice, for now, was to at least give it some time and check the results after a month.

There won’t be any surprise in this story. We soon learned that this unexpected pop-up brought amazing results in terms of new sign-ups which increased several times and remained at this level.

It’s probably a safe bet to conclude that the users don’t mind this pop-up just because they need it. The pop-up tells them that they need to sign up, and, more importantly, it tells them how to do it, where to do it, and what for.

Bottom line is, the greatest advantage of all pop-ups is that the information goes right in front of your eyes. But that information must be something users are searching and willing to see/do/read at this very moment. Pop-ups may be a bit crude but they’re arguably the most effective way to make sure that the users see what they should see.

Pawel Piejko

A passionate online content marketer with experience in creating content strategies for small businesses, as well as managing the entire content creation and distribution process. I keep up-to-date with constantly evoloving trends in content creation, Social Media, SEO, e-mail marketing and emerging technologies. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions, concerns or suggestions.

So, what do you think ?