Episode 47

Anatomy of a High-Converting Pop-Up With Emil Kristensen, CMO & Co-founder at Sleeknote

Emil Kristensen

Emil Kristensen

Pop-ups can be tricky, and if you’re not careful, they can quickly backfire and have a significant impact on your conversion rates.

If you’re going to make pop-ups a healthy part of your digital strategy, there is a right way – make them ‘smart’ and use them in moderation.

Our CEO Paris talks to Emil Kristensen about the mistakes companies make when creating pop-ups, the art of crafting a high-converting pop-up, and how Sleeknote approaches marketing in such a crowded space. 

Let’s dive in.

First Things First: Do Pop-ups Still Work?

Pop-ups have been around since the mid-90s and, to this day, they remain a rather controversial form of visitor engagement for many marketers.

The problem with the majority of pop-ups is that they obstruct people from seeing your content and, by extension, ruin the user experience. 

While most of us dislike intrusive, uncontrollable pop-ups, not all pop-ups are bad. For over 8 years now, Sleeknote has been pioneering a more discrete pop-up/slide-in solution that enables businesses to generate leads without disturbing the user experience. 

In fact, as the company’s CMO and co-founder – Emil Kristensen – shares, they were “the first ones to have a small teaser that would just slide in, instead of an insanely big pop-up that takes over the entire screen.”

Having carefully crafted pop-ups, whether it’s on eCommerce websites or SaaS landing pages, can be a great way to encourage visitors to take different actions, while simultaneously gaining valuable information such as their email address. 

The key takeaway? Pop-ups are still here and they can, and do, work as long as they enhance the visitor’s website experience, rather than get in the way. 

The 4 Main Types of Pop-ups

There is a number of different types of pop-ups, but the most common ones you might see on a web page include:

  • Welcome mats – full-screen pop-ups that slide right above the content of the page with the goal to grab the attention and bring the offer in front of the visitor. 

Unless highly relevant, it’s best to avoid welcome mat pop-ups as they often come across as too intrusive.

  • Overlays – appear on top of the page content. While they don’t block the rest of the content from being shown (like the welcome mat), users still have to click out to gain access back to the content. These pop-ups can have a good conversion rate if the offer is compelling to the visitor. 
  • Top banners – small banners at the top of the page. These are often great for broader offers such as discounts, coupons, or subscriptions.
  • Slide-ins – small pop-up boxes that slide in from the side or bottom of the page. In general, slide-ins have a less obstructive behavior and are best used for presenting offers as the user is going through the page content. 

How to Create Pop-ups That Don’t Suck

If you’re designing your website with the user in mind, then the user experience and customer journey should be your first focus when considering any kind of pop-up. 

Because pop-ups come in a plethora of different styles, figuring out which ones work and how to use them in the best way possible can be a challenging task. 

To better understand what works well and how to create pop-ups that help you reach your goals, it might be useful to look at quality examples. Timberland, Graze, and Sigma Beauty are some of the best Magento pop-up examples to check out when looking to take your pop-ups to the next level. 

No conversation about creating an award-winning pop-up is complete without mentioning best practices. To get you started, here’s a quick overview of the more common do’s and don’ts.

4 Do’s for Website Pop-Ups

#1 Set Triggers and Conditions

Timing your pop-ups for minimal browsing disruption is crucial. 

Think about the ways people engage with your pages and tune your pop-ups based on the different triggers and conditions. Some of the more common trigger types you can use include time on page, page entrance, element interaction, inactivity, and exit intent.

By leveraging site data (e.g. what people have in their carts and whether they have made any previous purchases), Sleeknote further enables businesses to place the pop-up at the right moment in a user’s browsing experience when they’re most likely to engage. Because the data is provided by the site itself, this is also a great example of how data can be utilized to help marketers prepare for the cookieless future

#2 Ensure That the Messaging Mirrors Your Remarketing Campaigns

With effective pop-ups, one of the most crucial success factors is understanding different segments and where they are in the buying journey.

If a prospect has an abandoned shopping cart with certain products in it, and you’re remarketing, they’d be receiving an ad or an email that would encourage them to go back and finish their purchase. That motion should then be extended to the website to get prospects as close to converting as you can.

#3 Keep It Simple

As with most things in digital marketing, less is more. 

Remember to present an easy-to-read offer and a clear CTA. Whichever pop-up strategy you opt for, be sure that taking action is as simple as possible for your visitors.

#4 Make Sure Your Offer Is Valuable to the User

In order to have a high-converting pop-up, your offer needs to be valuable to the user and relevant to the page that they’re on. For instance: if you have a great blog post on Black Friday marketing, you could use a pop-up to offer visitors a free whitepaper on the same topic. 

Convincing incentives that could be seamlessly weaved into an eCommerce website pop-up include an exclusive offer, a discount, or a chance for the visitor to win something.

4 Don’ts for Website Pop-Ups

#1 Don’t Overwhelm the User

In many cases, your website is your prospects’ first impression of your business, which means that you need to be extra careful with the type of pop-up that you’re showing them. 

Ensure the pop-ups don’t take over the screen, especially when it comes to mobile, and make them easy to close. Here are intrusive pop-up styles that Google advises against on mobile devices: 

Source: developers.google.com

#2 Don’t Go to 3 Input Fields in One Step

Did you know that the number of input fields can have a significant impact on your conversion rates?

In fact, Emil shares that “we see that you can have over 300% lower conversion rate if you go from 2 to 3 input fields.” Where most companies tend to run into trouble, is when they use first and last name as two separate input fields, along with a third, email field. Implementing a multistep approach is often the best way to battle this. 

Sleeknote’s Multistep feature, for example, enables marketers to get a visitor’s name and email address, and “then, in step 3, you can ask for whatever more you need.” In effect, this allows you to still get the visitor’s email even if they close the pop-up.

#3 Whenever Possible, Avoid Showing Pop-ups Immediately

As you craft your pop-up, think about whether (all) the pop-ups need to appear within the very first moments of arriving on the site. In many cases, it might be best to give visitors a chance to look around and acclimate first. 

Consider this: showing a pop-up with a discount code to a user who’s visiting your website for the first time right away is unlikely to give you the results you’re hoping for. In fact, it can even add to the annoyance factor. 

#4 Don’t Neglect the Pop-up Copy

Even though a pop-up should be kept brief and to the point, nailing the copy is essential. Just like copywriting for ads, your pop-up copy should tell people exactly what you’d like them to do, as well as focus on the benefits and tell them what they’re going to get if they click on it. 

In addition, it’s always a good practice to remind users that there is a human behind that pop-up. Make sure to use simple, yet friendly language that appeals to your target audience. 

If you’re feeling a little lost, a robust email pop-ups guide is an excellent starting point for helping you work out what to write in your pop-up to get more leads and boost sales. 

A Peek Under the Hood: Sleeknote’s Digital Marketing Strategy 

We sat down with Sleeknote’s CMO Emil to go deeper into the process of building a stellar digital strategy that enables the company to stay afloat of the competition and turn decision-makers into customers. 

Here’s the rundown.

Always Think Inbound

The main focus of Sleeknote’s content marketing strategy is getting relevant businesses into the content and into the email list while building strong relationships with them.

A huge chunk of the company’s astonishing organic growth is fueled by blog content. Emil explains, “everything starts on the blog; we see it as one big piece of content and repurposing is a big part of it.” 

The topics that they heavily invest in are those that touch on the pain points of their ICP (ideal customer profile), “these are the things that we want to repurpose into different kinds of content.”

“The process [of creating content] is based on keyword research, but also on other parameters like is it close to our ICP [i.e. eCommerce] and what are the problems they’re having. Gut feeling is also a part of it.” 

When it comes to preparing a strategic plan for the content, Emil has one golden rule for keeping productivity high: “have a maximum of 2 people for any piece of content or content project.” 

Don’t Overlook Link Building

Having content that answers searchers’ questions and enables search engines to better understand what your business is all about is certainly a big win, but it might not necessarily lead to a high rank. You will have to establish authority.  One way to accomplish that is by earning links from other authoritative websites, or link building. 

As Emil says, “link building is so important. Don’t miss out on that or you’d end up publishing a lot of content without getting much traffic.” 

While intuition has been a big part of the content creation process, here “we actually look at trends and not gut feeling.” 

To reach out to bloggers without ending up in their spam folder, Sleeknote is focusing on personalized outreach and building more meaningful connections. If you’re just getting started, Emil suggests to “figure out who the writers are at different places and build relationships with them. They are often the ones choosing which links they put in.”

Although there is no one magic number for how many links you need to reach the top rankings, Sleeknote’s CMO often goes for “10% more than the highest-ranking content.”

With all that in mind, he further notes that what matters most is establishing “what kind of a link it is and how many outbound links it has.” 

As a rule of thumb, when looking to build world-class backlinks, it’s important to find tried-and-true link-building strategies that attract and build quality backlinks.

Make the Most of Relevant Paid Advertising Platforms

With approximately 30% of Sleeknote’s customers coming from paid media, it comes as no surprise that paid advertising plays an important role in their digital marketing strategy.

Along with the classic paid media channels, such as Facebook and Google Ads, Sleeknote is building a presence on Quora, Capterra, and even Spotify. 

One of their most noticeable successes comes from social media advertising on LinkedIn. “LinkedIn conversation ads are like paid messages. So you message someone and you pay for that message. That’s performing for us because we have a sales department that’s ready to call them [leads], and that’s the outbound part that we established 6 months ago.”

What makes these ads unique is their “choose your own path” feature. Simply put, this allows businesses to create full-funnel campaigns, serve personalized content, and include multiple customized CTAs.

To illustrate their success better, Emil gives an example using the company’s last month’s budget (approximately $10,800). With a $37 lead price and $120 per demo, the company witnessed a 25% lead-to-demo conversion. The demo to sale was respectively calculated at 10%. 

With a lifetime value of $5,500, the company has managed to reach an impressive 5:1 LTV to CAC ratio from LinkedIn conversation ads alone. 

Creating Superior Experiences for Your Users

At the end of the day, users come to your website because they are interested in gaining something from your business. When used correctly, pop-ups can actually enrich the user experience on your website, as well as help grow your leads and boost your conversion rates.

Ready for more ideas on fostering a world-class customer experience? Check out how to use chatbots to maximize user engagement.

Want to chat about SaaS growth with Paris?