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Senior Front-End Web Developer at Foster Web Marketing: Creators of DSS

Here at Foster Web Marketing, we’ve been asked several times about adding exit pop-ups to our websites, and each time we decline to do them.  We’ve said before that we don’t consider them a good practice, and our clients have asked for more details – so here goes.

First, Google does not like exit pop-ups.  They do not allow exit pop-ups at all if you are an AdWords client.  We could end the discussion right here – why engage in a practice that Google believes contributes to a negative user experience?  But there are more reasons why we don’t like exit pop-ups.  Are our reasons subjective?  Yes, some of them are – but this is a topic that we feel very passionate about and we’re happy to tell you exactly what we think about this idea.

Technical reasons for not doing exit pop-ups:

  • Pop-up blockers are built-in and enabled by default in every single browser/version available today because the industry agrees pop-ups are undesirable.  Have some folks developed ways to have an exit pop-up display despite the pop-up blockers?  Yes, but that doesn’t mean it is ok or that you should do it.
  • There is no concise or good way to implement a user generated pop-up. Every single "solution" to this is actually a code hack, and as such, will never be consistent, elegant or helpful to the visitor.
  • No script can intelligently predict the visitors intentions with their mouse, resulting in serious frustration from false-positive pop-up activations.

Our reasons for saying “no” to exit pop-ups:

  • There is no verifiable or quantitative proof that exit pop-ups are effective.
  • Proponents of exit pop-ups are akin to "snake-oil salesman" – they’re trying to sell something to site visitors or to the people they're trying to convince to use exit pop-ups.  Yes, we believe the folks trying to convince you that this is a good idea aren’t on the up-and-up.
  • People who use exit pop-ups are just looking for numbers to add to a mailing list or to add to their number of subscribers for ad revenue or for sale of discounted product.  It’s not an effective way to cultivate your “herd”.
  • Proponents of exit pop-ups admit that this technique is used to catch/harass someone who didn't sign-up without regard to whether or not they return.  Did you catch that last part?  You may so annoy a user with this “feature” that while they may be harassed into handing over their information, they won’t leave your site with a good impression… and that is likely the last you’ll ever hear from them.
  • There is a lot of “chatter” on SEO forums about the use of exit pop-ups.  You will find people claiming that they help with conversion, but for every one who says they work there are numerous others who say that their sites dropped in the search rankings after they implemented exit pop-ups… and that their sites rebounded after the exit pop-ups were removed.  Don’t take our word for it, search the forums yourself.

The bottom line is that we believe exit pop-ups have no business being on a classy, professional website.  We pride ourselves on our high-end websites that are hand-coded by our in-house development team – we aren’t hacks and we don’t want any part of marketing “tricks” like this.  We believe that our clients will succeed in the online marketing game by providing useful, relevant and quality content to site visitors that will leave the visitor feeling like they can trust the company that runs that site.  We believe in building relationships with potential clients, and relationships start with trust – not with tricks.

What DO we recommend that you do to improve conversion on your site?

  • Useful, relevant, quality content
  • Free offers with compelling landing pages
  • Social networking and sharing functions
  • Live chat
  • Video
  • Multiple contact forms
  • Follow-up campaigns for all contact forms
  • Phone numbers
  • Newsletters (with newsletter sign up page on your site)

Go ahead, tell us what you think in the comments - and don't be gentle, we can take it!

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