How exit popups can help you build your email list

Profile photo of author Greg d'Aboville
Owned marketing
October 18, 2017
green exit sign by a door

Exit popups are powerful.

The Klaviyo data team analyzed the performance of a sample of email pop-ups cumulating 204 million displays.

Among our key learnings, exit popups outperformed popups displayed on landing pages by +5%. If you’re collecting 10,000 emails/month (congrats if that’s the case), that would represent 500 additional emails/month and 6,000 emails/year. A Klaviyo user? Find out how you can use the pop-up forms in Klaviyo.

Why exit popups work better

Let’s start from the beginning. What are exit popups exactly?

Exit popups, sometimes called exit-intent popups, are triggered when a visitor moves his or her mouse to leave the page. They are displayed when the user is moving her mouse upward to close the window.

gif of exit popup on a website
An exit popup example on Leesa’s, a mattress startup, website

Exit popups are particularly effective because:

  1. They don’t interrupt the visitor’s path on your website.
  2. They give you one last chance to convince your user to stay on your website… or at least to provide a way to keep in touch.

As exit popups are displayed at the last minute, when the user is in a rush to leave, they require a specific design and wording.

Based on the result of our analysis, here are 6 best practices to skyrocket your exit popup conversions.

Create a design that is super consistent with your brand identity

To drive conversions, your exit popups must be part of your website experience. They must match your website identity in terms of colors, pictures and font family. Otherwise, the user might feel disoriented and just leave.

Here’s what works for Carbon38:

  • The picture is appealing and coherent with the website mission.
  • The black background is coherent with the website which is mostly black
  • The font family is the same as the website’s font
blonde girl in athletic wear on a exit popup form

Make your message visible

Your user is about to leave. So we need to make sure she won’t miss your message. In other words, you need to make it big and visible!

  • A few tricks can make your message stand out:
  • Use an overlay to dim the background and allow your user to focus on your popup
  • Pick a bigger size for your font
  • Make your elements (email field, call to action…) bigger
  • Use catchy colors (as long as they match your identity, of course)

Furless Cosmetics’s exit popup dims the background, making the message unmissable.

popup form that sits overtop the main page

Analyze the data to personalize your message

Displaying the same popup on your entire website is not a good idea. What do you think the female customers of an ecommerce website will think if they’re presented with a popup featuring men’s items? Exactly.

To maximize your popup impact, we recommend adapting your campaign to your different buyer personas.

That can be as simple as displaying a different exit popup for each gender. In that case, you can display a different popup if the URL contains “women” or “men” for example.

You can also adapt your popup to your different product categories. Your “shoes” popup could feature shoes visuals, etc.

Mic’s exit popup displays the national news category.

exit popup with a blue text box on the left

Make the pop ups responsive to device type

Traditional exit popups don’t work on touch devices as they rely on mouse movements to predict exit. So to display exit popups on mobile devices you need a plan B.

You can display your popup after the visitor has scrolled down until the bottom of the page. You can also try displaying your popup when the user scrolls up as if she wanted to display the URL bar to leave.

Craft your content to grab attention

Your wording is one of the key elements to catch your visitor’s attention.

In his guide to copywriting, Neil Patel shares some tips for headlines that apply well to popup wording.

In short, your content must be:

  • Unique: as Oscar Wilde said: “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” Use words which reflect your brand and help your message stand out.
  • Ultra specific: your users must understand that the offer is relevant to them.
  • Convey a sense of urgency: remember, your users are about to leave. And it might be forever. You need to convince them to act now.
  • Useful: your popup copy should convince your user of the benefit of subscribing (remember, they’ll leave in no time)

Here’s an example from Soho Home. Displayed in the vintage category, it’s highly relevant and conveys a great sense of urgency.

exit popup that tells customers when the brand gets new vintage pieces in

Humor can be powerful as well. Here’s how Lush invites their visitors to sign up:

lush exit popup form that sits on their whole screen

Provide an offer or incentive

Let’s get it straight. Offers have a huge impact on your exit popup conversion rate.
One of our customers, a leading online retailer, tested the impact of a coupon on their subscription rate on their popup targeting new visitors. The results are pretty self-explanatory.

exit popup data in a table

But coupons are not the only option. You can pick one of these alternatives:

  • Share a free shipping coupon
  • Invite to take part in a sweepstake
  • Share a free document, MP3, etc.

Tayroc entices their visitors to sign up.

exit popup that tells people they have a change to win watches


On average, exit popups work better than regular popups. But if you want to make the most of them you need to be very careful about their style, wording, and targeting. Going the extra mile is really worth it, trust our experience. If you’re unsure, don’t hesitate to rely on AB tests to validate your hypothesis or add a timer for urgency.

Launch forms that convert.
Get started with Klaviyo
Greg d'Aboville
Greg d'Aboville
Head of customer success, WisePops
Greg is Head of Customer Success at WisePops, an intelligent popup builder. As such, he has collaborated with hundreds of brands and e-commerce websites on their popup strategy.