Why and How Exit Popups Can Help You Build Your Email List

Green exit sign above a door denoting exit popups

Exit popups are powerful. Earlier this year, we analyzed the performance of a sample of email popups 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.

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.

exit popupsAn exit popup example on Leesa.com, a mattress startup

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.

1.Design needs to be super consistent with your brand identity

Let’s start with the design of your popup.

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.

Let’s take this example from carbon38.com:

  • 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

exit popups carbons

2. 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)

Here’s a good example from Furless Cosmetics: the background is dimmed making the message unmissable.

exit popups 3

3. Leverage your 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.

Here’s a nice example on mic.com. The popup is displayed in the national news category.

exit popups 4

4. Pick a plan B for touch devices

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.

5. Choose your words carefully

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 a good example from sohohome.com. Displayed in the vintage category, it’s highly relevant and conveys a great sense of urgency.

exit popups 5

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

exit popups 6

6. Offers do make a difference

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 popups 7
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.

Here’s how tayroc.com incites their visitors to sign up.

exit popups 8


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.

Any experience with exit popups? Share your good tips in the comments!


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