Exit popups … worth the pain?

Reason #23 I like Twitter: I met Chris Cade.

I wrote something about Instant Slideup (which hasn’t generated many subscribers) and Chris responded, “Exit popovers have been so effective (250% conversion boost) that Instant Slideup seems overkill.”

I replied, “@ChrisCade Are you saying *you’ve* had a 400% conversion boost using exit popovers? I find them annoying but open to listen. Which do u use?” He emailed what follows.

Okay, so here’s the deal… exit popups are, in my opinion, the best
conversion tool ever created.
BUT, I avoided using them for over a year
because popups are tacky and annoying.

But a simple fact plagued me – I was getting 5,000 unique visitors a month
to spiritual-short-stories.com and only getting 1-3 subscribers per day.
It didn’t make sense. So I originally got the exit popup software to put
on an opt-in page just to poll people why they were leaving (“One quick
question – why didn’t you signup?”)

You’d be surprised at how many people actually responded, and as a result,
I made changes to the opt-in page and increased conversions.

It got me thinking… what if I put a one-time only pop-up on my main
website? Logically, I figured that I had nothing to lose because if the
people were leaving… they’re GONE. So what’s the harm in a last-ditch

Then I got to thinking about it. When I go to a site and see a popup when
I arrive, I close it automatically. When it arrives in the middle of my
session, I close it automatically… because in both cases, I’m trying to
get to content and the darn popup is in my way.

But when I’m leaving, if at that time I see a popup, I almost *always*
read it… because I’ve already established, in my mind, the ‘value’ of
this website. I’ve gotten what I came for.

So here’s where I’m going with this –

I realized that if I am truly giving great value, people WANT me to give
them that popup. People will WANT to get more great content from me…
and it’s possible that being on my website they either didn’t see my
subscribe box or just didn’t know the value of my offer. They get
side-tracked and decide to leave, etc.

Lots of reasons to leave a great website without signing up for a list.

That’s when I realized – my exit popup was actually a SERVICE to my
visitors. I realized that if I had already given great value to my
subscribers, that they’d want and appreciate that popup as a way for me to
continue giving them great value.

Go to http://www.spiritual-short-stories.com and then just move the cursor
away from the page area… the popup will appear once only (unless you
delete cookies). Notice the approach… opt-in form and benefits. I
also inform the user they will see this page once (so they know if they
subscribe, they won’t be subjected to this every time they visit).

Now, for the statistics… I just pulled these 10 minutes ago so I could
be totally candid / accurate:

In the first month, I saw literally 400% increase in optins. It appears
that number has mellowed, so here’s a more accurate long-term picture:

a) In the first two months after installing the popup, here’s what happened:
– 432 total subscribers
– 88 subscribed via normal means
– 225 subscribed via popup
– the rest via JVs / custom landing pages

255% increase

b) Most recent 2 months:
– 541 new subscribers
– 270 from the popup
– 117 from normal means

230% increase.

c) Since July 1st (I think I installed the popup sometime in June)
– 1000 new subscribers
– 530 from the popup ONLY
– 206 from normal means

257% increase

I did see an increase in my unsubscribe rate, but given that I have seen a
250% long-term increase in subscribers that stay subscribed… that’s
significant. Heck, most people are happy to increase conversions by 5 or

I originally used a program called “Popup Toolkit” which is what’s being
used on spiritual-short-stories.com and I’ve been pleased with. But
recently I bought Virtual Smart Agent which I’m using over at
Best-Christmas-Stories.com and I’ll probably use VSA from now on for other
websites. (Click on the “Powered by VSA” link in the bottom
right – you may have to scroll down – to check it out.)

Anyway, my honest opinion after 6 months of testing exit popups in
different capacities and uses is that having a one-time only on-exit popup
is mandatory for any content-based website or blog I do.

I hope this has been enlightening! – Chris

I’m thinking it’s worth a try. Just about everything’s an easy test online. If it doesn’t work I can always take it down.

What say you all?


  1. One quick thing of note – if anybody does end up buying Virtual Smart Agent, remember to leave the page first – and force the VSA agent to appear… subscribe to the newsletter, and you get a $100 discount (so you don’t have to pay full price).

    I *almost* bought it the first time I visited, and am glad I left so the discount popup would appear.

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