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The Pros and Cons of Pop-Up Web Forms You Should Know About

Should you use pop-up web forms on your site?

Pop-up forms. We've all seen them online. We've all probably completed some too. And maybe we've all been irritated by them when they're too intrusive.

When done right, they can be part of a healthy inbound marketing strategy, allowing you to connect with your customers, increase sales, create leads, and collect valuable data. However, it can have the opposite effect if these pop-ups are too intrusive or disruptive by asking too many questions or taking over your mobile screen.

What are pop-up forms?

Pop-up forms are little windows that appear while browsing a site and might ask your opinion about the purchasing experience, or how easy you found the site to navigate. Optimizing your online forms and pop-up experience will lead to success in a saturated online market.

Types of pop-up forms and triggers

Image sourced from Hubspot


Pop-ups come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. They're an effective way to gather information from website users. However, the type of pop-up form you should choose depends on your goals, audience, and the context of their placement. Different types of pop-ups have unique advantages and disadvantages, so it is important to tailor them to your website users to provide a positive user experience.

Quantitative data can be obtained through simple yes/no or multiple choice questions, whilst open-ended questions can provide qualitative data. Which one is best depends on the motive for your form.

Much like entering a home, welcome mat pop-ups appear as you enter a webpage and are a good choice when offering a particular deal. However, they can be perceived as intrusive if not used appropriately. 

Timed pop-ups can be related to purchases or time spent on the website, while gamified pop-ups offer the chance to win something in exchange for completing a few short questions. Top banner pop-ups can also be a convenient and non-intrusive way to promote key products and temporary promotions.

Finally, exit polls can provide valuable insights into customer behavior, allowing you to make the most of checkout optimization.

Thinking carefully about the type of pop-up form you want to have, and considering how this might positively or negatively affect the user experience, as well as the kind of information you require, is essential to success. On average, pop-ups can provide a conversion rate of 11.09%, demonstrating their potential power in collecting data.

Do pop-up forms work?

With a high conversion rate, pop-ups are a valuable addition to a well designed website and a fantastic tool for understanding customer experience and satisfaction. Unhappy customers don’t always contact a company directly but will share their negative experiences with others. Without a way for customers to provide feedback, a company may not be aware of issues and could be affected by negative public opinion.

Pop-up forms are a reliable source of real-time feedback directly from customers. For instance, a quick multiple-choice survey about the checkout can reveal that customers found the trolley system too confusing, leading to frustration.

Not only do you manage to gain data in large quantities, but if you think carefully about timing, then the data itself, as in the example above, is contextualized. You can decide precisely when and where a pop-up will appear, allowing you to focus on specific parts of the user experience.

While in some cases, it can overtly clutter up web pages, especially on mobile, if used appropriately, it can actually help you streamline your web pages. If too many elements are fixed on a page, it seems overwhelming, and users just abandon the website altogether. A pop-up can be closed down and removed from the field of vision, giving the user a sense of agency over their experience.

Top tips for creating successful pop-up forms

1) Set clear, relevant, and valuable goals

By ensuring that the goals for your pop-up are clear, relevant, and valuable to your customers, it won’t get in the way but only enhance their user experience and make them feel like valued customers, not mindless data sources.

Only ask questions about the checkout if the customer has reached that stage. Such pop-ups aren't valuable to the user at any earlier stage. Over time through careful monitoring of traffic and user demographics from your marketing campaign, you'll understand what offers will align best with their needs.

2) Use strong Call-to-Actions (CTAs) and visuals

Following pop-up form best practices can help you get the most out of your forms, as without a clear layout, users will instantly be aggravated by the pop-up. Keep the number of fields to a minimum, as this will be less intimidating than a huge form. If you accompany this with a large image and a clear CTA button, it will make it relatively straightforward for your users to understand what the form is about and how they can do it without involving any effort.

If you include an image, it is more likely to lead to a conversion:

Image sourced from drip.com


3) Timing and placement are key

If your customer is clearly spending time looking at a specific product, having a huge form appear in the center of the screen, completely obstructing their view might just annoy them. A smaller, less obtrusive pop-up at the side offering them the chance of 10% off for answering a question about the item would give you far better results.

To help with this more, consider using URL targeting to hone in on specific demographic or pages related to your pop-up. Perhaps your business requires legal protection for certain products, so asking for feedback about a new online waiver form you have introduced right after the customer has completed it would be perfect timing.

4) Encourage people with incentives

Thinking back to the type of pop-ups you can include on your website, using one that adds a game or a change to win something could be a fantastic way to increase engagement, thus increasing your conversion rate. 

The bottom line here is that it makes it potentially worthwhile for the customer. You can facilitate this further by using language effectively, including a clear CTA highlighting your incentive, like "Submit here for your chance to win!"

Using incentives in pop-up forms, such as offering a discount or the chance to win a prize, can also incentivize customers to make a purchase, thereby positively impacting the sales process.

5) Do your customers want a game of 20 questions?

Chances are, your customers don't. If you are asking people to give information and voice their opinions, don't be greedy. In fact, for pop up forms two questions provide the best conversion rate. Make sure your question, or questions, are direct and in context for the user.


Image sourced from drip.com


Do you want to make your questions open-ended? This can often give you better, tailored answers, but it might not be the best option if you just want to know how satisfied they are.

Closed-ended questions are very effective in obtaining quantitative research without causing the user too much obstruction. Considering the purpose of your questions is therefore really important so that they are provided with proportionate responses. Topics for your questions could encompass market research, prospects, pre-purchase, post-purchase or onboarding.

6) Start thinking about how people engage with your website

This links back to timing, which can indicate how your users are engaging with your website and should therefore be used to strategically place pop-up forms. By using data analytics, you can monitor bounce rates and average time spent on pages, as well as build heat maps of your website by monitoring clicks. 

For instance, if a user is engrossed in reading an article related to some of your products, it's wise to display a pop-up form halfway down the page which aligns with their interests. 

By monitoring their clicks, you may identify they are focused on pricing, a great opportunity to offer them a discount in exchange for feedback.

7) Choose your words wisely

Pop-up forms have limited elements to play with—a title, an image, and a few words to ask a question. Make them count.

Be specific and highlight the benefits or requirements clearly. Avoid vague language and include a clear CTA button. Use a friendly and colloquial tone to engage readers and provide a human touch to the website, entertaining the readers and enhancing the company's image.

8) Don’t compromise the mobile experience

Back in 2016, Google highlighted pop-ups on mobile devices as "intrusive interstitials" because they often appeared too large on mobile screens. Back then, internet traffic was still dominated by desktop devices. However, mobile has become the modus operandi for the majority of consumers. 

According to Statista, mobiles accounted for almost 60% of internet traffic in 2022, up from just 30% in 2015. This is especially important because people are actually more likely to do the form on their mobiles. As you can see below, the conversion rate for mobile is much higher than for desktop sites.

Image sourced from wisepops.com 


Therefore, it will continue to be ever more important to create pop-up forms adapted to those browsing on mobile devices to avoid irritating your customers. Such a situation will only cause you to lose sales and the potential to collect the all important data from your customers. 

Mobile pop-up forms can help you optimize the mobile experience for your customers. For example, you may find that mobile users want an easy way to convert HEIC to PDF when uploading multiple photos to your website. Or that certain elements are slower to load on a mobile than a desktop.

Achieving the perfect balance for pop-ups

Pop-ups can induce a degree of hostility from your customers if not used effectively, stemming from being too complex, confusing, or downright in your face. If they can be tailored to suit the needs of a company website user, they are much more likely to give you the information you need without any unnecessary side effects. Ensuring the content is clear and relevant, suitable for mobile devices, and well-timed with potential rewards is key to achieving positive CRO results from pop-up web forms.

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8 Tips to optimize your mobile form UX
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