The Perfect Popup: Recipes From High-Converting Brands
List Growth, Ideas / Inspiration

The Perfect Popup: Recipes From High-Converting Brands

Ren Reed
April 26, 2024
Reading Time: 5 minutes

If we had three wishes, one would be to know with certainty that our popups were optimized for maximum conversions.  The allure of ‘even better’ drives marketers to test things constantly and pull every lever available to them, and popups have become one of the most critical levers for improving acquisition and conversion. 

Popups allow brands to tinker with ingredients like copy, design, timing, and triggers to see how slight variations affect performance in real-time. This experimental kitchen is one of the most gratifying places to immediately taste the results of changes—with some recipes leading to Michelin Star improvements.   

So, what’s the recipe for a perfect popup? While we’d need a genie to answer that, we can look at the techniques and ingredients that go into world-class popups by brands like Jones Road Beauty, Groove Life, Caraway, and Bubs Naturals. Here are some Popup tests that you can try today: 

Ingredient 1: Popup Timing & Triggers

How long is too long to wait before invading a site visitor's screen with a popup? It's crucial to find the right balance of remaining unobtrusive while taking advantage of opportunities to engage. While industries vary, and testing popup timing for your brand is a must, a common best practice is to analyze your visitors’ average time spent on-page and trigger your popups to appear at the 50-60% mark of that time span. 

So, like a good glass of red, let your website breathe before triggering popups for prospective customers. There are additional triggers that can be tinkered with as well, such as exit-intent triggers, percentage of a page scrolled, number of pages visited, and more. And while any one of these variables can have a big impact on performance, it's essential to set up proper testing parameters so that you can confidently interpret the results. If you'd like help setting up a clear A/B Test, find our comprehensive guide here

Ingredient 2: Custom Property Fields 

Groove Life has found a lot of success in using custom property fields in their popups, so much so that the fields have become standard additions to their mobile and desktop iterations. Groove Life keeps the additional step as efficient as possible by asking users for quick information like their birthday or who they are shopping for. And while different prompts yield slightly different results, A/B testing suggested an overall popup performance increase. Just look at this makeover:

Groove Life Bus Gif

Popups are an opportunity to collect more than just contact information from your customers; they’re an opportunity to collect high-impact data about buyer preferences and intent. 

Furnishing your list with as much zero-party data as possible is paramount to maximizing its value, and collecting additional data in your popups using custom property fields is a simple way to do so. 

A great example of this is Jones Road Beauty asking customers for their skin type. By fielding this answer from their new subscribers, Jones Road can segment users, match them with the appropriate products and campaigns, and, ultimately, increase subscribers' LTV.

In our experience with Postscript merchants, we’ve found that it is best to abide by these best practices to keep custom property fields as efficient and unobtrusive as possible in your popups: 

  • Don’t use more than two custom fields in a single popup, and if using two fields, separate them between the email and SMS tabs to help distribute the ask.

  • Custom property fields may perform slightly better on the email collection step because they don't have to compete with the privacy/terms language that the SMS step includes.

You can continue testing your popups at a more granular level by experimenting with custom property field variables like: 

  • Multiple Choice vs. Open Field

  • Type of information collected

  • Included on SMS vs. email step 

TLDR: Don't be afraid to ask your customers questions in your popup! It increases engagement and often supplements your data and segments in a way that helps personalize future campaigns.

Ingredient 3: Opt-in Methods 

Double-opt-in has long been the compliant default for SMS popups, but it presents some heavy hurdles. First, it prompts users to leave a brand's website to check their messaging app and confirm their subscription via text. Every bit of friction can make a monumental difference in a game of inches, and removing friction from the popup experience can have a dramatic effect on acquisition and conversion.

Postscript's Onsite Opt-in leverages one-time passcode technology to keep users onsite and in the flow of their checkout process.

Prior to turning on Onsite Opt-in, Jones Road was using the double opt-in method for acquiring subscribers. With double opt-in, a subscriber enters their phone number into the popup, receives a text asking them to confirm their subscription, moving a customer away from the brand’s website and into their messaging app to reply.

With the implementation of Onsite Opt-in into Jones Road's SMS marketing strategy, the brand witnessed transformative results. In the first two months alone, Jones Road gained more subscribers than they had throughout the entire year. The conversion rates on both desktop and mobile saw significant boosts, with desktop phone signups increasing by 47%, and mobile opt-ins experiencing an 82% surge.

After the first demo, Joanne was hooked. “My first impression was that this just makes sense,” says Joanne. We agree! This is a Jones Road Beauty-level makeover:

JRB Bus Gif

Ingredient 4 - Design & Copy

Before you roll your eyes at this one—hear us out.

While it may seem obvious that an aesthetic and well-written popup will outperform a bland one, a lot of brands miss easy opportunities to make their popups really sing.

First, your popup headline doesn't have to offer a discount code flat out. Headlines should pique interest and tempt the viewers' eyes to explore the rest of your pop-up's content. Instead of the typical "Get 15% Off", you might try "Get a Backstage Pass to our Brand". Subtle shifts in your headline copy can take your popup from visual white noise to an eye-catching surprise.

This principle also applies to your CTA. Consider testing these aspects of your pop-up’s CTAs:

  • Color:

    Opt for a contrasting color for the CTA button to ensure it stands out against other pop-up elements. Tools like Paletton can assist in selecting an effective palette.

  • Alignment:

    The placement of your CTA button can affect conversions. Experiment with different positions to see what works best.

  • Copy:

    As mentioned before, use dynamic and on-brand action words in your CTA text. Even subtle variations like “Get my free e-book” versus “Get your free e-book” can yeild different results in performance data.

Images & Graphics

Of course, images play a critical role in visualizing the value of your offer and enhancing the initial appeal of your pop-up. However, effectiveness can vary.

To determine the optimal use of images, consider A/B testing every style, such as stills vs video, graphics vs photos, or even illustrations. Whatever you land on, images are an essential ingredient as they:

  • Communicate fast: Humans process visual information much faster than text. Images help visitors understand the offer or message at a glance.

  • Create emotional connection: visuals evoke emotions and create a mood that copy just can't. This emotional impact can influence a visitor’s decision-making process, making them more likely to respond to your CTA.

  • Clarify your offer: Images can help clarify your offer, especially if you're promoting a product or service that's harder to explain than "free pants".

Ingredient 5 - Popup Incentives

Discount codes are far and away the most common incentive used in acquisition offers, but several effective alternatives have begun to offer brands relief from their margin-eating coupon headaches.

Rewards & Giveaways

Homegoods brand Caraway has experimented with offering rewards, for example, making new subscribers who opt in during a given period eligible for substantial store credit. This incentive, combined with a catalog of higher-dollar-value products and an urgent CTA, has driven significant improvements to Caraway's popup performance.

Caraway Popup Example

Frostbuddy has also found success with running giveaway campaigns in their popups—offering fun prizes to subscribers and incentivizing referrals or additional purchases with extra entries into their sweepstakes.

When customers know they can earn points, discounts, or exclusive offers by subscribing, it creates a compelling reason for them to opt in. Over time, this can lead to increased customer retention, more frequent purchases, and a higher lifetime value, as subscribers are continually motivated to engage with the brand to reap ongoing rewards.


CashBack is becoming more and more popular as ecommerce brands ween themselves off of discount codes in search of better ways to incentivize customers without sacrificing margin.

However, CashBack does more than keep more revenue in brands’ pockets; it can dramatically mprove popup performance as well. How? By allowing brands to offer bigger incentives to new subscribers.

Since the majority of CashBack offers are either redeemed as a store credit or not redeemed at all, brands can afford to offer higher rewards to customers and drive up to 31% more opt-ins through their popups. 31% improvement to popup conversions AND better margins at checkout? This is a massive win-win and something every brand should be testing. 

Take a look at how Bubs Naturals updated their mobile popup to include a higher-value welcome offer:  

BN Bus Gif

Ready to test your popups? We've built a free checklist to help you out. Download this audit and make sure you've checked off the basics before you go live with your latest A/B Test!

Popups are an absolute staple in the pantry of list growth and conversion. But once you’ve dialed in the recipe for your brands’ popups, there are plenty of other variables to master. We've laid out a comprehensive guide for evaluating and testing your list growth strategy, from the fundamentals to advanced strategies used by massive Shopify brands.

And, of course, we're always available to talk shop and help you discover what popup recipe works best for your brand! Reach out here to partner with us.

Ren Reed
Ren Reed
Content Marketing Specialist
Ren is a part of the content team at Postscript. He considers himself a writer and a filmmaker, but his trophy case remains void of Oscars. Until a golden statue takes up residence there, he'll continue creating for the fun of it!