Awards for popups! Awesome!!

While perhaps not the most prestigious awards in the world. And some people think the marketers that create them should be hung drawn and quartered…I’m going celebrating the best of 3 months of hunting the web for these little nuisances.

It would appear that entry/exit popups are the new cool thing to annoy your visitors with. Over the last 3 months I’ve taken screenshots of almost every single one I’ve seen so I could bring you this piece of content.

Behavioural Design

I’ve mentioned behavioural design in the comments below, if you’re not familiar with his work and are involved in trying to get people to do things you should check out BJ Fogg’s work, I’ve done a very short post about him here.

Without going into detail for marketing actions to work effectively they must be easy for the user to perform (low effort) and have as much motivation as possible. The latter is the hardest to influence/predict.


Six Elements of Simplicity that prevent people from taking actions – BJ Fogg


Image credit to Tim Finnigan’s article on ‘Hooked’.


Action popups

A poorly named category these are popups that are based on linger time or the user performing an action such as going to checkout on an commerce site.

action-popupPayAsYouGym – Winner

This is a badass upsell popup that you get after selecting a single pass at a gym you haven’t visited before.

It is great because it applies some great principals of habit forming behavioural design….

  • It increases the ability of the individual by reducing the cost to form the habit of attending that gym reducing the effort required (cheaper)
  • The offer is time based which adds a scarcity element pushing up motivation to act on the trigger
  • Finally it increases the motivation to attend the gym as the passes are only valid for a month. The only fail from PAYG is that they don’t trigger the attendance behaviour enough so you can forget you have the passes.

PAYG Checkout


GreatLittlePlace – Runner up

I love the guys at GLPs marketing in general. This little popup adds a nice bit of scarcity to increase motivation while also making it easier by reducing the cost. Good effort.



Entry Popups


These seem to have taken off. The popularity of apps like BounceExchange, OptinMonster and the subsequent similar apps that make this easy for non-techies to implement has really seen their usage soar.

b2b-winnerQuicksprout – Best B2b
I would assume that quick sprout were one of the first to the game with this format. I also think that the visual layout is really good and creates a nice bit of doubt with the user as to which they should click.

  • Clear benefit statement
  • Simple decision to be made
  • Fixed amount of time to achieve

quicksprout entry


TechRepublic – B2b runner up

What set out this banner to the others in the B2B category is that it stated some of the benefits of getting involved. Clearly this is just an email list sign-up but it’s very obvious that they’ve thought about it.




SmartInsights – B2b runner up

I really enjoyed the use of social proof here, not only are you joining a large community but they’re really plugging the brands they’ve worked with as much as possible. Good use of social deviance.



VisualWebsiteOptimiser  – B2b runner up

Very nice simple flat design at play.




Rebel Circus – Consumer winner

consumer-winnerThe great thing about edgy brands is that they can get away with quite a lot. Rebel Circus which is a clothing brand really hit the spot here.

There’s a great use of the social deviance card here which plays on psychological inclusion/exclusion. That is why this is my consumer winner.



If you click yes you get…



CNBC – Consumer runner-up

Pretty straight forwards, why break a winning formula.

cramer email


TheMuse – Consumer runner up

A good combo of a common fear with a piece of list content. It plays to key rules needed for a good lead magnet, which are that it should be consumable in a short amount of time and deliver specific value.



The best of the rest

Below are popups that I didn’t feel were worthy of winning any prizes but were worth including here.


Management Consulting News

Simple call to action with a good benefit statement. I might think about testing the call to action button to something that ties in with the main statement like ‘Start growing my consulting practice’.




The design here was really good. The copy on the other hand was a little too generalised, I couldn’t really see the immediate benefit that I was going to get (Increased brain cycles).



Ralph Lauren Polo

A very classic approach for collecting email addresses. Somehow I don’t believe that it converted particularly well.

Ralph Lauren Polo



Naughty SEJ! For such a great blog this is a very poor popup, included so I could mention why…

  • No email field on the popup, why make life so hard – Time/Non-routine
  • Soo much text – Brain cycles
  • Doesn’t look as exclusive as the words claim it is



Verne Harnish

A man who’s name comes up again and again between entrepreneur friends of mine..This is another example of greatness wasted. Verne is one of the top minds in scaling businesses, sadly this popup doesn’t hit the mark.

A short one to two page ebook on the top three common problems businesses face scaling up might convert better.

  • Offer doesn’t offer obvious bitesized piece of instant value – Increased brain cycles
  • Asking for too many fields – Increased time & brain cycles

Verne Harnish



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