5 Ways Exit Overlays (Pop-ups) Can Supercharge Your PPC Campaigns

By Angus Lynch | @TimeForRooster | Director of Marketing at Rooster

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Second chances are rare in search marketing.


Typically, landing pages only have 6 seconds to get the point across.


And unless you’re a big brand with a healthy retargeting spend, chances are you aren’t reeling in all abandoning users.


Luckily, a new technology called exit-intent exists to help marketers re-engage abandoning visitors with a last-second offer.


And for paid search marketers, exit-intent offers several ways to glean value from the large pool of abandoning visitors who typically leave websites and never return.


What Is Exit-Intent Technology, And How Does It Work?


Exit-intent technology monitors the behavior of visitors on your website. When it identifies behavior typical of an abandoning user—such as a sudden move to the ‘Back’ button—it triggers an exit overlay (or exit pop-up) intended to convert the user.


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An exit overlay on Neil Patel’s quicksprout.com


By targeting only abandoning visitors, exit overlays avoid disrupting the user experience, while also recovering value from users who would otherwise abandon the page.


Do Google And Bing Allow Exit Overlays?




Exit overlays are much different from pop-ups, which are not allowed on Google or Bing.


Exit overlays don’t open new windows, they don’t disable the navigation bar, and third-party media companies don’t control them. As such, they’re allowed on both major PPC networks.


Here’s a screenshot of Google’s policy:


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And here’s a screenshot of the Bing Ads’ Terms of Service:


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So let’s look at 5 different ways you can use exit overlays to improve your PPC campaigns.


Strategy #1: Capturing Smaller Segments

PPC has always reminded me of panning for gold: with the riches comes the silt.


Yes, negative keywords help. But the silt still creeps through, often hurting your metrics.


The problem is, cutting all the silt often means cutting valuable traffic along with it. And since most of these segments are too small to warrant their own landing page, we’re often stuck with it.


An exit overlay is one way to get value from these smaller segments. Here’s an example from Yes-Downloads.com.


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After digging into the PPC search query data for their Candy Crush campaign, the site owner noticed that 15% of queries mentioned cheats, levels, or tips.


Rather than eliminate this traffic, they added an exit overlay to the page that offered tips and tricks packaged in with the download.


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Exit overlay on Yes-Downloads.com


Over a 45-day test, the conversion rate for this page increased 28.97%—results below:


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Strategy #2: Sweetening The Pot


Since exit overlays are displayed only to users who are about to abandon your page, they’re fertile ground for deals or free offers.


An example is US-based Amen Clinics, which runs PPC traffic through a series of landing pages.


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Noticing a relatively high rate of abandoning users, the marketing team added an exit overlay to their “Healing ADD at Home in 30 Days” campaign.


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To sweeten the pot, the exit overlay offered a free test that would allow users to self-diagnose their ADD type.


Over a 30-day test, a phenomenal 19.44% of users who viewed this exit overlay took the marketing team’s desired action.


Strategy #3: Building Email Lists


Email lists have never been more valuable: 77% of customers prefer receiving marketing messages via email.


Using exit overlays to build your email list is smart for several reasons:

  • The ‘ask’ is minimal, so your engagement rate will be higher than on a discount offer
  • It gives you the opportunity to build a relationship with prospects through email marketing
  • It gives prospects an opportunity to familiarize themselves with your brand, since most aren’t willing to commit on their final visit


Given the sheer volume of abandoning users, most PPC sites can build healthy email lists by using an exit overlay—even with a low opt-in rate.


Strategy #4: Shopping Cart Targeting


Most online retailers are dealing with serious shopping cart abandonment issues these days.


And although optimizing your cart should help, a large percentage of users seem to abandon carts no matter what.


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An exit overlay from BabyAge.com, activated when the user begins to abandon their shopping cart


Exit overlays can be used to reduce shopping cart abandonment in one of three ways:

  1. Reminding users they’ve left items in their cart
  2. Sweetening the pot by offering free shipping on the order
  3. Collecting an email address to stay in touch


An abandoned shopping cart is a valuable sales lead that should be pursued.


Strategy #5: Using Alternative Messaging

If you split-test landing pages, you likely have scraps of copy that showed promise but didn’t make the final cut.


Maybe you tested 3 headlines, and one of them finished a close second. Perfect! You already have alternative messaging that can be used on an exit overlay.


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The Chive uses an alternate headline to promote newsletter signups


Different words appeal to different people, and since an exit overlay essentially acts as a second page view, it’s an ideal place to test your alternative messaging.




There are many ways exit overlays can supercharge your PPC campaigns. If you’re interested in learning more, check out this article on 5 scientific reasons exit overlays are so effective.