18 exit-intent tips to convert your website visitors (and not lose them)

Every business builds its website in the hopes of generating attention, leads and ultimately new customers.

What we sometimes forget is that we have only mere seconds to win over a website visitor before we potentially lose him or her forever.

In fact, we have no more than seven seconds to capture a website visitor’s attention.

While you want to ensure that your content is engaging and your website design clear and easy to navigate, a key component to snagging your visitor and converting him or her into a lead ties into your use of effective exit-intent pop-ups.

Pop-up ads get a bad reputation, but they’ve come a long way since their initial, annoying creation. Check out our overview of pop-up ads and tips to generate more leads.

An exit-intent pop-up (or screen) is one type of pop-up ad that appears just at the right moment—when your website visitor is about to leave your site.

Here are 18 tips to best optimize your exit-intent pop-up and convert your visitor into a lead whom you can start to build a relationship with (and hopefully convert to a customer down the road).

Confirm your trigger

Depending on the system your using, you want to be sure (and test) what prompts your exit-intent pop-up to appear. 

Is it scrolling? Lack of scrolling? Mouse movement? Lack of mouse movement?

Be sure to test the behavior so that it makes sense on the user’s end. Are you actually about to exit when the pop-up appears? The right timing is everything.

Customize your angle

Depending on what webpage your visitor is about to exit, you should cater your message to that experience.

For example, a “Don’t go yet. Here’s a discount” message could hit home for someone about to leave your pricing page. Or, a “Download this exclusive content” message could catch the attention of someone reading one of your blogs. Of course, you also could battle shopping-cart abandonment with a reminder that they still have items in their cart and offer free shipping.

One size simply doesn’t fit all, so take a look at your website traffic. Where are people browsing, and where can you cater different exit-intent pop-ups for them.

The simpler the better

Most things in digital marketing benefit from a short, clear and direct approach. People simply don’t have the time or patience to engage with an approach that’s long-winded and potentially boring.

Remember, you’re trying to win them over, not the other way around.

Always experiment

Whether it’s your wording or your visuals—or both, don’t let your exit-intent pop-up linger in a static state. 

Beyond just trying what might continue to perform better, you’ll want to change up your pop-ups every so often anyway to keep things fresh (and just as enticing) for any returning visitors.

When it comes to wording, the word “wait’ is especially powerful and worth trying out.

Offer something irresistible

Granted, what the offer is totally depends on your brand, your goals and what reasons people have to go onto your website.

In general, you can offer something for free (like an ebook), a discount or coupon or even a chance to win a giveaway or other type of contest.

Offer to chat

You don’t have to have an operating 24/7 live chat for this strategy to work.

Your exit-intent pop-up could simply offer the opportunity for a visitor to submit their information so that you can contact them to set up a time to chat.

Of course, this does work with a 24/7 live chat as well.

Embrace an emotional connection

It’s admittedly tricky to connect on a deeper level with our website visitors in only so many seconds.

However, this can be achieved by solving a (common) problem for the user.

For instance, if you’re an e-commerce site, your exit-intent pop-up could tout your 30-day guarantee refund policy.

Put yourself in your visitors’ shoes. What could be some common problems that either push them to bounce from your site or other problems you could solve for them in general with your product or service. That’s a great place to start.

Try humor

Similar to creating an emotional connection, humor can go a long way in connecting with visitors.

But beware.

Not everyone is as funny as we think we are. 

Make sure you get a second, third, even fourth opinion on your quip before going live with it. Some of the biggest online brand mistakes occur when a company thinks they’re being funny, but it’s actually confusing or (even worse) offensive.

Show your authority, expertise

This can be done in a number of ways. You can include a customer’s testimonial on your exit-intent pop-up. 

Social proof (like stating “Join 500-plus marketers in”) also conveys that you’re not just any website, you’re a trusted authority that has a website.

Your credentials can be shared as well. 

It all depends on your brand and what makes sense to include with your message.

Urgency spurs conversion

When an offer feels like it can be used anytime, users don’t necessarily feel like they have to act right away.

So, it only makes sense that not only does your exit-intent pop-up catch the eye but also convince the visitor that the time to act is right now.

There are a number of ways to do this, such as a countdown timer or even simply stating the deadline (whether it’s one hour, 15 minutes, today only, so on).

Scarcity also spurs conversion

Whether the time you have to act on an offer is limited or the number of spots or products is limited, users will feel more compelled to act.

You can convey the scarcity of your product or service in an exit-intent popup to help add to the need to act immediately.

Animation advantage

What catches the eye more than a compelling image? A moving compelling image.

When possible, the simplest animation tricks can help stop that exiting visitor in his or her tracks. 

And simple could mean a moving arrow pointing at your opt-in button or email form field. It also could do more than that. Just be sure that it’s not so complex or in-your-face that it comes off as spam.

Opportunity to cross-sell or upsell

What’s better than a website visitor making one purchase? That visitor making an additional or bigger purchase.

Think of when you’ve added an item to your online shopping cart in an e-commerce site, and you see a pop-up sharing similar items or accessories for the item you just added to your cart.

In an exit-intent pop-up, for example, this could be the time to not only show the item the visitor forgot in the cart, but also an item that goes with it (perhaps with a discount offer).

Not an e-commerce website? You could always show related content to entice readers to stay.

Use numbers

This might sound like a basic tip, but numbers (especially odd numbers) can definitely catch the human eye.

If it makes sense to include a number in your exit-intent messaging, remember that some numbers sound bigger than others. For example, 60 minutes sounds like more than one hour, but they’re equal. In addition, 200% sounds like more than two times. 

Play around with what numbers are the most compelling to share and how you want to share them.

The power of personalization

If possible, being able to call out your website visitor by name in your exit-intent pop-up can really catch his or her attention.

You can do this by obtaining your visitor’s name when they subscribe to your email list, by asking for his or her name in a previous pop-up window or by detecting the name of an existing customer. It definitely depends on the setup of your website.

But personalization can be more than just a first name. 

You could identify the referral source of that visitor. For example, someone who arrives at your website through Pinterest can see that called out in his or her exit-intent pop-up.

Take a second look at your call-to-action

Your call-to-action button can be so much more than a simple “Yes.” The sky is truly the limit on creativity, whether you go more conversational or humorous on your CTA buttons. 

Be sure to experiment with different CTA buttons. Then, measure and compare the conversions of each.

On that same note, you can experiment with “Yes/No” buttons, where you can have one button saying something like, “Yes, I want to save 15%!” and the other saying, “No, I don’t like saving money.”

Mobile matters

Mobile browsing is a dominant force and will only continue to grow in usage.

However, mobile exit intent doesn’t work quite the same trigger-wise as it would on a full browser with a mouse.

Consider using such triggers as browser switches and “back” arrows.

Then, be sure that your design, sizing and message works on smaller screens. Again, one size does not fit all.

Make it easy to opt-out

Counterintuitive, perhaps, but the best pop-up ads (even exit-intent ones) make it easy to say no.


Because even though you want them to convert, you never want to provide a poor, confusing or frustrating user experience. 

This is one part of potentially building a relationship with every user who visits your site. Being pushy in even passive, indirect ways will turn them completely off from your brand.

As you explore various approaches and strategies in your exit-intent pop-ups, remember that you must measure the results frequently to identify what is working and what could be tweaked or changed out entirely.

Be bold! A strong exit-intent strategy can help convert website visitors you otherwise would have lost (and generate more revenue in the long run).

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