What is a Welcome Mat?

A Welcome Mat is an offer shown in a popup when a visitor first enters your website. It is your first chance to convert a new visitor. Welcome Mat Popup The reason why a Welcome Mat is insanely effective is it ensures that you quickly communicate your most important offer to a new visitor. Something that would typically be on your home page or a landing page. And a Welcome Mat ensures that offer is shown to all visitors, regardless of where they enter your website. There are several different ways a Welcome Mat is implemented, either as a popup or a full page cover. Either is effective.

Welcome Mat Examples

We’ve pinned some screen shots along with comments on our Good Examples of Welcome Mat Pinterest board.

Why Use a Welcome Mat

A Welcome Mat works particularly well for e-commerce websites and websites that promote newsletters. You typically have something very tangible such a product discount or some benefit that the visitor wants immediately order emailed to them. If these are the types of offers you are trying to attract visitors to, then a Welcome Mat will be a good fit for you. These two use cases are detailed further below:

1. Incentivize Visitor Conversion

The chart below references the influence of coupons on shopping behavior in stores. It is just as effective online because everyone is looking for a deal. The influence of Coupons on Visitor Behavior This one tool can lure shoppers to a new brand or retailer   A Welcome Mat creates an opportunity for you to put a coupon directly into your customer’s hands. E-commerce businesses should use a Welcome Mat to:
  • Incentivize a transaction as a reward for the first visit.
  • Capture customer information that can be used for future email marketing.
  • Make the customer aware of sales or other offers regardless where they enter the site.

2. Grow Email Subscriptions

The number 1 tool with the biggest positive impact on revenue remains email marketing. Building an email subscription list organically is one of the best ways to create an audience for you to market to. For businesses that market primarily through email, a Welcome Mat is a fantastic tool for growing your email list. No matter where a visitor enters your site you can show a Welcome Mat and create a signup conversion opportunity. Use a Welcome Mat to:
  • Provide a simple sign-up form, typically just ask for an email address.
  • Reinforce that signing up for your email listing will be beneficial to the visitor.
  • Create trust by indicating that you will not share the email address.

How a Welcome Mat works

A Welcome Mat is added to your website using JavaScript. As visitors enter your website the Welcome Mat JavaScript determines if this is a new visitor or returning visitor. The Welcome Mat JavaScript will tag and track the visitor. Based on a set of rules that you create for your Welcome Mat the Welcome Mat may or may not be shown. For example, if the Welcome Mat offer is ignored or declined it may show again if the visitor returns. If the Welcome Mat offer is accepted it may never be shown again. Which Welcome Mat is shown depends largely on the rules setup for the Welcome Mat. For example, you may have different Welcome Mats for different pages if you segment your audiences based on where they enter your website.

Using a Welcome Mat on Mobile Devices

Similar to Exit Intent, using a Welcome Mat on mobile experiences should be done with caution. You have much less screen space to work with and you can quickly frustrate your customers if a popup cannot be quickly ignored.
When designing your Welcome Mat you need to be very mindful of how the interaction works in mobile experiences. The available screen size in mobile is much smaller and interaction elements need to be bigger to facilitate touch interactions.
And, an increasing amount of your traffic comes from tablet and mobile devices. Mary Meeker’s annual internet research has some great statistics on the rise of mobile: The importance of mobile as it relates to Exit Intent. 2017 Internet Trends Report from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers DailyStory recommends our customers not use a Welcome Mat on mobile devices and instead use Push Banners that don’t interfere with the visitor’s ability to read the content. Google agrees.

Welcome Mat Best Practices

Creating a Welcome Mat is simple, but you should be thoughtful about how you will use it for your website. The best practices for Welcome Mats are similar to best practices for converting visitors using Exit Intent.

What are common Welcome Mat Features

Below are some of the basic features you should look for in a Welcome Mat solution.

Basic Welcome Mat Features

These are features you should expect to find in any solution that offers a Welcome Mat.
  • Forms – the ability to collect information from a visitor, such as a name and email address.
  • Designer – the ability to design a Welcome Mat popup without requiring any knowledge of CSS or HTML.
  • Cover – the ability for the Welcome Mat to cover the entire page/screen or display as a popup.
  • Export – the ability to export information, such as a list of people signed up for your newsletter.

One of the problems that many people run into is what happens after the popup is completed.

For example, once someone completes the popup form what happens next?

Ideally, you send an email follow-up confirming an action, like a newsletter signup. What sends those emails? Where do the replies go? What happens if an email bounces? How do you automatically add them to your bulk email newsletters like MailChimp or Salesforce? What about integration with other tools like Slack or Google Analytics.

These tend to be considered advanced features.

Advanced Welcome Mat Features

These are features you should expect to find in advanced Welcome Mat solutions / Customer Engagement platforms:
  • Lead scoring – the ability to automatically score leads that complete the Welcome Mat form.
  • Workflow – the ability to take form values from the Welcome Mat and move them through a pre-determined workflow, such as sending an auto-responder email.
  • Integration – the ability to integrate with other systems without custom code such as MailChimp and Salesforce.
  • Advanced Editing/Design – the ability to fully control the HTML and CSS used by the Welcome Mat.
  • JavaScript API – API that enables use and control of the Welcome Mat to conditionally display.
  • Validation – validation of fields to ensure improper data is not submitted.
  • Display Rules – the ability to control exactly which pages on your site a Welcome Mat can be shown on.
  • Mobile-friendly – while it is not recommended to use a Welcome Mat on mobile devices, the Welcome Mat should support mobile friendly “responsive” layouts.
  • Reporting – the ability to run reports on the Welcome Mat to see how they are performing and converting visitors.

Did Google Kill the Welcome Mat

Google did not kill the Welcome Mat, but you should be mindful of how Google views “interstitials” (popups) that interfere with accessibility. Those pages may not rank as highly.
To improve the mobile search experience, after January 10, 2017, pages where content is not easily accessible to a user on the transition from the mobile search results may not rank as highly.

More specifically Google says:

“Here are some examples of techniques that make content less accessible to a user:

  • Showing a popup that covers the main content, either immediately after the user navigates to a page from the search results, or while they are looking through the page.
  • Displaying a standalone interstitial that the user has to dismiss before accessing the main content.
  • Using a layout where the above-the-fold portion of the page appears similar to a standalone interstitial, but the original content has been inlined underneath the fold.

By contrast, here are some examples of techniques that, used responsibly, would not be affected by the new signal:

  • Interstitials that appear to be in response to a legal obligation, such as for cookie usage or for age verification.
  • Login dialogs on sites where content is not publicly indexable. For example, this would include private content such as email or unindexable content that is behind a paywall.
  • Banners that use a reasonable amount of screen space and are easily dismissible. For example, the app install banners provided by Safari and Chrome are examples of banners that use a reasonable amount of screen space.”
DailyStory recommends our customers do not use a Welcome Mat on mobile devices and instead use Push Banners that don’t interfere with the visitor’s ability to read the content.

Creating Customer Engagement Opportunities

A Welcome Mat should be one of the tools you use to create customer engagement opportunities. But it certainly should not be the only one. Combined with visitor tracking, live chat, and other customer engagement tools a Welcome Mat can be a complementary capability you use to engage with your customers. And a Welcome Mat doesn’t have to be the only type of popup you use either. When a visitor is about to leave your website you can use an Exit Intent popup as the last chance to convert the visitor before they leave.

A Welcome Mat is just one of the features of the DailyStory Customer Engagement platform.