Marketing Strategy October 5, 2021 4 min read

The Subtle Art of Using Popup Forms

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Do you find popup forms annoying? If so, you’re not alone. Most people find popup forms disruptive and say that they interfere with their overall online experience; and in some cases, too many (or poorly planned) popup forms can mean someone will never go back to that website again.

But that’s because in most cases, those popups are set up incorrectly to begin with.

Popups aren’t dead. As with all digital marketing, it’s simply a subtly as to when and how to use them. In short, placing them well, and getting results, is a bit of an art form.


★ Just for clarification here, a popup is something that displays on a website, often in the middle of the browsing experience, that prompts the person visiting your website to do something, like subscribe to a newsletter, access other relevant content, signup for a drip campaign, etc.


If you want to leverage pop-ups as part of your digital strategy for your real estate website, here are some rules to follow:

Setting Popup Forms Up for Success

1. Understand How They Work: If someone goes to your real estate website, they don’t want to immediately see a popup regardless of what it is; and if they do see one, they’re probably going to leave your website or at least close the popup without even reading it.

And the reasoning for that is pretty simple: you haven’t built any trust with them yet.

The secret to having a successful popup strategy is to ensure you’re showing relevant content to an engaged audience that likes you and that you’ve built trust with

2. Timing is Really Everything: A well-placed popup should be triggered by 3 main events:

  1. the amount of time the person is on your website
  2. the percentage of the page they’ve scrolled down
  3. or just before they intend to exit the website

But using which event really depends on what you trying to get them to do in the popup.

For example, if you want someone to subscribe to your newsletter, you may want to ask them after they’ve read through 80% of a blog post; or if you want to sign them up for a drip campaign about why they should choose to work with you, you may want to ask them for that once they’ve been on your website and are about to exit it. 

To be effective, your popup forms must display at the right time, in the right place, with the right messaging. 

3. Test Your Popups, Constantly: A lot of popup applications allow for testing, which is pretty key in making them successful. Just because you think something will work doesn’t mean it will. It’s good practice to test the number of form fields, the button placement, background images, even the text on the button itself, so you can find out what works for your specific target audience.


★ If you want to learn more about developing your target audience, have a look at these posts:


4. How They Look Matters: They also need to look good, but more specifically, they need to be consistent with your branding and general design of your website. If a popup looks really out of place, there’s a good chance the person visiting will think it’s out of place too and close it without even reading it.

What Not To Do With Popup Forms

1. Don’t Use Popups to Gate Ordinary Content: In real estate, the best example of this is with IDX listings. If someone on your website searches for listings, and you make them enter their name, email address, or anything else, to see those listings, chances are that they’re leaving your website and going somewhere else.

That information is widely available online, for free, without entering their info, and probably displayed better and more accurately on tons of other websites. If you are going to use popups to block gated content, make sure it’s unique and provides value, like eBooks, webinars, etc.

In short, you’ve got to give them something to get something from them.

2. Don’t Use the Same Popup on Every Page. When you’re planning out which popups to display and where, to be successful, they need to be relevant to what the person is doing at that time. The popup you put on your neighbourhood sales stats page likely isn’t the same one you’d want to put on a blog post. The strategy needs to be different to see success.

3. Don’t Use More Than One Popup on a Page. It’s key that you use popups to provide value to the person using your website if you want them to take action on it. A big part of that is ensuring that you’re not interrupting the user experience. No matter how you slice it, if you have more than one popup on a page, you’re bothering people.

4. Be Really Specific (and Honest). To be successful, popups have to tell people exactly what they’re getting and when they’re getting it. For example, on a popup, telling someone that they should signup because they’ll be sent neighbourhood stats, on a weekly basis, straight to their inbox, with no obligations, and with an easy way to unsubscribe if they’re not happy, is MUCH more effective than a popup that says: sign up for my newsletter!

Popups, when planned correctly, definitely still provide a great way of getting something you want from the person visiting your website, but you have to really think about how you’re using them and making sure that you’re providing something valuable at the time when the person visiting will find it the most valuable.


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