How to Engage First-Time Visitors Better with Popups (that don't suck)

This is a guest post by Greg d’Aboville. Greg is a popup expert at WisePops, a popup tool. He’s helped brands like Vans, Nissan, and Skechers maximize lead generation strategies and 10X their results.

Did you know that 98% of consumers don't make a purchase during their initial visit to a brand website?

Yup, nearly all of your first-time visitors do not end up purchasing from you. Yet, they present a huge opportunity for future conversions, of course. For that to happen, though, you must engage and connect with those people over time somehow.

In this post, I’ll show you how to do it with one of the most powerful strategies that exist - popups.

Before we get to that, though, let’s gain a wider perspective on the problem.

Why First-time Visitors Don’t Buy Right Away

Well, there are many reasons for that, I believe.

One is the skepticism towards a new brand. The person might not have heard of your store before, after all. They might have discovered it in Google’s search results when looking for product recommendations, for instance. Or perhaps one of your social media ads has caught their attention.

They’ve landed on your site but nothing looks familiar, of course. So, they’re naturally skeptical about anything you say.

This skepticism translates into a lack of trust too. The person might be wondering whether you are a genuine operation or some scam website (particularly, if you offer low prices.)

They might wonder whether you offer any customer service at all, and how well it is. Would they be able to return items, should such need arise? Will you provide a quick replacement service, in the case of a faulty product? Will you even answer their emails at all?

Finally, first-time visitors may not see you as the authority in the space. Zappos is the absolute authority on shoes, and practically everyone knows this. PCWorld knows electronics. Not many brands know second-hand instruments better than Reverb and so on.

Such authority makes it easy to choose to buy from those sites.

The situation may be different for your store. Although your expertise and authority might rival the big sites, first-time visitors may simply not know about it. Not perceiving you as the authority may prevent them from buying, at least initially.

That’s where popups come into play.

Why Popups Are Ideal to Overcome First-Time Visitors’ Reluctance to Buy

Marketers, online retailers, and businesses overall seem divided when it comes to popups. To some, they are what destroys the user experience. Others, however, praise their effectiveness in engaging visitors.

Both groups are right, actually. Unless you set up popups well, the strategy might affect the user experience. But the results popups deliver cannot be refuted either.

So, what makes popups so powerful for engaging first-time visitors? There are three factors, actually.

  1. Popups offer advanced targeting options, allowing you to display them to the most engaged first-time customers.
  2. You can set up the message to be engaging but without affecting the user experience.
  3. Finally, you can display relevant messages to any specific group of customers, also based on their location and many other factors.

Thanks to those three factors, you can be laser-focused as to whom you’re targeting, what message does the person see, and even, when.

Here’s how.

6 Popup Strategies to Engage First-Time Visitors

As you’ve seen above, first-time visitors are challenging. They don’t trust your store, are skeptical about buying from you, and have many other reservations towards you on top of that.

But they’re still looking for the products you sell. So, here’s how you can use popups to a.) entice them to make the purchase or b.) convince them to keep engaging with your brand.

Strategy #1. A Special, First Purchase Discount

We’ve established already that the majority of first-time visitors aren’t ready to buy. So, in theory, trying to convince them to do so would be pointless, right?

Absolutely! But you also have to remember that those people have come to your site because they are in the buyer’s journey already. Sure, they’ve, most likely, only started it but you can assume that, at some point, they will be interested in buying.

So, you can engage those people, and enter them into your funnel by offering a special, first purchase-only discount in exchange for their email address.

Having the person’s email will give you the ability to connect with them, engage them with your newsletter, build trust, and bring them back to the site to buy, eventually.


Strategy #2. Quizzes to Learn More About Those People

One of the biggest challenges in online retail is the inability to get to know your customers. A brick and mortar store owner can meet and engage practically anyone entering their premises.

You can’t. Sure, you could use the live chat or a similar application but it’s hardly as effective as an in-person conversation.

At the same time, you should know as much as possible about your customers, if only to know how to engage them better.

Enter popup surveys and quizzes.

Displaying a simple popup with a quiz or a survey allows you to gather feedback from customers, learn more about their product preferences, and even discover what they think about your store.

And because you can target a popup at first-time visitors only, this strategy is ideal to learn more about your new potential customers.


(A quick note: You can see more examples of highly-engaging Shopify popups here, by the way.)

Strategy #3. New Stock or Arrivals Notifications

This strategy helps you engage first-time visitors in two ways:

One, by piquing their interest and retaining them on the site for longer.

Two, it also allows you to guide them to a specific page or section on the site you’d like them to see.

Remember, your new visitors are curious. That’s what drove them to the site in the first place. So, you can target that behavior by suggesting new arrivals or a specific stock you think they should see.


Strategy #4. Sweepstakes and Competitions

Competitions are an ideal strategy to build brand awareness, generate more email signups or followers. But they can also engage a new person with your store, particularly, if the lure is an incredible prize.


Strategy #5. Current Deals Notifications

Sometimes the easiest way to engage a new visitor is by telling them what special deals you’re running on the site at the moment.

Of course, one way to do it is by having the information displayed somewhere on the website. The problem, you rely on the person to find it.

Popups, on the other hand, allow you to put the message right in front of the person, literarily.


Strategy #6. Shopping Guides

The chances are that new customers aren’t fully familiar with your products. They might lack some specialist know-how to make an informed buying decision.

Popups allow you to promote specialist shopping guides that would make the selection easy.

With this strategy, not only you get to connect with potential customers, but you also ensure they’ll find it much easier to actually buy from you.


Key Takeaways

Most first time visitors do not buy during their initial visit to the site. That doesn’t mean that they might never buy from you in the future, of course. As a result, much of your website strategy should go towards connecting with and engaging those people.

Popups, although often scorned at by ecommerce owners, present an unmatched opportunity to engage first-time visitors, converting them to an email list or even enticing to consider buying from you.

In this post, you’ve learned 6 strategies to use popups to engage first-time visitors while still providing an insanely great user experience on the site.

What’s left is to go off and start implementing them in your store.

Good luck!