Every marketer knows how much hard work goes into driving new visitors to their company website. The resources it takes to build your email list, devise winning content, manage your advertising, climb the SERPs or drive the social media success that boosts the holy grail of web traffic are vast. So, you can imagine how demoralizing it is to lose those new leads before they’ve barely engaged with your site or, worse still, shut down their browser window with items still in their baskets.

Surely, there should be a simple way to pull those visitors back before they leave your online store for good?

The good news is there’s a tool that does exactly that. Say hello to the exit intent popup.

First, let’s talk about exit intent

It sounds simple enough—the intent to exit—to leave your website or landing page. But how on earth do you measure that? We’re not mind readers after all, are we? Well, the tech that drives exit intent is pretty clever. Your website software monitors your visitors' actions and, by utilizing a mix of these data, takes an educated guess at when they’re about to abandon each page.

  • Cursor movement
  • Page scrolling
  • Idle page duration
  • Current visitor activity
  • Visitor history and previous activity

Heading out of the browser window to close the page is the biggest tell-tale sign and the most timely cue to hit your visitor with a popup to entice them to stay, buy, or keep in touch.

Alternatively, if there hasn’t been any activity on the page for a given duration, you could assume your visitor has lost interest, and their attention is now elsewhere. Fast scrolling also indicates that a user could well have finished with your content or is looking for an exit via the navigation.

When your system predicts you’re about to lose a visitor, it’s time to hit them with a reason to reconsider. And that’s precisely what your exit intent popup does.

So, what is an exit intent popup, and how do they work?

Your visitor is about to jump ship, and you want to pull them back. At this point, the exit popup is triggered and cunningly appears over the top of the page content with either an offer, an alternative, or new information that your visitor could find hard to resist.

In many cases, it can persuade them to make the purchase they were about to abandon. In others, it procures an email address you can use to remarket further down the line.

Either way, it’s a healthy win for the marketing team.

The key strategies to reel that lead back, as previously mentioned, involve offering something they want or find hard to resist. Here are a few of the best performers of exit intent popups:

  • Discounted rates making the purchase irresistible
  • Special offer coupons convincing the visitor to return and complete the sale at a later date
  • Reminding the visitor they still have some great items in their basket
  • Offering a free guide, eBook, or alternative resource in line with their interest in your products or services
  • Providing free gifts with their purchase
  • Encouraging them to complete a survey
  • Providing alternative options to continue exploring your website
  • Showing new testimonials and strong reviews
  • Presenting suitable budget alternatives or upselling higher quality, more attractive products
  • Providing updates on product availability, alternative options as they arrive, and, of course, the old faithful, ‘newsletter’ signup

It’s amazing how much exit popups boost email lists and improve conversions. If you optimize your exit popups to target specific customers and demographics, they’ll do even better. It’s a simple way to improve interactions, conversions, expand your audience, and improve your ROI—there’s no wonder we experience exit intent popups on almost every site we visit.

Do exit intent popups work?

Absolutely. Previous popups were the bane of Internet users. They were almost always irrelevant to the user’s browsing, annoying, and laden with bugs and viruses. Exit intent popups, however, offer visitors something they’d actually want or that enhances their experience. As a result, they convert over and over again, promoting interaction, recovering sales or boosting additional marketing possibilities by capturing fresh data.

Grabbing an email address at every opportunity

This is the big hitter. As a marketer, you know how valuable email marketing is. Quality leads are like gold, and what an opportunity to rake them in an exit popup is. So whatever you offer your visitors, make sure you trade them their email addresses for the privilege.

Testing exit strategies to find your best performers

If you’re not a fan of AB testing, you should be. You’ll gather hard data on which campaigns and strategies work better than others. If you can figure out your best converters and why they work so well, you can build more of the same and keep kicking your ROI up the scale and out of the park!

When it comes to AB testing and data analysis, here are some key pointers:

  • Which are your best performing offers?
  • Does your heatmap show consistent areas where your visitors spend time, and which clicks do they deliver?
  • Are you making the most of the available marketing and analytics tools to deep-dive your data?
  • Is your popup design clear, encouraging, and ultimately ‘irresistible’?

How does an exit popup work on mobile?

Given there’s no cursor or mouse movement to track on a mobile or tablet, then surely there’s no way to implement an exit popup on touchscreen platforms, is there?

Wrong. There are still a couple of ways to trigger an exit popup for mobile visitors.

The first is when they hit the back button; the assumption is that they’re leaving the page they’ve just landed on, delivering a bounce from your site.The second is if the user scrolls quickly around the page to get to the URL bar or other navigation. In that case, we’re assuming the user is about to tap in another address or locate an alternate exit.

Top exit intent popup strategies

Discount rates

You could salvage a sale by reducing the price of the items in their basket or offer a discount rate for their next purchase to encourage them to come back—boosting returning sales and encouraging customer loyalty. Alternatively, awarding visitors with free shipping in exchange for an email address is an excellent temptress.


Coupons and loyalty schemes are great. They drive repeat sales, or when they’re passed on to friends and family, additional new leads.

Free gifts

Have you got a box of old stock you can’t get rid of? Why not use those as your incentive or any promotional products you can afford to trade? Mugs and clothing are great—they have a real practical value for so many of your customers.


It doesn’t have to be a physical object. Information is just as attractive to many of your visitors. Have you got an eBook or PDF guide that they would love to own or read? You could offer one of your saleable digital products as a free incentive. You’re not losing a physical sale that way, acting as a much lower-cost motivator.


People love clicking buttons and answering questions—and you can use all that new data to shape your marketing. A reward or a prize for completion will tempt them in, and don’t forget, trading for that all-important email address is key for building your remarketing list.

Become part of a community or the brand family

People feel empowered by becoming part of a brand they love. If there’s an exclusive club (bigger and better than simple social media liking and following), then many will jump at the opportunity.

Offer alternatives to their preferred products

The product that lured your lead into your site might not turn out to be quite right for them at that particular time. Introducing alternative suggestions—whether cheaper or higher quality—can drive them back to browsing and saving the sale!

Newsletter signup

Newsletter signups have been part of marketing gold forever. If your newsletters offer real value to your visitors, then they’ll still find them hard to resist.

Exit intent popup hacks that win back visitors

  1. Use clean, clear, professional designs

Messy and unclear messages will just drive your visitors away faster. Be clear and concise, with attractive layouts designed to bring customers back into your funnel.

2. Speak in your customers’ language

Talk to your visitors in a voice they favor. Your brand voice should be in line with customer engagement already, so shouldn’t be difficult to implement.

3. Images sell better than text—use them

You should have beautiful images of your products already, so use them. If you’re not an eCommerce site, there are plenty of stunning free stock images to enhance your message.

4. Make sure to include easy-close options

Don’t make it hard for your visitors to close your popups; they might not have finished with your page yet! Always have a clean and clear X in the corner where they’ll expect to find one.

5. Use arrows to drive interaction with your popups

One clever design trick uses arrows pointing towards the input fields you want visitors to complete (primarily their email). Don’t ask us why they work so well (it’s psychology, we’re sure), but they do.

6. Try including a progress bar or time limit

A simple progress bar shows your visitor they’re almost done, and a time limit adds a sense of urgency. They’re more clever pieces of design psychology to urge visitors to complete.

7. Overcome the objections your visitors are already considering

Think about your own shopping experiences: do you consider the cost of your purchases? Will you use them enough? Is it a trustworthy brand? Can you get the same product cheaper elsewhere? Save your customers the concern or additional work searching out those answers in your popup, and you’ll win them back far easier.

8. Give visitors a new choice—but where none of those choices is leaving

When visitors are about to leave, offering them alternative pages to visit will keep them on your site. We love having a choice and clicking buttons, just like when a survey form kicks in, so why not take advantage of good old human nature?

9. Use psychology in your designs and colour

There’s a lot of psychology in design. Specific colours are more attractive to particular demographics, as are different fonts. When it comes to fonts, pick the easiest to read and always use strong standout colours for your calls to action.

10. Personalize your message

If you’ve got the visitor data to apply their name or even the site they’ve just come from, you can use that to personalize your message. It’s another hack shown to heighten interest and engagement.

Summing up

Exit popups work, so you’d be remiss not to take full advantage. It’s a simple operation to add your exit popup in WordPress or any other CMS system. Given all the benefits we’ve spoken about, the big question is, if you aren’t using exit popups already, how soon can you set them up to start catching all those leads that, for now, are slipping through your fingers?

For 15 inspiring examples of exit intent popups, head over to another of our excellent and educational posts.