Growth hack for Startups – Exit Intent Popups For More Leads

December 23, 2020
How to get leads with popups
How to get leads with popups

What action is your startup team taking to capture all potential leads? 

Struggling to capture leads is a part of every startup. Success requires a lot of work and growth hacker thinking as most startups don’t have the privilege to test different things that may or may not work. 

This is why exit intent popups should be on your teams list of growth hacking tricks. They don’t cost you any money and can be automated, thus saving your team time. 

And the reason all the great startup founders and marketers swear by them?

Because they work!

Don’t believe us. Take Sumo’s word for it. 

Graph showing highest converting popups vs. average converting popups
Statistics sourced from: Sumo

Sumo tested almost 2bn pop-ups with an average conversion of 3.09% and a high of 9.28%. 

That means, with 150 visitors a day, an exit intent popup would generate between 140 and 418 subscribers every month.

What are Exit Intent Popups?

At any given moment a person browsing your site will make the decision to move on. It’s at that very moment when their mouse leaves the page that we call exit intent. 

This action is what startups need to take control of and can easily do so with exit intent popups.

Popup from Klint Marketing of a free tiktok guide
Klint Marketing offers a free TikTok Guide to reengage visitors and generate leads. 

You and your team have worked hard to get traffic to the site. This traffic is only valuable if you are taking action to turn most of it to leads. 

A visitor that’s about to leave needs to be reengaged. 

But what do people respond to? 

This is where a strategically timed popup steps in with a last minute offer they can’t refuse.

This offer needs to be something of real value, and contain no risk to draw the visitor’s attention back in. Freebies and downloads are among the things that have been proven to pull leads in the funnel. Those things don’t require any major commitment from visitors, apart from filling in their name and email, and they immediately get something of value.

For a growth hack that is easy, cheap to use, and proven to work, popups are a great way for startups to turn traffic into leads.

Graph of increased traffic before and after adding popups
Image from Jane Friedman

Why exit intent popups are great for startups

If you are thinking that they are annoying, then you have been a victim of poor-quality popups. So set your feelings aside and let’s look at why popups are good for startups.

For startups, nothing is as important as filling up the funnel with leads. Popups are a good way to do that. 

These are the main reasons why pop ups are a great little hack for startup teams to use:

  • Automation: Especially for startups resources are scarce. This is why popups are a startup goldmine. Popups require you to create an offer and the popup itself. After that, the offer automatically appears in front of your visitors, collects contact details and presents you with lead data. Meaning, while your startup team is sleeping leads will still be generating.
  • Conversion: Conversion rates are notoriously low. Not to mention that turning visitors into customers can take a few months. However, startups can use popups to help boost conversion. An example is which increased subscription by 86% and sales by 162% with popups alone.
  • Window of opportunities: A person visiting a site may never return, and their acquisition cost will never be regained. A popup creates a new window of opportunities to entice the visitor into stay and share their contact details. That way the conversation can be continued over email.
  • Easy to test: AB testing a popup will tell you what people convert on. Try comparing different headlines, images, call-to-action, and forms. It’s super easy, doesn’t require much time and you continue to collect leads while testing. Your team can then assess what works and move forward with the higher converting popup. 
Graph of affects of popups on bounce and subscription rate
Statistic sourced from:  Dan Zarrella 

Let’s take Dan Zarella as an example. The marketing guru tested the effects of email popups on bounce and subscription rates. With distinguishable improvements to subscription rate. 

Take note of the bounce rate that barely changed causing no harm to the user experience. In other words, people did not seem to mind the popups.

Tips for a Better Converting Exit Intent Popups

We’ve covered that not all popups are conversion material (the annoying ones). But what makes or breaks a visitor’s experience with exit intent popup? 

Or better yet, how can you create a well-designed popup that serves its purpose of getting leads in the funnel. 

Take a look at these examples.

Set the right rules 

Start by setting the correct show and no-show rules. It’s all about timing. Too soon and you’re annoying, too late and… well, it’s too late. Pay attention to how far down a page a person has scrolled (scroll depth), how long they’ve been on the page and what pages the popup is relevant for.

Create a strong offer

A strong offer is quick to change the leaving mindset. “Sign up for our email newsletter” is not the most compelling offer out there but offering a guide, template, free consultation, etc. is conversion ready. Wrap it up with an attention-grabbing headline and actionable language. 

Example popup from Architecture Quote
This pop up from Architecture Quote is a good example of eye catching and actionable language

Optimize popup design

Consumers are less willing to part with personal information, so don’t waste time asking for too much information. Reduce the time it takes to commit to your offer by creating a few but relevant fields. More often than not a name and email are all it takes. 

If they have to fill in a detailed form including gender, address, and city you’ve most likely already lost them. 

Keeping your input fields to a minimum will not only increase your chance of conversion but also makes your design look better.

Comparison of popup with few or many fill in fields
Image by Sleeknote

Popup AB testing

The great thing about pop-ups is how easy they are to test. If what you have created isn’t working, take another look over the guide and adjust your offer.

Post Conversion

What do you do with a person that converts? You know they are into you so don’t stop here. Make sure to have the next steps in place and make them relevant. Be it a phone call or an email follow up.  

How to Kill Conversion with exit intent popups

Example of a terrible popup
A popup that won’t convert

Now, we’ve established how start up teams can use popups to fill the funnel with leads, and shared some hacks on how to create higher converting popups. 

On the flip side, take a look at these examples of what not to do.

  • Interrupt an engaged visitor: When a person on your site is obviously on a roll and digging what you have to offer. Do not disrupt their process with a popup. A person at the check-out at a webshop does not need a poorly timed popup when the goal is to get the customer to finish the purchase.
  • Set popup to early: On the subject of poor timing, refrain from creating popups that appear the second a person visits your site. Give them time to get to know you.
  • Hide the Exit: Now, hiding the exit button might seem like a smart idea to get people to read your offer. But, hide it too well and you damage the user experience. Keep it simple with an X in the top corner or a “No thank you, I’d like to move on with my life and not get your amazing offer” button at the bottom. 


Lots of people do not like popups, but don’t just dismiss it when the data shows a clear potential to create new leads when done correctly. 

As for the user experience, it’s all about good timing. Don’t set a popup when a person has not even had time to look at your content. But if they attend to leave there’s nothing wrong with reengaging them with an enticing offer. 

Offer something of real value and you might be able to increase your conversion rate that can help your startup grow.


Dora is a Digital Marketing specialist  at Klint Marketing, specializing in content creation and growth hacking techniques. The passion to help companies grow has led Dora to share all the knowledge she has.

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