Google Analytics can seem like your best friend some days and then your worst enemy on others. To be fair, though, it’s not really Google’s fault when bounce rates are high, conversions are low, or spammers skew your site’s statistics. It’s like that old adage says: “Don’t shoot the messenger”.

Regardless of what news Google delivers regarding your site’s performance, it’s important to pay attention to the story it tells. You could do everything right to optimize your site for search and you could be successful in gaining referrals from high-traffic websites as well as social media. But if traffic is up and the numbers tell you there’s definitely an interest in what you’re selling, why aren’t you seeing more conversions?

Website owners, marketers, and content creators employ a number of tools to assess what’s happening in the minds of their visitors. They review the analytics regularly. They employ the use of heatmaps. And they even A/B test different elements on their site to see if that improves anything.

But wouldn’t it be nice if you could briefly jump into your visitors’ on-site experience and say, “Hey, what’s up? I noticed you were thinking of leaving our party, but wanted to let you know we have something really cool coming up. Why don’t you stick around?” Luckily enough, there is a tool that will do this and it’s called exit intent technology.

Exit Intent Technology: What It Is and Why Everyone Is Doing It

Chances are good you’ve seen an exit intent popup at least once in your travels around the web this week. Here is what they typically look like:

picture of neil patel exit popup

In the most basic of terms, exit intent popups respond to your visitors’ actions. For instance, if a visitor sits on a page for too long without any movement, popups can act as a wake-up call to attract them back to the page. The most common type of exit intent popup though happens when a visitor moves his or her mouse towards the back button or the “X” in the browser window and a popup is triggered at the very last moment.

Now, in terms of what the enticement is, it depends—on you. What is your ultimate goal for your website? Do you want more downloads of an ebook? Do you want to make a sale? Are you just looking for more followers on your blog? Or something else? Your exit intent messaging should somehow help you deliver on that ultimate goal. Even if it doesn’t help you make a sale, it may land you a new lead for future conversion-making attempts.

Here are some popup types most frequently used:

  • Newsletter signup
  • Shopping cart reminder
  • Freebie giveaway
  • Limited time offer
  • Related product promotion
  • Survey question
  • Emotionally-driven question

example of an exit popup from optin monster

People who use exit intent technology believe that this is their last-ditch effort to change the minds of consumers in order to increase conversions. Companies like Yieldify have developed case studies (like this one about Domino’s) to demonstrate this very theory behind exit intent popups.

But will exit intent technology just become another passing fad, much like the annoying spammy popup windows of the past?

The Future of Exit intent Technology

We know that, when done right, exit intent technology is a highly effective way to improve conversions. But as more websites make use of this, you have to wonder how long we can expect our visitors to keep playing along.

The human attention span is dwindling and the gotta-have-it-now millennial generation is becoming a larger part of your audience. Because of this, you have to remember that exit intent technology is an interruption to the user experience. It might be a worthwhile one if you’re advertising a secret 50% off promotion… or it may be just something that wears on your audience’s already-thin patience.

So, is it fair to expect visitors to continually fall for these last-ditch attempts when most websites use this tactic?

To be honest, I don’t know. I think there are a few things that can be done to make the experience of receiving an exit intent popup less jarring:

  • Use exit intent technology appropriately. In other words, if someone left their browser open to attend to the cereal their child spilled on the ground, then it shouldn’t be used. Exit intent tech should be for those who found your site valuable (viewed a certain number of pages, stored items in a shopping cart, etc.) and are worth saving.
  • Make it easy to exit out of.
  • Make it snappy. If someone’s thinking of leaving, the last thing they want to do is watch a five-minute video or read a bunch of copy.
  • Don’t confuse or frustrate them by giving too many options (i.e. share this, fill out this form, and visit this page).
  • Use this as a way to leave visitors with a lasting impression, so make these few seconds they interact with the popup valuable.
  • And if you can’t add value by giving something away for free or at a discount, at least try to make them laugh or second-guess their decision to leave in some other way.

Summary

Looking to the future, exit intent technology will probably lose some of its luster—and that’s a good thing. This is a great conversion generating technique, but it should really only be used sparingly. Ideally, your plan moving forward should be to focus on a multi-pronged approach to conversion improvement, one that includes exit intent technology alongside email marketing, on-site promotions, and live chat.