Love them or hate them, pop-ups are here to stay, at least for the foreseeable future. But should you use pop-ups on your hotel website? Before we come to that, let’s define what we mean by pop-ups first.
Pop-ups are also known as pop-up ads or windows and are the boxes that pop up (hence the name) in front of the web content you are viewing. They can be an incredibly effective way to convey important information because your website visitors must look at them and purposefully close them.
Used effectively, hotel website pop-ups can inform, persuade and delight visitors. Used ineffectively, your pop-ups can irritate, confuse, and distract.
So, to answer the question, should hotels use pop-ups? The answer is yes, with an important caveat. It comes down to value.
Today, we’ll show you how to get effective pop-ups working for your hotel. We’ll look at how your hotel website can use pop-ups, pop-up wins and fails, how to install pop-ups, pop-up design considerations for optimal conversion rates, industry benchmarks, how to use triggers and targets to deliver relevant pop-ups, and the importance of A/B testing.
What do hotels use pop-ups for?
The main objective for any pop-up is to generate a conversion, whether that’s a click or an email submission. Pop-ups get more conversions than banners or buttons placed within page content because they are not competing with anything else on the page.
The three most common uses for pop-ups on hotel websites are:
- Practical information: provide guests with operational updates they need to know about, such as directing them to your COVID-19 protocols.
- Promotional content: alert visitors about a sale or promotion, contest, or special event that will encourage them to complete their booking.
- Capture emails: ask visitors to sign up to receive email newsletters and special offers directly to their inbox.
For example, we’ve seen hotels use pop-ups effectively for highlighting:
- Most popular rooms or packages
- Room sales
- Discounts on future bookings when you sign up to receive emails
- Entry into a contest in exchange for subscribing to the email
- Printable brochure downloads before customers exit business, convention, and wedding pages
Hotel pop-up wins & fails
Pop-ups are most effective when they are used sparingly within specific parameters so that visitors are not bombarded. Too many or too frequent pop-ups contradict your reason for installing them in the first place and will only clutter your message…and annoy your visitors.
Best practices for effective hotel pop-ups include:
- Target the right audience
- Specific triggers so the pop-up appears at the right time in the customer purchase journey
- Clear and concise message and call-to-action
- Graphically eye-catching and appealing
- Easy and obvious to quit and close
- Content is relevant to the specific page
- Offer something valuable that the visitor wants, such as a discount or important information
Pop-ups fail when they:
- Guilt your guests
- Contain large image files that slow down page load time
- Overwhelm your visitors with a variety of pop-ups that come up too frequently
- Are a visual eyesore
- Conflict with Google’s Core Web Vitals algorithm changes, which will rank websites that meet certain metrics for mobile-friendliness (and demotes sites with intrusive interstitials i.e. pop-ups that take over the whole screen)
How do you install pop-ups on your hotel website?
The most effective way to install and manage pop-ups for your hotel website is to use an app or plugin that includes design templates and functionality options. Look for an app or plugin that will allow you to:
- Customize templates with your branding (colors, images, fonts)
- A/B test different pop-ups for continuous optimization
- Capture performance metrics (usually conversion rates)
If you’re not technically savvy, your web designer can install and design pop-ups for you based on your specifications.
Design considerations: What should your pop-up look like to get the best conversion rates?
While pop-up apps come with a host of templates to choose from, choose wisely and do your research on what pop-ups get the most conversions. This is a good place for your web designer to step in with some tried and true design standards. Start with design elements that have been proven to convert, and then A/B test different elements (color, button placement, more text, less text, etc) to see what works for your customers. Some winning pop-up design elements that drive higher conversions are:
- Clear call-to-action
- Only one or two input fields (less friction = more conversions)
- Images (one study suggests this increases conversion by 84% over pop-ups with no images)
- High-contrast color for the submit button
- Minimal text and written in the active voice
While we’re using the term pop-up throughout this blog post, you can also use a style of pop-up called a flyout or slide-in, which instead of appearing in the middle of your screen, slides in from the top, bottom, corners, or sides to feel a little bit more subtle (and thus easier to ignore).
Consider device-specific pop-ups designed for either mobile or desktop. Design considerations do vary, and what may work on desktop, may not on mobile. Again, this is something your web designer can help you with.
Speaking of conversion rates, what are the pop-up benchmarks?
So, how do you know if your pop-ups are working? Your pop-up tool will usually give you simple metrics about your conversion rates, which is the percentage of clicks compared to the total number of visitors the pop-up was shown to.
According to a variety of sources, average pop-up conversion rates range from 1.95% to 3.09%, with the top 10% achieving 4.77%. While those numbers may sound small, consider the size of your monthly traffic: 1,000 visitors a month could translate into 200 new email subscribers for something you can essentially set and forget. What does that mean? For entrepreneur.com, pop-ups contributed to a 162% increase in sales.
Trigger warning: How to make sure you target the right visitors
Did you know there are many different ways to display pop-ups? Pop-up apps allow you to choose parameters (triggers and targets) so your pop-up is shown to visitors at the right time and place:
- Timed triggers: set your pop-up to appear immediately upon page load or after a set amount of time. According to Sleeknote, the optimal timing is around 8 seconds.
- Scroll triggers: a pop-up will appear after visitors scroll a certain percentage of your page. The average sweet spot for conversions is 35% of the page.
- Link triggers: some apps allow you to attach a trigger to a particular link on your page. For example, a link to download a travel guide could result in a pop-up asking for your email address where the travel guide will be emailed.
- Exit-intent: a pop-up is triggered when a visitor’s cursor nears the exit or back browser. This is an opportunity to collect an email, ask if they need help with their reservation and provide a phone number, or offer a discount to clinch a deal.
- Geolocation: display (or not display) your pop-up to visitors from the country, state, or city of your choice. For example, a local promotion may be displayed to local IP addresses only.
- Page HTML: choose what pages on your site to display pop-ups where they’re most relevant. This is a good way to use multiple pop-ups at the same time without conflict (although too many site-wide pop-ups can be a source of annoyance for visitors).
- Traffic source: target relevant pop-ups based on what brought visitors to your website, such as a particular digital ad. In this way, you can cater your pop-up content to bring your site visitor further along their customer journey.
- Email list: target or filter out particular email lists or segments, such as displaying email signups only to those not already subscribed, or cater a “welcome back” pop-up to an email subscriber segment of past guests.
Fine-tune pop-ups with A/B Testing
Once you have your pop-up in place, make it a part of your regular metrics and website maintenance. Track your conversion rates and analyze your results, then make tweaks and compare the results.
Some apps make it simple to A/B test two different pop-ups so you can compare performance by running two versions at the same time, displaying each version at random. When A/B testing, only test one component at a time so it is clear what makes one version more successful than the other. For example, you might test button color, red vs green. Next time, take the winning color (red) and test your CTA button text, and so on.
Over time, you’ll learn exactly what your audience responds to most favorably.
Well, this should be enough hotel website pop-up information to get you started on creating successful campaigns, although in some regards it just scratches the surface. The most important takeaway to remember is this: pop-ups work, as long as they provide value; use them wisely to delight your guests, testing what works along the way, and you’ll increase your overall conversion rates and bottom line in the process.