The Popup Paradox: Why They Suck & How Alia Rethinks Them

Popups suck. Nobody loves filling in a popup as a shopper. Brands know it, shoppers know it, and everyone knows it. And yet, most online stores still use them even though the logic underlying them is flawed. This is what is known as the popup paradox.
Written by
Cory Gill
Published on
January 16, 2024

The Popup Paradox & Why They Suck

In the world of e-commerce, everyone knows popups are annoying and detract from the shoppers experience. More importantly though, popups are ineffective at actually converting shoppers and driving them to make a purchase - they are inherently flawed in their logic. To understand this paradox let's delve into a few shopper scenarios:

Scenario 1: The Browsing Shopper

Consider a customer new to your brand, keen on exploring your products but still on the fence about making a purchase. Here, the shopper's intent to buy is low. Offering discounts through popups at this stage is ineffective as the customer isn't fully convinced of the product's value or its fit for their needs.

Scenario 2: The Ready-to-Buy Shopper

On the other end of the spectrum is the shopper who arrives at your site ready to buy, perhaps after thorough research or strong referrals. Their purchase intent is high. In such cases, popups offering discounts are redundant and could even be a loss of profit margins, as these customers would likely make a purchase without the added incentive.

The Popup Paradox

This is where the paradox lies. Brands fail to target the right customers with their popups, potentially sacrificing profits and even alienating potential customers with a disrupted shopping experience.

An Intrusive Experience: A Retail Analogy

Imagine walking into a retail store, intrigued by the display, and eager to explore. Yet, the moment you step in, you're bombarded with requests for personal information in exchange for discounts. Such an aggressive approach is off-putting and might deter you from making a purchase, a sentiment echoed in the digital shopping experience.

The Unchanged Nature of Popups

Since their inception in the late 1990s, popups have largely remained unchanged in concept. While designs and functionalities have evolved, the core idea of interrupting the user experience for data or sales remains. Surprisingly, popups are still an e-commerce staple, with a significant portion of online stores relying on them for customer engagement and email collection.

The Future of Popups: Customer Education as a Tool

Breaking free from the traditional popup model means rethinking engagement strategies. The future lies in building purchase intent through customer education. Shoppers should understand the value of the product, its benefits, and how it addresses their needs before being prompted to make a purchase.

Case Study: Alia - A Popup Alternative

Alia emerges as an innovative solution to the popup paradox. This alternative focuses on rewarding shoppers for engaging with the brand and learning about the products. For instance, Firebelly Tea, co-founded by Harley Finkelstein (President of Shopify), showcases how Alia can transform the customer journey:

Statistics from Alia demonstrate its effectiveness: 40% of shoppers who click on Alia provide their contact information and 30% then proceed to make a purchase. This success is attributed to its strategy of leveraging customer education to convert potential buyers into actual customers.

Conclusion: Embracing a New Era in E-commerce Engagement

The challenge for e-commerce brands and marketers today is to shift from the traditional popup approach to a more education-centric model. By focusing on informing and engaging customers, rather than just soliciting their contact information, brands can enhance the shopping experience, build stronger customer relationships, and ultimately drive more meaningful purchase conversions.

The transition away from intrusive popups to more informative and engaging alternatives like Alia marks a new era in e-commerce engagement. This approach not only resolves the popup paradox but also aligns with the evolving expectations of today's consumers, who value informative and seamless shopping experiences.

Ready to get started?

Meet with our co-founder, Cory Gill, for a free consultation or start your 14-day free trial right away: