5 Exit Overlay Strategies That Actually Work

5 Exit Overlay Strategies That Actually Work

You only have seven seconds to grab a visitor’s attention on your website. Seven measly seconds to relay your message, hook your reader, and convince prospects to trust you.

No matter how brilliant the web content, conversion rate optimization (CRO) is tough. A recent Hubspot study reports that only 22% of businesses are satisfied with their conversion rates.

Why aren’t your current exit-overlay strategies working?

An exit overlay (or exit-intent overlay) is a screen or pop-up designed to win back a reader’s interest before they abandon your website.

They show up in the nick of time — just before your visitor closes your page and you’ve lost them forever.  Here is an example:

Done right, they create conversions.

Done wrong, they annoy people.

So what’s the secret sauce to an exit-overlay strategy that pulls people in instead of repelling them?

  • Know the right exit triggers. When does your user’s scrolling behavior or mouse movement signal the exit overlay to appear?
  • Understand your buyer’s journey. Make sure your exit overlays are sophisticated enough to adjust to the right information. Did your visitor spend most of their time looking at pricing? Display a well-timed discount pop-up.
  • Use contextto provide an authentic experience. New visitors may need an informational pop-up. Returning visitors will know about your brand already, so it’s time to pull out a meatier exit overlay to keep them interested.
  • Keep it simple. Don’t try to write a book. The best exit overlays are concise and give the visitor a quick way to “x” out of the pop-up.

1. Make them an offer they can’t refuse

People love free stuff.

Whether it’s a free e-book, a coupon or giveaway or the chance to win a prize, your visitor is more likely to stick around if you offer them something to make it worth their while.

Like this download offer from an OptinMonster client.

One of the top reasons visitors leave a website is a simple matter of money. They might not want to pay for shipping or pay full price or pay at all, for that matter.

It’s your job to overcome objections like these and prove your value.

A coupon or giveaway reduces cost objections and doubles as a foot in the door for future interactions.

Check out this example from Quick Sprout:

An 83% discount is hard for even the most fiscally-conscious visitor to pass up.

Picreel, a CRO software provider, helped one of their customers boost conversions by over 13% by using a coupon exit overlay with a twist:

In addition to a visible call to action, this savvy advertiser added an element of urgency with a “don’t run out of time” counter.

WPBeginner boosted their sign-up list 600% by offering a free WordPress toolkit.

First, you need to find the right exit overlay formula for you.

For example, if you’re interested in building your email list, take this example from Invision:

Companies like Wishpond can help you build out a simple contest overlay like this one so you can start collecting the email addresses that are slipping through your lead funnel.

2. Create an emotional appeal

Look at this example from online handbag retailer meli melo gave visitors a reason to trust them, they would see a lift in conversions.

They ran an experimental exit overlay that addressed common concerns about online purchasing.

It worked

a well-placed emotional exit overlay, like this one from Cloudways.

With the addition of a countdown timer and a subtle “Hurry Up,” they create the perceived problem that time is running out.

Wall-Street, an online investment publication,

they used a more lighthearted image and slightly modified the copy:

While both images won out over the control version, they found that the first variation outperformed the second with an increase in sign-ups of 279%.

What’s the lesson here?

Know your audience.

3. State the obvious

Nearly 70% of shopping carts are abandoned,

Nothing is worse than a visitor spending a ton of time on your website, adding items to their cart…and then vanishing without a trace.

Try a notification overlay to gently tap your visitor on the shoulder and remind them of the obvious.

“Did you mean to leave this in your cart?”

“Did you forget to check out?”

“We don’t want you to miss out!”

these reminders can create the extra opportunity it takes to hook your visitor back in to complete the transaction.

63% of potentially lost revenue from abandoned carts is recoverable. It’s yours for the taking.

Take it before someone else does. Look at this notification overlay from one of Picreel’s e-commerce customers.

One simple screen with a modest discount, well-placed negative emotion, and one simple click, caused 64% of shoppers clicked on this overlay and converted instead of abandoning their cart.

That’s a lot of recovered revenue.


Companies like Picreel, will walk you through an audit of your existing strategy, help you define your business objectives, and tell you how to get there.

Still unsure if exit overlays will work for you?

Here are some notification overlay tips you can try right now:

  • Change up your CTA buttons. Are they too subtle? The wrong colors? Make them pop.
  • Experiment with wording. If “there is something in your cart” isn’t getting the results you want, try something bolder. Add an incentive. Throw in some humor. See what resonates with your audience.
  • Don’t forget about mobile. Make sure your notification overlay works on small screens too. Keep in mind that you can’t rely on mouse movements for mobile overlays, so you’ll need to consider other actions like browser switches and “back” arrows. Abandonment rates can reach over 85% on mobile platforms.

4. Know that timing is everything

Understanding when to add an element of time to your exit-intent offer is key.

Too early and visitors will get annoyed and leave.

On the other hand, if you bring in your overlay too late, visitors will feel lost and ignored.

So how do you strike a balance?

Experiment with time delays.

How do conversion rates respond to a ten-second delay? 15 seconds?

At what point do they start to drop off?  Do some testing to get it right.

Rather than designing a “one-time-fits-all” overlay, take the time to understand user behavior.

Are they actually signaling exit intent with their mouse movements, or simply looking for more content in your navigation bar?

At what point do you really lose them?

If it’s immediately after your exit-intent form pops up, you’re a bit early to the party. Adjust your timing and test again.

Please don’t make users fight off your exit intent like an annoying fly when all they really want to do is browse your content at their leisure.

It isn’t an exact science, but it’s worth the time and effort to take advantage of the wide variety of A/B testing tools available.

Like this one from Kissmetrics:

5. Don’t be afraid to cross-sell

Look at this example from another OptinMonster client:

Cross-selling and upselling are responsible for up to one-third of e-commerce revenue, yet many sites neglect to proactively place opportunities to capture more of that revenue.

Not sure how to go about it?

Here’s a simple example:

Let’s pretend you sell smartphones.

Your customer browses, compares products, selects a smartphone and adds it to their cart.

Before they click out of the shopping screen and into the checkout screen, (where you may or may not see them again after the sale), you add a simple exit overlay and remind them to purchase a case to protect that shiny new phone.

Something like this pop-up from AT&T, for example:

You’ve not only upsold the customer, but you’ve proactively suggested a solution for a problem they didn’t even realize they had (leaving their brand new smartphone unprotected).

You brought the answer to them before they even asked the question.

That’s just one example, but it’s an easily repeatable process no matter what products or services you offer.

And if your visitor starts to leave the page without making a purchase, it’s the perfect time to show an exit overlay with the product they were looking at, matched with a complementary product.

Throw in a discount, like this e-commerce site did, and you’ll likely save the original sale and upsell it to boot.