Important principles for effective mobile pop-up ads

Published: June 15, 2020

Category: Affiliate marketing guides

Pop-up ads got a bad reputation in the early days of internet marketing. That is why many sites shy away from using them. However, many flaws of early pop-up ads have been fixed by tweaks in design and timing, and additionally, this type of ad is very effective. We’re here to show you how to get the most out of effective mobile pop-up ads.

Pop-up design

At Affie we can’t overstate the merits of good design. The fatal flaw of early pop-ups was that they literally popped up and wildly differed from the design and content of the pages they were on. The instinctive bad reaction people get when pop-ups are mentioned comes from the invasive early ads that hid half the page, often led to scams, and were impossible to get rid of. In contrast, pop-ups can be more discreet, and fit very well into the pages they show up on both with the way they look and with their copy.

Two hands holding gold coind next to two cell phones.
A well-designed pop-up can benefit you greatly.

How to design effective mobile pop-up ads?

The good pop-up design consists of the visual appeal, copy, and placement of the ad. If you make the pop-up an integral part of your site and make sure it brings value to the user, you’ll see a rise in conversion rates in no time.

Visually, you can choose two different paths. The first is designing in the same vein as the rest of your site. This way, the pop-up will look like an organic part of the design. Use the same or similar fonts, color schemes, and tone to make this happen. This method is great for pop-ups that require a single action, such as pushing a button. The second option is having a pop-up that incorporates high contrast colors that draw the eye in. Ads like these are great when a more engaging action is required (ie. filling a form).

While we’re on the topic of forms, let’s talk about their importance. We know it’s enticing to ask a user to write every single detail you need, but you should know this is a bad practice. People are more likely to opt-out of filling any form if there are many fields involved. Reduce the number of questions to one or two, and you’ll see a significant rise in numbers.


When it comes to the actual copy of your pop-ups, make sure to take the device into consideration. Desktop pop-ups can be allowed some length, but smaller screens mean smaller fonts, which, in turn, mean less chance for a proper read. That’s why you should make separate versions of the same pop-up, one intended for desktops and the other for the mobile version of your site. This may mean you’ll have to reduce the number of words and condense your copy for the best chance to convert. Make sure the copy includes a promise of solution for a relevant problem your readers may face, and a proof clicking on it will solve said problem. Lastly, don’t forget to include a strong CTA in every popup, or your message falls flat.

One last thing!

Make sure your pop-ups are easy to exit. Nothing is more annoying than an unwanted pop-up following a user and obscuring the content.

Hand holding a phone with a red button that says ''Click here'' in all caps.
Bad design can ruin the effect of a great pop-up ad

When to use pop-ups?

The timing of your pop-ups’ appearance is an important factor in making your marketing strategy. The general opinion is that you should never put pop-up ads right when a person first visits your site. They should get acquainted with your content and decide they want to hear more from you. It’s important not to let the pop-ups ruin the user experience.

There really isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution, and furthermore, the same timing doesn’t have to work for every single page. For this reason, we recommend doing A/B tests and figuring out the timing of your pop-ups. Some of the suggestions for when to time your pop-ups are:

  • When the users want to leave your site (especially on purchase pages)
  • After users read through a certain percent of a page
  • Before buying (a pop-up with a promo code can do wonders)
  • Right before the average time, users spend on your site
Woman's hands holding a cellphone.
Use pop-ups to attract new visitors and remind old ones to return.

Benefits of effective mobile pop-up ads

Seeing that there are many details to worry about with designing and timing your pop-up ads, you may wonder is it worth it. Think about this: Pop-up ads along with push notifications are the only direct conversation channel with users that are absolutely free for the visitors and additionally, they have to be seen to be removed. If you think ahead while designing them, they can lead to a significant rise in conversion rates among other benefits.

Start thinking of pop-ups as additional help that nudges the users toward the desired conversion. In that case, you can use them to grow your mailing lists, drive sales with aptly timed coupons and codes, generate more leads, or simply promote your content. They will also increase average time users spend on your site, and if you play your cards right, make at least some of the newcomers into regular visitors.

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