The Secrets to Growing Your Website’s Leads, Calls & Sales: Pop Ups? On Today’s Web?


I can hear the Digital Marketing Snob in charge of your dealership’s or group’s websites now: “We don’t use pop-ups!”

It’s so forceful – yet so completely naïve – that it makes me smile. What sort of precious little darling is making your marketing decisions today? If they’re shouting that “We don’t use pop-ups” they’re either unaware of what your visitors see or they’re hurting your sales… or both.

Don’t kid yourself. It’s rare that I visit any website today not employing a pop-up. More often than not, I find dealership websites employing multiple pop-ups; all while those in charge of the sites claim they don’t use them.

But, Really, We Don’t Use Pop-Ups!

Have you seen your website lately? You may not think you’re using pop-ups, but most of you are.

Do you have that gift card offer that drops in or otherwise makes its way to the front of the screen? Do you have a survey from your OEM that magically appears in front of the content your visitor is trying to read? How about on online chat tool that slides in from all angles? Perhaps you have a coupon slider or you’re using an exit widget that changes the screen when I’m trying to hit my back button?

These are all pop-ups to the consumer… and some of you have just discovered that you have a ton of pop-ups!

It’s important to understand that anything that interrupts the browsing session is the same as a pop-up to the consumer. So, if you were that Digital Marketing Snob I described earlier, it’s time to get over yourself: you do have pop-ups.

How Do I Get Rid of All These Pop-Ups?

Are you crazy? Don’t you want to sell cars?

You may have lots of pop-ups, but guess what: Most of those pop-ups convert. Remember, your website has just two goals: Attract visitors and convert those visitors into buyers. The right pop-ups can help you achieve the latter goal without reducing or annoying your visitors. Given this, limited pop-ups that generate leads, calls and sales are not a bad thing.

I do, however, recommend that you “tame” some of the more intrusive pop-ups out there. For example, get your chat widget under control by following a few rules:

  1. Never allow the chat widget to drop in immediately on the home page. Give the visitor at least a few seconds to take a look around.
  2. Never allow the chat widget to drop in on pages where you cannot provide assistance. (For example, if your chat is being managed in-house by your sales team, and you’ve got a chat widget dropping in service pages, you’re setting yourself up to disappoint your service customers.)
  3. Use what we call the “two closes rule” for chat widgets. This means after a visitor has closed your chat widget twice, it’s time to tuck that widget to the side.

Beyond the chat pop-up, most dealers also need to create better rules for their gift card offers that consumers also consider pop-ups. For my clients using one of the gift card companies that also provides a screen-covering website widget, I recommend two simple rules:

  1. Never allow these to appear on your homepage. There are two primary reasons I have for making this recommendation: First, our goal is not to give a $25 Starbucks card to every service customer who was already planning to service with us. Keeping this widget to our vehicle pages is a must for making sure it helps us compel prospective buyers to visit us.
    The second reason I tell my clients to avoid using the gift card widget and similar pop-ups that appear as soon as a page is loaded on their homepage is to keep them in compliance with Google’s 2016 directive meant to improve the mobile experience.
  2. Just as with the chat widget, I recommend using the “two closes rule” for gift card widgets. (Once they’ve seen it twice – and you tuck it to one side – they’ll find it again if they want to take advantage of the offer.)

Are There Pop-Ups I Should Add?

Once you recover from your digital marketing snobbery, suffice it to say you should be using as many pops, sliders, widgets and add-ons (I affectionately call all of these parasites) as necessary to maximize your conversion rate without chasing away your visitors. This means:

  • Online Chat & Text
  • Gift Card Offers
  • Automated Specials/Coupon Sliders
  • Trade-In Widgets
  • Instant Retargeting
  • Scrolling Widgets

But Steve, our website provider said we should limit website add-ons because they slow down the website!

Of course they said that. In most cases, they don’t like third parties getting credit for leads on “our websites.” (I know this, because I used to run an automotive website company that provided sites for over 4,000 dealers.)

While there are certainly some add-ons that can slow down a website’s load times by fractions of a second, most are just a single line of code that calls back to the parasite provider. If your website company knows what they’re doing, they can easily minimize the impact of something called javascript and even load all parasites last on the page so that there are no adverse impacts on the actual loading time of your site.

More often than not, the bloated site you’re delivering online is due to how your website company manages their own assets. If you’d like to know for sure what’s slowing down your site, run it through GTmetrix and then ask your website provider to explain the poor scores on the resulting report.

We’ll look at the best practices for many of these parasites in future posts, though online chat is next up in the series: Online Chat is Not an Option!

(If you’re catching this series for the first time, you may want to begin with the first post in the series: Before You Change Even One Word on Your Website…)

About TheManager:

Steve Stauning, creator of The Appointment Culture and an expert in Digital Marketing and Website Conversion. He is also an extremely popular keynote speaker, writer, and industry consultant. Learn more about Steve at