What’s a Website Overlay?
In websites, an overlay is graphical content box that appears in the middle of a page, obscuring the background content. This attention-commanding visual device delivers a moment of focused interaction for the website visitor, and is frequently used to generate a “conversion” by enticing the visitor to enter an email address and perhaps additional details. Website overlays are also commonly referred to as dialog boxes, modal windows, lightboxes, and popups.
When used correctly, overlays are a powerful way to increase website conversions. Read on for 10 ideas for how to use them to increase conversions and the overall business value of your site.
Build Your Email List with a “Give First, Ask Second” Approach
In general, getting email addresses from visitors is most successful when using a “give first, ask second” strategy. In other words, offer your visitors something of value in exchange for their email address. Here are some ideas on how to do that:
- Offer a free white paper, how-to guide or ebook download: Your website caters to a particular audience, so think about what content you have (or can create) that provides value to that audience. Many visitors will be willing to hand over their email address in an overlay in exchange for valuable content. Content ideas include icons, photos, checklists, templates, and more.
- Offer a coupon, discount or free trial: Money talks, so think about what items of monetary value you might be able to give your visitors in exchange for their contact info.
- Promote your mailing list: Use an overlay to encourage visitors to sign up for any kind of regular email you offer that is attractive to your particular audience. It could be a newsletter with industry updates, announcements of new products in your space, links to valuable articles about your field (on your sites as well as others) and so forth. Social proof can also help. If you have a large number of subscribers, letting your visitors know can increase their chance of subscribing.
Drive More Sales by Using Overlays at the Right Time
Website overlays are a potent way to increase sales by enticing visitors to make a purchase at exactly the right time. Most overlay systems allow you to show an overlay in response to particular visitor scenarios, such as the arrival of a first-time visitor to the site, a visitor about to bounce from the site or a visitor having difficulty completing a task.
Some specific sales-driving overlay ideas include:
- Offer a coupon or exclusive discount to first-time visitors: Promoting exclusive discounts for new customers is a highly-effective way to convert visitors into customers. This works well after new visitors have clicked into a particular product or product category – because that way, you can show them highly-relevant offers directly related to their expressed intent.
- Show visitors a coupon or discount before they bounce: Exit-intent triggers (such as moving the mouse up to the browser toolbar) can be used to pop up an overlay presenting a valuable offer just before a visitor leaves your website.
- Direct them to customer support: When a visitor seems to be having difficulty completing a task – such as filling in a form, finding a particular item or checking out – an overlay offering assistance can be very effective in keeping the visitor from abandoning the process. This kind of overlay can contain a live chat box, or a form where the visitor can enter an email address and/or phone number for someone in support to get back to them.
Keep Visitors Engaged & Reduce Your Bounce Rate
While there are lots of ways to reduce your bounce rate, website overlays are a great way to help keep visitors engaged on your website. For example:
- Promote related pages: When a visitor has scrolled down to the bottom of a page (or reached the end of any other process on the site), an overlay is an attention-grabbing way to present related content, such as other articles of interest or your most popular posts.
- Offer a free resource download: Use an overlay to interest visitors in free resources that you have available, such as educational infographics, white papers and ebooks.
- Promote an upcoming webinar, event or giveaway: Not only will offering access to these types of resources keep visitors on your site longer, they also help capture more email addresses!
Increase Social Traffic by Asking Visitors to Share
Every time a visitor likes or shares your site within their social networks, there’s the chance that many additional visitors will find your site as a result. Overlays with a like/share call-to-action are a great way to encourage social support.
- Encourage visitors to share your page or post: One great way to do this is to pop up an overlay after a customer completes a purchase. Another is to use an exit-intent-triggered popup to encourage visitors to share before they leave the site.
Ready to start increasing your conversions? Get our free List Building and Link Promotion overlay tools to start collecting email addresses, boost sales, reduce your bounce rate, and increase social shares.