What You Need To Know About Pop-Up Forms

What You Need To Know About Pop-Up Forms

Since its invention, the form button has changed how we interact with websites. These days, when you visit a site that uses a form, you’re usually presented with a couple of fields and maybe a few buttons, all within the confines of your web browser window.

While this may be convenient for visitors (especially those with touchscreen devices, which navigate via clicking), it can be problematic for webmasters. Due to the ever-increasing popularity of responsive design, creating forms that work across all devices has become much more complex. This is where the need for pop-up forms comes in.

What Are Pop-Up Forms?

Pop-up forms are essentially smaller, more discreet versions of standard forms, or ‘schemas’ as they are often called, found within a website’s layout whenever a visitor submits personal information. These forms often appear as layers on top of other elements on a site, such as a toolbar or a pop-up menu.

When visitors enter their email address into a form on your site, for example, they’re often presented with a confirmation screen similar to the one below.

As you may imagine, not all email clients are made equal. For example, Google’s Gmail app doesn’t display images in the email composition window, which makes it easier for the recipient to read and respond to your emails. While this may not seem like a huge issue, it can be when you’re dealing with multiple forms, each with a different email client.

Thankfully, Google also provides a way to specify which email client you’d like to use for your form submissions. Even if you don’t use one of the big three email clients (Gmail, Hotmail, and iCloud), there’s still one you can use – and that’s Yahoo! Mail. Make sure you’ve enabled POP access in your account settings, and you’re good to go!

Visitors to your site will generally have to click on a form button before the popup appears. While this may not be a problem on a regular browser, those on mobile devices may have difficulty accessing those forms directly from a notification.

Visitors Are The Key

Whether you’ve got one form or a hundred, visitors are still the key to your pop-up’s success. After all, it’s only natural for website visitors to want to take advantage of the site’s new content or functionality as soon as possible, which in most cases, requires them to make a purchase or register. Hence, collecting as much personal data as possible upfront before they leave your site (usually via a purchase, registration, or contact form) is important.

If you’re worried that some of your visitors may not take advantage of the opportunity to register, or make a purchase, you could always pop up a welcome message explaining the benefits of registering, or buying a product, as soon as they visit your site for the first time. You might also want to consider implementing a rewards program for those who take advantage of your site’s opportunities.

Remember: while you may not want to collect everyone’s personal data, especially if it’s an invasion of privacy, you want to ensure that potential customers can take advantage of your site’s products or services. Otherwise, you’re pretty much just throwing away free marketing.

Make It Easy

When collecting personal data, the tiniest friction can easily become a deal breaker for some people. So, rather than creating extra work for yourself with annoying pop-ups, you could always implement simple user-experience improvements to help your visitors feel more comfortable and engaged.

For example, you could ensure that forms are always visible and not obscured by any other element on the page. This may mean slightly adjusting your design so that the forms are easier to spot (and more prominent).

Another option would be to allow visitors to submit forms without going through a check-out process or filling in a lengthy survey first. In most cases, all you need to do to submit a form is click on the sign-up or ‘register’ button, and a window will pop up, asking for your email address, or other details, depending on the form you’ve chosen.

Once you’ve collected their personal data, you can send them a receipt via email or print one out on your printer. As we’ve established, not all email clients display images in the email composition window, so make sure you have an image saved somewhere on your site that you can use for receipts or some way to verify the delivery of your correspondence. Otherwise, your visitors may assume something bad happened and not be impressed by your site’s ‘bounty.’

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Now, if you want to create an even more seamless experience for your visitors, you could integrate email receipts into your shopping cart or checkout process. This way, when your customer finishes checking out, they’ll be presented with a confirmation screen containing a list of every item in their cart and all the details from the order. The email will also be available in the ‘My Account section of their online store for those who need to check a receipt or want to get in touch.

Make It Secure

Even if you intend to use personal information for a strictly personal purpose and not share it with other organizations, you still need to abide by the regulations and security protocols that apply to any data you collect. Hence, you should always look to implement your site’s most up-to-date and well-tested security protocols and practices. Even if you think that no one will ever find out that you collected personal data without the explicit consent of the person being scanned (which is unlikely), you may still want to consider implementing security measures, such as browser encryption and using a VPN to protect yourself against hackers and data snoopers.

Even when using the most secure protocols and platforms, passwords remain a major headache and not something you want to remember. Hence, you should never use passwords comprised of dictionary words or easily hackable bits of information, like names, addresses, or phone numbers. Instead, use a dedicated password manager, like 1Password, and generate random passwords, or use a passphrase, like ‘My Little Pony’ rather than your email address, which you might want to check out of once you’ve logged in.

Use It Worthy Of

So, you’ve got all the data and prepared a nice little email with a confirmation link or a receipt printout. Now what? Should you hit Send and sit back and wait for customers to pour in? Not necessarily. Instead, you could display ads, sponsored content, or discounted offers to potential customers based on their personal data or what they’ve done on your site. For example, if you’ve got their email address and they’ve made a purchase, you could send them an offer or display an ad, for a specific product, based on what they’ve bought.

Using these forms increases the likelihood that people will take advantage of your site’s products or services. Hence the name: ‘pop-up forms.’ While it might not always seem that way, with all the noise surrounding the form button, you might be making your site a little too easy for your visitors to navigate. With pop-ups, you’re forcing users to take the time to engage with your content, make a purchase, or register for your site so that you can ‘send them a thank you note’ for visiting.

Why Do You Need Pop-Up Forms?

The answer to this question is not simple. However, we can say that you engage with your audience more with pop-up forms than before. This, in turn, improves your conversion rates.

Thus, instead of just one form, you should ideally have dozens, if not hundreds, of pop-up forms, each with its unique trigger that will bring up hidden content about that form trigger.

How Do You Make Pop-Up Forms?

Like any other form type, you can use a tool to build your forms or use something like Squarespace to build and launch them yourself. Here’s how to do it:

    • To get started, visit Squarespace and click on the Get Started button at the top left corner of the page. Once you are on the Squarespace dashboard, click on the four golden squares at the top of the page to go to the next step.
    • Once again, click on the four golden squares to get to the next step.
    • In the next step, you will be asked to choose a theme for your site. 
    • When you are done selecting the theme, click on the Get Started button to continue to the dashboard.
    • On the dashboard, you will see a large button labeled “Create Website” with a plus sign next to it. Click on this button to go to the next step.
    • In the next step, you will be asked to either select a template or type in the name of a template you want to use. 
    • Once you have done that, click on the Create Website button.
    • You will then be brought back to the dashboard, where you can click on the My Sites link in the left-hand column to view your newly created site. To continue to the next step, click on the Continue button at the top left corner of the page.
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Creating The Forms

    • Once you are back on the dashboard, click the My Sites link to your site.
    • You will see a large gray box with your chosen theme’s branding.
    • To add a form to your site, click on the plus sign next to Forms in the left-hand column.
    • A form is a collection of web forms typically used to collect information from your site’s visitors. 
    • Simply click on the specific Form button in the left-hand column to go to the form builder.
    • You will see a map of the forms you can create on the dashboard. 
    • To create a form, click on the + icon in the lower-left corner of the page to bring up a form template. (You can also find this icon on the toolbar that will appear at the top of the page once you have clicked on the Sumo Form button.)
    • Once you have clicked the + icon, you will be brought to a screen with all the available form templates. For this tutorial, we will use the Contact form template.
    • Simply click on the Contact form template to go back to the form builder.
    • On the contact form template, you will see a collection of web forms that look like this:

Name: John

Email: john@example.com

Subject: Request for information

Message: Would you like to learn more about our products?

As you can see, this is just a standard email sign-up form with some simple fields for the contact person’s name and email address. In the next step, we will add more complexity by adding a field for the website the visitor is on. This will help us determine whether they have seen or are still seeing our content, if any.

Adding Hidden Fields To The Form

If you want, you can add additional fields to the form without modifying the template. Simply follow these steps:

    • On the contact form template, click on the pencil icon to the right of the message field. A small popup window will appear.
    • Select “This is a hidden field” from the drop-down menu, and then click on the Save button.
    • You will now see a new, hidden field named “website” with the value “example.com” in the contact submission form. Now that we have a field named “website,” we can ask users to enter it whenever we want. (They won’t be able to see it, but it will be populated with the value they provide.)

Adding A Checkbox To The Form

If you want, you can add a checkbox to the form template to signify whether or not a user has completed the entire form. Simply follow these steps:

    • On the contact form template, click on the plus sign in the lower-left corner of the form to bring up a menu. Select “Add a checkbox.”
    • You will now see a checkbox named “Have you completed the form?”
    • You can add an image to the form as well if you want by following these steps:
    • On the contact form template, click on the pencil icon to the right of the message field.

Pop-Up Forms Are Not A New Concept

You might think pop-up forms are a relatively new addition to HTML and CSS, but it’s not. The concept behind pop-up forms is pretty simple: generate an overlay element on top of your existing form, hide the original, and when the user clicks a button or link, they will see a nice bit of dialog pop up with some text and a couple of input fields. Pretty easy, right?

The hard part is making it work well without interfering with how the form looks or works. 

We all use forms daily, but few think about how they work. They are built with HTML and CSS, which are easy to understand, and pretty much everyone has access. All it takes for a form to work is HTML, CSS, and willingness to submit the data to a PHP file. From there, you can do whatever you want with the data.

About the Author

Tom Koh

Tom is the CEO and Principal Consultant of MediaOne, a leading digital marketing agency. He has consulted for MNCs like Canon, Maybank, Capitaland, SingTel, ST Engineering, WWF, Cambridge University, as well as Government organisations like Enterprise Singapore, Ministry of Law, National Galleries, NTUC, e2i, SingHealth. His articles are published and referenced in CNA, Straits Times, MoneyFM, Financial Times, Yahoo! Finance, Hubspot, Zendesk, CIO Advisor.


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