Neil Patel

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Intrusive Interstitial Pop-up and User Experience

Intrusive interstitial popup and user experience.

Have you ever been browsing a website and suddenly an interstitial pop-up appears, blocking the entire page and interrupting your experience?

Annoying right?

As online shopping continues to become the norm, use your website to capture user information and increase engagement.

But don’t interrupt the user experience and potentially drive customers away.

There’s a lot of debate among marketers about whether these pop-ups are effective or actually harming their website’s performance.

That’s where I come in to put the debate to rest.

We’ve conducted a data-driven analysis of shopper behavior to determine the impact of interstitial pop-ups on user experience.

How they felt about intrusive interstitials just might shock you.

While we look at what we learned, I’ll explain why interstitials are used and how you can use them effectively.

Why are Intrusive Interstitials Used?

Intrusive interstitials are attention grabbers.

Want to promote certain content or actions?

Use an interstitial pop-up.

You can get visitors to:

  1. Sign up for your newsletter.
  2. Give them a discount code for their first purchase.
  3. Download your app to shop on the go.

They’re essentially any on-page element that appears at different stages in a visitor’s session, generally promotional.

Have you seen my pop-up?

Neil Patel Pop up.

This quiz page interstitial pop-up has been a very lucrative addition to the site.

I made sure it was optimized for interstitial pop-up SEO and offered a CTA with a CTB (Call-to-Benefit).

The CTA incorporates an action word: “Answer.” Then, the visitor can receive an immediate benefit (the 7-week action plan) after analyzing a URL on their website.

Pop-ups can serve different purposes for your marketing strategy.

For example, marketing teams may want to use them to drive conversions and increase revenue, while design teams may use them to showcase new products or features.

It’s important to note that interstitial pop-ups can often be used poorly, leading to negative consequences.

When done poorly, intrusive interstitials can hurt organic search performance for several reasons.

First, they can disrupt the user experience, causing visitors to bounce from your site.

Interstitial pop-up SEO can ultimately be affected and hurt your site’s search engine ranking, too.

Secondly, Google has implemented penalties for sites that use certain intrusive interstitials, particularly interstitials on mobile. This means that sites that use intrusive interstitials that cover the main content or require users to dismiss them before accessing the content may not rank as high in search results.

So, while interstitial pop-ups can be an effective tool for promoting certain content or actions on a website, use them strategically to avoid negatively impacting your site.

The Data on How Users Really Feel About Intrusive Interstitials

Our survey aimed to investigate how users really feel about intrusive interstitials. We conducted a survey that reached 1,000 participants in the US.

To start, we designed a quiz that consisted of a mix of questions to obtain both qualitative and quantitative data. The questions covered topics, including:

  • Users’ experiences with intrusive interstitials
  • Perceptions of intrusive interstitials impact on user experience
  • How likely users are to engage with intrusive interstitials

60 Percent of Users Would Leave Due to Intrusive Interstitials

If you were shopping and an interstitial pop-up appeared on the site you were shopping on, would you leave the site?

60 percent of our survey respondents said “Yes.”

For 35 to 44-year-olds, this number was 62.28 percent. Something to keep in mind if your target demographic falls in this age range.

40 percent said they would stay on the site despite being served an intrusive interstitial.

Even impulsive shoppers — the 14.5 percent of respondents who said they’d make a purchase on their first visit to a site — can be dissuaded by interstitials. 52 percent said they would leave the site.

Survey asking if you would leave a site due to a popup.

Users Say Pop-ups Are Spammy or Distracting

So what’s the biggest reason users say they would leave a site after being served an interstitial pop -up?

33 percent said the site feels too spammy.

22 percent said they don’t want to be sold anything other than what they are looking for.

And another 22 percent felt the site owner is being obstructive to their experience.

Why shoppers would leave over pop-ups.

What We Learned From Our Data

Regardless of their feelings on interstitial pop-ups, most of our survey respondents would likely engage with these pop-ups if the timing and benefit was right.

86 percent said they are likely to sign up or add their email while shopping in order to get discounts.

Even those who are thrown off by intrusive interstitials are still very discount motivated.

With this observation, maybe there is a place for pop-ups to collect emails. But they should follow Google’s guidelines, and potentially be a bit later in the shopping experience.

Your audience also wants to feel like they are getting something out of their shopping experience. Giving away their email to needs to be worth the potential “spam” later on.

If you notice that your user is spending about 3 minutes on a page, try adding an interstitial pop-up at 1.5 minutes and offer a discount with email sign up. The timing will feel less intrusive to the initial shopping experience AND the user will feel they are benefiting from taking the desired action.

It’s worth A/B testing interstitial pop-ups on your site to see what the engagement rate and conversions are with different timing and offers.

Strategic use of pop-ups on certain pages can lead to lucrative results.

For example, the quiz pop-up on my website requires users to enter their email to get their quiz results. This quiz section alone has helped me generate over $3 million dollars in revenue.

For reference, the data below just covers my small business division in the US. If we expand this to global operations and enterprise clients, the quiz is even more effective!

Neil Patel Quiz popup stats.

Test and see what your audience really wants so you can start raking in big benefits.

The Best Way to Use Intrusive Interstitials

The priority with interstitial pop-ups is to make sure they don’t interrupt the user experience.

To get the best use of an interstitial pop-up you’ve got to make sure it’s effective.

One effective approach is to use timed pop-ups that appear after the user has spent some time on the website. This will indicate that they’re engaged and interested in the content.

Another way is to make sure the pop-up design is clean, visually appealing, and easy to close.

You can also offer an incentive or benefit for users who sign up or provide their information. This would be a good time to reel them in with a discount code or exclusive content.

Remember, the key is to use interstitial pop-ups in a way that adds value to the user experience, rather than detracting from it.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an intrusive interstitial?

An intrusive interstitial is a type of pop-up or advertisement that appears on a website during the user’s session. It usually covers a significant portion of the content, requiring the user to interact with it before they can access the content they were trying to view.

What are some examples of intrusive interstitials?

The following are some examples of intrusive interstitials:
Cookie policies
Age verifications
Email list sign up

What do interstitials mean for SEO?

You can use interstitial pop-ups to highlight your offering with relevant keywords for users, encouraging them to engage. However, be careful with how you go about this. Interstitial pop-up SEO can be negatively impacted because they can disrupt the user experience, leading to a higher bounce rate and lower search engine rankings.

Does Google penalize sites with intrusive interstitials?

Yes, but it’s a certain format that Google docks you for. In 2017, Google rolled out an update to its mobile search algorithm that penalizes websites that use intrusive interstitials. The penalty is applied to sites that display intrusive interstitials that make content less accessible or harder to access like full-screen pop-ups or interstitials that must be dismissed before accessing the main content.

How effective are interstitials?

Interstitials can be effective in certain contexts. Think about when you promote relevant and valuable content or products to users. The effectiveness of interstitials largely depends on their design, placement, and targeting. If you’re going to interrupt a user’s flow, make sure there’s a high value add for them.

What are the benefits of interstitials (if any)?

Intrusive interstitials can offer several benefits to your site, including:
Increased visibility: Interstitials grab users’ attention and increase visibility for important content or promotions. Use time-sensitive promotions or announcements that need to be communicated to users quickly.
Improved engagement: Well-designed interstitials that offer value to users, such as personalized recommendations or exclusive content, can improve engagement and encourage users to spend more time on your site.
Enhanced targeting: Target specific user groups based on their demographics, behavior, or preferences. This allows marketers to deliver more relevant and personalized messages that are more likely to resonate with users.
Higher conversion rates: When used strategically and in moderation, you can get higher conversion rates for products, services, or other desired actions. Use an interstitial pop-up next time to promote special offers or discounts that encourage users to make a purchase.
Monetization opportunities: Use interstitials to display advertisements and generate revenue. While it’s important to balance advertising with a positive user experience, an interstitial pop-up can offer a way to monetize content and generate revenue from users who might otherwise use ad-blockers.


It’s not a crime to use intrusive interstitials.

A little interstitial pop-up never hurt anybody. You just need to make sure it adds value.

Remember to make your pop-up effective and not spammy because that’s what turns visitors away.

If you’re going to use one, make sure you add benefits for visitors to take away like a discount code.

The data we gathered and Google’s guidelines show you exactly how to win over visitors.

With careful timing and design, marketers can still use pop-ups to capture user information and engage with customers without causing frustration.

So, it’s important to be mindful of how you use interstitial pop-ups.

Don’t let the desire for increased engagement and user information harm your user experience.

Following tips from our data, you can still achieve your goals without driving users away.

Do you find intrusive interstitials helpful or annoying when browsing websites?

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