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8 Overlay Examples to Inspire More Clicks, Sales & Signups [FREE LOOKBOOK]

Need some inspiration for your overlay design? No problem.

overlay-inspiration
Image source.

Oh, sorry, you didn’t mean an inspirational quote?

Let me try that again.

Inspire more clicks, sales & signups with your overlays

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8 Overlay Examples to Inspire More Clicks, Sales & Signups [FREE LOOKBOOK]

Don’t Ever Launch an Overlay Without This Checklist [FREE DOWNLOAD]

24-point-overlay-checklist-650

Did you know I’m psychic? It’s true. Your favourite color is orange. You once lived on Chestnut Lane. You’ve googled “email best practices” at some point in your marketing career.

Okay, so one out of three ain’t bad — amirite?

The point is, best practices are important to marketers. Whether it’s email, landing pages or social media, best practices provide a jumping off point for a lot of what we do. And guess what, overlays — whether you’re already using them or thinking about using them — are no exception.

Overlays can sometimes get a bad rap for being intrusive or irrelevant. Often, though, these UX offenders are simply not designed or targeted with best practices in mind.

So, before you launch a new overlay…

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Don’t Ever Launch an Overlay Without This Checklist [FREE DOWNLOAD]

3 Scientific Reasons Why Overlays Are So Freaking Effective

Fact: Overlays increase conversion rates.

Why? Because science.

But before we dig into the science, let’s take a look at why overlays are a marketer’s best friend.

overlay-best-friend
Image via Giphy.

A second (and often last) chance to convert

Here’s something no one in ecommerce wants to hear: Prospects abandon websites in droves, and most will never return.

There are many reasons why visitors leave: they’re not swayed by your offer, they’re not the right fit (or they just don’t know it yet), they’re distracted, they’re rushed.

Regardless of why, it doesn’t take a scientist to point out that re-engaging abandoning visitors could dramatically improve your conversion rates.

This is where overlays (a.k.a. your new “bestie”) come to the rescue.

Overlays provide a second chance for your audience to convert. And by focusing the visitor’s attention on just one timely, relevant and valuable offer (the trifecta of effective overlays), your chances of conversion go through the roof.

Here’s an example…

Upon seeing the shipping costs associated with their order, a potential customer may decide to abandon the sale. Implementing an overlay offering a deal on shipping could prevent cart abandonment and close the sale.

happy-conversion-dance
This is our we-just-closed-a-sale dance. Image via Giphy.

But why do abandoning users change their minds?

Back to the science.

#1: Overlays counteract the paradox of choice

Think about the toothpaste aisle of your drugstore. There are whitening toothpastes, natural toothpastes, cinnamon flavored toothpastes… spearmint, peppermint, bubblegum!

analysis-paralysis
Are you overwhelmed yet? Image via Giphy.

With an online store, customers face a similar overload of options. They come in the form of multiple buttons, links and messages calling out for the visitor’s attention.

When they can’t decide, they flee. It seems that while humans are empowered by a little bit of choice, too much choice can result in analysis paralysis.

Author Barry Schwartz further illustrates this in his oldie-but-goodie book, The Paradox of Choice. In it he discusses the negative psychological impact an abundance of choice can have on our well being, and how eliminating choices can help reduce stress and anxiety.

Alleviating anxiety by way of eliminating options, then, is critical to making a sale.

It’s for this reason that landing pages are so effective in converting targeted traffic. By keeping the Attention Ratio at 1:1, landing pages focus a visitor’s attention on a single conversion goal, thus resulting in higher conversion rates than a page on your website.

But what about those web pages — shouldn’t they be optimized, too?

Yes, absolutely.

Overlays take on the role of a helpful salesperson, tapping your prospect on the shoulder and asking if they can be of assistance. They narrow the visitor’s attention on a single, enticing offer, and simplify the decision-making process for potential customers.

SImply put, overlays are effective for the same reason landing pages are effective: they eliminate distractions, provide the user with a last-chance offer and distill the choice down to a simple yes-or-no answer.

#2: Overlays re-engage prospects by using a neuro-linguistic programming technique called pattern interrupt

wait-what
Neuro what? Image via Giphy.

Sorry, let me explain.

Pattern interrupt is a neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) technique that has been used by salespeople for years. The concept is pretty straightforward: do or say something unexpected to disrupt a person from their normal patterns.

By interrupting patterns we create moments for change, which is why some people use the technique for breaking bad habits. Even something as simple as slapping an elastic band against your wrist can help interrupt a regular pattern

Overlays are driven by a similar logic. Unexpectedly, they show the visitor an offer that sweetens the pot, convincing them to think twice about their predictable path toward the ‘Back’ button.

In essence, you’re using the overlay much like you would the rubber band, to get your visitor’s attention and then focus it on something else, since what they were looking at before clearly wasn’t engaging them.

#3: Overlays leverage effective frequency by repeating and reinforcing your message

Several years ago I began seeing ads for a three-step skin clearing system that shall remain nameless.

At first I didn’t pay much attention to them, but after seeing ad after ad I started to wonder whether their claims had any validity; I was intrigued.

A few months later, I had a nasty breakout. I’d already warmed up to the idea of testing the product out, so I keyed in my credit card info and placed my order. A week later, a package arrived at my home with my first month’s supply.

ups-package
Image via Giphy.

That — what happened there — was the result of effective frequency.

Effective frequency is the number of times a prospect must be shown a particular message before taking the desired action.

There are varying theories on what the optimum number of times to show a message is — the law of seven, for example, suggests that it’s, well, seven. Whatever the case, it’s always more than once.

Overlays leverage effective frequency by providing you with an additional opportunity to serve up and thus reinforce your message. By using an overlay with similar messaging to your web page, you are in fact nudging your prospect toward becoming a customer.

Takeaways and learnings

Overlays don’t work because they’re the shiny new thing. They work because scientific — and particularly psychological — principles are at play.

  • Our brains don’t like complicated scenarios, and given how many we already face in daily life, the last thing we want are complicated consumer decisions. Simplicity of product choice = higher chance of conversion.
  • People are habitual by nature. We have certain patterns that we subscribe to, often unconsciously, that allow us operate on “autopilot”. Disrupting this pattern creates a moment for change, and doing so with an overlay may be just the thing to turn an unengaged visitor into a customer.
  • The more times we’re served up a message, the more likely we are to believe it to be true. By reinforcing the message on your web page with a similar supporting message on your overlay, you are in fact nudging your prospect toward becoming a customer.

Have you experimented with overlays? I’d love to hear about it the comments.

Get overlay ideas you can launch today

Download Unbounce’s newest ebook, 12 Proven Ways to Convert with Overlays
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3 Scientific Reasons Why Overlays Are So Freaking Effective

Why Traffic Shaping is So Dang Fantastic for Conversion Rates

Do you remember the Windows game Pipe Dream? In it, the player creates a continuous “goo” path using randomly assigned pieces of pipe.

pipe-dream-traffic-shaping

Fail to build a path in time and the goo oozes everywhere… Game over.

For a marketer, the pipe pieces are your web pages. And the goo? Your visitors. Fail to provide your visitors with a logical next step and it’s game over.

A logical next step could mean many things, like a sale or a signup. Or maybe it’s simply to keep your prospects on your website by strategically presenting them with opportunities to learn more about what you have to offer.

Like pipe building, traffic shaping is all about creating incentivized pathways that convince users to go where you want them to go. It’s effective for:

  • getting visitors from low-converting to high-converting pages.
  • showing visitors relevant offers based on what they’re currently browsing.
  • recommending further reading thereby keeping visitors on site.

But first, why is this tactic even necessary?

Take a look at your analytics. You’ll probably find your highest-traffic pages aren’t necessarily your highest-converting pages. In many cases, that’s okay; the purpose of a blog post is different from a pricing page. But that’s not to say you should ignore your organic visitors. Instead, you should provide them with clear paths to the “next step.” And that’s when traffic shaping comes in.

Using overlays as a traffic-shaping tool

So how can marketers engage users on high-converting pathways that produce better results? How can we move users through the pipes and follow our desired path?

One great way of doing this is by using a traffic shaping overlay.

Psst: Unbounce recently launched our own suite of overlays called Convertables. Install one in seconds on any of your web pages, and set it to trigger on exit, on arrival, on scroll or after delay.

Traffic shaping overlays are designed to either move visitors from low-converting pages to high-converting pages or to re-engage them with additional content. They never have a form, and they’re best triggered either on exit or after delay.

Here’s a diagram of how traffic shaping with overlays works:

traffic-shaping
Not unlike Pipe Dream, amirite?

As you can see, traffic shaping overlays offer a unique way to better align your needs with the needs of your visitors: you want to move them farther down your sales funnel and they want the incentive to do so.

Here are a few use cases with real-life examples to get you thinking ‘bout how you can use traffic shaping overlays in your own overlay strategy:

Use case #1: Cross-Sell

Blog visitors are prime candidates for traffic shaping overlays because they’ve already spent time absorbing your content and familiarizing themselves with your brand. They likely recognize your brand — heck, they may even be regular readers — but they may overlook your on-site calls to action.

A cross-sell overlay can help focus a user’s attention on a relevant offer.

Here’s an example…

cta-conf-traffic-shaping-overlay

This overlay (yes, it’s ours) was installed on a high-traffic post about the best digital marketing conferences to attend in 2016.

Figuring that people who read about conferences also go to conferences, we saw an opportunity to cross-sell tickets to our own conference at a greatly reduced price.

Use case #2: Re-engage with more content

Keeping visitors on your blog or resource library has a lot of advantages. The more they stick around, the more opportunities you have to:

  • Show visitors that you understand their pain and are uniquely qualified to help alleviate it
  • Educate visitors about your solution (ideally the solution to their burning marketing pain)

A strategically placed exit overlay on your blog can help keep visitors on site by recommending content similar to what they were reading previously:

content-re-engage-traffic-shaping-overlay

This type of overlay is most effective when targeted at first-time visitors. These are the prospects that need a lil’ warming up before you ask them for their email address.

But back to Pipe Dream…

When you think of traffic shaping like playing Pipe Dream, you realize that building a logical path is just as important for you as it is the user. You don’t want to lose your visitors any more than your visitors want to be stopped in their tracks.

By implementing traffic shaping overlays on your web pages, you can better align your needs with the needs of your visitors. And that, my friends, is how everyone wins.

Find out how you can use overlays for traffic shaping, lead gen, sales and more!

Download Unbounce’s newest ebook, 12 Proven Ways to Convert with Overlays
By entering your email you’ll receive weekly Unbounce Blog updates and other resources to help you become a marketing genius.

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Why Traffic Shaping is So Dang Fantastic for Conversion Rates