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15 Ways Marketers Use Overlays to Get More Conversions

Let me paint an ugly picture for you.

The end of the month is approaching. In one week, you have to report to your boss about marketing metrics… and you’re not even halfway to your targets.

Maybe you call an emergency brainstorm meeting with your team:

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Are there any last-minute email or social campaigns we can run? Image source.

Maybe you pump more money into your PPC campaigns. Or maybe you do nothing at all and start a mental list of excuses reasons you couldn’t meet your targets.

At the end of the day, you didn’t meet your goals because you’re lacking something — resources, know-how, money or bandwidth.

You need more conversions without the overhead of running a major campaign or redesigning your entire website, regardless of how you define a “conversion”:

  1. Driving immediate sales
  2. Building email subscriber lists
  3. Reducing shopping cart abandonment
  4. Generating sales leads
  5. Moving traffic to high-converting pages (to get more conversions)


Let’s see how marketers are using|c1317d85be68c7a071b08f4db961647b| — to get more conversions without more overhead.

|c6889eaccced2b494339a97342744fe4|

Research indicates that an average of 68.8% of shoppers will abandon their carts — that’s well over the majority. What then can you do to|d82d3de36786cbae99c9beac867c6d52|

You offer something irresistible at the moment prospects are ready to give up.

Note that the key word here is irresistible. You’re asking for a lot (for prospects to whip out their wallets), so you need to over-deliver in value. Your offer must be generous.

Here are five high-value approaches to securing a last-second purchase from abandoning users.

|4b4fdb8d5899454e581579ee3a0d5469|

A coupon or discount is the most popular way to secure last-second purchases with overlays.

Below is an example from Neil Patel of Quick Sprout, who uses an overlay to offer a massive discount on his consulting services.

overlay-ideas-quicksprout-discount

Test different discounts values, but be careful not to downplay the value of your offering with a super-steep discount, which could hurt your credibility.

|36ce416e0b331ef7a77e896a7c6afa8d| First-time visitors, paid traffic

|59cedea17a0c48bd4d76db19f9d3e4fe| Pricing or sign-up pages, product pages, landing pages

|09ee334bcbca4831b2b246bc1b31a652|

Shipping is a pain point for many online shoppers. No matter how well the costs are disclosed throughout the shopping process, many will leave|d08cc3ecb98a78f4cc9854f05498b778|

For that reason, a discount on shipping can often make the difference between a new customer and a lost sale.

overlay-ideas-canvas-prints-free-shipping

In the example above, Easy Canvas Prints uses an overlay to not only offer a last-second discount on shipping, but also capture an email address in the process. More on that later!

|36ce416e0b331ef7a77e896a7c6afa8d| First-time or repeat visitors, paid traffic

|59cedea17a0c48bd4d76db19f9d3e4fe| Product pages, pricing or sign-up pages, shopping cart pages

|289b3b4db6bad933a5f9aa539cffa5a3|

Free giveaways have been a standard marketing tactic for decades.

They work well on the web because a free giveaway often comes at no cost to the vendor (you), especially if you offer subscription tools or services.

overlay-ideas-crazyegg-heatmap-offer

In the above example, Crazy Egg attempts to capture abandoning users by offering a free heatmap — one of its most popular tools.

Other ideas for free giveaways include ebooks, whitepapers, estimates/quotes or consultations.

|36ce416e0b331ef7a77e896a7c6afa8d| First-time or repeat visitors, paid traffic, organic traffic

|59cedea17a0c48bd4d76db19f9d3e4fe| Pricing or sign-up pages, product pages, landing pages

|0f4eb10ca2bcda2bb8a72d0fd52babbd|
Do you have all your bases covered? Double-check your overlay design, copy and triggering with our 24-point checklist.


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|c83e7522c82a08bda91022d47ccb442b|

Here’s where things get a bit risky. Time-based overlays can be effective because they add an element of urgency, but only if they are sincere.

overlay-ideas-time-based-discount-babyage

In the above example, BabyAge uses a countdown clock to promote a coupon, which (ideally) invokes a feeling of urgency in its users, pushing them toward the conversion.

This may be effective for some audiences, but I encourage you to test. And whatever you do, |6fb502cd4885e8d101f2f75847ecac02|If you serve this offer on too many pages or put it in front of too broad a user segment, you risk losing credibility.

|36ce416e0b331ef7a77e896a7c6afa8d| First-time visitors only

|59cedea17a0c48bd4d76db19f9d3e4fe| Pricing or sign-up pages, landing pages

|ec58754af690a8598b34fe574824c4e1|

Some prospects might appreciate being able to talk to a human before they make up their minds about converting.

In the example below, Timesulin uses an overlay as a standin for a virtual salesperson, tapping you on the shoulder and asking if you have any questions:

overlay-ideas-timesulin-customer-support

Especially for more complicated or high-commitment offers, an overlay like this can help squash doubts and counter objections that your visitors have.

|36ce416e0b331ef7a77e896a7c6afa8d| First-time visitors, repeat visitors, paid traffic

|59cedea17a0c48bd4d76db19f9d3e4fe| Pricing or sign-up pages, product pages, landing pages

|c1505b533b08727f4841cfe4f4424a96|

If you need convincing that email marketing is an effective marketing channel, consider this eye-popping stat from the Direct Marketing Association:

Email marketing has an ROI of 3800%.

What have you done lately to ensure that your email list is continuously growing? And not a bunch of unqualified subs  — I’m talking about warm email leads that are familiar with your products and have recently interacted with your brand.

Overlays work well for building a subscriber base because |9acdc280794e23762900aa44a64b69fd|

Here are the four best approaches for building email subscriber lists with overlays:

|3d6417672769ec86e853d28099015e37|

Offering deals in exchange for an email address has two benefits:

  1. It greatly increases your chances of securing an immediate sale
  2. You can establish a customer relationship through email

Have a look at this example by PetCare:

overlay-examples-petcare-discount

PetCare offers a substantial discount in exchange for an email address. It’s a win for your prospect, because they’ll save on their next order. And it’s a win-win for you, should you make a sale |73c021dea7137a283a0528d410e3f6f4| snag and email.

|36ce416e0b331ef7a77e896a7c6afa8d| First time or repeat visitors, social media traffic, paid traffic

|59cedea17a0c48bd4d76db19f9d3e4fe| Homepage, product pages, blog pages, company pages (ex: ‘About,’ ‘Contact’)

|5bcf0420ac209fde5675f770a7b8e344|

Though not as lucrative as they once were, newsletters can still drive revenue. The Chive uses an overlay to grab signups in the example below:

overlay-ideas-chive-newsletter

This type of overlay is especially effective when you’re reaching out to a user base that has already interacted with your content and likes what you have to say. It should be targeted only at repeat visitors and lower-converting segments like social media traffic.

|36ce416e0b331ef7a77e896a7c6afa8d| Repeat visitors, social media traffic

|59cedea17a0c48bd4d76db19f9d3e4fe| Homepage, product pages, blog pages, company pages (e.g., ‘About,’ ‘Contact’)

|685bf01df4957f17db480fd9a50fa55e|

Ebook, case study or course offers generally convert at a higher rate than newsletters, because it’s easier to communicate the value to the reader.

Done right, this type of overlay will clearly communicate the benefit of reading, as in this stellar example from ContentVerve:

overlay-ideas-offer-ebook-content-verve

Offering a course has the advantage of securing multiple user interactions, as you can serve this offer piece-by-piece to keep users engaged.

|36ce416e0b331ef7a77e896a7c6afa8d| Repeat visitors, social media traffic

|59cedea17a0c48bd4d76db19f9d3e4fe| Homepage, product pages, blog pages, company pages (e.g., ‘About,’ ‘Contact’)

|4d2a6a081666a4bd6ea1839a178852c8|

68.81% of online shopping carts are abandoned, according to the Baymard Institute.

People abandon shopping carts for a variety of reasons, and understanding these various behaviors can help you better optimize your sales funnel. Check out the top six reasons for cart abandonment according to Savvy Panda:

why-web-abandonners-abandon-shopping-carts

Two of the top six reasons have nothing to do with the cart itself, but rather the mindset of the shopper, who is expressing only interest in the product, not commitment.

So|b3a38829ad88d716946d3eaa00af4e6e|

To extend the engagement — and build a mutually beneficial relationship — you must either:

  1. Get an email address and remarket through triggered emails
  2. Offer a discount or incentive that convinces the shopper to buy before abandoning the cart

With this in mind, here are four approaches to reduce shopping cart abandonment using overlays.

|638eabc76a3fc6889ab6d0288c96317e|

Post-abandonment emails are a great way to continue telling the story you began telling cart abandoners. You can use them to build upon momentum established on your cart page, and nurture a customer relationship.

PetFlow uses this tactic well in the above example, though the “deal” is actually entry into a contest. But hey, it’s a win anytime you can have a kitten and a puppy sitting in your email form field:

overlay-ideas-petflow-reduce-cart-abandonment

Sending a cart-triggered email puts you a step ahead of most competition, as roughly 80% of retailers fail to send triggered emails after cart abandonment. |5eb502de81654db13263fd66f1e2c1b2|

|36ce416e0b331ef7a77e896a7c6afa8d| Cart abandoners from both paid and organic traffic sources

|59cedea17a0c48bd4d76db19f9d3e4fe| Cart pages, checkout pages

|46ca2e49e4db26ed8c4d30d1a4868654|

This is a simple tactic for notifying cart abandoners they’ve left items behind at the checkout.

overlay-ideas-cart-notification-babyage

In this example, BabyAge links its overlay directly to the next step in the checkout process. This may not generate earth-shattering results, but it’s definitely something to test.

|36ce416e0b331ef7a77e896a7c6afa8d| Cart abandoners from both paid and organic traffic sources

|59cedea17a0c48bd4d76db19f9d3e4fe| Cart pages, checkout pages

|1b900dfb1128819fa191bb45450a3e8a|

Many shoppers routinely struggle to complete online checkout processes without assistance.

For companies with complicated products or checkouts, using an overlay to offer help at checkout can significantly reduce cart abandonment.

overlay-ideas-telephone-support-massage-magazine

Massage Magazine’s example above shows how an overlay can used to help clarify the terms of complicated products or subscriptions. It also has the added benefit of grabbing a valuable email address.

|36ce416e0b331ef7a77e896a7c6afa8d| Cart abandoners from both paid and organic traffic sources

|59cedea17a0c48bd4d76db19f9d3e4fe| Cart pages, checkout pages

|746ff43b37611011794b1a9207e7a024|

Generating sales leads with an overlay is closely related to our previous section on building email lists — but with a few subtle differences.

Sales leads don’t necessarily require collecting contact information in exchange for a free resource; reaching out to a visitor on your site can also produce a lead, and is often incentive enough.

Further, you can generate a sales lead by merely offering help — free advice, free quotes — on your product.

Finally, whereas marketing to email list prospects often requires multiple engagements, sales leads usually just a one-time engagement.

|bf8b4df17ef53fa9f05a8c08b27997a2|

Free quotes have long been used as a lead generation tactic in brick-and-mortar organizations. On the web, free quotes are a great way to offer value without actually giving anything away.

overlay-ideas-free-quote

The example above from YourMechanic uses a free quote offer to drive home the ease and convenience of using mobile mechanics.

I would generally advise against using this type of offer on paid traffic, as “paid” implies these users should already be strong leads. An offer that drives an immediate sale is better suited to this type of user.

|36ce416e0b331ef7a77e896a7c6afa8d| First-time or repeat visitors, organic traffic, social media traffic

|59cedea17a0c48bd4d76db19f9d3e4fe| Homepage or any high-traffic/low-converting page, product pages, blog pages

|1760de66dfb094bc90cd63c47b08798e|

Offering a resource to prospects is a great way to demonstrate that you understand their pains — all while confirming that they’re a good fit for your solution.

Gr8fires created an overlay with an “installation calculator” that detailed the costs associated with installing a Gr8fires product:

overlay-ideas-estimate-calculator-gr8-fires

The results of Gr8fires’ overlay campaign were incredible: |4929bd87d260d08c225f9c2ec12f74f8|and a |220c91877b0dcf947c82d3c1a78690cb|.

As with any information resource offer, this works best if you have already established an audience. If you don’t already have a rapport with your visitors, this offer may go ignored.

|36ce416e0b331ef7a77e896a7c6afa8d| Repeat visitors, organic traffic, social media traffic

|59cedea17a0c48bd4d76db19f9d3e4fe| Homepage or any high-traffic/low-converting page, product pages, blog pages

|3fb6522bc546287852ecf14b64c2eb83|

As you look through your analytics, you may notice that there are certain pages on your site — like your blog homepage or ecommerce site — that don’t have particularly high conversion rates.

This is where traffic shaping overlays can come in handy.

Traffic shaping overlays allow you to |05457da16a8876e5b5019adea5cb85ad|

For example, you could direct traffic from a well-performing blog post about watch reviews to a product page for the best-reviewed watch.

|15114990c3f655b4cfc44a6e4a6908d3|

Regular blog visitors likely already recognize your brand, but they could have blinders up when it comes to the calls to action you have embedded on your site.

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

For example, at Unbounce, our analytics showed that a roundup of the 16 Best Digital Marketing Conferences of 2016 was bringing in a lot of organic traffic.

Assuming that people who read about marketing conferences are also interested in attending marketing conferences, we served up this overlay (with a ticket discount to sweeten the pot) that directed people to our Call to Action conference microsite:

overlay-ideas-cross-sell-unbounce-cta-conf
|36ce416e0b331ef7a77e896a7c6afa8d| First-time and repeat visitors, social media traffic, organic traffic

|59cedea17a0c48bd4d76db19f9d3e4fe| Homepage, blog pages, company pages (e.g.,: ‘About,’ ‘Contact’)

|ac565aa004e2c58d057568a541810c41|

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

  • |bcc6fb5f43129cf1dc1db33ca5995030|and are uniquely qualified to help alleviate it
  • |863dd9e0fc6f59d0f7b57144ec3c92fc| (ideally the solution to their problem)

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

overlay-ideas-content-re-engage

This type of overlay is |417ab596b8d9df9183c854afa33d9a8e|

These are the prospects that need a lil’ warming up before you ask them for their email address.

|e3a5b3dba6b19ed6ef453743db702353|

Next time the end of the month is rolling around and you haven’t met your targets, don’t scramble to run one-off campaigns to make up the difference.

Instead, pick one of these overlay campaigns and create a baseline of conversions every month — |c187b4503405f540d27535e96dce825a|

And when building your overlays, don’t forget the following:

The best marketing is mutually beneficial.

Conversions happen in that magical moment where your goals as a marketer align precisely with the goals of the user. You want the sale, they want the bargain. You want the email, they want the ebook.

If you focus on delivering|53fe4b765cb9b12eb2db8a9a3b6fafb1|, your users will thank you — with their conversion.

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"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted."
~ Albert Einstein

About Henry Lake

Over 21 years of Internet Marketing experience with focus on list building. Enjoy sharing ideas with other marketers.

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