The World Wide Web captured our imagination in 1994, and soon thereafter the very first pop-up advertisement reared its ugly head. Now here we are twenty plus years later and pop-ups of all types and varieties are still a part of our every day Internet usage – often times to our collective chagrin.

While we tend to associate pop-ups with first or third party ads showing up on your favorite news or sports website, these intrusive interstitials are often implemented on blogs, e-commerce and yes, even car dealership websites.

While I can certainly see the appeal of using pop-ups on your dealership’s website (and am personally guilty of implementing my fair share of them when I was working in the dealership) I’m here to tell you that you need to stop using them.

Not tomorrow, not next week. Like right now.


Intrusive Interstitials 

There are better ways to deliver messaging :)I know what you’re thinking, “but why oh why mister marketing guy should I stop using pop-ups on my website? It’s an awesome way to tell every single visitor about our super-fantastic sales event!”.

I get it. You like the pop-ups. But for the record, I’m not telling you to stop using pop-ups. Google is and they’re quite serious about it.

I’m just the messenger here, folks, and because I’m passionate about automotive digital marketing, I want to make sure you hear loud and clear what Google has to say about intrusive interstitials – aka – annoying pop-ups:

To improve the mobile search experience, after January 10, 2017, pages where content is not easily accessible to a user on the transition from mobile search results may not rank as highly.

May. Not. Rank. As. Highly.

Is this little warning from Google still not enough to change your mind on how you use pop-ups? Well then check this out…


Why You Should Take Heed 

It must be noted that the intrusive interstitial signal in Google’s overall ranking algorithm is just one of hundreds of signals that are used to determine how relevant a page is to a search query.

When posting about this subject on the Google Webmaster Central Blog, they even state that if the content on your website is very relevant and of high quality this signal may not affect your rankings at all.

But I’m telling you, if I was still in the dealership, I would still stop using pop-ups even if there’s a chance that my rankings wouldn’t be affected.

Here’s why.

Google’s examples of pop-up types that may be penalized.

As much as I love “The Google”, they can be vague when discussing the details of tweaks or additions to the overall search algorithm.

Sometimes they’ll give you a notification saying something like “in early 2017, we’re splitting our search index into two separate entities. One for mobile and one for desktop.” But it won’t be until after the change is implemented when they’ll say, “oh by the way, we just did that.”

Other times Google makes sweeping changes and doesn’t announce prior to or after the change is made. If not for the efforts of industry websites like Moz and Search Engine Land chronicling these updates, we may never know about the changes in detail.

When Google comes out and give a very specific date and very specific details regarding their imminent update – you know they are taking this issue very seriously and you should too.

Plus there’s a much better way to get your message in front of the eyeballs of your visitors that doesn’t require the use of an annoying pop-up.


There Are Better Ways

relevantThe appeal of an ad popping up once someone visits your home page is knowing with confidence that your message was served, but the problem is that the message isn’t necessarily relevant to everyone who visits your website. Think about it, does Ms. Erso who drives a compact sedan and is looking to schedule a service appointment need to know that it’s Truck Month… again… for the fourth month in a row?

Probably not.

If that message isn’t relevant (and it won’t be to more than half of your visitors) then it’s simply an annoyance. It’s an obstacle that’s in the way of the content your visitor truly wants to access.

Instead of annoying your users with a pesky pop-up, here are two things you can do that WILL help get more eyeballs on your message.


Better Way #1: VRP Banners

If you have a sales event or special offer that you want more people to see, utilize the space above your vehicle results pages in the form of a horizontal banner to place that message. It makes perfect sense when you think about it. The people who are most likely to take action on a sales message are the ones that can be found actively shopping for a car on your website. This is a change I made when I was in the dealership, and engagement went through the roof.



There’s a better way… like VRP Banners!


Better Way #2: Personalization

An even better way to get the right message in front of the right person at the right time is through personalization. Imagine someone comes to your website, and based off their recent shopping history you’re able to serve them with a personalized message on your homepage or VRP that spoke directly to the vehicle they are most interested in.

Or think about a scenario where a student at the university down the road was shopping for an inexpensive new set of wheels on your website. You can deliver a personalized message to them that let’s them know that all college students receive an additional $500 off the purchase of any used car.


There’s another better way… like personalization!

What kind of futuristic, techno-wizardry is this, you ask? It’s not magic folks, it’s called personalization. And delivering relevant, personalized messages to your web visitors is not only possible today, it’s the most effective way to reach your visitors.

With Dealer Inspire, our website and technology partner, you can personalize offers and messages like these based on each individual visitor’s interests, location, and past shopping behavior (both on and off your website). You’re really only limited by your imagination. If you’re ready to start personalizing, here’s a whole other blog that shows you how to do it!

Remember… while pop-ups will annoy your visitors, personalized messages will surprise and delight them!

Meet Jason Stum

Jason is the Director of Strategy at Launch Digital Marketing, resident blogger and host of the Think Bigger Podcast. Having previously held dealership roles in Sales, Internet Management, Business Development and Digital Marketing, Jason uses his dealership experience to help clients develop, implement and maintain effective digital marketing strategies.