How Just One Ecommerce Popup Offer Helped Canvas Factory Generate 1.1 Million in Revenue

Canvas Factory's Popup Success

When you hear ‘website popup’ in a marketing context, my bet is—as a discerning marketer—you all but cringe. Surely these boxes that jump up in the middle of a screen are for low-level marketers. They’re scammy, make you lose your train of thought, nobody likes them,…you’d never use ‘em.

But can you really hate popups if they’re found to drive results?

As heated as the debate can get, Richard Lazazzera, an ecommerce entrepreneur and Content Strategist at Shopify has a fair point in this reply to a comment on his blog post:

Image via the Shopify blog.

And drive sales they can.

By experimenting with popup overlays, Sydney-based Canvas Factory (an ecommerce shop providing high-quality canvas prints) has found a ton of success engaging prospects at exactly the right time.

Using just one popup that appears across several of their domains, Canvas Factory discovered the targeting that worked best for them, and—most importantly—brought in 1.1 million USD in revenue(!) via their offer.

In today’s post, we’ll share Canvas Factory’s story, along with some lessons learned, so that—if you’re tempted—you too can convert more site visitors.

Canvas Factory’s approach to ecommerce popups

Similar to many ecommerce brands, Canvas Factory wanted to convert more of the visitors leaving their site empty handed. They’d realized some prospects only needed a moderate incentive to get over any purchase anxiety, so they had started offering a small discount via a coupon.

Eventually they wondered if the coupon would perform even better if delivered via a popup at the right moment.

Experimenting, they created this popup overlay in Unbounce for their site:

One of Canvas Factory’s domains outfitted with their popup.

They duplicated this one design eight times for running across different domains on certain URLs. The copy was the same for each, offering $10 off someone’s first order in exchange for an email, and only appeared as someone was actively trying to leave the site, once per visitor.

The main difference was location. The brand ran four of these overlays across their product pages on their Australian and New Zealand domains, while another four appeared on the Canvas Factory blog across the same domains.

How’d the experiment go?

The Unbounce popup overlay has now been running from November 2016 to present and in comparing the period before using the popups to promote this same coupon code to now:

  • Canvas Factory has seen a 6% to 9% increase in use of the coupon, and
  • Subscription to their mailing list has grown by over 14.3%.

Now the brand’s marketers can do a better job actively nurturing prospects claiming the coupon, and re-marketing to successful first-time customers.

But in terms of the bottom line? Managing Director Tim Daley says it best:
Tim from Canvas Factory

“Unbounce played a key part in Canvas Factory’s conversion rate optimization activity for our subscriber campaign. This has contributed to over $1.1 million dollars in purchases.”

$1.1 million the brand may not have otherwise seen had they not tried the overlay? If that’s not making you reconsider whether or not your personal distaste for popups should stop you from trying one out, I’m not sure what will.

That said…

How’d the brand track success?

Tim tells us the coupon use was measured by integrating Unbounce popup overlays with their mail platform and their payment gateway CS-Cart:

“This [integration] allows us, per country level, to collect new subscribers, partition [them] to relevant country and then track their individual and group purchase application of the coupon acquired through the popup.”

Ultimately the integration lets Canvas Factory see:

  • How many customers are using coupons + how many discounts are being used total
  • Total revenue before and after coupons are applied
  • Average order value before and after coupons are applied
  • What kind of customers the brand’s attracting with coupons

All very useful factors in understanding how long a campaign like this is feasible for, and experimenting with different discounts.

Want to push your lead data collected via landing pages, sticky bars, and popup overlays through to your mail platforms and other tools? See our Integrations Powered by Zapier and all the connections available right in Unbounce.

It’s all about location: A lesson on why popups in the wrong place are a big mistake

Your gut feeling that popups can be scammy? It’s not far off. If used incorrectly at the wrong time or on the wrong URL of your site, they certainly can be. We’ve all seen these types of popups and they’re maddening.

In Canvas Factory’s case, it wasn’t as simple as create the popup, set it and forget it. In running their Unbounce popup overlay in several locations, they’ve learned placement and timing is critical.

In Tim’s case, he discovered that the blog wasn’t the proper placement for this particular offer, it was simply too soon in the buyer journey to be offering someone a discount. With posts on the brand’s blog aimed to help you take better photos of your kids and other photography tips, this level of awareness doesn’t really align with wanting to purchase right away.

Overall, Canvas Factory’s blog popup conversion rate was 0.18% versus the up to 11% conversion rate they’d seen on product pages where the purchase intent was likely higher.

As outlined above, aim to align your offers with buyer intent.

The lesson:

If you choose the right place for your offer (pricing pages and high commitment URLs in Canvas Factory’s case), you’ll see results because you offered a timely and relevant incentive. In the wrong place, however, you simply won’t see the results you want, and worse, you’ll irritate and annoy your visitors.

Get actionable tips on where to place your popups, and which types of messages perform best in our Best Practice Guide.

So you shouldn’t use popups on your blog?

No—Canvas Factory’s unique experience isn’t to say that popups on your blog won’t work, because they definitely can. You just have to choose the right kind of offer and perfect targeting. Because your blog readers may not be product aware yet, you need to align your offer with the level of awareness readers do have about your company (i.e. they might be open to a free in-depth ebook about the exact topic they’re already reading about).

You might also try directing your blog traffic to an even higher-converting area of your site.

Here’s a super relevant clickthrough popup Seer’s Wil Reynolds uses to offer up more relevant content on his site:

By proactively serving up what prospects might want next, Seer becomes more trustworthy and keeps people engaged on their site longer (which is a great sign in Google’s eyes). You can make traffic shaping like this the goal of some of your popups in locations where a higher-commitment ask doesn’t make sense.

Try an Experiment Yourself

Overall, popups can definitely be annoying when used aggressively or poorly (there’s no arguing that) but, as we’ve seen with Canvas Factory, proper targeting and relevant offers can make all the difference to both marketers and site visitors who can be receptive to proper incentives at the right time.

If you’ve got a great campaign or offer running, a well-timed and targeted popup could ensure all the right people see it and that you don’t leave opportunities on the table.

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2017 Mid-Year Content Marketing Checkup


The months of mid-year-content-marketing-checkupJune and July are the perfect time to reflect on your content marketing strategy. What’s working? What isn’t? What needs to change going into the fall season?

As you complete your internal audit, here are some ideas and questions for consideration to help level up your program.

Get rid of the writers

If your internal experts or story contacts aren’t adept at writing, don’t force them to write. Use a professional writer to interview that person. Have the expert check over the information for accuracy, and then let the writer finish the piece. A few innovative companies that work with CMI have taken away all writing assignments from their employees and given them to outside writers. It saves on employee time, editing time, and, in most cases, produces content that is far superior.


If your internal experts aren’t adept at writing, don’t force them to write, says @JoePulizzi.
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Partner up

I find it fascinating that more companies don’t partner with non-competitive businesses on content marketing projects and instead choose to go it alone. By partnering, you can share the cost of the project and double up on distribution. Our website never would have happened in 2010 had it not been for five partners helping to fund and promote the content.

Grow a speaker

IBM has been working on an internal influencer program for years, working to build up its employees into promising speakers and dynamic keynotes. Every company of any size should have a plan to find, nurture, and grow speaking talent. With corporate events on the rise, there are more opportunities to speak at events (and webinars) than ever before, but you should groom your experts in advance to take advantage of these opportunities.


Every company of any size should have a plan to find, nurture, & grow speaking talent, says @JoePulizzi.
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Consider print comeback

With companies like Airbnb and Lincoln Electric launching print magazines in the past 12 to 18 months, print, as a medium, is starting to heat up again. There may be no better way to break through the clutter of digital information than through a quality, consistent print magazine. Since your corporate management may find it difficult to understand why this strategy would work, you may want this to be one of those situations where partnering up to diffuse risk makes sense.


Break through the clutter of digital information through a quality, consistent print magazine, says @JoePulizzi
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Kill your newsletter

In the past, when you visited a corporate blog post, it often didn’t have a sufficient call to action to encourage newsletter sign-ups. Most companies have fixed this issue, and now promote some kind of email offering. Unfortunately, in my experience, most corporate e-newsletters range from boring to terrible. Think about these questions: Is your e-newsletter amazing? Is it truly helpful? Is it targeted to one audience?

Today your e-newsletter is more important than ever … you need to treat it as such. That may mean you need to kill your current newsletter and create real value from the ashes.


You may need to kill your current newsletter and create real value from the ashes, says @JoePulizzi.
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Choose your best thing

In almost all cases, content marketers are doing too much. Creating too much content, in too many ways, without getting the results they would like to see. I recommend killing something that isn’t driving results. Put that time and effort into something that is working and make it even better.

Engage with sales team

A few years back, Xerox identified a disconnect between marketing and sales. Specifically, the salespeople didn’t know and didn’t care about what the content marketing team was creating and distributing. The solution? Xerox developed a content marketing program specifically for the sales team, which culminated in a weekly email wrap-up to salespeople that included strategies to leverage content that would help them drive sales. If your sales team isn’t leveraging your content in some way, it’s your fault, not theirs. Fix it.

Join an audio revolution

This article by Gary Vaynerchuk makes a solid case for audio. If I was to start a content platform today to build an audience, audio would be my first choice. Why? First, usage is up and starting to accelerate. Second, major content gaps still exist in audio, unlike text-based content and video. Third, audio is the only type of content where the audience can multitask.


If I launched a content platform to build an audience today, audio would be my first choice, says @JoePulizzi.
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Think about these ideas too

Need more suggestions? Here are 10 ideas to consider:

  1. Start working on a book for your business. Yes, a real, printed book. If you want to be the leading expert in your industry, a book can pave the way for speaking opportunities, guest posts, surprise coverage, and blog posts to fill a year.
  2. Get at least five employees who are not in marketing involved in your weekly content plan.
  3. Develop a list of the top 100 questions coming from your customer base.
  4. Develop a content marketing metrics plan for your CEO or supervisor that includes only those metrics that make the case for company business objectives.
  5. Find a way to work with the leading trade magazine in your niche on a joint content effort.
  6. If you have the budget, identify media companies in your industry that may be ripe for acquisition.
  7. Develop a customer event that doesn’t talk about your projects but educates them on where the industry is going.
  8. Create a piece of content this year that would be completely unexpected and see what happens.
  9. Send a videographer and journalist to the next industry event and cover it.
  10.  Whatever you do this year, make sure you are telling a story that’s different than everyone else’s in your industry – not just the same story told incrementally better.

Here’s hoping that there is at least one golden idea in this mix that will help you finish strong for 2017.

Want one more idea to boost your content marketing program in 2017? Register today for Content Marketing World, Sept. 5-8, in Cleveland, Ohio. Use the code BLOG100 to save $100.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

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This Week in Content Marketing: The New York Times Shows That Email Is the Next Best Thing


NYT_email-next-best-thingPNR: This Old Marketing with Joe Pulizzi and Robert Rose can be found on both iTunes and Stitcher. If you enjoy our show, we would love it if you would rate it or post a review on iTunes.

In this week’s episode

Robert ponders whether saying “I don’t” is a viable alternative to saying “no.” On the news front, we offer an overview of NerdWallet’s content-first approach, which has taken the company from zero to over $500 million in revenue, and outline how The New York Times is killing it in the email game by opening up new marketing opportunities that focus on retention and loyalty. Rants and raves include net neutrality and YouTube’s ad crisis; then we close the show with an example of the week from Mobil.

Download this week’s PNR: This Old Marketing podcast

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Show details

  • (00:01): An advertising blast from the past: “The Ginsu Knife”
  • (00:50): Robert muses on this week’s theme: Can we say no by saying yes?
  • (05:33): Welcome to Episode 188: Recorded on June 18, 2017 (Running time: 1:06:48)
  • (11:45): A bonus offer from our episode sponsor, VideoBlocks: VideoBlocks is an affordable, subscription-based stock media site that gives you unlimited access to premium stock footage. Its sister site, AudioBlocks, has a 100,000+ library of music tracks, sound effects, and loops to complement your videos.VideoBlocks has one of the fastest-growing, largest stock video libraries, with over 3 million videos, After Effects templates, and motion backgrounds. This includes its contributor marketplace that gives 100% of the commission back to the artists and passes the savings on to you! This month, VideoBlocks is launching its latest collection: Creator to Creator. With more than 1,000 artistic and creative lifestyle clips to choose from, VideoBlocks is featuring videos and music from creators just like you for your next project. And don’t forget: Downloads are yours forever, even after your trial ends, and are 100% royalty free.

    Sign up now for our two-for-one deal: You’ll get AudioBlocks for free when you sign up for your $149 VideoBlocks subscription today. That’s a $100 discount on unlimited downloads of both video and audio clips, available only to PNR listeners.

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The PNR perspective on notable news and trends

  • (15:15): How NerdWallet used content to build a $520 million company. (Source: The Hustle)
  • (27:30): The New York Times has 50 different email newsletters, helping it amass 13 million subscriptions. (Source: Digiday)
  • (34:31): Why we should all double-down on trust marketing in the “fake news” era. (Source: AdWeek)

Rants and raves

  • (44:47): Robert’s commentary: Tech companies like Amazon, Etsy, and Reddit are calling for an internet-wide day of action on July 12 to preserve net neutrality. If ever there was a cause that marketers should band together to support, it’s this one. (Source: CNET)
  • (48:33): Joe’s rave: A few months ago, we discussed YouTube’s “ad-friendly” decision to prohibit certain “controversial” artists from monetizing their video content. Some members of the YouTube community have responded by cleverly adjusting their content to keep their ad revenues flowing. (Sources: YouTube video 1, YouTube video 2)

This Old Marketing example of the week

(53:53): Mobil’s Pegasus Magazine: Though I recently took Exxon-Mobil to task for its self-focused mission statement, Robert just came across a cool effort from Mobil that, if resurrected, might redeem this reputation. Published from the 1960s until the mid ’80s, the company’s Pegasus Magazine became a creative juggernaut of its time by incorporating the works of rebellious artists and ideas from subversive writers and personalities into its theme-based editorial. As described in this Eye Magazine article, the editorial team often had to battle with the company’s top brass just to get the controversial content approved. The magazine was developed to build relationships with high-powered clientele by promoting the image of Mobil as a forward-thinking organization. The effort serves as a shining This Old Marketing example of what can be achieved, in both form and content, within the constraints of corporate publishing.
mobil-pegasus

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For a full list of PNR archives, go to the main This Old Marketing page.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

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The post This Week in Content Marketing: The New York Times Shows That Email Is the Next Best Thing appeared first on Content Marketing Institute.



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