These days, cyberspace is about as cluttered as my closet.
And in that deep sea of endless streams and notifications and other dopamine-releasing distractions, getting your offer seen can be challenging to say the least.
Luckily, overlays can help mute some of that background noise by focusing your visitor’s attention on one (hopefully) compelling offer.
But your job doesn’t end there.
Once you get your prospect’s attention with an overlay, it’s your job to use design and copywriting best practices to keep their interest.
What are these best practices I speak of? Let’s take a look at some overlay examples we spotted in the wild for some concrete examples of what you should — and shouldn’t — do.
Be immediately clear on the value of your offer
I have to admit that when I first saw this overlay, I found the tongue-in-cheek copywriting delightful.
The headline was clever and had me nodding my head:
And while the self-aware overlay is a cute idea, you know what’s less cute? Just how quickly your prospect will look for that “x” button if the value of the offer isn’t abundantly clear.
Don’t make readers work to find out what your offer is. It’s fine to be cutesy, as long as you’re explaining what’s in it for them. See how Groove clearly explains the benefit of signing up for their newsletter?
The transparency of this offer makes it appealing, and the specificity of Groove’s current monthly revenue adds credibility.
It’s not about you!
This overlay by the Chive has personality, but not much persuasive power:
The headline – “the best newsletter in the world” – is playful (if a little cocky), but it fails to communicate what makes the newsletter great and why readers should care.
They’re so caught up in self-praise that they forget to explain what’s in it for the reader. How will signing up for this newsletter impact the reader’s life?
This overlay by GetResponse is guilty of a similar infraction, and to be frank, the tone is a little despie:
This overlay uses “I” and “us” language without ever explaining the benefits of the offering — not to mention it never really explains what GetResponse is.
This is problematic, because the overlay appears on a page giving away an ebook only marginally related to their core offering — so it’s safe to assume that not everyone will know what GetResponse is.
Want more overlay best practices?
Lead with what’s in it for them
So what does customer-focused copy look like? Preneur Marketing’s overlay leads with a headline that explains in detail what the reader will get when they sign up:
But Preneur Marketing doesn’t stop there. They lay the persuasion on thick using a number of trusted devices, such as a UVP, a hero shot, a list of benefits, social proof and a single conversion goal (do these elements sound familiar?).
A great thing to test would be a hero shot representative of the actual offering, like the one in this overlay by Acquire Convert:
Use overlays to counter objections
No matter which stage of the buyer journey your prospect is at, their inner monologue will include some objections to your offer. Overlays are a great way to counter them.
For example, have a look at this overlay by Gr8fires, which appeared for visitors to their ecommerce store. They knew visitors to that page were likely shopping around for the best deals and were likely already thinking, “I don’t know how much stove installation is going to cost.”
To counter that objection, Gr8fires created an overlay with an “installation calculator” that detailed the costs associated with installing their product. See how the headline mirrors the conversation in the prospect’s head?
This example is particularly wonderful because it accomplishes something for both the marketer and the prospect. On the prospect’s end, it delivers great value in exchange for a very small commitment (entering name and email). On the marketer’s end, it helps to educate prospects on a larger-ticket item that typically requires more convincing.
A real win-win scenario. Beautiful, isn’t it?
Don’t be a negative Nelly
If you’ve seen overlays across the web, you’ve likely noticed that “yes” button text is often juxtaposed with “no” hyperlink text in close proximity. And you’ve likely noticed that the “no” hyperlink text is often sassy.
I see this everywhere online — marketers resorting to language like:
Or this one:
Don’t forget this one:
Or finally, this example, which borders on offensive:
It should go without saying, but you should never talk down to prospects simply because they might not want your offering.
Not only does that create friction to completing the form, it can also damage your brand’s image and credibility.
This example by Narcity misses the mark for a different reason:
This overlay forces a lie in order to opt-out: “I’m already subscribed.”
This is problematic for two reasons:
- If people are subscribed then they shouldn’t be seeing this to begin with
- It creates cognitive dissonance, forcing prospects to stop and think.
In short, it creates a jarring experience that doesn’t make you wanna fill in the form.
So what should you be doing?
Mirror the voice in your prospect’s head
Don’t talk down to your visitors with “I can’t stand exclusive offers” opt-out copy.
Stop and reflect on what they’re likely thinking when they click that “no” button. The folks at TVLiftCabinet.com keep it classy:
When at a loss, stick with a straightforward, “No thanks, I’m not interested.”
Make it easy to say yes
There are tons of other things you can test to make your overlay offers irresistible to visitors.
- Test fewer form fields to reduce perceived friction on your forms:
- Make visitors feel like they’re being offered something exclusive:
Whatever you do, never forget that your prospect’s attention is a valuable commodity.
And once you have it, you should respect it by doing everything you can to deliver meaningful value.