How to Use Lightboxes to Enhance Your Visitor’s Experience

By Abby Dineen

May 9, 2012

When visitors land on your website, you have a certain amount of time to present the most persuasive message possible to win a sale before they walk away. Figuring out how to communicate this message in an effective way—without disrupting their visit—is key to executing successful ecommerce campaigns.

Lightboxes, or modal windows, can help solve that problem. They are easy to implement, work independently of existing website structure, and can support varying sizes and functions based on your campaign needs. For example, using a lightbox on a landing page (as shown at right) can give you the ability to display your marketing message in a larger graphic, drawing more attention than you would likely get with a promotional banner.

You can use a lightbox in a number of ways to help improve conversions. A few promotions to consider:

1. New Visitors. Pay attention to the different segments of customers visiting your website in order to deliver the most tailored lightbox messages. You can tell new visitors about return policies, email newsletters, and other perks that come with shopping on your site.

2. Shipping Offers. Communicate your international shipping and delivery options in an easy-to-find manner for visitors coming from outside the U.S. Let these visitors know that you ship to them, and how much it will cost.

3. Sales Alerts. Call attention to the limited time left on a sale to create urgency.

4. Location-based Deals. Be sure to let visitors from states where you’re not required to collect sales tax know that their purchases won’t incur this extra fee.

5. Customer Testimonials. Show testimonials about quality customer service for first-time visitors or about different product categories to customers who might need reassurance to shop across categories.

6. Customer Support. If you know a visitor has been on the website longer than average, use a lightbox to display customer service contact information or encourage her to chat with online support if she has any questions. Those options can help guide her through the conversion process.

7. Affiliate Consistency. Welcome visitors who have clicked through from an affiliate website with a message that acknowledges their starting point and emphasizes the offer that motivated them to take action.

8. Saved Cart. When returning visitors still have items in their cart, remind them about these products and encourage them to complete their purchase on this shopping trip.

Obviously, a lightbox won’t work for every visitor. If someone is visiting your website via a smartphone, a lightbox won’t be very effective because of the device’s small screen size. And it’s best to use caution once visitors have passed the cart page in the conversion process; you don’t want to distract them from completing their purchase.

Finally, don’t forget to make it clear how visitors can close the box or complete your call to action. You want your lightbox efforts to add value for visitors, not frustration.

Extensive testing across a mix of online retailers has proven that lightboxes can be widely successful for a number of customer segments, not to mention powerful at generating higher conversions and improving the customer experience. It’s a technique that’s definitely worth a test or two to see how it can be integrated into your promotions.

Abby Dineen is Client Retention and Acquisition Specialist at Monetate, where she ensures her clients are creating innovative ways to generate incremental revenue from merchandising, targeting, and testing campaigns intended to create the most relevant online customer experience. She specializes in running marathons, shoe shopping and party planning.

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