“Bounce” – the saddest word in websites. It refers to visitors who take one look and exit your site without clicking your “Book an Appointment” button or reading your awesome description of how awesome you are, or doing any of the other stuff they should. Don’t let them bounce without reaching out and tugging at their sleeves for one last chance at their business. Try these 2 tools:

1. Exit Intent Overlays (or Pop-Overs)

Yes, name is a mouthful, but really smart technology. The software senses when a visitor intends to exit by clocking the speed and direction of the mouse movement (for instance, towards the back button) and “overlay” the website with a box in a split second.

The box must offer a proposition that will stop visitors in their tracks. That could be a coupon…

Coupon Overlay

Or a drawing…

Drawing Overlay

A free gift…

Free Gift Overlay

A special offer…

Special Offer Overlay

Or something educational…

Educational Download Overlay

One tactic that works, tests have shown: After your value proposition comes two buttons, a yes and a no, instead of a single button to accept —that seems to make visitors stop and think. For instance, “Yes, send me my money-saving offer” and “No, I don’t want to save money.”

Users who click “yes” go to a page where they enter an email address and other information. Or the overlay may have a box for direct entry of an email address.

The pop-overs can be tailored to target visitors, for instance, depending on the page they are about to exit from. If they made it to a page about a service on your site, the pop-over could offer a deal specific to that service. You can exclude return visitors from seeing the overlays or limit the number of times they see them, say to three return visits and then no more.

And pop-overs come in other settings besides exit-intent. There’s the “you-spent-a-lot-of-time-on-site-without-taking-an-action” pop-over and the “you-scrolled-almost to-the-bottom-of-the-page-you-must-be-really-interested” pop-over. Understand though that these versions may cover content just as the reader was reading so…

Warning: Don’t be annoying.

Overlays are not the pop-ups from the bad old days that would explode new windows across the screen. Technically speaking, they are “modals” that live in the code of the website. And people seem pretty accepting of overlays these days (enlarge a photo on Facebook and you see an overlay), perhaps because they can click an “X” to make them go away or they can just close the website. Still, don’t remind users of old-school pop-ups with garish colors or hyperventilating text. And have a genuinely compelling or intriguing offer to make.

2. Live Chat

Another overlay: a small chat box that emerges from the bottom or right of the screen when the page loads and sits there during the visitor’s session, with a friendly invitation like “Can we help you?”. A click on the box and it turns into a form for the visitor to enter a question.

Live Chat Overlay 1 Live Chat Overlay 2

On the back end, your staff receives a message in an application or via one of the standard instant messaging services and can converse in real time and take their best shot at keeping the visitor from the exits. After hours, the form goes away or can convert into a contact form for the visitor to leave a message.

Live chat operates “in the cloud”, in other words hosted by the vendor, and is available at small-business-friendly pricing as a standalone or as part of complete website packages.

If you can’t make the staff commitment for live chat, a simpler alternative is a call-back form. A little phone icon on your site (or the cute flashing message light on this family law firm website) cues visitors that they don’t have to bounce empty handed—they can fill out a form with a phone number and preferred call-back time and your staff will be in touch.

Exit pop-overs are offered as part of Dex Media’s Thryv website offering.