How Neil Patel—KissMetrics and Crazy Egg Founder—Uses Exit Overlays

by Angus Lynch on December 9, 2014
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Neil Patel is one of the web’s top influencers.

As founder of Quicksprout, and co-founder of Kissmetrics, Crazy Egg, and Hello Bar, Neil has pioneered growth hacks and web marketing strategies that help some of the world’s largest brands boost traffic and revenue.

Neil was also an early adopter of what’s known as exit-intent technology—the juice that drives exit overlays—and uses them to boost revenue for most of his major brands.

If you aren’t familiar with exit-intent technology, it’s a tracking algorithm that monitors user behavior on your site. When the algorithm detects an abandoning visitor, it triggers an exit overlay that attempts to capture a sale or sign-up before the user leaves for good.

So what’s the best way to use exit overlays? We spoke with Neil to ask where he places them, how he targets them to different user segments, and what kind of conversion lift he gets by using this technology.

So let’s dig in!

Exit overlays on

Neil uses exit overlays on KissMetrics to build email subscriber lists.

To collect emails, Neil offers a free case study on “extracting real results from your marketing channels.”

When an abandoning user is detected, the overlay below activates and asks users if they’re interested in the case study.

Exit overlay on, activated when users begin to abandon the page

If users click “Yes,” the overlay changes to an email opt-in form that reinforces the messaging from the original form.

Email opt-in exit overlay on

“From an email collection standpoint, it has doubled my conversion rate,” says Neil, while also noting he wouldn’t expect this kind of lift if the campaign were designed to drive sales.

The placement of this exit overlay is key. Neil places it on the KissMetrics blog—not the homepage—so it’s served only to abandoning blog readers.

Blog readers are users who value what you have to say, and therefore are more likely to opt-in to informational offers.

Neil also notes that overlays placed on blog pages should only be shown to first-time visitors to avoid irritating regular readers (we couldn’t agree more).

After submission, Neil uses a confirmation screen within the same exit overlay window.

Confirmation screen on

Since this exit overlay is seen only once per user, doesn’t open a new window, doesn’t inhibit the navigation bar, and doesn’t interrupt active browsing sessions, Neil successfully doubles his email conversion rate without compromising the user experience.

Exit overlays on

As most of us in the online marketing world know, QuickSprout is a hub of information on content marketing, analytics and strategy.

Like KissMetrics, Neil’s exit overlay on Quicksprout is designed to capture new email subscribers. And also like KissMetrics, it’s placed on the blog in order to target users who are already familiar with the value of QuickSprout’s insight.

Neil’s exit overlay on

The design similarities between each of Neil’s exit overlays are apparent here. “The bigger the better,” he says. “That way people can focus completely on the overlay and the value you are providing. And having them look pretty doesn’t hurt.”

Neil has tested several variations of this overlay, as per the example below.

Variation of Neil’s exit overlay on

Both examples employ similar design tactics: big and bold with plenty of blank space, and high contrast around the CTA to delineate it from other elements on the page.

Exit Overlays on

Crazy Egg offers tools to help web marketers optimize revenue from existing traffic. They’re noted pioneers of “eye tracking technology,” which shows site owners how users behave on their site.

Neil uses exit overlays on Crazy Egg to drive sales. The overlay is placed on the homepage—not the blog—in order to target users who may be interested in a monthly subscription to Crazy Egg.

Exit overlay on

When users click the CTA, they are not asked for an email address, but instead taken directly to the Crazy Egg signup page, pictured below:

Signup page on

Not surprisingly, site owners shouldn’t expect the same lift (as email) when using exit overlays to drive sales, but it’s significant nonetheless.

“When done right, you can typically expect to see a 10% plus lift,” he says, “I certainly wouldn’t expect a 100% increase.”


When exit overlays are targeted to the right pages, right users, and use the principles of conversion-centered design, they can drive an instant conversion lift for both email opt-ins and immediate sales.

Neil Patel is a high-profile marketer, but any marketer can use exit overlays to increase revenue.

With Rooster’s exit-intent technology, online marketers can expect to convert anywhere from 3 to 18% of abandoning visitors into leads, sales and signups.

How many abandoning visitors can you convert? Rooster is available on a free 30-day trial.



Trackbacks and Pingbacks:

  1. How to Growth-Hack Your Email List Using Exit-Intent Overlays - The Conversion Scientist - March 11, 2015

    […] going to discuss today is building some seriously kickass email lists for marketers across the web; Neil Patel has used it to double his email his email opt-in […]

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