In August, Kristi Hines wrote a post titled The Case For and Against Popup Opt-In Forms. For the post, she asked my opinionregarding the recent trend of opt-in popups sweeping the blogging world and this was my response.
“I find auto “join my mailing list” popups to be extremely invasive and they create an incredibly bad user experience. Especially when I start reading something and then out of the blue BAM an auto pop asking me to join a mailing list interrupts my reading. How the hell do I know if I want to join your mailing list if you don’t give me a chance to read anything?
It’s the equivalent of walking into a bar and pulling up a bar stool next to the hot blonde on the end and saying “would you like to have sex with me?” Whoa slow down speed racer.
95% of the time I hit the back arrow when I am rudely interrupted by the auto pop. The one exception will be if I’m friends with the site owner and I’m willing to overlook sometimes if that’s the case.”
Ileane Smith also put together this video for the same post that I think illustrates my point perfectly.
I’ve been thinking more about these popups lately, and I thought it was time to explore the topic a little further so I can fully explain why I think they are such a terrible idea. Don’t get me wrong. I’m a marketer, so I understand the intention here. But I still think these popups do more harm than good .You want to get more subscribers, but at what cost?
3 reasons I’m so against these popups.
1. They are popups. Next to email spam, popups have long been some of the most hated forms of advertising on the internet. They are invasive and unwelcome. They rudely popup over whatever website you are actually trying to read. They’re annoying by design.
Allow me to me elaborate on this point a little bit using my own experience. I see a post that sounds interesting in my Twitter stream, so I click on the link to read the article. I get about one paragraph into it and BAM a popup not only rudely interrupts my reading, but it’s now asking me to subscribe to their RSS, newsletter, or whatever it is before I even have a chance to read one full article. How the hell do I know if I want to subscribe if you don’t give me a chance to finish the article? By this time, I’m so annoyed by the rude interruption I hit the back arrow.
2. They kill your social media marketing efforts. On sites like Digg, Twitter, StumbleUpon, etc., I can tell you popups significantly decreases your site’s marketability. Why? Because now when someone finds the popup annoying, they can vote against your article or post. An auto-popup will not go very far on sites like Stumbleupon or Digg before it starts getting thumbs downs or buried. So by having this type of popups you are screwing yourself over.
Also, you better believe me when I tell you that the chances of me sharing your content on my Twitter stream or in my social media circles are slim to none if you have an auto popup on your site or blog. My reputation is on the line, and I’m not going to tarnish it by sending my followers to a site that is going to throw a popup in their face.
3. I can’t be the only one who finds them annoying. It’s all about usability. If a blog owner puts a popups up over the screen you are reading, it is clearly creating a negative user experience. How many people do you want to run off of your site by throwing a popup in their faces?
Mystified by the Madness
I continue to be completely baffled by the growing number of bloggers that seem to think the opt-in auto popup is a good idea. There are plenty of other ways to gain subscribers without the over the top annoying popup. As Andrew Rondeau noted in Kristi’s article, he uses a WordPress plugin called subscribers magnet. Andrew noted in the article that his opt-in rate increased by 205% after installing this plugin.
If you’re creating great content, people are going to feel compelled to register or sign up. You can still have a good signup form with a compelling offer and a strong call to action without the freaking popup in the face.
What are your thoughts and opinions regarding the wave of opt-in popups that seem to be overtaking the blogosphere?