That’s harsh. But it’s true. And it’s because of the way …
As I was saying… I came to your site to learn something. I have a pain point you promised you had a solution for but just as I …
I can’t even get through the first ten seconds of my quest for knowledge before I’m barraged by your incessant need to gather data and close deals fast. I am offended that you don’t believe I can successfully navigate your site on my own. I am disgusted that you tried to hide the little “x” that gives me the power to control my own user experience. I feel frustrated because I’m not getting what I came here for. I quickly look for the quickest exit from your site — and I won’t be back. You should know, I’m not the only one.
According to research by Hubspot and Adblocker Plus, 73 percent of people agree pop-ups are the worst when compared to other forms of marketing. In fact, even Google took up the fight against pop-ups in 2017 releasing a popular and convenient
for “intrusive interstitials.” The Chrome 71 browser launched in December 2018 was designed to automatically block ads on sites it determined ‘abusive’ to the user experience. While nearly half (47 percent) of internet users regularly use an ad blocker according to
by Digital Information World, it seems the majority of companies can’t get enough of this obnoxious marketing strategy. It’s clear by now, like many of your ‘would be/could have been’ consumers, I hate it. But if you’re going to do it, you should understand how to use pop-ups without running users off. In fact, if done with context front-running your content marketing strategy, you might even see your conversions climb. Here are six reasons your pop-ups are ruining the user experience and how to make the most of the worst marketing tactic:
Pop-ups are intrusive
Imagine picking out a few new fall sweaters at Target and popping into a dressing room. You know you’re going to buy a sweater. You just need a moment to commit to the size or color or style. Suddenly, an employee bursts through the door and offers you a coupon.
You proceed with your fitting when the door flies open again and they ask for your email address. X
You try once again to assess which sweater you’re prepared to purchase. The door flies open a final time and they suggest you buy this week’s frozen dinner entree because 54 percent of their sweater-wearing shoppers like Salsbury steak. EXIT
This scenario may seem a bit facetious but it’s startlingly similar to the typical online experience for consumers. That’s why 64 percent of Hubspot’s respondents insist pop-ups are annoying. In fact, the majority say pop-ups today are more intrusive than they were 2-3 years ago.Stop intruding on your users’ decision-making process.
Let them try on your brand. Let them stand back and see themselves benefiting from your solutions. In fact, this is the only way you will develop returning customers. Rather than bursting in and offering what you think is beneficial, offer your users value through your content. Then give them a moment to digest and leave them options to choose from through strategic linking and non-obtrusive buttons. Animated call-to-action buttons are attention-grabbing without forcing the reader to take additional steps to avoid your intrusion.
Pop-ups are disruptive
Quite literally, everyone is busy. In fact, busy-ness is an epidemic. So you should just assume when a potential customer clicks your Google listing or follows a Facebook ad, they are doing so with intention. They have a need. And it’s urgent if they are taking time away from their busy day to pause on your site.
In fact, more than half (54 percent) of Hubspot’s respondents agree pop-ups are disruptive and create the greatest amount of irritation to visitors when they obscure their focus or attention and offer irrelevant information.
Stop disrupting your users’ course of action with requests to do YOU a favor.Signing up for your emails should be something your readers want to do because they can’t wait to devour more of your hot tips, services or products. It shouldn’t come as a surprise they didn’t visit your site today to boost your domain authority or pad your ROI.Don’t ask visitors for anything until you’ve solved their problem. Make your newsletter signup a button that lives in the sidebar and is easy to access. Or, if you must collect information via pop-ups, set your prompt in an overlay format that politely asks readers if they want to keep up with your content and special deals as they exit the site.
Pop-ups are offensive
The last thing you want to do is offend your customer base. If you’re not careful with how you position your pop-ups and what information you offer, you’re doing just that. As a matter of fact, a third of online users in Hubspot’s previously mentioned Adblocker Plus survey reported that ads (yes, your pop-ups are ads) are offensive. They went as far as to say “ads today insult my intelligence.”
Not to mention pop-ups that border on psychologically-abusive. “Confirm shaming” forces users to admit a negative in order to exit the pop-up.
Stop offending your users by assuming you know what they need. You probably don’t think that is what you’re doing when your pop-up boldly proclaims ‘You need a better night’s sleep.’ While that’s true for 1 in 3 adults, you have no right to assume your vistors’ personal habits or needs.
Ask questions that motivate your potential customers to look inward. Let them decide whether they need what you have to offer. Customer loyalty is earned by building mutual trust, not forcing the hand. Build out content that is rich in valuable (and current) facts based on relevant industry research, and provide links to helpful guides and how-tos instead of pushing a hard sell or sign-up list.
Pop-ups are manipulative
Speaking of trust — did you know 15 percent of online users have clicked an ad because they were tricked into it and another 34 percent admit they clicked pop-ups by mistake, according to Hubspot’s report? Not so fun fact: much of what you think you know about pop-up effectiveness is fake news. Only 7 percent of users in the Hubspot survey say they clicked on a pop-up because it actually interested or applied to them. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve scrolled through a piece of content and opened a pop-up ad because I accidentally tapped it while dragging the screen. I’ve hit the ‘X’ on an ad and the sneaky web designers embedded the actual exit command outside the parameters of the X to ‘fake’ click-rate data. (It’s a fact, folks.) And numerous times, I’ve tried to click a pop-up I thought would redirect me to a page where I could learn more, only to automatically download a PDF or app I didn’t want.
Stop using pop-ups as a shady strategy to favorably drive metrics. You’re not actually doing yourself a favor. Too many of those visitors did not mean to click your ad. A small fraction likely closed the pop-up without providing their email or following a lead and actually returned to the page (you at least get that if you’re lucky). Many more closed out in frustration, meaning their time spent on your post and site has now marred your visitor metrics entirely.
If you must use pop-ups, time them to appropriately follow when a user scrolls. After the reader has had time to move through a few more sentences in your blog post or product page, your relevant (I can’t stress this point enough, people) and valuable pop-up can be used to enhance their user experience. Consider a ‘Learn More’ notification that leads to advanced content drawing your reader deeper into your funnel before pushing for sign-ups — or even better, lower those paywalls and offer a downloadable checklist or guide.
Pop-ups are invasive
Cybersecurity is an issue you simply cannot deny. And your visitors are concerned about what you’re doing with their information. They aren’t even sure if your pop-up is your own. In fact, Hubspot discovered 32 percent of online users have privacy concerns about pop-ups and another 39 percent are worried about security.
Telemarketers and hackers are going to great lengths to mask their non holistic intentions. They are making calls from made-up local phone numbers, emailing from close friend’s accounts, and even posting Ray-Ban ads on your Facebook page. Your site visitors are not going to just plug their personal information into the first pop-up that imposes itself into their experience on your site.
Stop asking for personal information as soon as users enter your site.The majority are not going to give it to you. Maybe, if they return after tolerating your pop-ups the first time, they’ll consider giving you their email address. And if you’re lucky, it will be one they check. There are plenty of
tutorials for creating fake email accounts and even fake email generators. In fact, 2019 research by Data Marketing Association revealed over a quarter of people use an alternative email address to filter marketing emails of brands they don’t trust.
Create a designated page where users can provide the information they are comfortable sharing. Don’t require phone numbers, full names, personal details about the state they reside in or their occupation. A simple email address and first name (so your marketing team can customize outreach later) will suffice and make your visitors feel much less skeptical. Gather user-metrics through surveys sent to willing participants — for example, the people who signed up for your email newsletter via the non-offensive button in your sidebar.
Pop-ups are parasitic
It should go without saying, but never ask your site visitors to remove their ad blocker — even for the most righteous reason. Hundreds of millions of people globally use ad blockers. You may have found clever ways to slip some pop-ups through, and they will forgive a minor offense. But if you ask online users to lower their defenses, you will have indefinitely blacklisted your brand. There are numerous reasons internet users filter the content they view through ad blockers, but at least 1 in 5 respondents in research conducted by
say they use ad blockers to preserve their mobile device batteries and another 22 percent say they use them to keep from using up their data. Your pop-ups cost your users time and money.Stop draining energy from your users’ experiences… and their devices.This touches back a bit on busy-ness. Your site visitors have a small window of opportunity to divulge your information. That does NOT mean you need to force more down their throats in less time. They need you to respect their time and deliver results without depleting their stores — whether that comes in the form of battery life or patience.Stop abusing pop-ups. OK. There I said it. Instead, create a content marketing strategy that explores the various pain points your potential customers might have. Survey your users for deeper insight and craft deliverables based on real data that meets the needs of your target consumer. And then, if you really love those pop-ups, lead your users on a respectful and thoughtful journey through your conversion funnel. Words are powerful. And if you order them in a way that tells stories your customers relate to, they will devour your content…uninterrupted. They will follow your leads…because they’re interested. They will click through, learn more, and sign up because they believe in you and your brand.
I'm the editorial and visual director at Ride the Sail Marketing. I've always enjoyed the challenge and thrill associated with the command of words on human emotions. When I'm not editing, designing, or drafting for RSM and our amazing clients, I'm nurturing the love of reading and writing in my personal tribe of tiny humans, or making music. Thanks for visiting our blog!