Tuesday, February 17th 2015 Thoughts
I’ve noticed, and I know others have as well, a trend lately. Now this trend is mystifying to me because it uses something that has long been a bane of existence for internet users.
When did these be acceptable things? I remember a few years back all of the ‘things to NEVER do on your site’ included ‘popups,’ but for some reason it’s become a rising trend to trade in the integrity of your site/business for subscribers. Yes, these popups are ‘nicer’ than the ones that create whole new windows. And yes, from a marketing standpoint, they usually work for their intended purpose. Another yes, I said integrity.
When I visit a site for the first time and the FIRST thing I see is a popup that’s all ‘sign up for my newsletter!!~*~*~’ I’m thinking – why? When you shove that popup in my face before I’ve even had a chance to look at your content, to read your blog, or find out a little bit more about you, it makes your site look like the kids in school that thought the quantity of friends was more important than the quality.
Fact of the matter is, if I like what you’re saying, or what you’re putting out into the world/web, I’ll search your site head to toe for that newsletter sign up – and if I can’t find one, I’ll ask about it. The quality of your content should be what drives your reader to sub to your site, or your newsletter, not the fact that you basically took ALL of the work out of doing it. Because, let’s be serious, looking in the sidebar or the footer really isn’t all that difficult – and nowadays it’s commonplace to stick it right in your header, which is even less work! So why is there even this need for a popup?
It’s so bad, and spread across so many sites that I visit and find that I’m at the point where if your site as a popup… no, thank you. The only ‘x’ I hit is the one for the browser tab, I don’t even bother going pass the popup to view the content anymore.
So then, how do we get those subscribers to notice our mailing lists without popups or big blinking signs that say ‘Like what we’re doing? Sub here!’? There are a bunch of solutions –
- Use smaller slide in content areas to alert the reader once they’ve reached the bottom of the page/site. Something like the Conversations Box is an excellent example – this works because not only is it small and convenient for your reader, but once it’s prompted it changes the reading area from what the user is use to in order to catch their attention. Which tells them ‘hey, something new is here,’ without being overwhelming or obtrusive. On top of that, you don’t even have to use it for your newsletter – it can be used for any social site that you’re trying to drive more traffic to. For instance, Erika at Olyvia.co uses the Conversations Box to allow people to like her Facebook page in a way that’s much more convient.
- Hello Bar is another great option which puts your newsletter sign up (or your social media links, like buttons, etc) at the very top of your site with very little work on the site owner’s end. Another great thing about Hello Bar is you can give it a ‘fixed’ position, which means that even when a user scrolls through your blog, your Hello Bar stays at the top. This means when the user is done reading your content and they love what they see (because, how could they not?) it’s quick and efficient for them to sign up or find you elsewhere online. Tiffany at About to Read has a great example of this.
- Finally, and this ones a kicker guys and gals – be creative. One of my favourite mailing lists to sub to is Kate’s over at Betty Means Business. Not only does she offer uplifting and really useful advice through her newsletter – her signup box on her site is probably the most creative way I’ve seen it done. She asks a simple question and based on the answer it helps her determine 1) if her newsletter/what she does will even help this reader and 2) if she CAN help you, it allows her to ask another question or two to BETTER help you. (The easiest way to recreate something like this would probably be with Gravity Forms.) Being creative with your sign ups leaves a lasting impression (Kate’s sure did on me), plus when you can do something your reader hasn’t seen anywhere else – it shows that you’re ahead of the game.
So, what do you think of popups? Annoying? Useful? Is there a reason you’d use them, or another solution that you can think of?