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Are pop-ups annoying or useful?

I am seeing a massive increase in the number of sites that serve pop-ups on entry, inviting you to give your email address to subscribe, or to receive some free booklet. I don’t know about you but I hate this form of marketing with a passion, and I think it’s time to complain about it.

I am amazed that marketing professionals – many of whom would tell their clients how pop-up advertising annoys customers – are advocating the use of pop ups to promote their own email lists. While that’s understandable, it is aggressive and, in my opinion, rude.

Angry Bird pop up
A fake pop-up ad. You can’t really respond – no matter how much you’d like to.

Imagine you go to a bookshop to browse and before you are allowed to see anything a person jumps out at you and makes you listen to a sales pitch. How often do you walk into a clothes shop and hate the staffer who comes straight up and asks if they can help? You just want the right to be left alone to have a look around.

I understand the argument well. “Your website is not working for you if you are not capturing people’s email addresses.” That doesn’t mean you have to slap them about the head to make them aware of your message.

Pop-ups serve the website more than they serve the customer, and when you are ruining the customer experience because you think your aggressive sales technique is more important, it’s time to think again.

Supporters and users of these pop-ups argue that they are very effective. They do boost sign-ups. You know what? Banner ads used to be very effective, until people realised what they were and got used to them. Pop up ads and pop-under ads used to be very effective until people got annoyed by them and started ignoring them. Adverts got bigger because response rates dropped, and response rates on these bigger ads dropped too.

As more and more sites use these “highly effective” pop-ups, so will response rates drop. If a customer is trying to read your website, let them. Put the offer in or around the page – not in front of it.

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Published inDigital Marketing

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