How to Annoy Visitors of Your Website: Popups to Signup for Newsletters

The internet has increasingly become a place to find information, to share knowledge that you have but also to earn money while doing so. Many website owners wish to turn their visitors into loyal returning visitors which makes the website more and more popular. This means that more money can be made on that website through advertisements and affiliate programs.

One way to let people come back to your site is by creating a regularly published newsletter. A website's newsletter contains the latest news regarding your website and usually there is also content that cannot be found on the website itself. People can subscribe by email and if people like something in the newsletter they will return to your website to read the content that you have just published.

Welcome! Now signup please!

We have all seen this before: you search for something online and upon visiting a search result, you are immediately presented with a big popup that asks you to leave your email address and to sign up for their newsletter. In the old days this was a separate window but most people block those windows so they now resort to making the 'popup' part of the actual webpage content.

Computer frustration!
Computer frustration! | Source

This approach fails to grasp the following point: I have not even seen your content. Why would I care about your newsletter?

The real world equivalent would be to have a staff member standing at the front door of a store who steps in front of you when you enter for the first time. The staff member has just one question: would you like to signup for our member card so you can get discounts and weekly mailings? You have just entered the store and you have not even seen the products!

There is not a single business guru on the planet that recommends such a business practise, I think I can safely say that! Why would you do the same online? Have the rules of the game fundamentally changed? What happened to the age old principle of caring about your customers? They happen to visit you by electronic means and you may not even be an online store but the way it works is the same.

Why do website owners resort to these tactics?

In an ideal world, only people who genuinely like your content will subscribe to the newsletter because they want to know more. But website authors want to have nice statistics to show to advertisers and those in control of affiliate programs. If you can show that your newsletter is read by thousands of people then you are in a very good position to attract advertisers, to get guest articles or to negotiate better affiliate deals.

And that is where some people cross the ethical line from 'acceptable' to 'not acceptable'. Their desire to get more and more subscribers drives them to do things they wouldn't otherwise do. It is the same story for those who wish to get more followers on Twitter or any other website: the more followers you have, the greater your perceived influence and therefore the better your chances of earning money.

Why do websites get away with this approach?

Here is why I think websites can still get away with creating a "newsletter signup popup" that people cannot avoid. Not all people are as savvy or skilled as others with computers and some of them are more at the mercy of their machine than the other way around. They may consider it "normal" that you have to subscribe first to see the content - after all, it only takes a few seconds to enter your email address and hey, you may indeed get great things emailed to you!

The above is some speculation on my part but I don't see how else people would give their email address so easily to a website they have not even seen. Subscribing to a newsletter is usually a lot easier than unsubscribing and the website may not provide what you expected from it. Look around first and then subscribe.

Abuse of the Facebook share button - Anything to get the word out!

The straw that broke the camel's back and what prompted me to write this article was a website that, on my very first visit, darkened the page and showed a Facebook-looking window with just one option: the Share button. In small font it said that the alternative was to wait 30 seconds before I could see anything of that website.

Either I "shared" the website on Facebook or I had to wait 30 seconds - a very long time in the digital world I can tell you. I have not even seen your content that I was searching for and you are now asking me to share it on Facebook with people I care about? What kind of tactic is that?

I understand it is difficult for you to get subscribers to your newsletter. But this is not how you run a website or online business. Let's look at a different way of getting subscribers for your newsletter.

Suggestions to improve your website

To prevent this article from being mostly a rant, I will now give some suggestions to improve your website:

  • Don't use popups to promote your newsletter in any way. You should not lower your standards by resorting to this approach. You can get subscribers but make sure people who signup for your newsletter or mailing list actually want to do so.
  • Make the presence of your newsletter obvious but let people decide. If you want people to take action, such as joining your group on Facebook, following you on Twitter or subscribing to your newsletter, then you must make it obvious that you provide these options or services. Use big buttons to show that people can follow and subscribe but let a visitor decide whether it is the right time to do so. People who don't signup yet may do that in the future.
  • Mention your newsletter or other online presence frequently. In addition to that, mention the benefits that people will get when they signup. Keep it real and be honest. Give some examples of things that your newsletter contains and that people will have access to when they signup.
  • Focus on creating content that people want to know more about. Whatever the niche of your website may be, simply write articles, get the word out and keep publishing your newsletter. People will subscribe if they like it.

This article was written by Simeon Visser. I am earning money online by writing here at HubPages.com. Would you like to earn money online as well? Read the success stories and sign up today to get started!

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Comments 10 comments

Right On Time profile image

Right On Time 5 years ago from Australia

practical and logical advice - yeah I hate the popup requests it's glorified spam and lowers the tone of a website. anyway best of luck with your HubPages venture.


simeonvisser profile image

simeonvisser 5 years ago Author

@Right On Time: Nice to see that we agree. I wish you all the best with your HubPages ventures too. I just became one of your followers. Although I don't have a car and I cannot really relate to your current hubs, I do see you are quite active here and I hope to see more of your writings.


karenfreemansmith profile image

karenfreemansmith 5 years ago from Oregon

I agree. Make great content then people will wany your newsletter, not the other way around. Can't help thinking of a guy I met through an online dating service recently who wanted to know if I'd have sex with him before we ever even met for coffee or anything. We never did meet. Same way with most of those pop-ups on a website. It's enough for me to not give them a chance in the first place.


danieliuhasz profile image

danieliuhasz 5 years ago from Romania

Hey, simeonvisser. Finally home! :)) Enjoying coffee, commenting here, and I'm off.

I so hate this approach, especially when I am searching something and I am on the run. Guess that it is much better when simply surfing and stepping over good content. Now that is a case in which I would subscribe.


simeonvisser profile image

simeonvisser 5 years ago Author

@karenfreemansmith and @danieliuhasz: Yes, we should subscribe when the content is indeed good. I don't give these websites a chance either as usually there are other search results anyway.


Austinstar profile image

Austinstar 5 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

I was doing quite well at Examiner.com, happily writing health related articles and pretending to be a real reporter, then I tried to visit some of the articles I had written. Pop-up after pop-up appeared! I complained to the editors, but still the pop-ups continue. I quit writing there because of it.

You are very right about this! I will shun the sites that produce pop-ups. When will they learn?


simeonvisser profile image

simeonvisser 5 years ago Author

@Austinstar: Yep, popups and anything annoying can be enough to stop contributing to a platform. I'm sure HubPages won't go down that road but if they do I predict quite a few will stop contributing.


melbel profile image

melbel 5 years ago from New Buffalo, Michigan

I hate winning the millionth visitor contest that a lot of websites have. It's strange because I win that a lot. :P There is this one site that is helpful for me learning the Ruby programming language that has that add. When I'm trying to grasp concepts like recursion while having that ad in my face (its a sidebar bugger and not a pop-up) I get really frustrated. I have to use ad-block when visiting that site. :(


simeonvisser profile image

simeonvisser 5 years ago Author

@melbel: I'm very lucky to win those contents too, how is that possible!! Anyway, yes, advertising on the internet can be done well but there are many sites that are just annoying with their ads.


iain-mars profile image

iain-mars 5 years ago from United Kingdom

I HATE pop ups! And websites with music are just soul destroying!

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