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