Interruption Marketing Timing Is Off

Advertising can be annoying. It is most annoying when it doesn’t show us any respect.

Email Form Overlay Example

Many sites can’t wait two seconds before they launch an overlay, which blocks me from reading the page. They want my email address (‘aint gunna happen). No doubt this tactic is the result of some ham-fisted engagement metric and I can only presume they are hitting this metric as I keep seeing these pop-up overlays, but I wonder how they are doing on trust and brand credibility numbers. Personally, I score them zero.

It’s not that wanting to collect the email address is a bad thing. The problem lays in the timing. If I’ve only just this minute arrived on site, I have no idea whether I like it or not, but one thing is certain – if the first thing I see is an overlay, then they are off to an abysmal start in the art of seduction. Interrupting the visitor at this point is just clumsy.

Get their attention, then immediately interrupt them with a bait and switch. This has been a common tactic of the advertising industry since forever, and it’s just as annoying now as it has ever been. There is a disconnect, because what people really crave is authenticity, choice and control.

Why Do It?

If the aim is positive ROI, and the ROI is positive, then it is understandable. It can work. However, it’s more likely to also preserve trust, reputation and be deemed authentic if the timing and offer is appropriate.

The way to get the email address and to retain credibility is to get out of the way. Let people see what they came to see. If a site really must force the issue to get the email address, then those sites should a) make sure the content really is worth the visitors time in the first place so they would want to return and b) delay timing of the request for the email/share until after they have had time to see the value, or they show signs of engagement by digging deeper and clicking through. Try to earn permission.

“Interruption Marketing is the enemy of anyone trying to save time. By constantly interrupting what we are doing at any given moment, the marketer who interrupts us not only tends to fail at selling his product, but wastes our most coveted commodity, time. In the long run, therefore, Interruption Marketing is doomed as a mass marketing tool. The cost to the consumer is just too high” – Seth Godin

Pop Ups Ask LeoThis site does it well. It lets you read first, then prompts you with a relevant offer as you’re about to leave. The justification is:

I’ve tested with and without, and to be completely blunt Ask Leo!’s survival requires that they remain. Without them normal attrition is such that the newsletter would fade away, visitor traffic would dwindle and the site would cease to exist.

By waiting, and providing value first, it is more likely to have gained our permission to then present an offer. If the offer is well timed, relevant and builds upon the value offered by the page, then it is likely to hook genuine subscribers.

Peter Da Vanzo is owner of Gofish Digital Marketing based in Wellington, New Zealand


Digital Marketing Noise

Marketing can sometimes generate much heat and light, yet achieve nothing.

Same as any endeavour, really. Take start-ups. I was reading this post in which Marissa Meyer, the Queen of all things Yahoo!, waxes lyrical about the work ethic:

marissa mayer yahoo


And if you go in on a Saturday afternoon, I can tell you which startups will succeed, without even knowing what they do.Being there on the weekend is a huge indicator of success, mostly because these companies just don’t happen. They happen because of really hard work”

Oh….kay. Really? Some would say “working really hard on weekends” is an odd metric by which to judge the future success of a startup. Indeed, one could ask what became of the 53 startups Yahoo did acquire, and did they lead to Yahoo’s erm….on-going success?

“Working long hours” is not a signal of anything much more than “number of hours worked”.  In isolation, it is just noise. The important thing is whether the output of “hours worked” achieved a business goal.

Content Farmers

It’s easy to get caught up “doing stuff”.  

Take the marketing tactic of  “content production”. Want some content? No problem. Hire some people to “produce” some. Like a factory. What’s better than some content? More content! More is better, right? 

If any factor is to blame for the prevalence of clickbait, it’s the media and marketing industry’s addiction to clicks and page views. The current reliance on cost-per-impression or cost-per-thousand impressions gives marketers one detail: whether people clicked on a link. “

Clicks might be an okay metric if the only aim is “get attention”, but a lousy metric if the aim is building enduring brand credibility or conversions. To know the right metrics, a marketer needs to be clear about the business aims and needs, and how the marketing tactics serve those needs.

Focus On Value 

Marketers can avoid making self-indulgent marketing noise by tying marketing tactics to business requirements.

SEO. PPC. CRO. Remarketing. Content marketing. These are all tactics. The requirement, for most businesses, is to “make money”. They do so by providing value. Marketers make that value clear to potential customers. Customers are concerned with obtaining value. It’s important to be clear about the value proposition, relative to competitors, before diving into tactics, else the risk is the tactics don’t serve any goal at all, other than “appearing busy”.   

Business Fundamentals

In order to get to the heart of any business, we need to know the answer to these questions:

  • What does this business sell?
  • To whom?
  • Why would people buy from this company, and not someone else?
  • What value does this business provide for people?
  • How does this business close a sale?

Pretty basic, although the last question can often be overlooked by marketers. Are sales increasing? If the marketing campaign delivers leads, but the business can’t close them due to poor sales process or the leads don’t provide buyers at the right stage in the cycle, then the marketing campaign may appear ineffective. Some may say this is out-of-scope of a marketing campaign, and it may well be, but it will soon become a marketers problem if leads go nowhere.

A business that can’t clearly articulate a unique value proposition, or has trouble answering any of these questions, is likely to burn money on digital marketing campaigns, no matter how well those campaigns are executed. This is because the internet is flooded with offers. It’s not flooded with genuine, unique, well-articulated value propositions, and genuine value is the key differentiator that helps make digital marketing campaigns cost effective. 

Marketing Strategy

Another huge topic, but is essence:

  • What is the current situation?
  • Where are we trying to get to?
  • How do we get there?
  • How do we know when we’ve on the road to getting there?
  • How do we know we’ve arrived?

So, an analysis of the current market and the business place within it, define clear, measurable goals, devise a set of tactics that will lead there, measure and adjust those tactics along the way, and final measurement and review. In future posts, I’ll deep-dive into each bullet-point and look at ways to correctly analyse each step. “Measure twice, cut once”.

Finally, Tactics

A lot of digital marketing starts at the wrong end – with tactics. Doing so is the equivalent of randomly firing at a target in the dark  if the preceding steps haven’t been followed. Sometimes, a company gets lucky. More often, it burns money on poorly targeted busy-ness. 

Devise a clear set of measurements, again linking back to the business goals. How does producing content X serve the business goal? Is ranking for terms X, Y and Z serving the business goal?  How does tactic X align with the strategy? There should be a clear answer to these questions, and clear measurement.

I’ll dive deep into the “how” of these areas over the common months, however, in summary, the steps to creating an effective digital campaign are:

  • Determine the business proposition
  • Devise a strategy to serve business goals
  • Create a mix of digital tactics that serve the strategy
  • Put in place analytics to measure the effectiveness of the tactics

Align those three areas, and digital campaigns have a good chance of succeeding 🙂

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Peter Da Vanzo is owner of Gofish Digital Marketing based in Wellington, New Zealand

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Further Related Articles:

The rise of the Micro Influencers:  “It turns out that once a social media influencer reaches a critical mass of followers, audience engagement actually begins to decrease”.

Long hours backfire for people and companies: “There’s a large body of research that suggests that regardless of our reasons for working long hours, overwork does not help us. For starters, it doesn’t seem to result in more output.”

Why Clickbait Is Dangerous For Brands: “I love metrics and I love thinking about optimization, but I think that the optimal state is being slightly suboptimal because as soon as you try to actually optimize, particularly for a single metric, you end up finding that the best way to optimize for that metric ends up perverting the metric and making the metric mean the opposite of what it used to mean.”


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Peter Da Vanzo is owner of Gofish Digital Marketing based in Wellington, New Zealand