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