Should you include pop ups on your website?

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popups
Are marketing popups effective, offensive, or both. I would advocate testing the concept before reaching any conclusions.
popups
Are marketing pop ups effective, offensive, or both. I would advocate testing the concept before reaching any conclusions.

Darren Slaughter doesn’t like website pop ups. You can see his video below. His opposition to this somewhat intrusive marketing tool is so strong that he cites a blog posing from a reliable source advocating in favour of this web-site marketing technique as proof that you shouldn’t use them.

The source — mailing list management service Aweber.com — in fact, advocates in favour of pop ups after taking on the arguments both for and against them:

Two things I hear a lot from fellow marketers:

  1. I really need to grow my email list.
  2. Pop-ups annoy me and I’m not sure about using them on my site.

Slaughter’s argument against pop-ups comes in this line in the Aweber story:

We saw that the average conversion rate for email pop-ups is 1.66%. This means that 1.66% of people who visited a site gave their email.

He argues that if the conversion rate is that low” it doesn’t make sense to disturb, disrupt, or anger your readers to simply get some effectively low-quality names on your mailing list.

BUT . . . there is a counter-argument, one which I’ve been testing on our Canadian sites (and with respect for limitations in the system). And so far, the pop ups are working as they should.

Canada’s Anti Spam Legislation (CASL) regulations are incredibly stringent. We cannot mine or gather email addresses and use them without express written consent except in some clearly defined circumstances, and then only for very controlled circumstances.

Say, for example, you receive a note from someone referring that individual to you. You are allowed to send a single email to the referred person. No more. If the individual doesn’t respond, you must ensure that email address isn’t renewed. And if someone makes an inquiry, but doesn’t actually become a client, you have just a few months to turn that request into a valid ‘express written consent’ name or the name must be removed from the list.

Within these rules, I’ve encountered a major list-culling challenge. (The CASL rules only apply for Canadian sites and visitors; the US rules accurately described under the CAN-SPAM acronym, allow you to do virtually anything as long as you make it easy for visitors to unsubscribe and unfortunately for the bad guys, that isn’t a deterrent at all, since the unsubscribe names can easily be floated or shared — in fact, using an “unsubscribe” in the US will, in many cases, increase your spam volume.)

I’ve tried various non-intrusive forms and tools to add to our subscriber base. These work, to some degree. But the results from an inexpensive WordPress pop up tool, Simple Signup, have been quite satisfactory, generating between about one and three sign-ups a day. I need to improve my metrics measuring tools, but estimate the conversion rate is about 2.5 to 3 per cent.

The tool allow me to control when the pop ups appear and to make sure they don’t continue to bother people who sign up for the free e-letter.

There also is a clear box which allows you to x the pop up to make it disappear . . . and a provision within the console that allows you to remove the “x” — effectively forcing visitors to complete the form if they want to access the content.

I considered and have tested the mandatory option. The argument in favor: If you want to read the free editorial content from our publications, you need to sign up, or else. However, on reviewing the data, I see little value in forcing the issue. I received a significant volume of fake sign-ups (addresses like ggg.ggg) and a few people who used the form responded to say how unhappy they are with the process. The valid sign-up rate appears only marginally higher if you don’t allow an escape valve, so it is back in place.

As for the Canadian list, it is much smaller than the lists we use to notify readers in the US about our publications there, but there are a few interesting observations: The open rate is incredibly better, as is the conversion rate. Proof, I suppose, that a genuine request and relationship-based list will do much better than one built on spammy data-gathering.

As for Darren Slaughter, I certainly respect his opinion on this matter, and in fact have taken a more gradual approach to pop-ups especially on the US sites. I would advocate a simple approach to resolving the matter: Test the options. And in fact, I’ll shortly test pop-ups on the Construction Marketing Ideas blog.  If you inconvenience a few true non-clients to build business with the majority, is it a mistake to use the marketing tool? I think not.

 

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3 COMMENTS

  1. I agree with Darren on this, to me, the worse is the pop ups that won’t go away unless you register, I leave the site 100% of the time. Ironically, the pop up on this site came up twice, and I am already subscribed and like this blog very much, but it would have caused me to move on if it I was exploring a new blog.
    Good conversation to have!

  2. Chris, thanks for these comments. The test is still in early stages. There are some variables to evaluate, such as how early the popup appears after initially visiting the site. So far, I’m not noticing a meaningful increase in signups, but need to give this a few weeks before concluding anything.

  3. I appreciate you including my rant in your finding Mark. When I saw the number from Aweber, it really stuck out. Having always been an advocate against, that take rate really stuck out. I do see why they are used, but I always temper it against at what cost.

    Thanks for extending the conversation!

    -Darren

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