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Why Pop-Ups Hurt Your Blog and Relationships

Pop-ups are back! This time they are unstoppable. Seriously. And that’s a bad thing for your blog.


Interuptive pop-ups are so 1998. Why do you think all browsers block the old-style ones by default? Because no one likes them being thrown in your face!

Yes, they serve a purpose, and yes they can actually help build a following if used correctly, but seriously people, setting it to go off within 3 seconds of arriving is equal to the used car salesmen pouncing the second you pull on the lot.

Want to use it correctly? Have it go as an exit pop-up and word it in a way that makes sense (i.e. “If you enjoyed what you just read, sign-up for our updates, where more awesomesauce is sure to come!”)

**UPDATE** One of the owners of Twitter Watchdog has informed me that they are no longer using that pop-up on the site, and believe in engaging with their audience. Good on ya guys. Feel free to go forth and check them out yourself.

  • Even those exit popups/unders can be annoying. Whatever plugin is used to run them on WordPress blogs seems to be triggered by your mouse moving up to the tab bar. I don't know about other people, but my blog reading habits are a bit weird. I may open a post, read it, pop off to do something else, come back, look at it again, comment or exit…anyway, it'll catch me even if I try to open a new tab to Google something in the article. I find that very annoying because if I want to get back to the article after I'm done, I have to close the popup (popunder, whatever that thing is…).

    • Yep, I don't think pissing people off is a nice way to endear yourself to them and have them become loyal readers

  • It's probably better to make a page devoted to getting opt-ins or adding the registration in the sidebar than to blast a pop-up or pop-under. I agree that when you can't close the box because of the resolution it can be quite annoying. If that happens to me, I usually never return to the site.

  • When ever I see those things I assume it is some kind of scam and then I leave. They might have had great content but you never know because they want to sell you on something. So I just don't bother and close the thing right away.

  • Dude I love your blog, but I cant read people's comments because of the awesome orange grpahic in the background! (Maybe make comments white instead of grey?)

    I think the pop under worded the way you have it sounds good. I also don't mind the translucent popups that are easily closed.
    Lisa a.k.a @davincidiva on Twitter

  • I agree with you, and I don't agree with you.

    I took the same stance you are taking back in my first couple years of running an online company, but that didn't help me at all. I missed opportunities and relationships, and as a matter of fact, my online company didn't generate squat both those years. Yeah, that helped me real well…

    As soon as I changed tactics though, lots of things changed for me. I'm more then happy to continue the conversation with you. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • So, what DO you agree with and what DON'T you agree with?

      • I DO agree that having popups is a bad thing for your blog.

        I DON'T agree that they should be removed or placed at the exit.

        Personally, I used to have a signup spot on my sidebar, but for the past 2 years it sat there, I didn't get anybody. As soon as I removed it and replaced it with a small fade-in that only first time visitors see after they have been on the blog for at least 10sec, I immediately got a spike in signups. That's just what worked on my end and with my readers. ๐Ÿ™‚

        • There we go ๐Ÿ™‚ Can you post a link to it here, so other readers can take a peek at other practices?

          • Sure can! ๐Ÿ™‚

            http://taylormarek.com

            This form only pops up if you are a new visitor, and never pops up again after that. One time shot basically. ๐Ÿ˜‰

          • so when you say you got a "spike" in sign-ups, what are we talking about?

            You're really selling yourself short in the sign-up box, you give no compelling reason to sign-up.

            I would love to see the number of people that leave the blog after that comes on and the conversion % currently with it.

            If you're gonna slap me in the face with a blackout form like that, at least caress me a little to get me to sign-up ๐Ÿ™‚

          • Yup, I agree with that point. Had to change things several times over, now I think its down pat. Numbers-wise, I can't go off of a whole lot, but I can say that I can place names with who is visiting my site now. Beforehand, I only had around 2 visitors I kept in contact with, implementing what I have on my site now has increased that count to 15.

            Stats I can see on my end since the "blackout form" has been installed on my site are as follows (I've only had this up for near 2 months):
            311 Displays
            19 Submissions
            Conversion rate of 6.1% (As opposed to when I first started and had 0%)

            The cool thing about my form is that once you hit my site, you have some time to look at the graphics and get into the article I've posted. After you've been reading the article for a while and enjoying the content, the box fades in and a video of me automatically starts playing. I remind them that if they want to close the box, all they need to do is hit close on the lower right, but I also remind them that this is the only time they will see this message. I continue on to remind them why I wanted them to listen, and wrap it all up in under a minute. You are then free to do whatever you would like.

  • Would you have an example of what you use?

    How soon does it pop-up on the visit?

    This blog was insane, within 1 second, took over the page

    • Here's one for my Money Tree product: http://thewealthspa.com/moneytree/

      it pops up after 3 seconds but it's kind of off to the side & has a x if you want to get rid of it. it does follow you down the page which could be annoying, but I figure that you can just x it pretty easily.

      I really need something to capture those guest-on-a-teleclass leads, cause those hosts want to send to a sales page to get their affiliate commission but I want to capture leads … this is kind of my compromise. ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Right! The post-it note pop-up thingy….. would be interested to see the conversion numbers of some of those, since it's a double conversion drop (people have to click once to get to the form, then submit the form to sign-up). I have found those to not be very obtrusive at all. It's the ones that take over a nd blank out the screen that kill me

        • Just checked my stats, get 6-16% click on my various sales page pop ups, and around 40% of those actually fill out the form & hit send. So, it's okay…

          • What's the comfirmation rate on the people who do fill out the form?

          • I knew you'd ask that. I have no idea how to track my double opt-in confirm rate to that detail, lol … it's a combination of adimpact & aweber … not sure how to link their tracking up that way.

            But I suspect it's not v. good since those people don't get taken to a "make sure you confirm the email!" page so they don't know they need to (except for the sophisticated internet marketer people). Not sure how to futz w/ adimpact's popups to give them some kind of thank-you-page-ish statement … I don't want those people taken off the sales page since some of them buy right then … hum.

          • If we go for 10% click throughs on the first page, 40% fill out the form and submit, and 60% confirm, you're getting just over 2% of page visitors into that system. If we were eventually going to send them back to that page after they "warmed" to you, I'll guess the average conversion of any given sales page is 3% (just a random, but average #) which gives us a possibility of making 3% of the 2% buyers. So 0.06% conversion potential (mind you, this is a one-time thing, not taking into account a longer subscriber relationship)

            Then we look at the fact that the pop-over takes 10% of people away from the sales page, which could possibly deter from the sale (it's not that they won't buy, it's that they are taken away from the buying page) and if the average conversion is a little lower than above (let's put it at 2%) which we are deffering a potential 0.2 % of immediate sales to put them into the list.

            So sending 100,000 ppl to that page, we pull away 10,000 of them for the possibility of 3 buying within our list.

            Versus keeping the 10,000 (10% that click away) and getting 200 buyers

            I know this seems like it goes against the very nature of UnMarketing, but it's showing you the depth of conversion drops, which for yours is 3 steps, not 2, since this pop over isn't an exit one, it really isn't going after the non-buyers, but actually attracting some of the most engaged people

            If it was up to me, i would have the form embedded and open a new page to than them, and to check their email inbox to confirm, etc… which would keep them within the sales page, yet allow some of the "doubters" to still come into the funnel…

          • Agreed. And having it open to a new page keep them on the sales page so I don't lose them. Brilliant & simple, will try as I'm going to redo that page soon anyway.

            (btw Scott, it's so great to talk to someone who actually gets the % x % x % conversion thing, usually when I talk to people about this their eyes glaze over so I'm not able to have this conversation. thanks dude)

            oh, and let's keep the vision of 100,000 people going to that page, lol.

            oh, and finally, I wonder how many replies-to-replies you can have in your blog, maybe I'll keep doing more and more to see if I can break your site. ๐Ÿ˜‰

          • THIS is the reason I made sure I had "IntenseDebate" installed in the blog. it takes blogging from comments to conversations (oh, I like that line!) ๐Ÿ™‚

            And yes, the new page opening solves almost all of that issue!

          • Nicely well done. I'm going to have to look back on this comment a couple times over to get the meat of what was said, gotta love ID! (That's the exact reason I have Intense Debate installed on my site as well!)

          • This must be the math about which you tweeted. ๐Ÿ™‚

            These things are still blockable if you block the DIV element that contains them. However, to the average person they are indeed unstoppable.

            I like the opt-in bar I see on some Internet marketing sites. Some have "innovated" to have it slide up to the middle of my screen, but most keep it at the bottom. Same function, but unobtrusive. I've subscribed to a fair number of sites that way.

          • Yep! and I LOVE the one that slides up along the bottom, but someone told me it recently "broke" or I'd have it on here in a heartbeat

  • Elysia

    Awesome post and I'm 100% on board with Stratten on this one!

    And here's my 2 cents worth ๐Ÿ˜‰

    I'm not a fan of pop ups in any way, shape or form.

    Unless you're an affiliate marketer pimping out some sort of niche product where affiliate commissions or conversions are all that counts (i.e. relationships aren't your main focus or ANY focus whatsoever – whether that is a poor approach or not is a whole other issue) then I say N-O to the pop up!

    If I'm reading your blog then I'm doing it:
    a) Because I CHOSE to
    b) Because I want to READ your content; and/or
    c) I'm particularly ENGROSSED in something you have to say

    If you start shoving a pop up in my face what am I more likely to do?

    a) Go WOW yes please; or
    b) Get out of my way I'm trying to read!

    Personally? I pick b) every single time!

    Sometimes its purely an involuntary reaction to something jumping at me out of nowhere i.e. you just lost a potential sign up but other times I'm simply frustrated by the interruption and will close it out of annoyance.

    The only time I (as a reader) have ever opted in to someone's mailing list has been because I was checking out their blog and wanted to know more so I filled in the stationary opt in form on their sidebar. It's easy to see there, everyone knows how to work it and you can seek it out – if you CHOOSE to do so!

    Doesn't that in itself make for a far more qualified, more targeted, more likely to convert opt in!? Ummm YES!

    I don't even like the exit pop up! Its a bit of a slap-in-the-face-as-you-leave kinda situation, it puts you off going back! It's like if you went to a dinner party, had a great night and as you were leaving your host said 'Hey thanks for coming – by the way that dress looks GOD AWFUL on you!' Yeah you had a great time at the place but you're definitely not going to be hurrying back!

    Safe to say I think we should all vote N-O to pop ups!

    And keep spreading your social marketing genius Stratten ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Boy, what were we thinking while split testing that pop up on our twitterwatchdog.com blog this weekend.
    Please forgive us for our bad timing. You'll see unintrusive message to becoming a subscriber of our list…
    We are all about Engaging, building Relationships and Providing Value. Thank you for allowing us to serve you.
    Have a great day~ Your Pal Al

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  • terilg

    I so agree with Jamie. Those “on page” pop ups have all the charm of a “Get Rich Quick” scheme. What a way to waste my interest. And if I find it thru your own post on Twitter, I usually unfollow as well, unless you've proven to be valuable elsewhere, which has proven to be rare.

  • KarenKramer

    Duh! In the what was I thinking category… Heading off to change the lightbox popups on my sites.

    Thanks for the wake-up.

  • Christy

    Nope, sorry. Popups are *never* good. If I'm interested in what you have, I would have already responded to one of your “calls to action” on the site already. Don't have them? Oops! That's where the real opportunity is.

    Be open and let *me* choose how to respond to you. Don't throw a pop-up in my face. Ever.

  • SMNash

    “…Give me a freakin' minute…” – Oh, how I laughed at this comment, and the latter use of the freakin word and even the P-word. So, so funny! Thanks.

    I know this is a 'serious' subject, but I just wanted to say thanks for making me laugh!

    Steve

    PS Okay, seriously, whenever I'm on a screen with no scroll bar, left or right, I try to 'drag' my way to the bottom or the right using my mouse. This sometimes works, and I can sometimes then click the Close button or the (yes, this happens too!) the submit button. Ya gotta love people that don't even do rudimentary testing lol…

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  • I hate the popups, too, that's why I was happy to have found “footer hover ads.” They can also be controlled how often and how soon they appear for each individual visitor.

    I like them because they are non obtrusive. Can't tell you yet how much of a difference this new type of sign up form will make on my list as I just recently installed it.

    What do you think of those, Scott?

  • Everything is changed back now. Back to the little spot on the right side of the website. Was a fun little test while I did it though… ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Robert Latchford

    Only just discovered your site through Twitter of all places. I agree I hate pop-ups they make you feel like someone is trying to snare you like a rabbit in a hunters trap.I love the look and feel of your site too.nGood luck with the new book. Robert

  • Robert Latchford

    Only just discovered your site through Twitter of all places. I agree I hate pop-ups they make you feel like someone is trying to snare you like a rabbit in a hunters trap.I love the look and feel of your site too.nGood luck with the new book. Robert

  • Robert Latchford

    Only just discovered your site through Twitter of all places. I agree I hate pop-ups they make you feel like someone is trying to snare you like a rabbit in a hunters trap.I love the look and feel of your site too.nGood luck with the new book. Robert

  • Robert Latchford

    Only just discovered your site through Twitter of all places. I agree I hate pop-ups they make you feel like someone is trying to snare you like a rabbit in a hunters trap.I love the look and feel of your site too.nGood luck with the new book. Robert

  • Robert Latchford

    Only just discovered your site through Twitter of all places. I agree I hate pop-ups they make you feel like someone is trying to snare you like a rabbit in a hunters trap.I love the look and feel of your site too.nGood luck with the new book. Robert

  • Robert Latchford

    Only just discovered your site through Twitter of all places. I agree I hate pop-ups they make you feel like someone is trying to snare you like a rabbit in a hunters trap.I love the look and feel of your site too.nGood luck with the new book. Robert

  • Robert Latchford

    Only just discovered your site through Twitter of all places. I agree I hate pop-ups they make you feel like someone is trying to snare you like a rabbit in a hunters trap.I love the look and feel of your site too.nGood luck with the new book. Robert

  • Robert Latchford

    Only just discovered your site through Twitter of all places. I agree I hate pop-ups they make you feel like someone is trying to snare you like a rabbit in a hunters trap.I love the look and feel of your site too.nGood luck with the new book. Robert

  • Robert Latchford

    Only just discovered your site through Twitter of all places. I agree I hate pop-ups they make you feel like someone is trying to snare you like a rabbit in a hunters trap.I love the look and feel of your site too.nGood luck with the new book. Robert

  • Robert Latchford

    Only just discovered your site through Twitter of all places. I agree I hate pop-ups they make you feel like someone is trying to snare you like a rabbit in a hunters trap.I love the look and feel of your site too.nGood luck with the new book. Robert

  • Robert Latchford

    Only just discovered your site through Twitter of all places. I agree I hate pop-ups they make you feel like someone is trying to snare you like a rabbit in a hunters trap.I love the look and feel of your site too.nGood luck with the new book. Robert

  • Robert Latchford

    Only just discovered your site through Twitter of all places. I agree I hate pop-ups they make you feel like someone is trying to snare you like a rabbit in a hunters trap.I love the look and feel of your site too.nGood luck with the new book. Robert

  • Robert Latchford

    Only just discovered your site through Twitter of all places. I agree I hate pop-ups they make you feel like someone is trying to snare you like a rabbit in a hunters trap.I love the look and feel of your site too.nGood luck with the new book. Robert

  • Robert Latchford

    Only just discovered your site through Twitter of all places. I agree I hate pop-ups they make you feel like someone is trying to snare you like a rabbit in a hunters trap.I love the look and feel of your site too.nGood luck with the new book. Robert

  • Robert Latchford

    Only just discovered your site through Twitter of all places. I agree I hate pop-ups they make you feel like someone is trying to snare you like a rabbit in a hunters trap.I love the look and feel of your site too.nGood luck with the new book. Robert

  • Robert Latchford

    Only just discovered your site through Twitter of all places. I agree I hate pop-ups they make you feel like someone is trying to snare you like a rabbit in a hunters trap.I love the look and feel of your site too.nGood luck with the new book. Robert

  • Robert Latchford

    Only just discovered your site through Twitter of all places. I agree I hate pop-ups they make you feel like someone is trying to snare you like a rabbit in a hunters trap.I love the look and feel of your site too.nGood luck with the new book. Robert

  • Robert Latchford

    Only just discovered your site through Twitter of all places. I agree I hate pop-ups they make you feel like someone is trying to snare you like a rabbit in a hunters trap.I love the look and feel of your site too.nGood luck with the new book. Robert

  • Robert Latchford

    Only just discovered your site through Twitter of all places. I agree I hate pop-ups they make you feel like someone is trying to snare you like a rabbit in a hunters trap.I love the look and feel of your site too.nGood luck with the new book. Robert

  • Robert Latchford

    Only just discovered your site through Twitter of all places. I agree I hate pop-ups they make you feel like someone is trying to snare you like a rabbit in a hunters trap.I love the look and feel of your site too.nGood luck with the new book. Robert

  • Robert Latchford

    Only just discovered your site through Twitter of all places. I agree I hate pop-ups they make you feel like someone is trying to snare you like a rabbit in a hunters trap.I love the look and feel of your site too.nGood luck with the new book. Robert

  • Robert Latchford

    Only just discovered your site through Twitter of all places. I agree I hate pop-ups they make you feel like someone is trying to snare you like a rabbit in a hunters trap.I love the look and feel of your site too.nGood luck with the new book. Robert

  • Only just discovered your site through Twitter of all places. I agree I hate pop-ups they make you feel like someone is trying to snare you like a rabbit in a hunters trap.I love the look and feel of your site too.
    Good luck with the new book. Robert

  • Mel

    If a blog/webiste has weird toolbars that pop up or other pop ups, I leave. Period. The exit one could be okay. No one wants to feel forced to read/sign/smell/or do anything. We like to choose for ourselves. If you make us feel like we have no freedom, we will ignore you.

  • Irma Saxell

    I don’t like popups. Whatever is on it I want to close it right away. usually popups are to update your software or you have a virus. those were the original popups with windows XP, when we were first introduced with updating your software without buying the next version. But, I always take a-front. Did you not make sufficient impression with your golden content to entice me to contact you for an appointment. If I want a live chat It should be an option that I choose without a popup. ย 

  • irma saxell

    ย I know your comment was 2 years ago. How are you doing now? If I may ask?

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