Are Popups and Overlays “Good Marketing”?

Posted By Debbie on April 15, 2015

You’re on a website you like. Maybe you’re reading an article. When all of a sudden…

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I don’t have to show you too many of these. You know what I’m talking about. I’m talking about popups and overlays that stop me from reading the article and ask me to do something else. Typically, it’s “join our email mailing list” or “like us on Facebook.”

Is this “good marketing”?

Recently, a friend asked me which WordPress plugin I’m using for these kinds of popups. I said I don’t have them on the Ptype website (or anywhere). I believe that nearly 100% of the time people see those, they are frustrated, NOT happy to see the overlay, and just want to X it out as fast as possible.

I asked my friend how HE feels when he is on a website that interrupts what he’s doing to try to get him to join a mailing list, like them on Facebook, or something else.

He replied, that they were “good marketing.” I would disagree. To me, “good marketing” is something that is successful in making a user do what you want them to do (in the name of your business goals). How many people joined that email mailing list so they can be emailed who knows how often compared to how many closed that popup as fast as they could?

Once upon a time, these overlays didn’t come with close buttons. Remember those days? Remember when you HAD to join a mailing list to see certain content? And then you struggled to get off that mailing list later?

We can’t do that to people anymore. We can only offer them the option to do what we want (join the mailing list, like us on Facebook, etc…) rather than put up a brick wall with one way out.

“Good marketing” can be measured.

If you think the popup is good marketing, I suggest you measure it. This is something we CAN measure and know. This isn’t a guess or anecdote. Decide what percentage of visitors should be doing what your popup says as a measure of popup success. Perhaps you believe 10% of page visitors should sign up for the email list. Perhaps you expect 20% of your visitors to like your Facebook page because an overlay pushed that on them.

Bonus: also measure over X period of time how many of those new mailing list subscribers UNsubscribe. How many of those new FB page likes UNlike you. Because real marketing success would be that new potential customer who opts in to hear from you and STAYS, right?

Come up with what you will measure, how you will measure it, how you define success vs failure, and how much time you will give it. And then determine for REAL if that’s good marketing and working for you… or if it’s mostly an intrusion that people want out of their way ASAP.

If you are not reaching your marketing goals with popups and overlays, improve the UX and remove them.