Popping the bubble on pop-ups, opt-ins, and automation

Are opt-in pop-ups rude?

When you begin a conversation with someone, do you immediately interrupt the conversation to talk about yourself? No, I didn’t think so. Only someone totally clueless about person to person interactions would be so rude.

As you cruise the internet for work, research, shopping or in the pursuit of your hobby, no doubt you’ve encountered websites which interrupt your visit with opt-in pop-ups imploring you to subscribe to receive the latest posts or newsletters. This is analogous to interrupting someone with whom you have initiated a conversation, after inviting them to your home.

Slightly less annoying are opt-ins which are displayed as one scrolls down the page.
Opt-ins which seem even more desperate are the ones which are displayed as you exit, inviting you to join now, sign up now!

Current de facto advice to entrepreneurial website owners admonishes one to install opt-in, pop-up displaying software in order to grow your email list. I’m going out on a limb to tell you to stop this annoying behavior. Do really you think someone will want to opt-in after you’ve just annoyed them?

With current trends indicating the escalation of visits from mobile devices, Google is taking note of sites using content obscuring pop-ups. Pop-ups or opt-ins which cover content are frowned upon by Google. They lead to high (mobile) bounce rates. High bounce rates on mobile on sites using opt-ins blocking content are a signal to Google of an issue. Their use  may potentially result in lowered ranking for the site employing this strategy.

There are a variety of ways that conversations are interrupted in digital space all to get the valuable email address of the person visiting your site.  For every conversion or sign-up you get, how many people are turned off and leave your site?

Watch how fast they leave your site

If you want to know if your opt-ins are working, look at your website analytics to see how many people depart the page on which your opt-in is displayed. High bounce rates indicate that the content was not compelling, helpful, useful or that visitors were ticked off by the displayed opt-in.

How do you get more people to sign-up or give you their email address?

Everyone enjoys getting a gift. While it’s true “there is no free lunch”, it is also true we love getting something of value for a low cost. We can be persuaded to part with our email address if we feel we are going to receive something of value in return.

In digital marketing these tactics and deliverables are called lead magnets. Frequently, they are invitations displayed at the end of blog posts asking you to provide your email in order, for example, to receive sales improvement tips. After you’ve finished reading a great article, wouldn’t you be highly likely to respond positively to an offer to receive more of the same?

Another tactic is to offer an e-book or article with knowledge that is highly in demand in exchange for an email address. Business to business firms do this, offering latest insights relative to a particular industry in exchange for an email address.

Whitepapers and best practices / tips are another type of deliverable which may be used. When promoting a digital deliverable, use a landing page to both pitch the value of the content and to capture the lead / contact information. Rather than interrupt a visitor intent on particular information, landing pages are attached to digital ad campaigns or are provided as special graphic invitations, on your website navigation, footer or sidebar.

E-commerce sites may also offer an opt-in checkbox during registration to allow someone who is purchasing from you an opportunity to receive future updates or special offers. Lists built this way have great worth, because these folks are your customers. They want to receive news and offers.

Your RSS feed is another area where you can promote your special insights which are available for free, simply by providing an email address. Facebook and Twitter are additional channels where you can promote your valuable content bringing visitors to your deliverable landing / registration page.

You catch more flies with honey

With so many good ways to entice visitors to provide their email address, why would you scare them off by shoving a registration form in their face? Think about how you feel the next time a digital device holds the content you want hostage in exchange for your email address.

Email Subject Lines Critical

 Let’s hope your email subject line doesn’t read like this

Everyone can be embarrassed by sending out emails with subject lines which don’t exactly convey what you mean. Like the one depicted above which came from an organization seeking to intrigue people who need to overcome the sales challenge of “but.” However, the subject line of the email was poorly worded and implied something other than their hoped for call to open. Their subject line actually read:

Need to sell butttt….. Then come to this workshop!

Email subject lines are the first opportunity you have for your email marketing to work for you. If they use language which is too salesy or off message, they will be marked by most email programs as spam.

MailChimp, our preferred email marketing platform notes,

The best email subject lines are short, descriptive and provide the reader with a reason to explore your message further. Splashy or cheesy phrases more often cause your email to be ignored rather than make them stand out.

Avoid subjects with words which lower open rates

Stop words are things like FREE, Open Now, Free Offer. Even if the subject line doesn’t have these words, MailChimp reports there are some words which will cause lower open rates.

We identified innocuous words that won’t trigger a spam filter, but will negatively affect your open rates. They are: Help, Percent off, and Reminder.

Writing a clear call to open that is helpful, localized and precise increases your open rates.

The latest data reported by Marketing Charts from a Return Path study show that subject lines between 61 and 70 characters receive the highest open rates.


Avoid clickbait subjects

And think again if you are planning to try some clickbait subject lines that incite a strong reaction just to get readers to open. The study from Return Path notes:

“Clickbait” subject lines generally don’t do well, surprisingly, with “secret of” terms (-8.69%) having a significantly below-average read rate

If you’re using MailChimp, Constant Contact or Vertical Response, you have an opportunity to test the subject of your email to help verify what results you might get. If you don’t have the tools to review subject lines, refer to your open rates and analyze subjects which have the highest open rate for you then cross that to an analysis of the number of characters in your subject line in order to develop even better open rates.

When working with our clients, we’ve seen high open rates for emails with Welcome and Thank you in the subject lines, especially when the emails go to new subscribers. Seasonal messages with good wishes also are highly opened.

If you’re not already using email marketing to keep in touch with your customers or prospects, you might want to reconsider that decision. Email marketing remains the single one to one marketing tactic which continues to perform well for businesses across the board. It’s not expensive and it’s effective.


To get started with your email marketing, call us at 843-628-6434 or email us via our website contact form.

Digital Marketing Fundamentals for Entrepreneurs

As the digital landscape has evolved, the fundamentals of digital marketing have expanded scope. Today, digital marketing is comprised of multiple areas which involve a coordinated, integrated strategy to attract new customers, gain a share of voice, and position your firm for your strengths.

Digital marketing is comprised of:

  • Content Strategy
  • SEO
  • Blogging
  • Social Media and social media sharing and advertising
  • Email marketing
  • Search marketing pay per click

The presentation embedded here covers each of these areas. It is one which has been presented in several iterations, most lately to entrepreneurs at the SCORE chapter here in the Lowcountry.

If you want a refresher on the components of digital marketing, you may find some tasty tidbits among these slides.

Slides from the presentation are posted on SlideShare and embedded below.

Image to Link to Slideshare.net Digital Marketing Fundamentals

If you are viewing this and don’t see the embedded presentation, click on the image above to link over to SlideShare.