An email signup pop-up which appears directly above an actual email signup form on the page itself (via Four Hour Work Week blog).
You head to a restaurant that a friend has told you good things about, all hungry and keen. You arrive and the place looks good. As soon as you take a step inside though someone blocks your way and asks for your postal address, with a smile. It’s explained that it’s so the restaurant can send you notices of when there’s new items on the menu or special offers. Again, said with a smile and a trusting wink accented by the promise they won’t send any spam, just good stuff.
Now you haven’t tried their food or experienced their service let alone seen a menu, but alas, you now have to deal with this first.
Just as in real life, when you have your own site there’s a huge amount of control of the experience you want visitors to have and the relationships you want to build. Email newsletters are an element of that potential connection and content distribution.
Unfortunately, the growing trend in the past few years is ‘gating’ access to websites via email newsletter signup popups which block the content either as soon as you enter the site or after you scroll a little.
‘Email gating’ is slowly eroding the web and illustrates the shallow nature of the reliance on numbers to prove impact.
Some of us can still recall those intrusive popup ads in the early years of the web and how there’s a collective understanding how obtuse this strategy is (so much so we now have the blocks built into our browsers). There’s no difference for email newsletter signup popup.
If you visit a site which is email gated, there are three decisions available:
- sign up
- close the popup and continue surfing
Only one of them serves the creator and unless the website owner is using a system utilising cookies to track the closing of the message so as not to serve it up again plus the website visitor is not using cookie blockers or software which cleans these out, this will happen every time someone visits the site. Every visit corroding the experience and the relationship (potential or existing).
And why do so many organisations, companies and individuals email gate? Fear. They are scared they aren’t relevant. Scared the market or tribe will walk away and won’t come back. Scared that quantity rules over quality. Terrified of doing this (ironically you have to sit through or click the ad off to get there).
If website owners don’t trust both their story and the ability of the visitors / tribe / users to find a simple signup form which sits in the sidebar or bottom of the page, then what other message does that convey. There is no hope. No trust. No respect.
Do the opposite.
Have more faith: in yourself, and us (as visitors).
The visitor also has a role. These tactics will only change if we the viewers of this content reach out to the creators and just ask for a little respect. Request, politely, that we now how this stuff works and if we like what you have to say we will trade. Our time or even our email address for a continued relationship.
So content creators and website makes / designers / founders, learn to tell your story and we’ll stick with you. Please stop interrupting us. Please stop making us not like you. Please help us, help you. Stop email gating.