A recent debate on an email list for serious email marketers I hang around on prompted me to think and then assess these two options when trying to capture data from site visitors; whether you are better to serve someone a pop-up on arrival or a pop-under when they leave (or even a downstream pop up), so there is a form sitting in the middle of their screen.
The conclusion I came to was none of the above. We talk a lot about brand and the online reputation that your brand has and I can only equate the use of pop-ups, pop-unders or downstream pop-ups to the “do you want fries with that” saying of the fast food outlets. It looks cheap and it looks desperate. Now there will be those amongst you whose only care is that you have an email address and you want to mail the backside out of it until it churns. You have no care for your online reputation and you are OK with coming across like a market trader – and to you I say ‘Carry on!’ But beware, people don’t want these emails (we have all been on the receiving end of Hillarys Blinds and Vistaprint to name but two) and the ISP’s are finding increasingly complex pattern matching algorithms to catch and junk your email and block your IP’s.
Those of you who care about building a long term relationship with your data, engaging with it, improving your brand reputation and delivering quality user friendly emails to people who want to open them, read them, engage with you and subsequently spend money – the question isn’t to pop-up or pop-under but; ‘how can I best capture the data of the people who visit my site and what products and services are they interested in?’
Of course, not everyone that comes to your site already has brand affinity and already loves you so then the first thing that is important is their experience when they first arrive. The importance of giving them a great initial impression online is paramount, so annoying them with a pop-up asking for their data or worse still, the moment they arrive asking them to carry out a survey, is commercial suicide. Let them browse the things they came to see and let them do it easily and intuitively whether on a desktop, tablet or smartphone. Show them that you are a serious online player providing great products and services in an easy to use digestible format. Inform the knowledge thirsty and appease the skim reader by getting the balance right.
Then make it really easy for them to receive your emails with a prominent sign-up box on every page of your site and, once they have signed up, don’t just dump them into your database and put them on your email merry-go-round. Right now, they don’t know what to expect from you but if they assume you are going to send periodic messages with generic content like many other mailing lists they signed up to then do something different; implement a nursery programme. Explain to them something about the company ethos and how you like to look after your customers, give them a reason to profile themselves. Explain how you will only mail them relevant great offers or industry important news. Let them know how you will manage their data. Put them at ease with their decision to give you their email address, act responsibly and give them a chance to get off your merry-go-round at every touch point.
If they choose to jump because either you aren’t being relevant or you are over mailing or they just don’t want your emails any more, then your unsubscribe should either be a one click action or take them to a preference page like this one from Richer Sounds:
Show them that you actually care about their preferences and will respect them. Over 10,000 people are still on the Richer Sounds email database that would otherwise unsubscribed if they hadn’t taken this approach over the last 2 years.
Never forget that there is a real person behind every email address.