I’ve never understood web sites that subject visitors to a giant pop-up the moment they arrive demanding their email address. The strong-arm tactic is often used before visitors have even had a chance to read whatever article they came to read.
And it’s only the starting gambit. Marketers have a whole grab-bag of passive-aggressive tricks to choose from: pop-ups, slide-ins, scroll-downs, welcome mats, sticky bars, on-exit intents, home gates, takeovers, bait-and-switch freebies, etc. They all boast high conversion rates. They’re all promoted ad nauseam in content marketing listicles. And yet many of these tactics are really, really annoying to the very audience that marketers are trying to engage.
Money Lab put together a funny parody landing page, “I Want Your Email Address”, that mashes all of these tactics together.
Whenever I’ve asked practitioners about some of the more annoying tactics, they have data-driven justification. Yet most of the data cited tends to be short-term focused. Much of the emphasis is on list growth as the only criteria. I rarely hear much about the low open rates and churn that can result from having a list made up people who aren’t that psyched to be there. I rarely hear an assessment that what is appropriate for one brand may not be appropriate for all.
I liked reading an article from Paul Jarvis called “This is the exact opposite of every ‘grow your list’ article”. He encourages people not to blindly use every tactic on the shelf, but to start by thinking of the purpose behind your list and make every decision guided by that filter. He advises:
“So, how do you grow your list? One person at a time. One right person at a time using your own style. And then you start communicating with them, like a human being, and hopefully creating something they want to share with the human beings that they know.”
Over the last 15 years, I’ve followed that approach with my Marketoonist newsletter list. Sure, my list could be bigger if I used more aggressive sign-up tactics. But many of those tactics wouldn’t feel right to me. And I know that my newsletter isn’t for everyone. I’m happy prioritizing the 40% open rate my weekly newsletter sees on average. That’s a sign of an engaged audience. Not an arbitrary list size.
In pursuing data-driven marketing, there’s a risk of becoming data-blinded. Here are a few related cartoons I’ve drawn on this topic. I’d love to hear your thoughts.
“Big Data Analytics”, April 2014
“Data-driven Marketing”, November 2014
“Marketing Funnel”, January 2015