This post is about annoying things bloggers do, thinking that it helps them make money from their blog, that actually hurt their long term blogging income.
Typically they will optimize for some metric – such as subscriptions to their e-mail newsletter – without realizing they’re paying a larger price then they realize.
Interstitial E-mail Sign Ups
It seems like almost every blog has an interstitial e-mail sign up. Those are the annoying pop ups that take over your screen and won’t let you use the site until you submit your e-mail address. Less technical users think that they’re required to provide their e-mail address, often not understanding that the “X” in the corner or a discrete link will let them get rid of the interstitial. Some truly annoying sites won’t let you see the material you were in the middle of reading unless you sign up with them. Ad blockers are a GREAT way to deal with these.
Bloggers justify interstitials “because they work”. It is often quoted that e-mail signups increase 30-100% once a site switches from a sidebar e-mail signup to an interstitial. Many bloggers cite this and, with a shrug, claim annoying or not you’ve got to use them.
I was on the fence myself. I hate interstitials and want to avoid sites that force them on me. To put them on my own sites seemed deeply hypocritical. I was delighted when news came out that Google had a new view, with data, on interstitials: 69% of users would abandon a site when confronted with an interstitial. This was exactly my experience, especially on mobile. I’d often decide – upon confrontation with an interstitial – that I wasn’t that interested in the site.
Beyond driving away readers – and what blogger wants that? – they are also lowering the quality of your e-mail list. Someone who signs up because they don’t understand any way to get rid of the obstacle on their screen is also going to be the first person to report your e-mails as spam. How likely are they to engage with you when you’ve strong armed them into the dialog?
Erika from Olyvia wrote on this topics in a post called Do Obnoxious Pop-Up Ads Really Work? Her feeling, like mine, is that the price you pay damaging your reputation isn’t worth the additional subscribers.
Limited Time Access To Paid Content
It’s currently all the rage to sell content for a limited time only. Often it will be announced that an e-book or course will be available for 4 days only, then gone – possibly forever! Unsurprisingly, this increases conversions as it forces people to make a decision NOW. Humans feel loses twice as acutely as gains – it’s about as painful to lose $10 as it is pleasant to gain $20. Threatening to take something away is apparently a good approach to get people to sign up.
The problem, as I see it, with doing this for digital content is that buyers aren’t stupid and they realize that the deadline is an artificial one. Nothing is changing with regards to distributing the pdf, it’s just that the person selling it is imposing this deadline. Potential buyers will recognize this as manipulative, and I imagine many will refuse to buy from someone who is playing games with them – that’s my reaction to this sales tactic.
As with the interstitials, the price you’re paying for the increased conversions is damage to your reputation. Potential buyers (and actual buyers) now realize you’re someone who will jerk them around to increase sales.
What do many bloggers do that annoys you? What other activities do you suspect have a short term gain, long term pain?