I want you to imagine something
Imagine a new shop has just opened up in your nearest city.
The shop looks great and you want to have a browse, but there are all these people standing in front of the door.
You’re already feeling frustrated
As you walk towards the door, a man accosts you.
“Do you accept our policy?”
“What policy?” you ask.
He turns his clipboard over to reveal several pages of a policy document.
You try to walk past him, but he blocks you.
“But you have to accept our policy before you can come in.”
Begrudgingly you tick the box without reading the policy. After all, you only came to browse.
As the man moves away, a woman steps forward and presents you with another clipboard.
“This is what you’ve agreed to,” she says, “are you happy to proceed?”
Feeling irritated, you move past her too.
You thought you were getting closer
As you take another step towards the door, another man steps in front of you.
“You know, you should sign up to our mailing list,” he says.
“Why?” you ask.
“Because, if you’re interested in what’s inside the shop, you’ll love our newsletters. Now if you’ll just give me your name and email address…”
“But I haven’t even seen what’s in the shop yet,” you say. “How can I know if what you’re selling is what I want, when I can’t get to see it?”
“Oh, so you’re too good for our newsletter, are you?” the man sneers.
You push past him, moving closer to the door.
You’re suddenly stopped again
As you get in front of the door, a woman pops up out of nowhere.
“Hello. How can I help you today?” she asks.
“Look,” you say, “I just want to go inside? Is that okay? I thought that’s what the shop was here for.”
She responds with “Here are some things you can ask me…”
“What could I possibly want to ask you? I don’t even know what you’re offering me yet.”
As you put your hand on the door plate, another huge man steps in front of you.
“Why don’t you get this FREE catalogue?” he asks. “All I need is your name and email address.”
You sigh and scowl and try to move him out of the way, but he won’t budge. He sits down in front of the door so you can’t open it and closes his eyes. You prod him a couple of times, but he’s unresponsive.
In the end, you’re forced to leave, without having done the one thing you wanted to do.
Does any of this sound familiar?
This actually happened to me this week.
Not in a physical shop, but on a website.
I had gone onto the website to read an article, but I was bombarded from the moment I arrived.
☹️ The email marketing pop-up, that forced me to click on its passive aggressive ‘no, thank you’.
😠 The ‘helpful’ chatbot that covered half of the screen and I struggled to find the button to close it down.
😡 Then, finally, the free ebook pop-up, which was broken, with no opt-out and no button to close it down either.
So, after all that, I ended up leaving the site without even having seen the article.
Pop-ups are annoying
When people tell me that pop-ups work, I find it hard to believe them.
As someone who uses the internet predominantly for research, I find them intensely annoying. And when I see people discussing them online, it’s rare that anyone has anything positive to say.
I strongly suspect the people who fill them in are like the people who use Bing instead of Google — you’re assured they exist, but you’ve never actually met one.
Let customers see what you have to offer
A shop wouldn’t ask you to sign over all your details before you were allowed inside. A website is not that different.
Before you ask me to sign up for your newsletter, free books or paid-for articles, let me see what you’re about. Let me get a feel for the quality, see if we’re a good match and decide if what you’re offering is actually going to help me.
I think it’s only fair and you might just win me over.
About the author
I’m Jenny Lucas, a UK copywriter and website user experience specialist, based in Leicester.
I became a copywriter in 2005, after six years working in design and marketing.
In 2017 I decided to give up having a day job and freelance full time.
Today I’m a generalist copywriter who specialises in conceptual copywriting and SEO copy for the web.