In a perfect world, the interests of marketers and internet audiences align completely. In the real one, however, what marketers choose to do and what their audiences wish they’d do are often sharply divergent. Pop-up ads, that scourge of online marketing, illustrates this principle clearly.
Once thought dead, these annoying interstitial ads that come between web users and the information they seek have been making a comeback in recent years. It’s now common to have to click past one or more on almost every site beleaguered surfers visit, much to our displeasure. But why? Why on earth would a law firm (or any other business, for that matter) think pop-ups might be a good idea?
Opt-in pop-ups began surging in popularity after a few site owners reported huge increases in email subscribers, which they attributed to these voluntary signup “opportunities.” While those claims may be true to some extent, the value of this expanded email list is questionable and even in the best cases, the negatives of using pop-up ads still far outweigh the potential gains. Here are four of the many reasons you should steer clear of pop-ups:
- Invalid contact info. Those vastly expanded email lists that so excited marketers? They’re not useful in the least. An extraordinarily high number of those who opt into the benefits promised through pop-up ads simply enter a fake email address or one they keep expressly for junk email, and therefore never check. Either way, it’s a losing proposition for your firm. You’re not gaining readers – you’re being relegated to the equivalent of a spam folder if your emails are deliverable at all. Worse, you’re building inaccuracy into your contact list, since you don’t know who truly wants a relationship with your firm and who doesn’t.
- Higher bounce rates. Pop-up ads are annoying. Some more so than others, to be sure, but they’re definitely ranked somewhere between mosquitos and Formosan termites on the obnoxious behavior scale. Placing pop-up ads in the way of what may be wonderful content only limits the chances that visitors will stick around to check out that content you worked so hard to create. A large number will immediately click away when faced with a pop-up.
- Fewer new clients. Between the annoyance factor that leads to higher bounce rates has wider ramifications. When web users land on your site, it’s usually because they need information and, quite likely, a service provider. They are almost certainly willing to spend time learning about your firm along with the issue-specific content that brought them to your site in the first place. Driving them away before they can engage with your content, become familiar with your service offerings and come to view your firm as a resource is a disastrous move!
- Search engine penalization. Google doesn’t like pop-ups any more than web users do. Their search algorithms build in penalties for sites that utilize these offenders, except those that are legally necessary (e.g. age confirmations) or truly innocuous. It’s never wise to alienate the internet’s overlords, so even if you didn’t care about human site visitors pop-ups would be a poor choice.
Don’t repel the very prospects that you’re trying to attract, which is what happens when you assault site visitors with pop-up ads. Neither visitors nor the search engines that direct them there appreciate this kind of intrusion, and will punish you accordingly. Pop-ups are also unnecessary. If your site is well designed, contact information is omnipresent and signing up for newsletters is ridiculously simple. Pushing harder with pop-ups is counterproductive in every possible way, so just don’t do it.