It’s an acknowledged fact that internet users, by and large, and especially those who shop online, are savvy, and becoming increasingly so with each passing day. But what is less acknowledged, mostly to the detriment of advertisers and sellers pushing their wares, is that they’re also fed-up with the petty annoyances that obstruct their direct path to the information and products they seek. Whereas previously these internet devotees merely shrugged aside that which was marketed to them against their will, they now vehemently cleave in twain all which intrudes beyond their Spam filters and Pop-Up blockers.
Their weapon of choice, however, is less gruesome than the previous sentence imagines. Rather the means unto an end (of sites pushing Pop-Ups, that is) relies more upon the speed of their motor reflex skills than the force any show of strength might level with a mighty blow. Simply put, as clickly… I mean, as quickly as Pop-Ups pop in, float down, or follow a scroll like some scraggily stray mutt, internet enthusiasts flick their click, and click, click away not only the Pop-Up but the collaborating site that allowed the Pop-Up to slip in through the backdoor.
As much as email users distrust unsolicited email, i.e. Spam, so do the majority of internet addicts distrust not only Pop-Ups, but also the sites that make the mistake of utilizing them as a principal marketing technique. Research already demonstrates that internet users make final aesthetic decisions about a website’s worthiness, either yea or nea, a mere 1/20th of a second after it fully loads on the browser. First impressions are, for better or worse, everything online. Digging deeper, such research increasingly demonstrates that Pop-Ups, once even a staple in AOL’s, Amazon’s, and eBay’s advertising arsenals, are primary culprits torpedoing a site’s potential for providing a visitor with a pleasing aesthetic experience. The result: 1/20th of a second after a condemning judgment passes against those websites bearing Pop-ups, the clicking finger is already in motion, clicking closed every conspiring window.
If you, as a seller, have a legitimate product–i.e. something you believe in and trust for your personal use as much as you desire a buyer to trust in and use it–than why sacrifice such confidences in the eyes (with synapses constantly firing with the mind) of said buyer by harboring an immediate and lasting distrust. Nothing, in fact, negates your chances of closing a sale with more finality than creating suspicion as to the legitimacy of the claims you make about your product. And, if, rather than even making claims, you immediately attempt to incite shoppers to buy, than in all likelihood, you in turn incite them to find fulfillment of their needs elsewhere.
An online marketing expert I know recently likened the sharp decline in the effectiveness of Pop-Up advertising to the negative reactions people have toward someone who goes door to door proselytizing. She said, “the first time a proselytizer knocks on your door, you greet them, perhaps with confusion, but nonetheless amicably. You smile as they preach, you accept their literature, and sometimes you even invite them beyond the threshold and offer them something to drink.
Maybe you consider their pitch, but 99 times out of 100 you’re secure enough in you’re beliefs, you’re not looking for answers, or you simply don’t trust them, and when they’ve gone you dismiss their pitch and forget their person. Not long after, they, or another of their ilk, knocks again.
Maybe this time its on the weekend, your one chance to sleep in; or maybe you’ve just stepped out of the shower; or sat down to dinner with your family; regardless, the last thing you want in any of these moments is to be interrupted, told to change who you are, and commit yourself to a new product (in the case of the proselytizer, their specific brand of religion). You dismiss them a little more abruptly this time. But, not getting the subtle, harsher tone behind your seemingly pleasant excuses, they keep coming, always with the same thing you don’t want or need, regardless of whether you share their beliefs or not.
Finally you reach the point where enough is enough. You slam the door in their face. That,” she says, “like the door to door proselytizer, is the fate Pop-Up advertising has brought upon itself. It’s been shown the door once and for all, and if internet users could, they would surely show it the dumpster instead.”
Her analogy, is no doubt long, and perhaps not the strongest imaginable–consider substituting telemarketers in place of the proselytizer, or whatever other annoyance you encounter frequently, but wish you encountered never again–but ultimately it speaks the truth of both statistical evidence demonstrating internet users’ antipathy and distrust of sites advertising with Pop-Ups and the non-quantifiable negative emotional response such advertising generates. In short, in a world where we demand information–on products, anything really–quickly, without distraction, and only from sources we can rely upon and trust, there isn’t space remaining on our computer screens for an extra, uninvited Pop-Up window.
Alas, in this very pitch I turned myself into the proselytizer preaching against the use of Pop-Ups, perhaps in many instances to readers who previously advertised using Pop-Ups with great success. To past success I can only raise a glass in toast–“I commend you good fellow or fair lady”–but it is to the future that I implore you to set your sights. There upon products you believe in, to consumer confidences you wish to earn, cultivate and retain–be they won without overt intrusion, like a cyber handshake, not a Pop-Up window, provoking internet users like a cyber slap in the face.
Copyright 2006, Robert K. Blanc. All Rights Reserved.