Please stop french-kissing your site visitors

french kissing customersI’ve begun to resent the efficiency of Web marketing. Specifically, I’m annoyed with how intrusive sites have become as they treat visitors like leads instead of people.

I was talking to my friend and marketing expert Jeff Ernst about it. Here’s my problem, as I described it to him.

Marketing automation now requires knowing and routing all the people who visit your (B2B) website. They come for the blog. You post a pop-up to get them to subscribe (or get your newsletter, or install your app, or download your white paper, or whatever the next step is). You draw them deeper into your web until they’re a qualified lead. Then your sales staff pounces.

Any number of marketing vendors provide the tools that make this work. But what does it do for the site visitor’s experience? Too many sites (like this one) intrusively pop up something in your face as soon as you start scrolling. Half the time they’ve camouflaged the “close” button to make it harder for you to leave.

It’s like getting introduced to somebody, then having them immediately stick their tongue in your mouth and french-kiss you. Yuck! Let’s get to know each other a little better first.

It’s not just me. “I’m seeing that everywhere,” Jeff told me. He also agreed with me that this approach to the “customer journey” has become too automated and gone too far. “If your content is thought-provoking and challenges the status quo, they will want to look for how they can follow you.” They’ll poke around your site or subscribe using the buttons at the top of your site. This should be easy. But they’ve got to indicate some interest first — popping up a window as soon as they visit doesn’t qualify.

Marketers must use these intrusive approaches because they’re working. But if they piss off ten people for every one they suck in, maybe you’re not measuring what “working” means properly. If you sucker a visitor into asking for something they don’t want, are they really a lead?

Shake my hand and make it easy for me to get to know you. That’s quite enough. And please get your tongue out of my mouth.

Photo: Matt Baume via Wikimedia Commons

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  1. I agree with you for the most part, Josh. But I regularly set my clients websites to pop up an offer to subscribe after their website visitor clicks to leave the page. I think of the closing popup as a decision on whether to continue the relationship or drop the idea. Do you think this is also too intrusive?

    1. I’m not sure, Mike. If the person has read something on the page (for example, they’ve scrolled down), then this might be acceptable. If they just pop in and then leave, you’re being annoying.

      1. Ah, so like most everything else, annoyance is in the eye/ear/etc. of the beholder. I guess that’s what A/B testing is for. BTW, I’m enjoying you inveighing against passive voice in news corrections and apologies.

    2. Late to the conversation — just discovered this blog from link-hopping.

      About the popup — I say absolutely intrusive. When I click to leave a page, getting a popup asking if I’m “sure” or if I want to subscribe just infuriates me. When I click to leave, I expect to LEAVE!!

      Think about it — it’s kind of passive-aggressive, like, “Are you SURE you want to leave?” It’s an underhanded suggestion that I haven’t thought about it, or that I need help making up my mind. Guaranteed — those popups merely confirm that I DON’T want to associate with said blog.

      I think this blog does it right — at the bottom of each article is a low-key invitation to leave your email to follow the blog. Easy to subscribe if one chooses, easy to ignore otherwise. I’m still considering, but when I close the window, I look forward to not having to click a second time to confirm my decision.