To pop-up or NOT to pop-up, this has long been the question of digital marketers and entrepreneurs who understand how crucial it is to build a large and thriving database of email subscribers. Google’s new pop-up penalty, which they will be rolling out in January 2017, may become the factor which finally sways the debate.
I spent several years batting for Team No Pop-Ups, believing them to be a nuisance to website usability. Why would I want to build a list on the basis of annoying my site visitors or badgering them into subscribing, instead of building my list on the basis of having great content that visitors are eager to sign up for?
I still think great content is king, but when I found Nathalie Lussier’s PopUpAlly plugin, which purports to offer a “polite” pop-up experience, I decided to soften my position a bit and give it a try. I have, in fact, received additional subscribers via the front page pop-up, but I’ve yet to prove out that these subscribers – who only see the pop-up if they have decided to abandon my site before viewing deeper content – are likely to convert into active community members or clients.
One of my professional mantras is that “nobody needs all the customers they can get” – meaning, your business is much more likely to thrive, grow, and be of service (both to your clients and to YOU) when you commit yourself to staying laser focused on connecting with your target audience. In other words, you can’t be everything to everyone, and you’re going to hurt your business if you try. So why not grow a list of people who love what you have to say, instead of casting a wider net and scooping up subscribers who didn’t fall in love with your message, and were in the process of abandoning ship?
Don’t get me wrong, I actually *love* Nathalie Lussier’s PopUpAlly. I discovered that the plugin offers a robust and versatile set of options for creating embedded forms as well as pop-ups, and I felt the tool was intuitive and easy to use, so I’ve gone ahead and purchased the pro version and converted all my opt-ins sitewide to PopUpAlly forms.
That said, I remain unconvinced that pop-ups (even the “polite” ones) are the smartest strategy for growing my list. In light of Google’s new pop-up penalty, which they will be rolling out in January 2017, I’m almost certainly going to delete my own pop-up in the near future.
Even if SEO rankings are not currently a part of your distribution strategy, I believe there’s a strong argument to be made in favor of “just saying no” to the pop-up. But I also recommend everyone to keep the long game in mind – although SEO may not be a focus for you today, how you build your site now will affect how easy (or difficult) it is for you to change your strategy in the future. Bearing in mind that when your business grows, top-of-page search rankings may become possible – or even crucial – for your business, the impending penalty is one more reason to avoid pop-ups in the first place.