List Building vs. Valuing Readers

Something is rotten in the state of the blogosphere. Perhaps you have noticed that there has been a trend with some popular bloggers lately, you visit their blog and instead of being greeted by their well written, compelling content you are greeted by a pop-over pushing the bloggers newsletter list. Every blogger is different. Some offer you a free reward for joining, some promise unique content that can only be found in the their newsletter or a free podcast. While I have no problem with newsletter lists or people subscribing to an RSS feed by email the latest trend to push newsletter lists has two major problems.

First is a usability issue. They use an annoying pop-over that blocks your access to the website. They are hard to block and are the most annoying form of advertising since popups. Why have these bloggers decided to put a good user experience behind building their newsletter list? Simple, they have discovered that the annoying pop-overs work and signup rates go up. Daily Blog Tips recently did a poll asking if people would stop visiting a website that has a pop-over. The results showed that 36% of people will stop visiting blogs that have a pop-over. These once interesting blogs have been turned into nothing more than a cheesy sales page. You know the ones where they promise you XYZ in return for entering your name and email address. If you want a cheesy sales page make a cheesy sales page, don’t call it a blog.

Second, lets be honest about why they want you to subscribe to their newsletter list. It has nothing to do with community or building trust, it has to do with one thing, MONEY! I have no problem with making money, but don’t bull*&%$ me and tell me it is about building community or building trust. Permission marketing is all about getting people’s permission to sell them something. Building a newsletter list is all about making money either by selling directly or through affiliate links, driving traffic back to the blog or advertising.

One of the unique things about pop-overs is that they are hard to block. Unlike traditional popups, pop-overs are part of the webpage itself and the only way to stop them from appearing on the page is to disable Javascript. This will disable the pop-over from appearing on the website in the middle of the screen, but it will usually still appear as part of the page. By disabling Javascript globally you also disable other features that you might want to function on a website. If you are using Firefox an option you can try is to install the NoScript addon to have more control over what Javascripts are allowed to run on what websites. I have it running and have successfully blocked the annoying pop-overs from Chrisg.com, Digital Photography School, Shoemoney.com, Remarkablogger, Caroline Middlebrook and John Chow dot Com while still being able to use other Javascript features on the sites.

It is unfortunate that readers need to take such drastic actions to be able to enjoy reading blogs without being annoyed by these pop-overs. We will probably have to continue to take such actions until the bloggers either realize that they are annoying more people than they are gaining, start actually getting hurt in their pocketbooks or until big brother Google comes out with a statement saying that websites should not have pop-overs that deter from user interaction similar to statements that they make on popups.

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