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A Bit of a Rant on Mobile Sites and Marketing

I use my cell phone to browse articles through a variety of different apps as many people do. On occasion you find one that catches your interest, you click on the link and within 5 seconds a f-in’ ad pops up and fills the entire screen!! So you look to see how to dismiss it and you can’t find it because it didn’t resize properly and the close button is off the screen. I’m sure this has happened to you. As a matter of fact the site you are reading this on may have a pop up right about now.

Still with me? Don’t get me wrong, I understand the need for marketing, however, making visitors upset is not going to sell them anything but the thought to never come back. Like every other aspect of your site, pop-up ads, including the “sign-up for my newsletter” variety, needs to be planned out. The user’s experience on mobile can’t be relegated to “responsive” design. By the way, those plugins that claim that they are responsive work part of the time.

The real need here is to plan it out and not just set it and forget. How does a visitor view the site on mobile? Where is that line between effective and annoying and how do you not cross it? When I say plan it out, think about why the visitor is at your site in the first place. If they are clicking on a link to a blog post there is a good chance they want to read that blog post. For heaven’s sake, don’t interrupt them with pop-up ads! It is very disruptive and worst yet, if I have to figure out how to close it, I’m gone.

The other thing to consider is that once the pop-up is gone, it’s gone. Whatever you were advertising is out-of-sight and out-of-mind. Let’s say for example, after reading the article I was interested in signing up for your newsletter, well it’s gone and it’s probably not coming back. Trust me that in many cases, the visitor is not taking time searching your site for another sign-up form. Again, there is a need to think about the context in which the visitor is reading your site. It could be in the comfort of their own home or on a busy, crowded subway. In both cases, the user interface has to be created with BOTH scenarios in mind.

How do you avoid doing this?

First you don’t cover the entire screen with your free ebook download or anything else for that matter. Raise it from the bottom if you have to do a pop-up and give the visitor enough room to read the article so their first inclination isn’t to close the ad. In other words, keep it short and simple and barely intrusive.

Second, instead of a pop-up put the offer at the bottom of the article. There is a good chance that if the visitor reads to the end, they may be interested in receiving more content from you. You have to finesse the visitor and don’t come on too strong with your offer. More than likely if they don’t finish the article, they’re not that interested in you. Sorry.

Finally, think about the different context in which your visitor is reading the article. A desktop is way more forgiving with respect to size and ease of use than a mobile phone. In other words, don’t take a one-size-fits-all approach to your marketing. Frustrating a visitor will not lead to conversions, I am willing to bet big money on that. If you are not sure what to do, think about your own experiences and what frustrates you and don’t do the same thing!

One final thought

A user’s experience means everything to them whether it is online or offline. You will get so many more conversions when you think through the process and come up with a solution that will encourage them to want more not want to leave. I can say from my own experience that if I can’t get to the content I want to read, no matter how interested I am, I move on. Believe it or not, I am very forgiving and patient when it comes to technology because I understand the process of developing this stuff so if you piss me off, you really have a crappy solution. To quote the great Dennis Miller, “that’s just my opinion, I could be wrong”.