As a matter of fact, I was inspired to compose this particular blog post just as I finished writing a polite but pointed message to one particular offending site that does both, which means that if I want to read, let’s say, three articles from their newsletter, I have to deal with three takeover pop-ups asking me to subscribe to their newsletter. Will it kill me to find the “x” to turn off the pop-up ad each time? No. Is this strategy making me want to unsubscribe and get my content elsewhere? Yes.
Now, I have mixed feelings about retargeting, especially when it’s done mindlessly (glad to see you are spending money serving me ads for a product I just bought from you!). But there are lots of technologies that can easily remedy this situation, and not using them sends a bad message and is simply not good for business. If nothing else, that blind persistence negatively impacts my perception of this particular publisher, who seemingly has no qualms about annoying its current readership.
These are the most glaring examples of how publishers seem to forget that customer satisfaction is an extremely important ingredient for success. But I have experienced many other, smaller offenses that can gradually erode the value of a publisher’s brand in the eye of readers: poorly designed site navigation and UX, excessive use of advertising, misrepresentation of “advertorial” content, and overly enthusiastic use of “touch” emails.
My suspicion is that, sadly, in many cases this is less an issue of desperation, and more an issue of thoughtlessness. I would encourage every publisher to conduct regular top-to-bottom site reviews from a user experience perspective. Perhaps use surveys, or provide simple ways for people to leave feedback from any page on your site – and then actually listen to the feedback and do something about it. These simple ideas can help ensure that desperation does not lead to desertion – especially from your existing, loyal readers.
Lest we forget: with very few exceptions, content is not unique, and readers will go where they can find content and have an enjoyable experience doing so.