Passive-Aggressive Popups and Other Acts of Marketing Self-Sabotage

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Marketers often think their online writing is inviting. But to readers it can feel like falling into a hidden temple where the walls are spewing poison darts and they’re being pursued by a big, bone-crushing boulder.

I’m talking about GDPR banners. Popups that show before the content. Misleading headlines. Email capture forms. Gates. Non sequiturs. Needless philosophizing. Language so maddeningly imprecise it says everything and nothing at once.

It’s a struggle out there for the reader who was promised an answer and found the article or post booby-trapped.

Visit a website.

? Close the live chat

? Accept GDPR cookies

? Disallow tracking of location

? Close offer to sign up for emails

I tell you, it’s exhausting ??

— Dennis Shiao ?? (@dshiao) November 7, 2019

There are many reasons the reader experience ends up that way.

Partly, it’s too much distance between marketers and their audiences (58% don’t talk to customers even when conducting customer marketing).

Teams also forget that readers are people, too, and they crank up the “monetization” dial beyond what’s bearable.

And for the most egregious error, consider the example of food recipes you find when searching Google (more on this below). And the most unfortunate part? It’s not uncommon in marketing content.

Off-Topic Intros


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