I was checking my emails and clicked on a link of this newsletter for which I had signed up a while back. The link brought me to the article as intended and then like a slap on my face an overlay with newsletter sign up form appeared. Thanks! I'm already on your stupid newsletter. And now I'm not reading your stupid article, because that stupid overlay slapped me around so hard I forgot what I was doing. I left the site, of course.
These newsletter overlays make me mad. The overlays that are timed to pop up a bit later make me go even more bonkers. The overlays, especially those that come out a bit later, are the worst when you surf to the non-responsive site on an iPhone or other device with small screen. Sometimes they don't close by clicking the dark area, but you must find the tiny "x" hidden to upper corner (or give in and subscribe). I dare you to try especially if you have one of those pesky overlays on your site.
They say overlay increases the sign-ups to your newsletter. I don't doubt that. Lots of people get in trouble by clicking links on spam and scam emails and giving their passwords and banking information here and there. Without thinking a moment what they are doing. I'm sure they also subscribe to these newsletters too with the same enthusiasm. Perhaps people are signing up cause they don't know how else to close the overlay.
The fact is that these overlays are annoying. Some geniuses say they are only a mild annoyance and the numbers of subscribers trump the amount of those annoyed. But there are still those of us who get annoyed. It makes me also wonder: If your overlay shows up immediately or in a moment after the person has landed your site, do they even know what they are subscribing for? Obviously they are just subscribing for the sake of subscribing.
It appears I might be onto something with this. Perhaps the better way would be to introduce the overlay after the person has already read the article or preferably two or three of them. That way they would already be interested in your actual content and not subscribing blindly. Isn't it better for you if the subscribers have interest in your content and don't just trash your emails as they land their inbox?
Unfortunately it seems that people online believe the quantity is the thing. The quantity of email subscribers, the quantity of Twitter followers (even if you have to follow everyone back in order to gain them), the quantity of visitors on the site, the quantity of Facebook likers. True, the quantity does count, but it's only part of it. Engagement is the key. The amount of your subscribers, followers, visitors and likers doesn't matter if they don't actually engage with the content. Without engagement these subscribers, followers, visitors and likers are not getting anything from you and are not giving anything for you. There's no gain to anyone.
I asked already a whole bunch of questions. That's how I roll. But after this rant I'd like you to ask yourself: Are newsletter overlays really worth hiding your content?
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I'm Mervi Emilia Eskelinen, an artist and online presence strategist from Finland. I coach and consult indie businesses and bloggers to find focus with their branding, marketing and web. I have almost 20 years of experience, a bachelor's degree and some fun certifications in everything about digital media and marketing.