How to Win the Game (and Customers) with Content on Linkedin

With over 107 million registered, engaged users in the United States alone, many of which are your customers, colleagues or more importantly prospective customers, Linkedin is the choice for B2B marketers.

And it’s growing. Every second, two more people join Linkedin. By the time you reach the period at the end of this sentence, Linkedin’s audience will have grown by 12.

From 2013 to 2014, Linkedin grew its membership by 20% – more than Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube combined. It’s the fourth fastest growing network behind Instagram, Pinterest, and Tumblr.

It’s a unique social media platform that lets you network with like-minded individuals and connect directly with potential customers. So the question is, why aren’t you using it?

If Linkedin gives you the capability to share targeted updates directly with connections or write posts to engage in thought leadership (and set yourself apart from the competition), why aren’t devoting at least 20 minutes a day with it?

Let’s put aside the incredibly powerful (and free) search capabilities of Linkedin for a moment. And lets save the potential of engaging groups for another time.

This is all about how you can collect, share, and create compelling content for your audience to start conversations and get connections motivated. Below are some tips for sharing stories and writing blog posts to engage your audience, and by the way, everything below is free. The only thing you need is the time.

First, Create “Listening Stations” with Google Alerts for Awesome Ideas

The most common excuse people come up with for not engaging their audience on Linkedin with an update to share or an article to write is the lack of ideas or time to generate them or a combination of both, which is downright scary.

Now, I’m sure we’ve all seen The Wolf of Wall Street so I’ll spare you the quotes about the things that are holding you back and do you one better by offering your a solution. It’s called Google Alerts and it’ll collect news stories for you, on a daily basis, based on keywords of your choosing, and send them to your inbox.

There’s no scouring search engines for information or researching niche blogs. The best thing is, it was developed by Google (it’s right in the name) so it’s incredibly useful, as powerful as it simple, and free, which is the best.

Here’s how it works. First, you enter a keyword you care about. Try something simple like “Digital Marketing”, “Fainting Goats”, or “David Lynch”.  Then toggle a few settings, enter your email address, and boom, done, that’s it. The alert automatically monitors the web for content related to that keyword and updates you by placing an email right in your inbox.

You can have alerts emailed to you daily, weekly, or if you’re into this sort of thing, as it happens. You can also narrow the alert regionally, or have it monitor only blogs, videos or discussions. There’s a number of settings to help you set the granularity of the alert.

In a data-driven world where things happen all the time, it’s an incredibly powerful tool for keeping you up to speed on what’s happening.

It’s great to set up a few of these alerts as “listening stations” that will funnel ideas to you automatically. Make a habit out of reading it daily. It’ll keep you updated on what’s happening in your customer’s world. It will also give you great content to share as an update or even ideas for a post.

When you’re ready to learn more about this go read Trust Agents by Chris Brogan and ‎Julien Smith. Five years later, it’s still the de facto standard for influencing people in social media. Great read.

Share Smart on Linkedin and Engage Your Audience

Now that you’ve got your listening stations supplying a steady stream of content to your inbox, it’s time to put it to good use.

Whether you’re sharing stories to your feed or using several articles for sources in a post, there’s some best practices you should follow to maximize your return on investment.

First, let’s talking about sharing an update. Sharing an update is easy enough – you simply copy and paste a URL into the “Share an Update” field on your homepage. For the most part, if the site you’re sharing has it’s act together, you’ll see a thumbnail and abstract appear after you copy and paste the article. After that, you can enter a message summarizing why you’re posting the content.

After that click “Share” and boom, done – you’re sharing content on Linkedin. Look at your spreading the word.

And while this is a pretty cool thing to do – sharing links and news you feel are relevant – it’s only scratching the surface.

One of the coolest things you can do is “tag” a person or company in your share, which engages your audience (the whole point).

As you’re writing your message to explain your post, you can type an “@” symbol and start typing either the name of any company or person on Linkedin to “tag” them in the post, which means they will receive a notification after you share. This is a great way to build your audience, stay connected with customers, or push prospects toward the sale.

Here’s me sharing a Windows 10 article from TechRepublic with Bill Gates (the real one) and mentioning Microsoft (the company, for reals) with my old college buddy William Johnson (who couldn’t care less about this). All the shares appear in gray, that’s Linkedin’s style.

So how does this work in the real world? Check this out.

Let’s say you’ve just had a great first meeting with a prospect and you want to keep the relationship moving forward. You know this person is incredibly interested in cyber security. In fact, that’s the problem you’re trying to solve with the prospect. Also, since you’re smart, you’ve connected with the person here on Linkedin.

An appropriate way to keep the prospect engaged is to find a news article or blog post the prospect would enjoy, share it on Linkedin, and mention them as you do it.  As an aside, if you really want to find the best cyber security news, do yourself a favor and follow Debbie Windell, the Director of Community Engagement at ICS-ISAC. She will fill your feed with so much great content with respect to cyber security you won’t need a Google Alert.

And by the way, you can automate content posting with Buffer – an application which lets you create a stockpile of content that will automatically post to Linkedin (or Twitter or Facebook) based on a schedule you create.  Plus it’s totally free for up to 10 automatic posts a day. The only draw back here is you can’t yet tag people on Linkedin posts in Buffer. It’s worth a look anyway.

Write Awesome Posts on Linkedin to Engage in Some Serious Thought Leadership

Here’s a question: What’s the most popular type of content on Linkedin?

Think real hard. Ok, give up?

I’ll give you a hint: It’s in your head. You’ve built it up over the years you’ve been working. The answer is this: Industry insights.

According to recent research, six out of 10 Linkedin users are interested in reading about colleagues experiences and expertise over all other content combined.

And lucky for you, Linkedin offers a free way of talking directly to your audience through posts. This is how it works:

On your homepage, you find that button all the way on the right that says “Publish a Post” and click on it. Then get to work Hemingway, write an engaging post filled with the insights and experience.

(Pictured: You Being Awesome)

Coming up with ideas is easy – you already have listening stations set up to stream ideas directly to your inbox. Plus you’ve got all this industry experience. Additionally, you’ve probably got an opinion, insight, or success story that will help someone in someway and that’s what it’s all about.

Disagree? Take this into consideration.

I talk to people all the time who feel like they work in a vacuum. They can’t imagine that anyone, anywhere, even within a 100 mile radius of their workplace, could be experiencing the same problems they face on a daily basis.

Worse yet, they can’t imagine someone in their position working in the next town over that would benefit from the novel way they solved their problems or how they arrived at awesome conclusions with innovative thinking.

They can’t even fathom that person like them exists – let alone imagine them having the same issues and the capacity for appreciation of the solution.

And that’s just wrong.

Everyday people work in environments that are admittedly not 100 percent similar to others, that’s true. Of course no office, graphic design den, factory, plant, or pizza shop is just like the next. But in ways, one municipality is similar to the next to the point where the ideas for solving problems could be just as applicable — or helpful — to others.

In short, don’t spare pixels because you think your idea isn’t awesome. Because it is. It’s awesome. Go burn some pixels telling people about it.

Now, you’ll want to structure your post for sure – add a couple of subheads, organize your thoughts, fashion a snazzy headline. Need some helping writing? There’s a outstanding blogger named Neil Patel who wrote a great article about Writing 2000 Words in 2 Hours.

Regardless of how its structured or how it gets done, just remember three simple rules of posting on Linkedin:

  1. If you’re trying to sell people something outright, game the system with keyword stuffing tricks, or not handling yourself professionally, you’re doing it wrong.
  2. If you’re trying to impart knowledge, educate, and helping others, you’re probably doing it right.
  3. Writing is about solving a problem – always. If you’re not solving a problem with your writing, back up until you see the “3” and start reading again but more carefully this time.

The coolest thing about writing a post on Linkedin is when you’re done and you hit “Publish”, every one of your contacts will get an alert. Everyone you are connected with will get “pinged” about your article. Powerful stuff.

There’s a lot of research into the best times to actually pull the trigger on your post. Many say early morning is the best, other go with the email-marketing standby and suggest right around noon.

The truth of the matter is if you write engaging content, folks will read it and if it’s valuable, they’ll tell others.

And sure, there’s research into how long the post should be. Accepted best practices say the posts should be between 1900-2000 words. (Check No. 6 here on this awesome post).  But don’t sweat that either or try to reach some word count by shoving unnecessary graphs onto the screen.

If you need some inspiration on who’s winning the game with this already, check out Jeff Haden for example. He has nearly 700K followers and posts to Linkedin quite often. Laszlo Bock, SVP at Google, does a really nice job too. Check out Liz Ryan as well, she’s got a great voice and loads of style.

But if you do nothing else, listen, you’ve got to make your post look awesome because it’s free. Here’s how.

Dress Up Your Linkedin Post with Free Pictures

Adding great photos that are applicable to your post is an awesome way to help your story. So the good news is there are literally dozens of great stock photography stuff on the Internet that offer amazing art that is absolutely free.

Trust me, this fact — the existence of such quality stock photography — coupled with your great idea for a post, makes for the potential for some amazing content.

For the purposes of this post, I’m going to forgo the big giant list of sites (Dustin Senos over at Medium already has a great one going) and instead give you a magic link to Google. Ready? Here:

Magic Link

But I want to call out some of my favorites.

IMCreator.com

After you get past the truly unfortunate user experience (the site is just a bear to use) you’re find some of the most amazing photography hanging around the web.

The unique thing about this stock photography site is that there is a great deal of people and close-ups of faces, which is an incredibly powerful thing given the fact that people read websites and are more likely to respond to designs that incorporate human elements.

See above, a shot by Jonathan Kos-Read, just an amazing picture.

Freeimages.com

I’ve personally used this site countless times for tons of projects.

The site offers high-res, user-contributed photos that can be used for personal blogs or corporate campaigns. Polished isn’t exactly the word I’d use for this images – this is all about utility. It’s the polar opposite of IMCreator.com.

It just gets the job done consistently and that’s why I recommend it a lot.

If you’re a small business and you’re looking to start content marketing, the stunning amount of vertical-specific art on Freeimages.com makes it a must-have resource.  The account is free (that’s 100%, no future payment) so get after it. That above shot of the forest is by Andrew Cooper.

Startup Stock Photos

When I think of Startup Stock Photos, it reminds me of the good people on the Internet and how fortunate we are to have them.

The site’s creators obviously know how difficult it can be to work for a startup. Making this kind of high quality stock photography seems to be their way of giving back.

It’s all there in the site’s tag line:

“Take ‘em, these things are free. Go. Make something.”

Startup Stock Photos is packed with professional, ultra-clean, modern, art.  And the best part is they are high-res, highly versatile, and above all, free.

Takeaway: There’s a bunch of free stock photography out there but a small percentage of it is awesome.  When you find something you like that inspires you — and it’s free — be polite and attribute the author.

In all cases, use stock photography that is applicable to your subject and always, always, always, do the right thing and attribute your work. Linkedin’s clunky editor makes it a challenge to add captions to articles, so why not list the credits at the end of the article, like I do.

However you decide to do it, take five seconds to give the author some credit. It’s the least you can do.

Images I used:

Here’s a Thought: Twitter Favorites are Kind of Worthless

The other day I started noticing that one of my blog posts was getting favorited on Twitter a lot. Like everyday a lot. By the same couple of people over and over.

I’ll be honest, this was the first time a post got favorited.

Not going to lie: How I felt getting favorited four days in a row for the same post.

Me, doing Twitter. Courtesy: http://helentrue.com/

I thought to myself, “Huh, Awesome. Someone liked what I did. I’m doing Twitter!”

In hindsight I was 100% right with my unintended Facebook reference of being “liked” and didn’t know it.

The next day the same post got favorited again by the same people. And it happened again the next day. And again. And again. Same people, same post.

It was really their favorite thing and every time I posted it to Twitter, they would remind me how super it was. I began to imagine I — actually my post — was their whole world.

In all seriousness I started to ask – what’s a Twitter favorite really worth? Those favorites I get throughout the day, where’s the value? Is there value?

A ton of way smarter people than me have written about this but I’ve got a blog and time to kill so here we go.

Is There SEO Value in Twitter Favorites?

It’s worth getting out of the way first and foremost that no one can say with 100% certainty what does and does not impact a page’s position in Google.

(Except for Google’s Matt Cutts, who says Twitter Favorites don’t matter in a video at the end of this section. I’m funny.)

Google’s search algorithms are not public knowledge. You can’t just download Google’s code base. You can’t force Google to give up it’s secrets – folks have tried. Man, even Germany tried. And failed.

Even when Google makes updates to its algorithm — Panda, Penguin, most importantly Hummingbird — we only see the effects and make inferences based on how things change. By the way, to read an excellent article about the previous Google updates, head over to this article at Moz.

All that said, it’s hard to imagine favorites having any impact on SEO. Favorites are just like “Likes” on Facebook – it’s someone saying they saw value in what you posted.

They click favorite, you get the notification, and that’s pretty much the end of it. It’s a one-on-one interaction on a network built on interaction with a wide audience. In other words, its kind of weird to begin with.

When someone retweets you, on the other hand, that’s like sharing it with their entire audience. A retweet from a respected authority on Twitter is a big deal. It’s an endorsement. They are sharing your content with all of their followers. That’s the new SEO strategy for sure.

The quote you’ll hear most SEOs use when talking about retweets comes from a 2010 article from Danny Sullivan over at Search Engine Land called “What Social Signals Do Google & Bing Really Count?” It goes like this:

“Retweets serve as a new form of link building. Get your page mentioned in tweets by authoritative people, and that can help your ranking in regular search results, to a degree.” – Sullivan.

Dr. Peter J. Meyers, a Marketing Scientist at Moz, talked about this too on Moz’s blog.

Meyers on retweets vs. favorites:

“[Retweets] are generally more advantageous indirectly. They expose more people to your tweet, and those people will click through, drive up engagement, and potentially link to you. Eventually, this can have an indirect but very real impact on SEO. It’s unlikely that favoriting has much impact even indirectly, IMO.”

(Find the conversation here).

Here’s Google’s Matt Cutts:

Is There Any Other Value in Twitter Favorites?

In researching this I happened upon an article written by Rebecca Greenfield over at The Atlantic’s Wire (thewire.com) entitled A Complete Guide to the Art of Twitter Favorites. Greenfield’s article delves into such various kinds of favorites like:

  • The Practical Favorite: Some people use the favorite for its most practical purpose — to bookmark tweets for later.
  • The “Fist Bump” or Thank You Favorite: Earlier this year, Twitter noted a rise in favorites on tweets only meant for one other person (i.e., a conversation).
  • The Hate-Fave: On the other, meaner end of the spectrum, we have the “hate-fave,” which The Awl’s Choire Sicha calls “the most perverse thing you can do” to someone totally awful, as he told The Journal‘s Rosman.
  • The Practical Hate-Fave: “I fave to remember to make fun of something later,” explains The Atlantic Wire’s Elspeth Reeve, who uses this hybrid of both the practical and hate-fave methods.

The list goes on. Important note, the above stuff is her words, not mine. I, nor even the Onion, could come up with this kind of stuff.

definition of favoriteI’m just going to go out on a limb and say this is reading way, way too much into something that means just about nothing at all. A Twitter favorite makes sense to two people: The person who favorited the tweet and the person who received the favorite. You’d literally have to let a third person know the incident happened and at that point, you should probably just go ahead and retweet it.

I like the idea of keeping Twitter Favorites special – like a high-five. When Twitter redesigned it’s profile, Kevan Lee over at BufferSocial wrote a 5 Tips to Optimize Your New Twitter Profile. It’s a pretty great read. Check out No.5 on the post for more on making Twitter favorites special.

Still, on a social network where the point is to engage your audience, build a network, learn, teach, and connect it seems kind of silly to favorite something.imgres

Plus, and now I’m just being cranky, the word favorite by it’s very definition lends itself to either describing something (adjective) or identify a person, place or thing (noun) that is singular. It’s one thing. Your favorite car, sports team, bubble gum. Not a wide array of things.

You just can’t have more than one favorite thing in a class of things – constant bickering with childhood friends over who was the favorite Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle taught me that. You could have one favorite and one favorite alone.

If you can have favorites, well that’s confusing. I don’t see much social value past the value you put into it but even then, it’s just marking tweets to help you keep organized.

Spammers Use Favorites to Gain Followers

To make matters worse, Twitter spammers favorite tweets just to gain followers with no intention of following you back. Read more about that here. Careful who you follow.

, owner of Bossa Nova Interactive, a digital marketing, web design and local seo company in Hampton Roads, VA., wrote a really great blog post about “auto-favoriting” as a strategy and how it’s… not great.

The story goes like this: Malcom posted the following tweet:

Tweet example from Bossanovainteractive

Exhibit A

And minutes later, the tweet was favorited by four people Malcom didn’t know.

Huh? Wait, in what world does that happen? Anywhere?

Let’s imagine you’re at a bar and randomly say to absolutely no one, “Man, sure is hot in here.”

Immediately after, four or five people you’ve never met in your life walk up to you, pat you on the back, and compliment you on your impromptu climate assessment. You’d think you were the subject of a hidden camera show, right?

Let’s also point out here as he did in his original blog post that this is all going down around 9PM. I know a ton of folks that work late into the night but four people favoriting a post right in a row?

So this is obviously some automatic favoriting mechanism built to target certain tweets. The process gets kicked off anytime someone uses a hashtag or string of words. It’s dishonest stuff.

Now, I’m all for marketing automation. We need to get more done in a short amount of time so we can do the important stuff like figure out how a Raspberry Pi works or play with your kids. I use Buffer, for example, to automate tweets on a schedule. It’s awesome.

But there’s a clear difference between marketing automation and building an inflated Twitter following through sleazy, fake tactics like spam-favoriting. And it’s quite another thing all together to pay someone to favorite-spam people.

For a one-hour conversation on this that is totally worthwhile, check out Justin Wise’s podcast and listen to show #212 BE A CYBORG TO GROW YOUR AUDIENCE.

Like Malcom points out, spam-favoriting is a play on people’s ego. It’s meant to make you feel good about your work, and convince you to follow them. The follow is rarely reciprocated and it’s probably for the better. These accounts often try to do a good job looking human by posting inspirational quotes and such but end up just trying to sell you something.

Social media is a tough business – it takes a good long while to build a worthwhile following. If you gain a ton of followers in a short term, it’s unlikely you did it the right way and extremely unlikely it will result in success. This kind of black-hat tactic is right up there with buying lists for email marketing.

By the way, there’s an awesome book called Trust Agents: Using the Web to Build Influence, Improve Reputation, and Earn Trust that spends a bunch of time talking about why this kind of stuff is bad news. Check it out. I found it on Half.com a while ago for 65 cents.

In short, favorites aren’t all that useful. If someone favorites your post, you almost have to ask why they didn’t just really show how much they liked it by sharing it with their followers. If it was a favorite tweet, doesn’t it deserve a follow or at least a retweet? Kind of devalues the word favorite, right?

Twitter favorites are just a social courtesy nod – no more, no less. Instead of focusing on favorites — or even retweets — just do your best to create compelling, creative, relevant content.

As always, if you’re trying to game the system, you’re doing it wrong.

Just as a P.S., for an exhaustive read on how Twitter, Facebook, and other social interactions impact SEO, check out Your Guide to Social Signals for SEO

Stuff I Linked To:

So Let’s Talk About These New Exit Intent Popups

I’m a funny T-shirt guy. I know, not directly related to exit intent popups but stick with me.

I have probably a half-dozen T-shirts for bands nobody has ever heard. I’ve got another seven or eight for movies or obscure pop culture references.

You know how Judah Friedlander from 30 Rock has a revolving cache of pop-culture reference trucker hats?

That’s me. I’m that guy.

And when you’re that guy, people hold you to it so you have to keep a regular rotation of shirts. You can’t just go repeating shirts throughout the week – they need to be varied, topical, and in perfect condition.

This became an issue the other day when I was was forced to pull my “More Cowbell” shirt out of the rotation. The reference was getting a bit tired and I had discovered a pretty significant rip in the underarm.

So up came the browser and off I went to my favorite T-shirt site, BustedTees.com, which I haven’t visited in quite a while.  In case you didn’t know, BustedTees.com is the place to find awesome T-shirts with wickedly funny pop culture references. They just do it right. I wasn’t on their site for more than a few seconds when I was interrupted aggressively with the exit intent popup below.

bustedTees

Whoa.

Now, I know I caught a glimpse of at least two funny shirts before the ad but those ideas quickly left my mind. Instead, I was trying to process the incept facing me.

Without taking any steps toward it, I was presented with a strong call to action I wasn’t prepared for. This is some pretty aggressive salesmanship, something I haven’t experience at this site. (Like I said, it’s been a while since I needed a funny shirt).

That’s not all. Right below the button that screams about “CRAZY DEALS” I saw this peculiar sentence.

“No thanks, I like paying full price.”

I literally tilted my head to the right slightly, squinted as if to try and find something I was missing, and whispered, “Huh?”

What does that even mean? Who likes paying full price? What’s going on here? Oh, I get it.

As I processed the sentence, I realized I was insulted by it because that was the very point. It was built to make me feel inferior for not accepting the offer above, which, in turn, would bully me into taking the call to action.

Here’s way of stating the bullying sentence: What, you don’t like crazy deals? Wow, you must be the kind of idiot that likes paying full price. What a moron. 

To me, this whole experience is like walking into a store, having someone put something — anything — inches from your nose, and screaming over the product, “HEY, WANNA BUY THIS?”.

Then, when you politely decline, the person looks at you with disgust, and says, “Wow, I guess you’re the kind of scumbag that likes to pay full price.” Then, the last thing you see is their face disappearing over the product as they raise it violently to eye level, obscuring everything else.

I think I got my point across, I regard this a pretty intrusive experience.

Now, these popups aren’t exactly breaking news. Popups never really died, they just went out of style — slightly — and improved dramatically.  What’s kind of new is these exit intent popups are an extreme hard sale. These ones  forcibly wrestle away the user experience. Think Alec Baldwin from Glengarry, Glen Ross.

It’s only now that they are infecting my user experience dramatically so I figured I would share my opinion.

So What Are These New Exit Intent Popups? wonipod


Back in the day, when the Internet was fairly young and Netscape was still a thing, pop-up ads were disruptive, annoying, and everywhere.

And then there was the war on popups, fought mainly by software that valiantly blocked the frustrating and resource-killing advertisements. Then they just kind of… went away.

Now they’re back, and they’re popping up on sites all around. (There, I got my pun out of the way).

So are the new breed of exit intent popups any different? In some ways yes, but in many ways no.

Exit Intent Popups are Pretty Annoying


Today’s exit intent popups are still just as disruptive as the old guys. They literally interrupt your reading, sometimes with irritating frequency.

Back in February 2014, SEO expert Dan Petrovic called out search engine heavy weight Neil Patel for using popups on his blog. (This kind of thing only happens on the Internet). The issue was with the frequency of the popups and sure, they do come up a lot on Neil’s blog. More on Neil in a second.

Exit Intent Popups Hijack the User Experience


I don’t pretend to know everything about user experience but since I’m part of the internet community, I think my opinion is at least representative.  For me, it’s all about the fact that popups wrestle control away and take over the user experience.

I can’t imagine I’m the only one thinking this because the very existence of technology to kill popups proves people needed to automate their removal.

It all comes back to control. When people use the Internet, they like to think they are in charge of the experience. They navigate where they want, read what the like, and are plugged in enough to know when something is wrong. When you interrupt the experience with an exit intent popup, people notice the disconnect and ask “What Happened?”

The next natural question is, “Why did it happen?”

In the past few years, I’ve become accustomed to the natural progression of reading content, commenting on it, learning, doing, and finally interacting with a call to action when I’m ready based on my actions up to that point.  It’s my call on my time.

So if one second I’m reading about email marketing tips and the next I’m presented with a call to action, the disruption at the very least elicits a response.

Having control wrestled away and being presented with an experience you didn’t request is jarring because it jumps the gun on a process I thought I understood. The contract I had with websites – I’ll ask you for help when I’m ready but not before — has been broken.

popups haven’t changed in the way they present you with a call to action despite your level of comfort with seeing it.

Exit Intent Popups are Cleaner and More Targeted


One big now-and-then change is today’s popups are quite a bit cleaner.

Let’s use this example from Nikki, in Stitches.

example

I didn’t know about Nikki McGonigal’s craft blog until I started researching exit intent popups. I’ve since read some of her stuff and she’s obviously great at what she does. She has a great following and awesome attitude that comes through in her passionate writing.

In short, I couldn’t care less about crafts but enjoy her blog because of her passion for the subject. She’s just a great writer.

The blog makes use of popups right from the get-go. Just navigate to the blog’s home page, wait two or three seconds, and you’ll see this. From what I’ve learned, there’s some logic behind this but I was presented the popup in three different browsers, each on the first go, so I’m basing my writing on that.

This is a clean, professional, branded popup with a strong, clear call to action. Sign up and stay in touch, simple as that.

It’s also appropriate, or at least, far and away more appropriate than pop ads in the past that would advertise everything under the sun on any kind of page.

If you happened upon a craft blog, whether directly or from a search, you probably did so with interest in crafts. So you should expect to be asked to continue hearing about crafts. Though the popup is presented to anyone and everyone, it’s at least somewhat appropriate because if you’re at this site, you probably would want more.

Exit Intent Popups are Getting Way More Aggressive


In the great before, popups were annoying and resource intensive for sure but in the end, most were also pretty harmless. They advertised stuff you didn’t want and were a nuanced nuisance in the infancy of the internet.

That’s not even close to the case now. Today’s popups use extremely pushy and seem to have an overly determined goal of keeping your attention.  Animations, images, and leading language in the popup combine to make a case for keeping you on the page you are viewing.

If I haven’t yet made it clear, these simple lightboxes triggered by mouse movements embody a determination and resolve better suited for hanging on for dear life.

Take this one for example, this is from OilPrice.com. To draw this popup reaction, check out one of the site’s articles and just casually mouse away from the page toward the URL.

scary-1024x555

Before talking about what this means, it’s important to talk about what it took to get here.

To invoke this popup, all you need to do is move your cursor to an area outside the content area, like, say, the top left where your “back” button resides. Basically, if you try to leave the page, this is what you get.

So imagine you’ve decided to navigate away. The page reacts by presenting your with a timed offer. This particular intercept features an infomercial-style limited time pitch for a free piece of content called the Insider. Act now because this limited time offer will end in five minutes and the clock is ticking. (The counter actually works, a pretty cool effect.)

I didn’t stay to see what happened when the clock runs out but you get the idea.

Check out this one here from BounceExchange.com.

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Check it out here. Neat how the “Yes” button kind of flaps suggestively.

Here’s another one, kind of in the same vein.

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There’s a heavy dose of crawling-into-your-brain psychology going on here. These ads aren’t just designed to keep you around, they’re designed to invoke emotion, change your opinion, and force you to act. And everything is happening for a reason.

The reddish orange around the “Yes” because it invokes emotional feelings of energy and emotion. The color of the box surrounding the “Yes” matches the color of the words “Market Insights”, which is meant to create a connection between the affirmative and the word. But that’s not the best part.

What really grabs my attention here is the sentences that support each option. It’s no longer just a Yes or No question – the website wants you to believe that there’s so much more at stake. Each option has an implied reinforcement the consequences of each option.

In the above option, you pick “Yes” and you’ll get the market edge – you’ll outpace the competition. With the “Yes”, you’re a winner.

But if you pick “No”, you’re the kind of person who would “rather be the last to hear.” Say no to this offer and you’re someone who is losing the game. Someone who is less than others. You’re the last, which by its very definition, means everyone is ahead of you.   There’s at least two things you will always see with “No” supporting sentence.

First, it’s utterly ridiculous.  Tying a negative response with thoughts like “I like when visitors bounce,” or “I’d rather be the last to hear,” is just plain crazy. Nobody would ever enjoy visitors bouncing from their site. Nobody wants to be the last to hear anything – even bad news.

Look at this example below. Would any business owner actually say with a straight face that they have enough customers?

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In addition to being ridiculous, it’s incredibly insulting. You are meant to see this sentence and feel some level of shame for picking “No”. It’s hard to read the words “No, I have enough traffic,” and not hear it in the voice of a smart-ass, condescending teenager.

To be clear, the above examples and the copy below are in no way different.

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So there’s obviously a bunch of work that goes into making sure you not only stay on site but also act in a certain way. But is is worth it?

But are These Exit Intent Popups Effective?


Yes. All negative feelings aside, everything said, these are incredibly effective.

Remember the Nikki, in Stitches, example above? Well it turns out it’s excellence proof as to why using popups works.

Nikki’s use of popups resulted in “1375% more subscribers.”

Darren Rowse’s photography blog at one time was locked at 40 subscribers but after instituting popups, he started receiving 350 subscribers a day. 

Another recipe website experienced 10x improvement in sign ups. The list goes on.

There’s plenty of other examples of popups working to the advantage of the site, at the cost of irking some people. To be clear, it’s beneficial despite the negative feelings some (including me) have about them.

Get in touch with me.