I'm Not Going to Subscribe to Your Newsletter

I think I’m one of the last few people still using RSS. I subscribe to a ton of blogs in Feedly, and I go through every morning and clean out my RSS feed.

If something looks interesting, I’ll add it to Pocket and read later. Feedly is a big filter, and I only run across a couple of posts I want to read in full. I don’t expect to read every post I see in my RSS feed. That’s what Pocket is for - it’s a smaller filter.

But there’s a good way to guarantee I’ll never read your post, no matter how interesting it looks.

Newsletter Subscription Spam

This popup launched as soon as I opened the post I’d saved in Pocket. This is a fad I’ve noticed over the last year or so. I’m not here to shame Cut Cable Today. They’re just a convenient example of something that’s been annoying me for months. Further, the content of this post does seem interesting. I enjoy reading about how old technology changes or dies over time, but I’ll never read it.

It’s a popular trend with blogs. Some blogs have the decency to wait until you scroll a bit before asking you to subscribe to their lead-nurturing campaign. If I’m hit with a “Subscribe to our newsletter!” pop up before I have a chance to read any of your content, I’m out.

I’ve read a lot of backlash against advertising in general. Adblocking software has gotten popular enough that sites like Forbes beg visitors to turn off adblockers (and immediately serve malware as a “Thank You.”)

Native advertising is coming under fire, too. Back in December, the FTC issued new rules governing when businesses must disclose that native advertising is advertising.

Blogs begging me to subscribe before I’ve had a chance to determine whether that blog is adding value is a minor annoyance, compared to real problems in the industry like invasion of privacy, malware, and deceptive advertising. But it’s in the same family. It’s annoyance marketing.

Marketing is messaging, and the message sent by companies who annoy me with a popup as soon as I land on their content is pretty clear. They care more about building their newsletter subscription count than they care about providing value. You don’t have to spam visitors to build an audience. Look at Seth Godin. Look at Buffer. Look at Groove.

These people are all selling something, and they all want you to subscribe to their newsletters. They all want to convert you from a casual visitor to a warm lead, to a potential customer. But they’re not spamming. These are people who remember that “content marketing” begins with “content.”

Annoyance marketing is a sign that a company doesn’t care about annoying their visitors or users. Spamming a CTA to subscribe to a blog isn’t as bad as installing malware on visitors’ computers, or deceiving them through advertorials disguised as actual news.

But spam is a sign of a company that doesn’t care about how it builds its subscription count. It’s anti-consumer. It’s nakedly hostile to people in its target audience, and annoying someone is a bad way to begin a relationship. And that’s not where I want to be, either as a marketer or a consumer.

I'm Tyler, and I blog about marketing, programming, writing, and things I'm working on.


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