Should you monetize exit traffic? There are compelling arguments that say you should, and others that say you shouldn’t.
Typically, pop-ups are used to monetize exit traffic. When a user attempts to leave a site, a pop-up will appear and attempt to redirect them back to the site. In some cases, this pop-up is simply the browser’s default dialogue box that says they may have unsaved information on the page. In other cases, specific calls-to-action present themselves.
However, monetizing exit traffic is somewhat controversial among some marketers, who argue that it is unethical and ineffective. Others say that it is simply a matter of numbers. and that monetizing exit traffic is just about boosting your conversions.
Here are three arguments in favor of monetizing exit traffic and three that oppose it:
1. Nearly Half of All Visitors Bounce from Good Sites
If you have a 50% bounce rate, you’re doing pretty good. But from another perspective, 50% is still a lot. After all, that’s half of all your website visitors.
This is one compelling reason to use pop-ups to grab visitors when they hit the “back” button on their browsers.
To be effective, offer incentives to stay – whether those incentives are real or not. For instance, offer a free trial, a discount, or some other perk that could bring them back.
2. Time Heals All Wounds
Don’t worry that visitors will get angry at you. Time heals all wounds, so they will forgive you later…and if they don’t forgive, they’ll probably forget.
The vast majority of users – even if they do get annoyed – will simply forget about your website anyways, so why not squeeze out those few extra conversions?
A website can squeeze in thousands of unique visits per month, and once you’ve worn out your welcome, simply throw up a new site with new packaging and employ the same tactic. People won’t know the difference.
3. You Can Learn About Your Customer
Yet another reason, often under-utilized by marketers, is the fact that you can learn from your visitors when you monetize exit traffic. When visitors bounce under normal circumstances, you don’t learn a whole lot.
Creatively integrate a question or two into the exit pop-up.
- Create a targeted question with a compelling benefit and call-to-action, instead of the web browser’s default dialogue box.
- Split-test several versions.
- Study users’ responses to the questions.
- Improve your site, your marketing, and your products based on those responses.
These are just a few of the reasons why monetizing your exit traffic may be a good idea.
Now here are some reasons not to:
1. It Ensures Some Customers Won’t Come Back
Though the notion that “time heals all wounds” is romantic, statistics show that it takes 12 positive experiences to make up for one negative one.
If you annoy customers with a pop-up when they want to leave your site for the first time, do you think they’ll want to visit again the next time they see your site in the search results?
Everyone who tries to monetize a site dreams of a website cash machine, but successful marketers will tell you time and again that success is founded on relationships. Monetizing existing customers is easier and less costly than finding new customers and earning from them.
2. It Can Have an Impact on Your Reputation
Time and again, pop-ups have been shown to annoy visitors. This annoyance can accumulate over time and the more visitors you annoy, the more likely it is that word will spread in your niche.
Though other statistics have shown that you will hear from less than 4% of irritated customers, this negativity can spread like wildfire and destroy your reputation before you even have one.
In the past, many marketers built short-term ventures that monetized traffic. But there are several problems with this: affiliate marketing is becoming too saturated to take this approach, Google is making this strategy very difficult, and other methods are simply more cost-effective. Image is everything, so a strategy that builds and maintains a solid reputation will be the one that lasts.
3. Your Rankings Can Be Indirectly Affected
Search rankings are getting more sophisticated every day. Pop-ups that annoy users means less social media shares and higher bounce rates, which can have an indirect impact on your search rankings.
Officially, Google Analytics doesn’t connect on-site behavior to the search rankings. However, Google trackers cover the web like a net, and some affiliate marketers believe that Google doesn’t need to rely on Google Analytics to gather that information. Since over 200 signals go into Google’s top secret algorithm, it wouldn’t be surprising if surfing behavior did play a role.
As you can see, each side has compelling arguments. At the end of the day, one deciding factor may be whether you are aiming for short-term or long-term monetization.
While we have endeavored to be impartial, the fact remains that exit pop-ups are not at present the best practice for web publishers. The disadvantage of pop-ups is that they are often viewed as annoying or intrusive by web-savvy users. They have distinct disadvantages when it comes to reputation management and trust-building, both of which are required to acquire and retain customers. And, as mentioned, they just aren’t that cost effective in the long run.
There are a myriad of other methods to ensure you convert your web visitors into customers. These marketing methods include personalizing your site’s content and design to suite the user, using a retargeting service to reconnect with users, as well as creating content that will continually attract and ‘nurture’ your target market.
So, the best way to monetize your exit traffic is the long-haul tactic of producing attractive content and offers, or making your site so good, that users will want to come back to you on their own accord.