#42 The Google Opt in Pop Up Update – What it Means For You & What To Do Next

What you will learn

  • What the new Google update is all about
  • What kinds of pop up technologies will and will not be affected by the update
  • 3 ways to live in the post mobile pop up era

In this episode Gael & Mark discuss Google’s new anti opt in pop up update, what it means for webmasters and how to live in the post mobile pop-up era.

Resources Mentioned In This Episode

Full Transcript

Welcome to the Authority Hacker podcast, the place to learn field tested, no BS tactics to grow hack your online business, and finally, live life on your own terms. Now, your hosts, Gael and Mark.

Gael: Hey guys, welcome to the Authority Hacker podcast. In today’s episode we are going to talk about the opt in pop up updates that Google is releasing, but before that, I want to answer a question a lot of people have been asking us. Authority Hacker pro, our training program, with over 200 training videos, pre made templates, and with a lot of people including Perrin that we posted about recently, have been using to grow their authority site is opening back on September 12, so if that is something you’ve been looking forward to, or if you are interested in learning how we build our sites in depth, with a lot more information than you would find on the blog, then watch out for your email on September 12th, and also we are going to send push notifications; so if you are one one of our lists, you will hear about that, Now, I’ll let you to the podcast episode.

Gael: Hey guys, welcome to the Authority Hacker podcast, today we are going to talk about an update that actually Google has been announcing but didn’t roll out yet, which is the update to opt in pop ups and what they call Interstitial. So, today Mark is here, how is it going Mark?

Mark: It’s going good, What does Interstitial mean? I have never heard that word before.

Gael: I mean, it’s like, I don’t know, that’s how they call it, but when they give examples they specifically show opt in, pop ups etc, essentially I think it’s more of the technology that people use to display them, you know, so that like a pop up blocker cannot block them.

Mark: I guess it’s just to differentiate it from the old school pop up, new window appearing thing.

Gael: Yeah, it’s just technology, it’s not the same thing. It’s not opening a new browser or anything like that so they are going to treat that as a negative ranking signal on mobile only, but that means it’s not just opt in pop ups, because a lot of people that are going to listen to that they will be like oh but that’s okay, I’m using a Hello Bar, I’m using a Welcome Mat from Sumo Me or whatever, now it’s all of them, it’s just the technology they are targeting. So, that is definitely going to be changing the way we have to do things, I think a lot of people are like oh, but what happens to your email list model, and are you guys still going to make money, and stuff, so let’s start with like what we think generally about them, like what do you think about the update?

Mark: I guess it’s kind of in two minds, I totally understand why they are doing it, because frankly, the technology that people use to drive these, and I include ourselves in this, it’s more designed for desktop and then adapted for mobile rather than the other way around. There are very few of the solutions seem to work particularly well on mobile and we get much less opt in on mobile, I think because of that. So yeah, I mean, my first thoughts are yes, this makes sense, second thought is obviously this is going to have somewhat of an impact on our business because we will collect less emails I assume. However, I don’t think it’s as bad as it may appear, because not on all of our sites but on most of our sites, mobile is way way less opt in rates than desktop.

Gael: It’s way more traffic but way less opt ins.

Mark: Yeah. So, I mean, obviously that’s a really you would have to do some calculations to figure out how this is going to affect, but, there is probably some positive sides to this thing as well, people are on mobile they’re actually going be able to consume the content much easier, share it, stuff like that, so, yeah. Overall, from the bottom line point of view, I think it’s probably slightly negative, but not as bad as it might appear to be.

Gael: Yeah, I mean, it’s definitely like enough, I am thinking about like online game terms right now, but it’s like so many times when these things happen people are like, “oh my god, that’s it, the industry is done, we can’t do business anymore, Google is using their monopoly to push these things on people and nobody wants it”, I mean, first of all, I think the user wants it, but really, every time we adapt and we are still getting more and more profitable over time. So it’s not exactly we are like a shrinking business, building these kind of sites is shrinking; it’s kind of the opposite, it’s growing a lot, so it’s just like slowing that down a little bit. I want to say as well that I don’t know about you, but on my phone, when these, especially on page load, which is what we use, pop ups, it’s like when they animated the animation is like slowing everything down, for five seconds when the site loads, like for some reason, it takes a long time to probably readjust the animation to screen size which is probably your phone doing that.

Mark: And we both have fairly new age phones, I mean, a lot of people are going to be two or three years old phones, I can definitely see it’s struggling with some of these.

Gael: Yeah. I imagine a lot of people bounce away or just get irritated for that and also like because we use screen wide pop ups, which a lot of people do, it’s the same as welcome, some people mistake that for the content they think they are landing on the landing page.

Mark: Yeah, and it’s not just random internet newbie that is mistaking that, it’s like when we are doing outreach, some other web masters, the site owners are like what do yo mean, it’s not a blog post, that’s just a getting people to sign up, they don’t realize that it’s a form.

Gael: Yeah. So all of that is just, it’s going to make it nicer to consume the content for the user which I hope that in turn will make more people read us, increase our time on site, and reduce the bounce rate that kind of stuff, and hopefully, because these seem to be ranking signals these days, hopefully that is going to increase our traffic to makeup for some of that lost opt in rate. First of all.

Mark: I just want to get it straight in my head, in case anyone else hasn’t read this bog post, as I understood it, it was every type of these sort of pop ups, let’s call it that Instertitials, whatever, which automatically load, so it doesn’t matter whether it’s on page load instantly, or even whether it’s 90% down the page if you use that option in Thrive, any case, but does it apply if someone clicks for example, on something?

Gael: What do you mean, I don’t think it does, I think it’s really like the pop up stuff. Otherwise, I mean otherwise I would literally kill the entire technology. It’s more like, even when you say the pop up is going to load at 50% when you scroll down, right, the event is already loaded when you load the page. Whereas when you click it, it loads the event when you click. So, technically it’s slightly different and it’s better, so, I think we won’t be able to make the difference; another thing I wanted to say as well is that there is one type that they will not penalize but that’s not going to help your business a lot, it’s these cookie disclaimer one. In Europe, we have to basically have at least display a disclaimer to people that we are using cookies and they have an OK button to say yes you can use cookies or no you cannot, and so these ones will not be penalized, you can still use that and that should not affect your site, obviously this is not live I have no idea if there is going to be any kind of hiccups or anything like that, but in theory, it shouldn’t, right?

Mark: Yes. And it’s like end of January 2017, is that right?

Gael: Yeah. Or the beginning, I don’t know, I need to check again, but it is in January, basically for me, I am aiming to be ready on January 1st.

Mark: I remember being something around the 17th or 27th something.

Gael: Yeah, probably we will just roll it out on January 1st. All the new changes, so yeah, be ready for January so you don’t forget or anything like that. But I wanted to say as well that pop ups for us, they are only like step one of usually a sales funnel, right, so the way it works is people google a keyword, they click on what is a blog post and as a pop up that takes up the entire screen there are offers of free pdf related to what they were typing, so we always take the juicing example so I am going to keep that for like people type juicing recipes for weight loss they click, then pop up comes up, it’s like hey, download this free pdf, with juicing recipes to be healthier and lose weight. And a large percentage of people end up putting their email but that doesn’t stop there, right, people actually end up on a pre sales page that then sells them one of our ebooks. And, the thing is on mobile, like so few people end up buying, I mean, I don’t know if it’s because we are not optimized for mobile in terms of sales pages and checkout or if that’s just I think in general people buy less on mobile anyway. But, all I am saying is like in terms of revenue, even though we might lose like 20%, 30% opt ins I think the revenue is going to drop by 5% or something because when you actually build the full funnel, it’s like anyway, this people don’t really buy nearly as much as desktop traffic anyway, so all of these basically makes me feel okay about that update, especially if it stays on mobile, if it gets to desktop, like it will be like oh actually we don’t like pop ups at all, let;s roll out the whole thing to desktop. Then I think I would a little pissed, to be honest. Because, it is still the main driver of growth for email lists. And, our email lists make good money, so that would not be nice but as long as it’s mobile I think it’s okay. So I think we should talk about what our plan is at least, and what is kind of alternatives are, for people that are relying on these kinds of pop ups, because I am sure you are wondering right now, what to do, I am not saying that is the best solution, that is what we plan on doing.

So, let’s talk about the first one which is pretty well known one, that we are probably going to be depending a little bit more. That is content upgrades. Content upgrades, in a nutshell is basically the same thing as a pop up but usually more related to a blog post like exactly on the blog post topic, and it’s in content, right, so it’s a box or a button and you click and it pops up at that point and then you put your email to get a pdf, so that could be a complementary piece of information about the blog etc, and these really good opt in rate, it takes a bit of time to deploy especially if you do it one per post, but the opt in rate, we get like 2, 3%, B2C sites, like on Authority Hacker way more but that’s the online marketing niche, and I expect that if there is no pop up the opt in rate is going to be much higher, right? So yeah, I expect 50, 70% of people to get in. Another thing I wanted to say as well is we get less emails but because it’s harder to give your email, these people are going to be more engaged, they have to take more action to actually get on our email list so we end up cleaning our email list every six months and deleting tens of thousands of emails, we won’t need to do that as much I imagine after the update because and I am guessing, I don’t exactly have the metrics but I imagine that the easier it is to get on our email list, the less likely you are to be engaged. I mean, you run our email marketing, how do you feel about that?

Mark: Yeah, it’s the same principle as the double opt in versus single opt in, it’s just the more hoops you have to jump through to get in the more you obviously are going to care about it, so, there is a definite argument there. I think the Toto as I said before, it’s definitely a negative thing overall, but when you start breaking it down at this, it’s less than it at first might appear.Gael: There is so many arguments that just cut down the negative effects, like the effect on people on mobile, the fact that people are more likely to be more engaged and the fact that there is alternatives one being content upgrades and the second one that we are going to talk about being retargeting. Now, retargeting costs money pop ups not really, I mean you buy the plug in usually and then you are done, but lately we’ve been able to get really cheap retargeting clicks like I am talking under 10 cents per click to site using Facebook retargeting, and if you are using that for selling stuff, it’s going to be very complicated to not make a profit, unless you have very low margin products or you are trying to sell Amazon products, that kind of stuff. But if you are selling ebooks, if you are selling any kind of physical product that costs more than 50 dollars or whatever, at like 5 to 7 cents a click which is what we get right now, I am sure we could do better, it’s hard to not make a profit on retargeting these people, so using Facebook retargeting I think is a good way to essentially not do, it’s not a replacement for email, but it achieves the same thing, right, it’s like ratining people that visit your website. And now actually Facebook has this new option of targeting, where you can target the 25% of people that were the most engaged with your site, or the 10% or the 5%. And that allows you if you have a big audience like we do, to not waste a lot of money on retargeting and just target these people that visit several pages or clicked around or stayed longer on your website. Mark: I think this is part of an overall sort of trend that we’ll see here as well, where okay maybe you are capturing less emails overall, but then we’ll need to be more of a drive to actually make money off of the ones which you do capture. So I know we are very guilty of this in many cases, capturing too many emails, and it sounds like a good thing to do but capturing emails without really spending the time to figure out how do we monetize them properly, I know a couple of years ago when we were using I think it was Ontraport, we kept pushing through the limit of the our pricing tier, and we weren’t even selling anything to the people on the list. I think maybe if the Total number of email people collect is going to be affected by this then it might indirectly force people to think oh well, okay, am I really monetizing this the best that could be, what other things could I be doing and what not.

Gael: Also, you are going to spend a lot less on email hosting solutions, because they usually charge per number of subscribers, so if you have a smaller list that is more active, and for us, it’s like several hundreds of dollars per month, in email now we spend like 500 bucks per month. So yeah, it’s definitely going to not take us to a thousand a month too fast actually, which is always nice. I think it’s completely fine and I think retargeting also like has the side effect of also growing your Facebook page, because you have a like button on, I mean, I am talking Facebook retargeting here, but you have the like button on every ad so for us, like we’ve been running a lot of it lately and our Facebook pages are growing pretty nicely and I can definitely see quite a bit of traffic going from them when we share around now. So I am kind of considering that I am going to save money on the email stuff and we are going to be able to reinvest that money to retargeting basically.

And finally the last thing that we are going to do to essentially stay in touch with people who visit the site, especially coming from mobile is use one of my favorite new toys and that is push notifications. Now, some people love them, some people hate them, but the truth is, they work and the opt in rate for us has been on Health Ambition it’s around 2,5%, on Authority Hacker it’s around 10%, but once again, it’s because of the different niches and we use, because our site is on https, we use the native opt in, so we use the browser ask you this site wants to send you notifications, it’s not a pop up, it’s not the same technology at all and that’s not going to be penalized by Google at all, like it is part of Chrome, right, so there is no way they penalize part of Chrome that would be crazy. And what I find really interesting with push notifications, is that the click through rate is around twice higher than email, so if you want to put it in terms of traffic, one push subscriber equals two email subscribers. So, that would be comparing an email opt in rate that would be for us, between I would say 5% for Health Ambition and that would be like 20% for Authority Hacker which is way higher than what we have on both sides, so it is a pretty exciting medium for now, until everyone abuses it I guess.

Mark: I think there is still a bit of development to happen in push notifications, it’s quite new, like as far as I am aware, you can’t sort of put a gate around some kind of lead magnet, with push notifications.

Gael: You can actually, like you can build autoresponders and stuff, you know, and you can send notification

Mark: Notification for the subscription part.

Gael: I mean, if you use the native browser opt in you cannot tweak the text, but if you don’t like you know you can use like a custom pop up which tends to convert less, which is why we are not using it but if you really wanted to, you could do that and there you can customize the text and you can actually set up an automatic notification sent after people subscribe. So that would link to a lead magnet for example. So, you can do stuff, it’s just like most people don’t do that. Another like the biggest technical limitation on them, which I really hope is going to be fixing and that is going to make them really good, is that Safari on iOS does not support them. And, everyone is supporting them, except them but it means like a lot of iPhone, iPad etc users who use Safari which tends to be quite big on iOS a lot of people use Chrome as well, but still, it’s a problem, yeah, it’s not supported right now I heard rumors that say that the next version of iOS is going to support them so fingers crossed it will, it works on Desktop on safari desktop it works. So I see no reason for them like t have it work on one platform but not the other, so they either are going unsupport it on desktop or they are going to support it on mobile, so yeah, that is the biggest technical limitation. Now the click through rate is really high as well, I would say around twice higher but that also means your unsubscribe rate tends to be at least twice higher as well, so it’s essentially like email, just everything happens faster, right, you get more people opting in, you get more people clicking, you get more people unsubscribing.

So it kind of balances itself, it just like expect a bunch of unsubscribes every time you send a push notification. What is very exciting, especially because we are talking about mobile here, that’s why opt in pop ups are being banned, what’s exciting is that the opt in on mobile is super smooth unlike an opt in pop up, it’s like it actually comes from the bottom of your browser and you should check authorityhacker.com on Chrome on your mobile if you want to see what this looks like but essentially, it just goes up from the bottom, it’s like tiny, it just says allow or deny, and if people click allow, boom, they are signed up, they don’t need to confirm, they don’t need to be redirected, or anything so it’s very simple. So for me, really push notifications they are the email of mobile, and it’s probably where we are going to be focusing our opt ins for mobile. You don’t have to push urls of your site, you can push an affiliate url, you can push anything you want, as a push notification, so you are really not limited.

Now, a lot of people ask me like oh what should I use to run push notifications and stuff, so, I am going to talk about two of them the ones we use is onesignal.com is actually free, but they use the data on your website to find reatrgeting audiences, so that means that they might be like, basically they use it to sell ads, and people buy these audiences. But, that is never tied directly to your site, people have no idea where these ads come from anyway so I don’t think it’s a big deal but if that’s a big deal for you, you can use a service like PushCrew or something like that that costs a lot more money per month but they are not using your data. So, it’s up to you. So, that’s basically most of what I had to say about that update actually, I think it’s not a big deal especially if you use the content upgrades, retargeting, push notifications, together to make up for the lost of email. So, what’s your conclusion, what would you tell to people that are getting a lot of emails, that are panicking a bit right now?

Mark: I mean, don’t panic, wait and see, I mean, obviously make the changes, turn them off before January, by the start of January, otherwise, that might result in a penalty, but it’s really, most likely not the end of the world, looking at content, as you said looking at content upgrades and push notifications I think is probably the best. Fortunately, Google gave plenty of time this time.

Gael: Yeah, that’s rare actually.

Mark: Yeah, so there is quite a lot of time to prepare for that.

Gael: Yeah, I’d say don’t panic and definitely that model is still going to work it’s just you are going to bring people back in a different way but technology evolves, you are in a technological field, that’s how it works, you know, things come and go really quickly and that means we have to rewrite a bunch a bunch of content, but, it’s okay, there is always going to be a solution, so I think we are going to end it here, so guys, thanks for listening, Mark, thanks for joining. And, we’ll see you guys in the next episode. Oh, by the way, Authority Hacker Pro is opening on September 12, so a lot of people have been asking me about that, we’ve been closing it for a long time, we’ve been updating a bunch of stuff in there, we are adding a new group in today maybe as well, so there is a bunch of new stuff in there, and so if you are looking to join September 12 is when we are opening the registration, it’s not going to be open very long so look out for our emails.

Mark: Make sure you go to authorityhacker.com/pro and make sure you are on that email list because there might be one or two interesting offers for you in the coming weeks.

Gael: Wow, amazing teasing. [laugh] Alright, cool, well guys, thanks for listening, we’ll see you guys in the next episode.

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