Ryan Seamons

@ryanseamons

What your product can learn from dating

Basic Principle of Dating: Don’t tell your date you love them on your first date.
Basic Principle of Product: Don’t tell your user you want to contact them forever right after they get to your site

How I Met your Mother has a perfect 20-second example of how this goes:

https://youtu.be/dE-lsrft1c8 (pilot episode)

There are lots of sites I could pick on, but mic.com is today’s culprite.

“I think I’m Falling in Love with You”

I click on an article about the numerous benefits of musical training for children, because it sounded interesting. I am greeted with a browser notification alert:

I save my browser notifications for sites that I treasure (ProductHunt, for instance). So, no thanks, I just got here and haven’t read anything else.

And then (on mouse-out of the page), I am invited to join their email list:

Well written. Really great. But again. I JUST got here. I’m trying to read this article. Could I read it?

I also see multiple invites on the page

4 invites for their mailing list

That last invite (by the author’s bio) was the first one I saw after I finally read the article. That was the 6th time I’d been invited to let mic.com communicate with me.

Why this is a problem

I get it.

I’m sure each of these increases mic.com’s email capture rate. But that doesn’t mean it’s working in the big picture. I’d be very interested to see their email open rate, email click through rate, and engagement after email click.

It’s even worse on mobile when it comes to requesting permission for notifications. Samuel Hulick at UserOnboard.com talks about this so well in many of his teardowns. Far too often I think, “No, new game I’m just checking out, I don’t want you to bug me to play you all the time.”

What should happen

Respect is the name of the game. Timing is powerful. Wait until I’ve finished the article until you ask me about joining your email list. Once I’ve joined your email list, then prompt me about browser notifications.

Optimizing the top of the funnel alone can come at the expense of steps further down the funnel. Don’t put blinders on to the entire funnel process. Optimize the Entire Funnel. Well timed invitations serve the user and make them feel interested and excited.

Down-funnel engagement increases as you respect, qualify, and deliver value to your users.

Out of these two funnels, I prefer the second:

The first funnel might have great conversion on step 1, but if step 2 is your real goal, then I would take the second funnel.

Don’t tell your users you love them and want to marry them the second they arrive. Instead, wait for the right time to invite users to share, subscribe, or make another commitment. If you don’t, you’ll get a reaction something like this:

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