Mark Thomas Miller

If your email optin could kill

The sun hangs at the top of the sky, its immense white heat bearing down on your back. You notice the dryness of your mouth as you stare at the horizon of sand spreading in every direction. How long have you been lost out here?

You can feel your knees beginning to weaken. Your thoughts are beginning to fade: you begin to forget who, and even where, you are. You feel as though your body will collapse and sink into the sands that seem to stretch on for eternity.

And then your eyes catch a blip on the horizon.

Forgetting all else, you run towards it as fast as you can, hot tears forming in your eyes. There is something out here. You throw your arms up in exaltation as you discover that it’s a caravan filled with merchants.

Your mind explodes with excitement when you discover that several of the merchants sell water. You stagger to one of them, pulling wads of cash from your clothes. “Please help me,” you ask. Several dollars blow out of your clenched fists and into the desert, but you don’t even notice.

“I need water,” you beg.

The merchant hands you a scroll with his long fingers. Several of his gold rings flash in the desert sun.

“Please write down your contact information,” he says. “I will send you periodic updates on my wares.”

You push the scroll back – “No thanks, I won’t be out this way again.”

You beg him again: “Please give me some water. I will give you all of my money.”

He then begins to talk with a blank look in his eye. “I have teas, coffees, juices, ciders –”

“No, I just need water!” you yell.

“My shop has been around for 20 years,” he tells you, slowly lifting his arms, his rings flashing in the sun. “We sell the finest drinks around, and are renowned for our fresh, delicious juices.”

Your vision is beginning to go black, and the only thing the merchant wants to do is tell you about his wares and take your contact information.

You turn to your left and notice another merchant selling water.

You leave the side of the first merchant and approach the second one, begging, “Please. I need water.”

He replies, “Of course.”

You do business.

“Also,” he adds, “you’re fairly close to civilization. It’s about a mile that way.” He points into the distance with his long, bare fingers. “If you’d like, I can ride you there.”

You gladly accept his offer. On the ride, the merchant gets to know you and asks to keep in touch. You become a customer of his many shops for years.

Is your website more like the first merchant or the second?

When customers come to buy a product, are they overwhelmed with excessive navigation items, popups, advertising, text, and more?

Or are you creating a simple, clean experience?

This is black and white. It’s one or the other. There is no gray area in between. Take 5 seconds to answer this right now: which one is your website doing?