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Requiring Email Addresses to Browse Sites a Bad Idea

There has been a rash of sites — particularly online stores — that have begun requiring email addresses just to get inside.

I understand it. Really. Everyone wants to build up their customer and newsletter list. But this is taking things a bit far.

I’ve all but stopped clicking links to businesses and online stores that I see on my Facebook feed and elsewhere, no matter how cool the product being advertised happens to be. The reason? A business has to earn my email address.

A growing number of sites load their products with an instantaneous popup that serves as a locked gate for the site. You are required, from the millisecond you arrive, to enter your email address. Some popups offer you the alternate option of logging in via your Facebook page.

How nice of them.

The problem is, I’m not remotely interested in handing over any information about me until I can see more about them. I don’t even know the price of the item that lured me to their website, and the only way I can get it, apparently, is to give them my email, which will mean I’ll automatically be bothered with spam, or to give them access to my Facebook page, and who knows how much of my account they’ll be able to see? That’s too much fine print to even bother with.

I have not seen blogs that have taken this step, and I hope that’s a sign bloggers have more common sense than some businesses: when building an audience, there’s an element of trust in play, after all. The first visit to a website is a time when absolutely no trust has been earned by the blogger and therefore shouldn’t be expected from the reader.

Once the audience has had time to sample the product and to see if it’s something they’re interested in, that is the time to ask for the “commitment” a signup implies.

Have you ever encountered a website or blog that requires an immediate signup just to access the site? How often do you actually give the site your true email address?

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 28 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.