Confirmshaming Forms: Worth the Risk?

Remember Don Rickles? He was a great stand-up comedian known throughout the world as the greatest “insult” comedians of all time. (An example – to film director Martin Scorcese: “Marty … somebody get a phone book so you can see me. Forty million jobs in show business, I got a midget to direct me.”)

He was also known among his friends as a truly likable guy. A sweetheart, his 2017 obituaries called him.

So, what do Rickles and insult comedy have to do with inbound marketing and pop-up forms?

The Rise of Guilt Tripping Forms

Insult humor is popping up more and more in pop-up opt-in pages.

A few examples (found here):

Makes you feel all warm and fuzzy doesn’t it?

Sign us up! (Not!)
Hits too close to home….

How do you feel reading these pop-up forms? Amused? Insulted? A bit of both?

Like Rickles, we have no doubt that the companies that created these forms are filled with nice people – sweethearts, even. However, do they do the job of capturing conversions better than completely non-insulting/non-guilt triggering forms?

Inquiring minds here at Ingenex Digital Marketing wanted to know and here’s what we found:

Confirmshaming and Dark Patterns

This trend has its own term: “confirmshaming”!

Using insult humor in your pop-up forms, especially in the opt-out language you use in the form’s buttons, is a form of conversion rate optimization known as Dark Patterns. This type of conversion optimization is not the way you want to go, according to the link above (and we agree). Dark Patterns is a nasty way to get opt-ins.

It basically is a way to make it easy for your prospects to, for example, subscribe to something, but makes it hard for them to get out of. To whit (as mentioned at the link above): you purchase concert tickets but don’t notice that you must opt-out of the magazine subscription that’s included on the form, a subscription for which you will be charged, by the way.


Pop-Up Forms are a Popularity Contest

Confirmshaming is a part of Dark Patterns but it also can stand on its own.

See the button that says “No, Health Means Nothing” on the opt-out language on the first pop-up form example, above, to see what we mean: you’re made to feel bad about yourself for not signing up because – really? – who doesn’t want good health?

Pop-up forms are annoying in and of themselves, but they work. The “trouble” arises because so many marketers are vying for people’s attention. That attention keeps becoming harder and harder to capture.

As the creator of the Tumblr “confirmshaming” puts it: “‘I think it’s partly that [the] internet is such a [expletive deleted by us] show. People need to do whatever they can to get users to pay attention to their ads.’”

Website Redesign Whitepaper CTA confirmshaming dark patterns

Our Confirmshaming Recommendation

This type of shaming opt-out language — drumroll– actually works when coupled with what is known as “exit intent.” It converts as much as an additional 2-4 percent of site visitors into email subscribers.

Still. Do you really want to be the type of marketer who insults prospects? No? What can you do in order to avoid persuasive copy sins? Here’s our take on how to boost conversion:

Be nice! As stated in our linked post, positive messaging works because “it helps your target market build an emotional connection with you.” Connections build relationships. Relationships help prospects become your customer, not your competitors’.

Looking to steer clear of the type of pop-up forms Rickles would love? Contact Jeff Hays, our director of client services, for a one-on-one discussion on how we can help you convert more site visitors into leads. Feel free to email us with your questions any time.