Interruption Killed the Cat

A cat in a fight doesn’t lose it’s ear or eye because of curiosity. It loses the fight when it gets distracted by something, which results in the cat’s opponent getting a clean, swift swat (or bite) in the eye (or ear). Interruption causes the cat to lose focus of its objective. Interruption also causes people to lose sight of their objectives, which is why throwing a chat window up in front of them, first thing, upon them entering a product page on your website is almost like saying, “goodbye,” without so much as a ‘Thanks for coming.’

People don’t want to be interrupted at every point of sale. Retailers who get this are liked and talked about. Online retailers who get this are talked about as well. It’s no coincidence that Apple and Amazon are two of the most visible online retailers who don’t throw chat windows up in front of site visitors. Smart marketers let people hunt and peck to find what they are after because they know engagement is a two-party affair.

Interruption is not engagement. Who doesn’t understand this? Used car salesmen and people who program chat pop-ups on e-commerce websites.

Imagine you have just met an awesome person who you think could be “the one,” the person you’ve been searching for all your life. Would your next move be to jump up and down in front of them demanding their attention and leaving them no option but to engage or run away from you? That is precisely what chat pop-up windows do.

Automatic chat pop-ups eliminate a website visitor’s ability to have a peaceful, uninterrupted shopping experience. They are too interrupted to make up their own mind. People don’t need to have their minds made up for them, because they can do it all by themselves. The website pop-up chat treats them like they can’t make up their mind, as if they are children who have not yet earned the right to exercise preference or choice.

If you want to engage people on your website, give them compelling content, not forced interaction. Give them a good reason to click the buy button that doesn’t include high-pressure chat sales. Inspire them, and they’ll buy all on their own.

Kelly Hobkirk - teaching marketers how to harness strategy, goals, reality, and purpose to connect and do better work.


Kelly Hobkirk has been helping companies succeed in creative ways for nearly 25 years. His work has been featured in Time Magazine, and books by Rockport and Rotovision. Get exclusive articles when you sign up for his monthly newsletter.

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