But Debra, even if you do it for Digg users...what have you gained?
For example, I made the front page of Digg earlier this year with the whole pork/lactivist fiasco. Let's consider what I would have accomplished if I'd done what Neil suggests...
1.) Remove advertising. Well...I didn't really have any ads, just a banner ad for the shirts, so it wasn't an issue then. I do have ads now. If I'd removed them from that page, my advertisers (who pay to be on my site for a reason) lose out. At the same time, if anyone likes what they find enough to want to visit other pages and get to know my site, they're going to have to view ads on the other pages. Why not give them realistic expectations from the beginning?
If I surprise them with ads once I've "sucked them in with great content" I run the risk of turning them away. After all, the realty of my site wouldn't be what is "advertised" on that Digg landing page. If I have the ads on the landing page and people know what to expect...well, won't I get a better reception from those who choose to stick around?
2.) Removing navigation... There's no way in hades I'd do that. Granted, Digg is not my target audience, so chances are small that they're going to stick around, but even if they do, consider these two things...
a.) For those who wish to learn more about me and read more about my site, I've hidden the method they would use to do so. In other words, I've taken the group that I MOST want to make happy (possible repeat visitors) and I've made their lives more difficult (by hiding my navigation).
b.) From my perspective, a page on Digg with no navigation REEKS of link bait that has been written not to serve the user and build a better site, but rather to draw attention, traffic and links from sites like Digg. If Digg users are really so turned off by marketing, wouldn't they be smart enough to recognize this tactic and think that the site is trying to scam them?
3.) Removing social media buttons. This one is ironic really...as I've never had them on the Lactivist before or since that incident. But I put them on that page because I knew that page would be visited by people that use social media sites. Sure enough, it made the front page of Digg, Reddit, Netscape, StumbleUpon and a few othes. I've got to think half the reason is because it was there as a call to action...
Wouldn't I be shooting myself in the foot if I made it harder for SM users to USE social media?
4.) Adding logos that make Digg types happy. Yeah, well, no reason to do this. I was already blogging about boobs, pork and annoying lawyers. Digg users like all those things, so I'd already sucked up enough.
My point is that while these things may score you more votes on Digg, the question of whether or not they score you more customers isn't being answered.
Now what I'd love to see is someone doing an A/B test that features a Neil style version and a regular version and that funnels users to each one randomly when they click from Digg. Then track to see what rate users from each group vote, spread the word and convert.
It'd be pretty much impossible to gather that data, but based on the usage and engagement patterns I've spotted in the log files of sites with good social media hits, I'm far from convinced that sacrificing visitor experience in the hopes of gathering more visitors is going to result in more conversions.
Because really...I thought we'd moved past this attitude of "if I get enough traffic, eventually some will convert" and had instead embraced the idea of solid marketing strategy integrated into a new marketing medium.
Then again, maybe I'm wrong. Maybe the entire goal here is traffic for the sake of traffic?