We all have marketing pet peeves, they get under our skin like nothing else. The irritation may not burn with the fire of a thousand suns, but it can very easily influence us not to buy. I’m sure there are a handful of TV or billboard ads that are currently springing to mind, but there are things that smaller companies do everyday that can have much the same effect. Everyone’s are different, but here are 9 of my personal online marketing pet peeves for your delectation and discussion.
1. The “See if I care…” Approach
I absolutely loathe what I call “passive aggressive marketing.” I recall receiving a sales email that was titled along the lines of “If you don’t want to improve [whatever], then why on Earth are you still reading?” It struck a really negative chord with me, and needless to say I did everything in my power to unsubscribe. I think it was meant to galvanise your desire for what was on offer, but instead it came across as grabby and more than a little stand-offish.
Instead…: Don’t come at your copy with an “if you don’t want it then what’s wrong with you?” approach, replace it with an “if you do want it, you are in the right place and here’s why!” outlook. When you’re trying to persuade and generally get people on side, focus on the “dos,” and minimise “don’ts” wherever possible.
Also make sure to avoid its close relative…
2. Guilt Trippery
Ah, the old “If you love your significant other/child/family member/friend, you’ll buy our [thing].” One example that crops up from time to time is when the reader is presented with a choice between “Yes” and “No thank you, I don’t want to feed hungry sloths today :(” The person writing the copy thinks “Hah! This’ll get the old heartstrings a workout!” The person reading the copy thinks something more along the lines of the rolleyes emoji. Remember that nowadays, the general public is more aware of being marketed to than ever. People already have their guard up to advertising, especially online, so when you bring any kind of negative connotation into the equation, people are going to stop reading, fast.
Instead…: Provide value and advice instead of backhanded judgement. Going back to our example, tell people about the hungry sloths, refer to a few of the sloths by name, write at length about how your money goes toward sloth feeding programs. Appealing to emotions in a more informative fashion helps people to appease both the emotional and logical parts of their mind.
3. If a tab opens in the woods…
If a tab opens in the woods, it probably won’t make a sound. A library or coffee shop however is a different story. We’ve all been there, scrambling for the mute option in a busy public place. If you click on a YouTube or podcast link, sound is par for the course. However if you click a link offering more info about a product, company or service, your expectation is somewhat quieter.
Instead…: Don’t set embedded content to autoplay. If people want to hear more, they’ll check it out. If they don’t, they won’t. Always make your case with on-page copy to encourage them to click play, and to give them the gist if they can’t at the moment. Give the basics, but extrapolate in the audio/video content.
Sidenote: By the way Chrome users, if this annoys you as much as it annoys me, you may be interested to see that you can enable easy tab muting, check it out.
Reaching Out Peeves
4. When Targets Become More of a Splatter
I’m going to share a story from behind the scenes; I love me some YouTube, and I support the right for video creators to be able to use YouTube advertising to top up their income. However, when not-necessarily-interested demographics are pebbledashed with unskippable and poorly targeted ad content, I despair.
A personal case in point: the week prior to my 30th birthday, and what felt like the entire month following, I was pelted with unskippable YouTube ads for a particular brand of pregnancy tests, ovulation thingies and other related tat from a well known brand because I had the audacity to fall into the bracket of “30-year old female.” For the record, most of the videos I watch are about video games, comedy, marketing and tech, so it’s not like it’s a related topic. Needless to say, I removed my birthday from Google and opted out of targeted advertising. The problem mysteriously evaporated overnight – funny that.
That’s the rantiest this article will get, I promise.
UPDATE December 2016: Ad personalisation will most likely help if you are having a similar issue. Google provides more details here.
Instead…: Think closely about your ideal market and don’t lazily blanket to a simple “age and gender” demographic. Targeting advertising needs to be targeted – aim with a sniper rifle, not a blunderbuss.
5. Thank You for Reading this Automated Message
I have to admit, this is one that I have been guilty of previously. Thankfully Mark Tillison at Tillison Consulting helped me see the light. Automated Twitter Direct Messages may be surprisingly popular, but can do more harm than good. Many see them as spam – according to Mark’s article nearly 60% of people simply ignore them, and just under a fifth of people automatically unfollow the sender after receiving one.
Instead…: If you’d still like to send each new follower a message, save your generic message in a text file and send the message manually to each follower when you get chance. This way you can vet who sees the message and you can tweak it for different types of followers. Additionally, DMs can now contain up to 10,000 characters, but that doesn’t mean you have to use them all. Take control of your DMs, respect people’s time and keep things brief.
6. When Sharing Isn’t Caring
Email marketing is seeing somewhat of a resurgence in recent times. Freebies and “lead magnets” that require interested parties to fill in their email address for access are a great way of opening communication channels with potential clients. However, if you agree to receive mailouts and all of a sudden start getting blasted with unrelated spam from other sources, it becomes painfully obvious that your email address has been sold for profit. Your inbox has become a commodity (first world problems, am I right?). It feels even worse if you can pinpoint the source that seems to have done the dirty – you’ll definitely tend to avoid them in future.
Instead…: There are so many more “above board” ways that a company can boost their income; affiliate schemes, embedded advertising, sponsoring; I beseech you, please look into these rather than going down the route of selling other people’s email addresses.
General Jolly Poor Show
7. The “noreply” Marketing Email
If you want people to get in touch with you off the back of an email campaign, it makes sense that you should be able to click reply to send an email response, and have that email reach an inbox monitored by a human being. Though the “noreply” email address has its uses (chiefly in automated updates like orders and deliveries), it has no place in marketing – especially if your business has a relevant online application. It smacks of “please get in touch with us… except don’t.” Actually finding an email address to reply to that works is another step, another speedbump in the process of actually getting the prospect nearer your intended goal.
Instead…: Most email marketing tools worth their salt have you provide a working reply email address by default; MailChimp is my personal favourite. Whatever tool you are using, look into removing any “noreply” functionality, and replace it with a forward to a regularly checked email account.
8. Auto sharing updates to other social media
You know when you’re on Twitter, and enjoying being on Twitter, and consuming all of the goodness Twitter has to offer? You know what you don’t want to click on? A Facebook link. Or more accurately, a tweet that is a replicated Facebook status update that cuts off part way through due to Twitter’s character limit with an “fb.me” link appended for you to head over to Facebook to read more. Each social platform has different syntax, atmosphere and ethos, so you need to treat them as such. If you really have to post the same message to multiple social platforms, use a tool like Hootsuite to construct the same post, which it will send separately to your different platforms.
There are two exceptions to this rule that personally I don’t mind, but the purists may disagree. When you go live on Periscope, it’s fine to use the in built tool to announce it on Twitter – it is a Twitter owned product after all. It’s also fine to use Instagram’s sharing option to cross-post to Facebook and Twitter in my opinion. Small Business SEM has a great post about the evils of cross-posting that goes into a lot more detail, it’s well worth a read.
9. The Pop-Over-pocalypse
Many organisations advertise their freebies/lead magnets/general marketing detritus by using a pop-over window. Some are more unassuming and simply appear as a bar at the top or bottom, some show on the bottom right or left, and some show right in the middle of the action. You’ve most likely noticed one on this very site. However, some websites shoot out one pop-over, then another, and then another. I think the worst I’ve experienced on one page was about 5. Like the “noreply” thing, it’s putting multiple speedbumps in your reader’s path, and you are putting people off to a surprising degree with each pass.
Instead…: If you want to use pop-overs, limit them to one per page and keep them as unobtrusive, yet noticeable, as possible. If you have more than one more lead magnet/freebie you want to advertise, see if you can get your pop-overs to rotate with each individual page visit, or even better, append the most relevant offer to each individual page or piece of content.Are you guilty of any of these 9 common marketing gripes? Click To Tweet
So dear reader, what are your marketing pet peeves? What advertising tactics make you recoil in horror and take your hard-earned cash in the opposite direction? Sorry if referring to the reader as “dear reader” is one of them. Let’s discuss over on Twitter – I’m @JeniiLowe.