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July 6, 2010

The Pervasion of Disrespectful Marketing

marketing

Question: What’s the best way to lose potential customers?

Answer: Make them mad!

Yet, that’s exactly what many Internet marketers are doing… upsetting customers. How? By using disrespectful marketing methods. Unfortunately, there seems to be a pervasion of intrusive and disrespectful marketing on websites across the Internet.

So, why is this happening? Well, mainly because we’re letting it happen. By not protesting loudly or often enough. And also because, as much as I hate to admit it, intrusive marketing works. After all, if it didn’t work, Internet marketers would have long ago abandoned this controversial and disrespectful method of marketing.

Okay, so intrusive marketing works…so what? What about the moral aspect? Don’t we as Internet marketers have a moral obligation to always be respectful to website visitors? I mean, just because something works doesn’t mean that we should use it, right? After all, steel-jaw animal traps are also very effective, but they’ve not very humane. Sometimes the end result doesn’t justify the means.

I Was in the Mood to Buy, But…

Studies have shown, the majority of U.S. households have some sort of pop-up blocker on their computer. Do you understand the full import of that statement? Do you know what it means? No? Let me explain it to you.

Since 204.3 million people in the U.S. have access to the Internet, according to a Nielsen/NetRatings survey. That means tens of millions of people don’t like intrusive marketing. And can you really blame them? Just imagine for a moment that you’re alone with your spouse, and you’re both in the mood for some long overdue intimacy…and so the sensual foreplay begins…

Suddenly the telephone rings…or the baby starts crying. Kinda kills the mood, doesn’t it?

Well, that’s exactly what intrusive marketing does. It pours cold water on your prospects buying mood. It kills their desire to buy from you. Here’s what marketing expert Joseph Carrabis wrote in his article, Intrusive Little Windows or “DeBranding Made Easy”:

“Imagine yourself in that buying mood. You’ve made up your mind you want something, you’ve done your research, you’ve found it, you want it, you want it right now, you want to spend money and there it is right in front of you and one click from now you can rest assured you’ll have it…

…and then an intrusive little window shows up, right between you and what you want.”

That intrusive little window is the equivalent of a telephone ringing, or a baby crying. Either way, you just lost a potential customer.

Let me ask you a question: Knowing there are tens of millions of consumers out there who don’t like intrusive marketing, why on earth would you ever utilize it on your site? Why risk upsetting and losing even one prospect, if you can avoid doing so?

People Don’t Hate Advertising; They Hate Bad, Intrusive And Annoying Advertising

Here’s what blogger and marketing expert Mike Masnick wrote on his Techdirt blog, in a post titled, People Don’t Hate Advertising; They Hate Bad, Intrusive And Annoying Advertising:

“More than half of U.S. households use some kind of ad-blocking technology, such as a spam filter or a pop-up blocker. However, that hardly means that people hate advertising. It just means they hate totally annoying, intrusive and unwanted advertising.”

Is Intrusive Marketing Disrespectful?

Look…don’t get me wrong, I’m all for aggressively marketing your products and services, as long as you do so legally. That’s called free enterprise, and aggressive marketing is perfectly acceptable.

And there’s certainly nothing wrong with using various marketing tricks and techniques to try to get visitors to stay on your site a little longer. After all, research has shown, the longer you can get visitors to stay on your site, the greater your chances of converting them into customers.

That being said, at what point do aggressive marketing methods cross the line? At what point does it become disrespectful?

By now, it should be obvious to anyone reading this article, I don’t like intrusive marketing. And I would never consider using it on any of my sites. Morally speaking, I consider intrusive marketing to be disrespectful, and I would never dream of disrespecting my visitors in that manner.

Conversely, if I choose to visit your site, I don’t want some intrusive floating window requesting my subscription to your newsletter, the moment I land on your site. At least give me the opportunity to look around your site a little first to see what you have to offer.

Perhaps, after I’ve done that, I’ll subscribe to your newsletter, or request your free report, if I like what your website has to offer. But don’t get in my face!

Hey, Advertisers! How Do You Close This Darn Thing?

And it’s not just Internet marketers who are guilty of disrespecting their visitors in this fashion. Corporate websites are equally culpable.

For example, the other day I was reading an article on The Huffington Post website, when suddenly, a giant advertisement opened up like an accordion and literally started pushing the article I was reading further and further down the page. I couldn’t believe it.

Now here’s the diabolical part. The way the ad was designed, I couldn’t figure out how to close the darn thing. As a result, the ad just kept getting larger and larger and larger, until it finally closed itself. But only after it was done playing.

Think about that for a second. The ad was intentionally designed to be difficult to close. That’s what made it so diabolical. True, it was only a 30 second ad, but that’s not the point. The point is the ad was forced upon me. It was intrusive. It interrupted my reading enjoyment. I have a problem with that.

About.com received so many complaints from it’s customers about intrusive advertising, they were forced to reduce the number of intrusive advertising on its sites. That should be a lesson to us as consumers, as well.

Perhaps, if more of us complained about intrusive marketing methods, other websites might follow suit and reduce or eliminate intrusive marketing on their sites. Writing this article is my way of doing just that.

In closing, I think marketing expert Frank Reed probably said it best, when he recently wrote on his Frank Thinking blog in a post titled, Hey Advertisers! I Can’t Find the Close Button Fast Enough!:

“I don’t care enough to look at your ad, especially because you are trying to trick me into seeing it. That’s pathetic. Get creative and make me care about your brand. Steamrolling your way through my web experience will not get you a customer. Instead, you’ll get “reviews” like this one.”


David Jackson is a marketing consultant, and the owner of Free-Marketing-Tips-Blog.com – Free, common sense marketing tips to help grow your business. http://free-marketing-tips-blog.com

4 Responses to “The Pervasion of Disrespectful Marketing

    Hello and thanks for the nod. We’re currently putting together the results of a 2+ year study on the 5 things that create online sales (regardless of product, price, …). I’ll be announcing it on Twitter, FaceBook, LinkedIn and NextStage’s RSS feed when it’s ready for release.
    Also, that piece you quoted can be found at http://www.allbusiness.com/marketing-advertising/internet-marketing/4353577-1.html
    Again, thanks for the nod.
    Joseph

    Hi Joseph:

    You’re quite welcome! And thank you for saying “thank you.” You’d be surprised how rare that is these days. Also, thanks for the heads up on the study you’re putting together. It should be interesting. I’m sure if you’re involved, it’ll be exceptional. I look forward to seeing it.

    All the best..
    David

    I, too, don’t like all the intrusive marketing that pops every time I visit a page, especially the ones that are so difficult to close. I hope a lot of people/companies can read this post and start doing something about their kind of marketing. Thanks David!

    avatar Sean Cook says:

    I totally hate pop-up and pop-under ads, and videos that just start playing. But the worst trend, that people seem to be shying away from now (thank goodness) is those annoying people who walk on your screen to “help” you navigate their site. Even worse, some of these are just little fake people, that you can customize to deliver your message. To me, that’s the equivalent of making the fake family photos in a picture frame talk to you. I imagine with the popularity of digital frames, this will happen soon enough. Imagine if all the digital frames in a store aisle played some loop, and you were just walking by, looking at other stuff, when all the sudden, fake Uncle Mort said “Glad to see you at the family reunion. Gosh the kids are getting big?” That would not only annoy me, it would totally freak me out. And let’s not even talk about weird cousin Scotty.

    : )

    Sean

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