Marketing is essential in the business world, but there are some tactics that take things just a little too far and may be pushing your audience away instead of drawing them in. Some of the tactics commonly used lately are pushing away customers, and some have even made for some nasty PR blunders. In this list, you’ll read about ten of the most obnoxious techniques to either avoid going forward in your own business or to know you’re not alone in thinking they’re the worst.
Note: The companies in the photos are not necessarily guilty of these things, they are used just as examples.
Premature Pop Ups
Have you ever navigated to a website and as soon as you click or start to scroll on the page pops up to ask you if you’d like to subscribe to the site’s newsletter? It’s awful. Pop-ups that are strategically placed actually have shown great results in the past but popping up immediately, or in the middle of an article that your visitor is trying to read is just going to turn them off. Your reader doesn’t know you or your brand upon first navigating to your website, and they’re not likely to want to sign right up for your emails.
Hey, are you enjoying this app? Why not stop using it and go to the App Store and talk about it? This type of request is not likely to generate good authentic reviews for your app, product, or whatever it is. If your customer is truly passionate about your product or they enjoy your app, asking for feedback after just a few uses of it is very likely to turn them off. The general rule with reviews is that you’ll get better and more honest reviews if you’re not asking for them, and those will give you a wealth of information on what you’re doing right and what you’re doing wrong which is worth a lot more than a wordless few stars in the long run.
There is nothing important enough for a company to show up in someone’s inbox every single day without the customer opting into it. Inboxes are horridly clogged most of the time, which is why two of the most important resolutions in business for 2018 are 1) achieving and maintaining inbox zero and 2) stop inundating your clients’ or customers’ inboxes with daily emails and updates. It’s awesome that Jen in accounting got promoted, and the smoother logo looks great, but it’s nothing worth writing home – or your email list – about. This is spammy and can reflect poorly on a business and drive away customers that truly were on board with you before this.
App developers are famous for this, or infamous if you want to be brutally honest. Updating apps is part of the job as an app developer, updating websites keeps them clean, current, and running smoothly. They are important! But, one or two updates every other week just to brand your product or service as ‘new and improved’ isn’t worth it. People using these apps love updates, and if they came less frequently and with more substance, they would love them even more.
Premium Pitch During a Trial
There are amazing services out there on the web today for people who work from home, work for or own a small business, and even for large corporations. Outreach tools like Mailshake, Yet Another Mail Merge, or Pitchbox along with collaborative scheduling tools like Asana, Monday.com, and KanBanFlow. Each of them offers a robust free trial, so you or your team can really get a feel for the product, and just about the time you think it might be the one (three days into your trial, or sometimes immediately), they will start pitching premium services. Free trials are great marketing techniques in and of themselves, and badgering us all to buy into the premium subscription right away can really dampen that.
The Unsubscribe Labyrinth
Companies make a huge mistake in thinking “if we make it dreadfully difficult to stop receiving our ads, maybe they’ll all give up.” If someone wants to unsubscribe from an email list, the best thing to do is just let them go as they’ve already made their mind up and trying desperately to keep them around just makes things worse. At that point, they are likely to leave negative feedback, tell friends or colleagues to avoid you, or worse, they can even report you to Google and destroy your rankings. Recently, a staff member here dealt with a website that sent marketing emails from a total of four different email addresses that had to be individually unsubscribed from! Needless to say, they’re not going to be getting the business they would have because the product is wonderful, but it isn’t worth the hassle.
Offensive Opt Outs
Last year saw a drastic uptick in passive-aggressive and sometimes offensive ‘opt out’ options on website pop-ups that ask for your email address to deliver the hottest tips, a free ebook, or even just a newsletter. You see it constantly on plenty of websites, you can either put in your email, or you’re forced to click a button that says “No thanks, marathons are easy!” or “I hate creativity!” or “I already know everything about this!” Companies think that this will cause their readers to recoil and just cave in and enter their email addresses. As a rule, if you have to bully someone into signing up for your newsletter, you’re doing something wrong.
Entrepreneurs are really bad about this in Youtube ads, and sometimes in their newsletters. There is one that heavily circulated early last year where a young average looking man toured his house in Beverly Hills and wanted to tell everyone sitting on Youtube in their sweatpants and hand in a bag of Doritos that he’s just like us. Relatable content is important when companies are trying to build authentic connections, but when millionaires or personal trainers are walking through the Bentley dealership insisting that they too are just like the rest of middle-class America, it’s offensive, and can turn people off to what they have to say – no matter how smart and successful they are.
This is one that it may be hard to believe still exists, but it certainly does. A lot of restaurants offer this and will give discounts, and everyone likes free or cheap food. But, when bigger companies such as clothing stores, or even just internet influencers start turning to texting us every day, things can turn pretty sour pretty fast. 97% of text messages received are opened and read immediately, and that sounds great to someone that’s trying to sell something, but it is obnoxious for almost everyone. This is similar to daily emails in the sense that there is nothing that important, and it is probably a good practice to leave this behind going forward. A simple infrequent email with a call to action is less likely to turn off customers.
Bandwagon advertising is probably as old as time itself, and that is because it can work sometimes. However, as millennials get older and start to have more buying power, this is a tactic that has started to just get tired. Sometimes companies jump on and use hashtags without knowing their meanings, or they use emojis in the place of words where it isn’t necessary. The biggest problem with bandwagon marketing is that it makes companies seem out of touch even if they’re completely ‘on trend.’ It isn’t clear exactly why this happens, but it does the reverse of what it is intended to do.