5 Online marketing tactics that your customers hate

We have all seen it. You go to a website to read an article when suddenly a pop-up appears covering exactly what you are trying to read. You spend the next two minutes chasing this moving target around the screen, desperately trying to click the tiny little “X” so that you can read the content you were searching for in the first place.

Let’s face it. No one likes it. It is an unpleasant experience and leaves you with a bad taste in your mouth. Unfortunately, marketing companies are guilty of using intrusive or plain out bad advertising methods all too often. There are numerous bad tactics out there that keep getting used over and over again. In this article, we here at Comarketers have compiled a handy list of marketing tactics to avoid if you want to build consumer trust and retain brand integrity.

# 1 Pop-up ads

Let’s start with those moving pop-up ads that I described above. Not only are they annoying but they block the user from reading the content that they were searching for. Irritating your customers is not a good way to get them to buy your product. Yes, it gets eyeballs on the advertisement, but at what cost?

If brand recognition is what you want, do you really want your brand to be associated with a negative experience?

I have been confronted with this type of marketing. I looked at the advertisement and I even remembered the brand. In fact, I made a mental note in my head never to do business with them because of their advert. A 2016 study even found that 50% of participants found pop-ups to be “either annoying” or “extremely annoying.” These adverts block the user from actually reading the content they originally came to view and the last thing you want to do is get between your potential customer and their afternoon dog video splurge. Your customer.s usually end up clicking off of these adverts anyway. 

Do you know what makes this experience even worse? Moving pop-up ads.

#2 Moving target pop-up ads with bad context

The user is already mad that your advertisement is blocking their content…so why make it worse by having them chase the pop-up as it moves across the screen? Some would argue that this heightens the rate of clicks that you get on the advertisement itself. While this may be true, one has to ask themselves, how many of these clicks were intentional? 

After all, it is easy to accidentally click an ad when you are frantically chasing the ad around the scream trying to click on the little “X”. You want to generate authentic clicks that result in sales leads. Clicks and views alone do not matter if the customer does not want to be there in the place. Furthermore, if you put the pop-up on your website, not only did you distract them with an unwanted click, they now have to go back, refresh and reload the content they originally intended to view. In this case, you are distracting them from your own content! They may even lose interest in the content they were originally going to read and click away from your website altogether.

This is not to say that moving pop-up ads always fail. Some pop-ups, such as ones asking for subscribers, can be very effective for growing an e-mail list. Especially if the context of the content is related to something that complements the activities of the user. However, this should be implemented carefully because if users are displeased about the intrusiveness of the ad, they may quickly unsubscribe from your list just as quickly as when they subscribed. If applying a moving target pop-up add, ensure that the context fits in with the user’s experience and consider timing the add to pop-up AFTER they have read your content rather than before they get a chance to look around. . 

Or instead of a pop-up,  integrate your advertisement seamlessly so that the viewer’s eyes see your content without interrupting their experience. Integrate your brand into the overall design of the website so that it is a smooth experience that guides their eye to your brand, without disrupting their activities. This brings me to our next terrible marketing tactic…cluttered and messy websites. 

Photo by Halacious

#3 Cluttered websites

Just as bad as pop-up ads, is a cluttered website. Website content should be clean and use a consistent font and style that guides the consumer’s eye easily through the content. Bad websites are hard to follow, have poor page navigation, and have no clear objective. Flashing video and eye-catching text of different sizes appear all over the landing page. The user’s eye does not know where to focus as there are too many images and text vying for their attention.

Less is better as it naturally guides the user’s eye on the advertisements and messages that you want the customer to see. Target your landing page and make it clear and easy to navigate to reach your clients more effectively.

Studies show that websites have a mere ten seconds to capture the reader’s attention. This ten-second countdown begins the moment the user begins to load the website. Not only is the user’s time being spent with them trying to orient their eyes on the page, but when your website is overloaded with content, it takes longer to load consuming more of these crucial seconds. 

If your site is taking too long to load, the user is less likely to wait and your website loses traffic. Speaking of a slow-loading website, you know what else consumers hate? Video and audio tracks that automatically play upon entering a website. 

#4 Automatic audio and video

One of the number one culprits that slow down a website is audio and video that automatically plays when you load the landing page. Now, I am not saying to delete all audio or video from your website. This media can be a GREAT tool for advertising, as long as it is used correctly. Rather, get rid of audio and video that automatically play when you enter the webpage. Not only does it slow down the time it takes to load, costing you that precious ten seconds, but it irritates the user. 

Imagine your annoyance. You are relaxingly surfing the web, listening to your favorite music, only to have that serenity interrupted when you open a webpage to be met by a cacophony of noise as the auto-loading audio track begins to play, mixing with your classic. It’s a terrible sound. So how do you stop the noise? Do you turn off your music or exit the website?

No one wants to stop what they are listening to, or for that matter, have their silence disturbed, by unwanted audio. Especially if they can not find the audio to stop it. Like a pop-up ad, the video forces the user to abandon their activities to interact with it. But this is not an authentic interaction. It is a negative experience that leaves the user with a bad taste for your brand.

A better choice would be to provide the video or audio track on your page, as an option for the consumer to click. This puts the user in charge of their online experience as they can explore your content at their will. Allowing your user to have the freedom to personalize their website experience builds trust. Trust is something hard to earn, but easy to lose. Speaking about losing the consumer’s trust, let’s talk about the misrepresentation of the terms of service of a product. Specifically, when you advertise something as free, when it is not.

Photo by Erik Lucatero

#5 Advertising products/services for free, but hiding it behind a paywall 

Little erodes the consumer’s trust more than advertising your service/content for free with no strings attached and putting up a paywall.

Free means you do not pay for it. 

I am referring to those instances where you see a service or product you want to try and it is advertised that if you just provide your e-mail or log-in or view the ad, you can “try it for free.” So, you hold up your end of the bargain and you expect the company to do the same. You provide your e-mail, your contact info, and then after providing eight pages worth of information (if you haven’t already given up and clicked off the website) you find that on the last page, you have to pay in advance for the service. Only once this payment is received will you have access to those “free” perks you were promised. Having to pay first, is an important detail that was left out of the deal.

In a grocery store, the equivalent of this type of arrangement would be a buy one get one free sale. But at the grocery store, you have the understanding that you first have to BUY one to get the other free. The grocery advertises the terms of the deal to the customer and lets the customer decide if the deal is worth it. The terms are transparent. You understand the deal before you invest in it because the company was forthright about the terms of service.  

If your company is going to offer something for free but will require the user to buy something first, you should be forthcoming with these terms and not try to surprise your potential customer at the last minute. These type of surprises leave the user with the feeling of being “tricked” and no one likes feeling like they have been played as a fool.

Lack of transparency reduces your user’s trust. 

The hope of concealing the payment terms results from the theory of sunk costs except that in this case, the user has sunk time, rather than money into the deal. The consumer has spent so much time entering in their information that once they find out they have to pay an unexpected price, they will pay it because they have already invested so much time into it. However, what most likely will happen, is that the user will get frustrated and either click off before completing the required steps, or when they get to the final stage, they will bailout, because the terms were not what they were advertised. 

Worse yet, the consumer no longer trusts the company and they associate the brand with dishonesty.  The lesson is to always be transparent about the terms of the service being offered and respect the user’s time. This ensures brand integrity and upholds a solid reputation for future customers.  

Unfortunately, the five tactics we talked about today are not the only marketing tactics that annoy customers. Though they are some of the most common. Of course, there are plenty of non-online marketing tactics that would also make the list of tactics marketing companies need to abandon. This will help establish trust with your customer and ensure a positive experience. 

About the Author: Kaylee Spivey Good
Kaylee Spivey Good is a content writer for Comarketers specializing in storytelling and creative writing. She is a trained actor, writer, academic researcher,  and visual artist. When she is not writing intriguing articles for Comarketers she can be found performing and directing both on stage and film, studying classical art, painting art at her art studio, or playwriting at home with her pet cats.

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