Two things I hate about internet marketing

This is the first in a new concept for a category – rants.  Less official than a manifesto, but more impassioned than a rhetoric, the rant is the most unruly of the the monologue brothers.  It’s a polemic with ‘roid rage.  It’s always useful to remember that a rant, by definition, is one-sided.  Some people use rants to make a point, others use them to blow off steam.  For me, it’s more of a hobby.  Here’s the first; two things I hate about internet marketing.

The Sales Letter aka “The Long Page”

Dear Valued Customer,

We’ve seen the long page one too many times.  You know what I’m talking about –  you follow a link to what appears to be an interesting and informative site.  Excited about the prospect of new and beneficial information, you sit and wait for the page to load.  Then, it hits you. A dreaded “Long Page.”  

Your scroll bar shrinks to the size of a pea as the true horror of the long page is revealed to you.  Bright, red, capitalised words scream at you, as a constant stream of bullet points flood your vision.  The excessive use of exclamation marks slowly hypnotises you, while warm, comforting promises entice you ever further down the page.

You keep scrolling.  Now you’re in free fall.  There’s no going back.  You’re scrolling faster and faster, reading, striving to get to the end where the magical piece of information will be revealed to you!  And then, finally, you see it –

“All these secrets and more, available for only $39.99!!!!”

OK look, I can’t keep up this pretense anymore.  I hate them.  I’ve become so repulsed by these things, that if I read one for more than 33 continuous seconds I instantly vomit.  Seriously.

You must understand, that these pages are designed to manipulate you, to bombard you with claims, promises and persuasion techniques, over and over and over, so that when you get to the bottom and see that the book is priced only *slightly* higher than one that you could buy in person and tangibly own, you’re impressed enough to buy.

The worst thing is when they are filled with NLP techniques – little methods of using language aimed at manipulating you.  Whether these techniques actually work is questionable, but the fact that they are in there at all is so…slimy.  Some of these long page writers make the sterotypical used car salesman look like Jesus.

My policy is simple – see a long page, click back.

The FREE BONUS EBOOK

People, apparently, are suckers for bonus items.  You know how you get a mint at the end of your meal out?  Studies have shown that if you are given the mint by your waiter, rather than take it from a bowl on the counter, you give a bigger tip.  It’s the principle of reciprocity, a part of our psychology.  You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.

So when you’re buying an ebook, you’re almost sure to get a short (less than 20 pages) additional ebook, on a topic somewhat related to the main product.  It gets it’s own title and cover art, and everything is done to make it look like a stand-alone product.  It would not surprise me if the time-pressed internet shamster didn’t pull a chapter out of the finished product – or at least used chapters that didn’t make the cut of the final draft.

And why, whenever it is referred to, must it always be in full caps?  It’s not your free bonus ebook, it’s your FREE BONUS EBOOK!

And of course, it’s value must always be emphasised, to make it clear just how much the author is SACRIFICING by giving this away for free.  He’s really doing you a favour here – this thing’s worth $17!!  

It’s always a strange, non-rounded last digit, isn’t it?

Because the FREE BONUS EBOOK couldn’t possibly have a rounded off value, like $10 or $15.  No, that would be weird!  It might even seem like IT ISN’T EVEN WORTH THAT AT ALL!  

No, better to give it a price ending in 7, that way it’s clear to the victims, sorry, I mean the customers, that the FREE BONUS EBOOK has been carefully analysed, and it’s value calculated to the exact digit.

Purlease!

These two nasty tactics are in the malicious end of the spectrum.  If you see the long page, or the bonus ebook, there’s a good chance you’re being manipulated.  It’s that simple.  

No one puts up the long page to inform you about the product – they are doing it to push your buttons so that when you get to the bottom, you’ll want to buy.  Same with the bonus ebook, no author thinks “Hey, my actual product isn’t good enough, so I’d better whip out some more material.  Besides, this extra piece would be really beneficial to my customers!”  They are thinking “what can I write up quickly and pass off as a free gift?”  

Now, there is always a small chance that people using these methods really are credible.  I’ve wondered if they are actually so effective, that even credible sellers have to use them too, just to stay afloat.

But I doubt it.  There has to be a better way.  The long page truly is the tackiest page on the internet.  It’s the website equivalent of making jewellery out of tin foil.  Instead of a long page, why not a short page?  Instead of a FREE BONUS EBOOK why not 10-15 articles, available for free on the website?  I’m all for effective marketing, but you’ve got to keep it classy, take the higher ground.  

Ultimately, you’re probably not losing much by ignoring sites using these tactics.  There are some really good products out there, available by genuinely knowledgeable authors, and you don’t have to scroll down 18 pages of advertising to buy them either.  

And I’ll tell you where to find them, for just $39.99!!!!

9 thoughts on “Two things I hate about internet marketing

  1. The ultimate irony is, I have a natural talent for copy-writing. Shame I can’t physically bring myself to do it!

  2. Hi Warren

    I’ve also wondered who on earth buys from those LONG ads?
    Nevermind hitting the “back” button, I close the page.

    It just says to me: “load of rubbish”.

    I’d love to know the success stats of these essays…

    Juliet

  3. I would too. They must be successful to some degree, or they wouldn’t exist. But surely people must be getting wise to them by now.

  4. Haha the comments about the eBook make me laugh, we’ve had many a ‘discussion’ here as to whether we should be offering a free e-book on our product as so many people do, I personally share your own opinion in as much that they’re just horrible!.. horrible horrible horrible!

    Mainly the idea of a website for me is that it serves as a _single_ resource for your sales blurb, placing large amounts of content anywhere else, such as eBooks, Emails, Mail Shots, Brochures and so forth is an incredibly pointless task as you’re wasting time and money replicating data and should you wish to adapt and change your sales pitch (based on it’s performance) then you have to do it in a million and one places at yet further expense.

    In my mind the website should be the single resource for full product information, all other marketing efforts should lead back to the website, it makes managing content and growing it to make it more effective all the simpler.

    Hmmm, this is a good topic, makes me want to go and blog about it myself. Thanks for the entertaining read!

    Rob

    1. Rob,

      That’s a good point, if you are going to put content off site it should be pitch-free. But if it’s just good, free content with a web address on it, I think that’s OK. Good content is good content. But I guess it depends what market you’re in. If it’s something like SEO, an off-site ebook might work; with just some tips and a web address on it. But for someone like yourself, I think you’re right; I can’t see you giving free, useful information out about bluetooth marketing without it being a pitch. But I’m not an internet marketing specialist, so maybe I’m wrong.

      But it’s when you get the ebook as an incentive to buy something else that it just screams cheap at me. It reminds me of the get rich quick websites, which are bad and slimy!

      Your website is great by the way, clean useable, please don’t ruin it offering a FREE BONUS EBOOK with your products!

      Many thanks for the comment, let me know if you do blog about it!

      Warren

  5. haha hey Warren, yes we won’t be offering any free ebooks, just free marketing underpants 😉 they ‘scream’ quality, do they not? haha

    I’m glad you liked the site though, thanks for the kind comments, I’m from a technical background myself so I’m always VERY concious about dropping the technical blurb and making the product approachable 🙂

    I’ll definitely get around to blogging about it shortly and I’ll link you up as soon as I do.

    Generally speaking we keep all non-site content quite short and punchy and very campaign specific, it serves the sole purpose of capturing the readers imagination and intrigue, it then is their choice to be drawn to the site to learn more, I think teasing them with a little something first helps them absorb the information you later give them all the better.

    Cheers,

    Rob

    1. I did notice the marketing underpants, and immediately wished I’d thought of that first. Yes definitely link me up when you’re done!

      Warren

  6. This is definitely true, especially the so called free bonus. I think that if a person is going to give something away they should make sure it is valuable. Also If the product is really good why not give away the bonus for free before people by the product. The bonus should be good enough for people to want to buy the product. In any business we need to make sure the customers needs are met first, give before you receive.

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