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5 Ways to Keep Your Online Marketing From Feeling Like Creepy, Online Dating Guy

I understand the need for print mags and news organizations to find alternative ways to monetize now that readership is moving online by the masses. I can only image the nightmare they face every quarter trying to hit their numbers.

creepy-email-marketing.jpegThere is a point in time when a company really should consider the user experience (that was sarcasm). That point in time should come first.

Don’t get me wrong; Forbes provides killer articles and I almost always find something interesting or educational. Lately when I visit their site, my eyes start to wiggle a little, my heart starts to race, and I immediately want to close my browser.

It’s not you; it’s me

Maybe it’s just me… maybe I’m too easily confused… maybe I’m getting too old and have to finally admit that I need my reading glasses. But I don’t think that’s it (the denial continues).

Pop-ups and ads have gotten so bad on websites, it’s sometimes hard to find the articles. Maybe the strategy is to push loyal readers back to print? Here are a couple of screen shots (it was worse; there were actually TWO more pop-ups on top of this but I couldn’t grab the screen in time…)

Forbes pop-up ads, bad online marketing, marketing, examples of bad marketing, annoying pop-up adsMy mouse happened to be hovering over their giant social share button when I landed on the page, but even when that disappeared, I still didn’t see the article. When I scrolled down, another ad popped up (below), but at least then I saw the article actually existed.

Forbes pop-ups, marketing, examples of bad marketing, annoying pop-up adsI’m old school – I still love my paper (sorry, tree huggers… I am from Oregon, but I’ve strayed). I still get the print version of Forbes, but I also love to share interesting articles (which is much easier to do online). I’m slowly but surely letting my subscriptions run their course (and I’m dying a little inside).

“What do you want from me?”

Hey, Forbes, have your online numbers dropped lately? Some market testing might be in order. Or conduct few interviews with readers to find out what they want and how to monetize that. I would imagine advertising dollars aren’t the only way to hit financial targets.

At least buy me dinner first

Consumer determine value, offer, bad online marketing, marketing, examples of bad marketing, annoying pop-up adsThis incessant pounding appears to be the standard for many sites. I saw an interesting tweet this morning from a marketing company and hopped over to check out their site. I got pounded with pop-ups to their email subscription merely seconds after I landed on the page.

I don’t even know you yet, why on earth would I want to make that decision right now?!

I didn’t include the screen shot of that site because they’re a small business; I just can’t do that.

I frequently examine other companies’ marketing methods, so I realize I may be more sensitive to this ‘ad-pounding’ than most. But because I’m a marketer, I realize what’s going on and start to feel a wee bit shameful that my peeps are doing this to consumers/clients. I feel a little dirty.

marketing rules, marketing, examples of bad marketing, annoying pop-up ads   Please don’t beg

 I’m all about lead-conversion, but we’re forgetting one other thing that really matters… the audience. Give them what they want, not what you want.

All the pop-up ads, the lead boxes, the roll-overs, sandboxes, whatever else boxes they’re calling these things these days… please stop! It feels like begging and, in excess, feels icky.

Regarding Forbes, yes, they typically give me what I want (the great articles); but I have jump through hoops to get it.

Swiftly is a great example of treating their guests like they should be treated. A part of 99Designs, Swiftly handles small, easy design jobs for cheap ($19). They offer (right there on their home page) 2,000 free templates. You don’t have to give them your email address, a blood sample, or your credit card. You just simply… download.

Swiftly, good example of marketing, home page example, offer of value Now, if you don’t have the capability to edit the files yourself to customize it, you can customize the templates for $19. I, however, am blessed to be able to sludge my way through Photoshop enough to pass so I can benefit from this. BUT, I’ll certainly remember them, I’ll definitely talk about them (I just did), and I’ll probably mention them again to small businesses that need some quick work done on a budget.

I’m not endorsing their product and they’re not paying me for the mention. I’m simply commenting on their approach and giving them a shout out for doing it differently. They look like they could be a great source and I have them bookmarked. The site is fresh and clean, easy to navigate, and I don’t feel like I need a bath.

Oooh, I know I just ticked off some marketers with all that.

I can hear them now, “those pop-ups work, they increased my email lists by 83% last month…” blah blah… I get it. I actually have a couple of downloads on my site where I ask for an email address. I’m just as guilty as the rest of them.

I want the leads; I’m a marketer and I run a small business too. But as a consumer, I know what that’s like and it just leaves a bad taste.

Where’s my prince charming?

So what’s the right way to capture leads without being icky? Be a gentleman (or be a lady). They really do still exist – and not just in my head. Here are five ways:Marketing rule, be polite, ask first, marketing




If you get an email list from a conference, use the list but don’t dump it straight into a 3-month email campaign. Depending on the resources you have, call or contact them, introduce yourself, and ask if it’s OK to send them information. Let them decide if they want to start a relationship with you.

If you have to email, send one that feels personable and let them know you’d like to start a relationship with them. Be clear that you’re asking for permission by giving them the chance to opt out.marketing rule, email marketing, sign-up




Add lead boxes to your site but make it less painful. I don’t like feeling like I’ve been slapped when I first land on a website (I’m not into that, but hey… if you are, I don’t judge).

Do it the old-fashioned way: research, implement, test… you’ll get higher quality leads. Put a eye-catching (but not slutty) form on the side-panel (A/B test the ad or form to see what works).marketing rule, don't be creepy, online marketing




I know marketing automation has reached all kinds of crazy levels of awesome, and technology is making it easier to understand our customers. BUT… DO NOT send me an email that says “hey, I know you were just on my website and looked at this product. I also know you live in Georgia, like Oatmeal & Honey soap, and hate cotton-poly blends based on your social profile. I like you… I think you’ll like me… you should call me sometime and I could show you all I have to offer.”marketing rule, back off, online marketing




When people say, “give them something to remember you by,” they don’t mean a lingering bad taste of spoiled milk. Be gentle. Be polite. Be professional. Be a gentleman. Ease your way into a relationship. At least let people know what you can do for them and be sweet about it.

TeresaI get so many emails from companies that I have to re-read their emails several times and still can’t figure out what it is they do or why I should care. They’re not offering anything, they’re not actually saying anything, they just want me to sign up or call them. I’m as confused as I am after watching Real Housewives of New Jersey.

Think that doesn’t happen? Yes, it does (and I am talking about both online dating and creepy marketing people).

Check out this example below. This really is an actual marketing drip campaign from a B2B company that is trying to earn our business. We’ve received about eight of these (I’ve actually lost count). I was so bothered by this, I felt like I needed to get a round of hep shots just to be on the safe side. In case you missed it, I listed seven of them in 7 Deadly Sins of Email Marketing.

06-11-14-dont-do-it-IIIDo you know that after all the emails from this guy, I STILL don’t know what their company does? I refuse to click on the link in his signature and I absolutely refuse to respond. I just set up a rule in Outlook so these go straight to the trash.

05-30-14 bademail5




If I unsubscribe, that means I am not interested in you. That doesn’t mean I ‘only unsubscribed from this one newsletter list’ but we have 17 other mailing lists you should unsubscribe from.

That also doesn’t mean we’re just on a break and you can pick up again where we left off 3 months later thinking I’ll forget.

Are there any sites you’ve found that are truly frustrating and getting out of hand? What are your thoughts on out-of-the-gate-pop-ups? Am I over-reacting (my husband says I do)? Have you seen any innovative online news sites that have found alternative revenue streams? I’d love to see them!

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