Imagine a town with two shops that sell nearly identical merchandise, for nearly identical prices. Both shops are conveniently located in the same safe neighbourhood, clean, brightly lit and well-stocked.
But while the sales associates in one store are always friendly, knowledgeable and eager to help, the salespeople in the other store are consistently rude, lazy and uninformed. Which store would you think the townspeople would be most likely to frequent? Guess what - it's the same for Internet consumers and websites.
In a recent survey by Hostway, 70% of respondents said that they would be unlikely to purchase from a website that annoyed them. In fact, they said they probably would never even go back to that site.
Even more people (74% of the respondents) said they would also likely unsubscribe from the company's promotions or messages - not only will they not be back, they don't ever want to hear from you again!
So what irritates these survey participants? Here are their seven biggest pet peeves:
I hear you say, “We must be doing okay, or maybe our customers are different - we haven't heard many complaints at all!” Not so fast - the survey also revealed the following:
And keep in mind, the percentage of people who consistently follow through with an actual complaint is probably much lower.
Remember how many times you've sworn to give somebody a piece of your mind, then just never gotten around to it? Just because you don't hear from these folks, don't assume they're not out there - and don't assume they're not annoyed!
And just as in our fictional town with two nearly identical stores, on the web the visitors you irritate into leaving can likely find your competitors' sites easily. In fact, they may already have one or more of your competitors' sites bookmarked.
The sad part is that so many of these ‘sins’ are easy to prevent or repair. For instance:
Of course, some of the ‘sins’ have their legitimate uses. I can hear you gasp, “Are you saying we're doomed to failure if we commit any of these seven deadly sins? We need the information we get from our visitor registration! And our pop-ups get great results!”
Certainly, pop-up windows are sometimes highly effective at getting people to sign up for a newsletter or take advantage of a special offer. Gathering visitor contact information - say, before allowing visitors to download a popular white paper - can be a crucial part of an effective marketing campaign.
There are two secrets to success when using techniques such as these:
Also, you should realize that even when employed with delicacy and tact these techniques will probably still alienate a portion of your site's intended audience. Use them sparingly, and only when necessary. Sure, you can't please everyone, but you can make sure you're not going out of your way to unduly irritate people. Now, go forth and sin no more!