3 things I hate about digital marketing

| January 31, 2014 | 0 Comments

Just because you’re involved in digital marketing, it doesn’t mean you have to love everything about it. When they’re done well, marketing communications are a pleasure to receive. But done badly they drive people nuts.

Here are the three things I hate most about online marketing.

3 digital marketing nasties

Piss-poor pop-ups

Disruptive marketing is annoying by nature because it disrupts your intentions. But I particularly hate pop-ups, especially when they fill the whole screen and even more so when they’re random. When I’m looking for information about pet care, the last thing I need or expect is a pop-up advertising Spanish holidays. Talk about a marketing ‘doh’- that’s just stupid.

Then there are pop-ups asking you to comment on a site when you’ve only just landed on the home page and haven’t a clue whether or not it’s any good. That’s just lazy marketing, implemented with neither logic nor forethought. Duh. 

And what about those floating social media buttons that cover up the content you’re trying to read and follow you  down the page? Ridiculous.

Rubbish email marketing

Email marketing is a brilliant medium. Done right it can attract loads of new customers and prospects, grow loyalty, drive cross-sales and up-sales. So how come so many marketers get it wrong?

As a punter I want to receive good quality communications from companies whose stuff is relevant to my needs and desires. I want them to make the effort to find out my name. I want to be able to reply to their email communications easily – what’s the point of sending a message from a ‘no reply’ address? And I don’t want to be sold to all the time because it’s boring and annoying – I am a human being, not just a consumer. All this seems a reasonable enough ‘ask’ bearing Big Data in mind and the fact that direct marketers have been getting it right offline for decades.

Baffling terms and conditions

I mentioned this way back in 2010 but things haven’t changed. It’s high time site owners ditched the legalese. Not just for users’ benefit, but because it’s the law. We are expected to read terms and conditions before signing up for products and services online. But the dratted things are written in such dense language we fall asleep half way through, or lose the will to live altogether. We deserve better. Luckily the law of the land supports us.

The Office of Fair Trading, discussing the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999, puts it like this:

Regulation 7 – plain and intelligible language

  • (1) A seller or supplier shall ensure that any written term of a contract is expressed in plain, intelligible language. 
  • (2) If there is doubt about the meaning of a written term, the interpretation which is most favourable to the consumer shall prevail 

Clarity in contractual language is widely recognised as desirable in itself, but the Regulations go beyond promoting that objective alone. In line with their purpose of protecting consumers from one-sided agreements, and the requirement of the underlying Directive that ‘consumers should actually be given an opportunity to examine all the terms’, they have to be understood as demanding ‘transparency’ in the full sense.

As the High Court has found in a case relating to the fairness of bank charges, it requires ‘not only that the actual wording of individual clauses …be comprehensible to consumers, but that the typical consumer can understand how the term affects the rights and obligations that he and the seller or supplier have under the contract.’

It follows that what is required is that terms are intelligible to ordinary members of the public, not just lawyers. They need to have a proper understanding of them for sensible and practical purposes. It is not sufficient for terms to be clear and precise for legal purposes, except in contracts normally entered only on legal advice.

If your T&C are a masterpiece of purest gobbledegook, get them translated into plain English. I’ll be writing and posting a free version for you to use within the next couple of weeks.

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Category: copywriting and marketing

By Kate Goldstone - ()

Originally from Middlesbrough, I lived in Brighton for many years before moving to North Devon. I’ve had a passion for words all my life and this is my twelfth year as a freelance writer. In my spare time I draw, paint, sculpt, carve wood and rock, garden, read, write poetry and enjoy long distance hiking. I sing and play the recorder. I collect modernist paintings, vintage rugs and mid-century German art pottery. I’m a member of The Poetry Society. And I am an experienced volunteer shepherd, a ‘Lookerer’.

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