In the world of marketing your business online, there are people who would tell you unequivocally that the only thing that matters are results. Those people are often the shadiest people you’ll ever meet or they’re incredibly unsuccessful and therefore so desperate to have some level of success that they’ll toss their ethics in the bin for a few bucks.
I don’t buy into that. I think success is great, something you should enjoy and celebrate, but if you have to sell out your own dignity and morals to get it, then you’ve got a longer-term problem.
Some of the online douchebag crowd have conveniently found a way to get around their complete lack of ethics and they do this by focusing on “conversion”.
In the magical land of “Conversion Rate Optimisation,” you get to check your morals and common sense at the door. Crossing lines of good behaviour means nothing if it gets you more optins or a higher clickthrough rate. You can look past douchebaggery because the numbers tell you that whatever underhanded scheme you’re running “is working”.
I outright hate these people. Seriously, I grew up being told by my parents that “hate” is a very strong word and you shouldn’t use it lightly. In this case, I’m using it correctly – I hate people who intentionally try to deceive visitors to their website to convince them to surrender their email address so that they can be spammed with more underhanded nonsense forever.
Let’s draw some distinctions. A guy like Pep Laja who does high-quality conversion rate optimisation focuses on “user experience” and channelling traffic through a site in a way that generates the best outcomes possible for the user. I think that’s totally above board and there’s nothing ever deceptive about the way these type of people work – they just iterate and refine things to get the best result.
Then there are people who are frankly just stupid. They bombard you with popups, sidebar optins, slide-ins and welcome gates. There’s no malice in anything they are doing, they just read things on web pages in isolation that apparently work and then apply it to their own site. That’s just not being very smart or thoughtful, but again like I said, there’s no malice.
My problem is with the people who are smart enough to know what they are doing and they actively go out of their way to trick you into things. These people are just evil. They justify their behaviour with numbers and ethics be damned.
I stumbled onto a classic one yesterday. This individual is all about collecting optins and conversion. His content is generally pretty good and his aggressive posture on getting people to join his email list has always been a reason I don’t visit his site more. I once said to someone that when I visit this person’s website I feel like I’m under attack from popups and optin boxes. I spend more time fending off his optins than I do reading the content – it really can be quite distracting.
However, this experience crossed a line. I ended up following a link on Facebook to his website and on the page was what appeared to be a blog post title link which was the post I wanted to read. It had yesterday’s date on it, which was weird because the Facebook post that brought me to the site was posted a couple days earlier. It also had some social share links and numbers under the title, so it basically looked like a legitimate blog post.
Except it wasn’t. When I clicked the title link it redirected me away from this site to his personal site where it took me to an optin form for a webinar (no doubt just a recording). I felt a sense of rage come over me. This was a complete bait and switch tactic. He made the page I arrived at look like a blog post, but actually, it was nothing more than just another optin form.
This person just doesn’t care about ethics. He’s so lost in the numbers that the fact that he’s being deceptive and coming across as a scammer is irrelevant to him. If you were to ask him directly why he’d behave this way, I guarantee you he’d quote conversion numbers back to you. He just doesn’t get it.
Don’t be like this human.
It might work in the short term to cut corners and cheat, but eventually, it catches up to you in the end. Also, unless you’re some kind of sociopath, your conscience will remind you that, “Hey, maybe this isn’t the most ethical way of going about things.”
Doing the right thing often takes more time and may also result in some slightly lesser results, but the reality is, with your business activities online, you should be playing a long game. You should be attracting and building an audience that likes and respects you, that is happy to do business with you over the long term because you’re someone that behaves in a way that focuses on delivering quality results rather than just dirty, quick wins.