Are Your Clients Threatened by Your Content Marketing Practices?

There are many ways to put your content in front of clients or prospective customers, but not all marketing practices are created equal. In fact, content marketing in 2019 can be fraught with hidden perils. While the cost of not engaging with your audience is high, the risk of creating negative dynamics is also very real.

It’s better to learn from the mistakes of others than repeat them, so take a look through this roundup of the worst content marketing offenses. Is your business guilty of any of these marketing mistakes?

Aggressive Ads

Have you ever felt harassed by an inanimate block of code? Unfortunately, certain types of ads can come across as aggressive and unpleasant. Overaggressive ads may follow the user around on a site, take up too much space to engage with the main content, or simply show up in so many places on one page that the user simply clicks off in disgust.

Over-Personalized Ads

Some types of personalized ads may improve engagement, but there is a fine line between personalization and invasiveness. When your clients start to wonder just how much your cookies know about them, or when they feel like their personal lives are being intruded on in oddly-specific ways, they may feel overwhelmed or creeped out – not the effect you’re looking for if you want to build trust with your audience.

Suspicious Lack of Security

Does your URL include a security (SSL) certificate? If not, some users’ browser may be set up to flag your website as insecure. If not, users may still steer clear of any sites that don’t have demonstrable SSL certification – risking their sensitive data simply isn’t worth it! Investing in SSL for your business may not result in easily identifiable ROI, but don’t make the mistake of ignoring the benefits that come when your brand successfully signals trustworthiness.

Heaping Helpings of Hype

Does your marketing copy use phrases like this?

  • amazing secrets
  • unbelievable results
  • free for a limited time
  • cures X, Y, and Z
  • zero side-effects
  • completely free
  • once in a lifetime

Technically speaking, any of these claims could be true depending on context. However, many prospective customers or clients will have knee-jerk reactions of suspicion towards this type of hyped-up language. All too often, it simply signals a lack of “truthiness.”

Trust Isn’t a Two-Way Street

Log in with Facebook! Log in with your Google ID! Create an account so you can view content! Some users will feel comfortable logging into your site if there is a perceived benefit, but be careful. If you require users to share a lot of their information, you need to establish yourself as trustworthy in their eyes. Vague language, no “About” page, or lack of social proof can make it feel like only one side is doing the sharing.

Pushy Pop-Ups

Pop-up ads have been voted one of the 50 worst inventions of all time – and for good reason. One of the most maddening things about pop-ups is the user’s feeling of helplessness as unwanted opt-ins or content load without warning, sometimes on every single page of certain websites. Trying to navigate around these obnoxious interlopers to get to the desired content can be a major turn-off, especially on mobile devices.

Alienating Language or Imagery

Marketing is often most effective when it appeals to very specific demographics and their needs. However, this can go wrong when businesses inadvertently position themselves in alienating or offensive ways. Be careful that your marketing campaigns don’t cross the line between highly-niche and off-putting. Even your target audience may turn against you if they perceive your brand to be tone-deaf.

Overzealous Chat Bots

It’s one thing to demonstrate responsiveness to your clients or prospective customers. It’s another to signal that you’re using pre-programmed cchatbotsto cut costs or avoid truly personal interactions. While chatbots can serve a purpose, make sure that you don’t have them popping up on every page and constantly nudging users to interact. If your existing web content is already effective, there shouldn’t be too many scenarios where they need to use the chat feature, anyway!

Too Much Fancy Formatting

Emerging best practices for mobile optimization seem to show that larger font sizes and custom formatting can really help your readers stay engaged. However, that doesn’t mean you should go over-the-top with your formatting. Avoid any absurd extremes or overly ornate fonts. Steer clear of using a lot of color (and when you do, make sure it matches your brand’s style guidelines). Use bolding, italics, underlining, and oversized lettering sparingly – that’s what gives them impact.

Spammy Emails

We’ve saved the worst for last: emails that can’t stop, won’t stop, don’t stop! Emails that take over your inbox with absurd frequency. Emails that do not include a clear “unsubscribe” or opt-out link. Emails that make you log into a website to opt out of their mailing list. These phenomena are all too common and far too frustrating.

While email campaigns and auto-responders are an essential part of many marketing funnels, you must have an effective strategy in place. Make sure you provide value and build trust with the people who have entrusted you with their email address. Make sure you do not abuse the permission they have given you to contact them. Think about it – even the coolest branding and best content can’t really salvage a relationship with an individual who has felt overwhelmed or harassed by your communications. Not only will your clients resent you for cluttering up their inbox, they’ll be extremely hesitant to engage with your business ever again.

What’s Your Grade?

Now that you’ve reviewed some of the worst pitfalls on modern-day marketing, it’s time to give yourself a grade. What, if anything, has your business being doing that could potentially jeopardize client trust or cause prospective customers to feel threatened by your marketing?

After identifying any practices that could do your business more harm than good, it’s time to take action. Although it may not be feasible to completely eradicate these issues at once, work towards redirecting or replacing any problematic content marketing practices with those that better serve your goals. It’s not too late to turn things around!

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