This post I did for FastCompany.com is a good way of understanding where I’m coming from in marketing and brand strategy. Let me know what you think!
In one way or another, I often write about those qualities and touch points of business that make for positive customer experience.
But the opposite has been on my mind lately. Annoying people mercilessly pestering you online, on the phone, or in your face. Not taking no (or “NO!!”) for an answer. The hard sell. Spamming. Auto DMs on Twitter that are all about @them and their latest fantastic e-book or whatever–not at all about @you. Tweeting with Bots! The slick, ingratiating, grating: “What’s it going to take for me to get you [to toss your money away on my product/service you don’t need or want right now]?”
Why do these worst practices persist!? Does this behavior pay in the long or short run? In order to find answers, I’ve been exploring what I call the “Metrics of Annoyance.”
The metrics of annoyance is about seeking real measurement of the effectiveness of a given annoying marketing practice. Spamming is the most prime of examples. The practice of spamming has of course been maligned, derided, and otherwise tisk-tisked since the very first male enhancement notice was sent to your AOL account back in the deep mists of time. Yet spam is around, and here to stay. It clogs your inbox and gives gainful employment to anti-spam code developers at McAfee. Josh Catone has done a great job describing why spammers keep doing their thing. (read Josh’s post here) With an abysmal .000008 response rate–one in 12.5 million–it still is evidently enough of a payoff from a relatively inexpensive marketing method. So for spam, the metric is one in 12.5 million. Note to the one: click “delete” please, and let the rest of us get on with our lives!
Izea is among the latest to dip its toes into the metrics of annoyance (has been treading water in it for years according to many). Izea has begun a pay-per-tweet program on Twitter, with regular folks posting 140 character “sponsored tweets.” When I heard about it last week, I thought, I understand that. No big deal. Then I saw one of my friends’ sponsored posts. Annoying. Channel surf to avoid the stupid commercial annoying. As Spike Jones of Brains on Fire puts it in a recent blog post, “You’re paying people to talk about you. Paying them. In the vast majority of cases, there’s no quality of content there. It does not matter to me that they can say what they want about their “sponsor’s” product. If you have to get paid to talk about something, I’m immediately going to question your motivation, which I’ll assume is cash.” That’s exactly my reaction when I see a sponsored tweet. What are the metrics on pay-per tweet? Izea has been paying people to blog for some years now, (and receiving plaudits from the likes of Forrester Research) so evidently the metrics are working for them, enough to dive into the pay per tweet action. But for many of us, this is another sad day in the marketing world.
These practices will persist, no doubt. The Metrics of Annoyance, no matter how miniscule the ROI turns out to be, will be with us always. Is it a personality thing? I don’t know. I’m not posturing this as a “good” versus “evil” battle for the soul of people who buy things. This is a discussion of what are Best Practices and what are Worst Practices. Being kind, being genuine, being human, these traits are the win-win bedrock on which best practices are grounded. That’s the ground I want to be standing on in my own work. How about you?