Don’t tick off your audience

You know how doctors swear to "do no harm"? Google follows a similar mantra in its organizational mission: "Do no evil." I wish every company that has something to say actually did the same thing.

I speak from very recent experience: I clicked on a link to read an article. When the page loaded, it was half-covered by an ad for a magazine I would never read, let alone buy. As is often the case with these online annoyances, I had to look hard for the "Close" box. I clicked it to get rid of the offending ad. Nothing. I clicked the "X" next to it. Still nothing. This was one ad that didn’t want to be closed. The page that it half-covered was locked and unreadable, so I had no choice but to click on the ad and see what happened.

What happened was an online nightmare. I was forced to take a survey. Oh sure, I could have bailed, but I wanted to read the article. So I figured randomly filling in a few boxes would end this silliness and get me back to where I had intended to go in the first place. No such luck. It took almost 10 minutes for me to navigate through the survey – leaving nasty comments about the experience wherever I could. When I was done, I was dumped to a forlorn landing page, my beloved article nowhere to be found. I still haven’t read it. And I’m still upset.

If you think I’ll ever say a nice thing about the magazine, think again. Sure, they got my attention and got me to take their survey. But they kept me from doing what I originally wanted to do. They wasted my time. They got me angry. Not exactly the best way to get a message across.

So, as you look at your own online messaging efforts, ask yourself this question, and answer it honestly: Are  you ticking off your audience?

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