Tuesday, March 4, 2014

New E Commerce Paradigm Is Bad for Business

(Warning, no bourbon content.)

So I'm browsing a popular social media site and, of course, it is peppered with advertising. I see a small ad for a furniture manufacturer. I like the design of the furniture in the small ad and would like to see more, so I click on it.

What I have done, of course, is normally considered marketing gold. After viewing a small sample of the company's wares, I have elected to voluntarily look at more of their advertising material. In any normal world and in any normal advertising medium, the advertiser would move heaven and earth to put nothing between me and the further consumption of their advertising.

But not this advertiser, and not in this medium.

The advertiser actually blocked the content and demanded my email address first.

Are they insane?

This is not the first time this has happened to me on this particular site and I'm sure people are doing it elsewhere too. It appears to be the new paradigm. Too bad it is fundamentally wrong.

I certainly understand the value of capturing email addresses. When people buy from me I like to capture their email addresses so I can, as they say, inform them of additional products and service they may find interesting. But requiring an email address just to look through the window? That is the stupidest business model ever.

Businesses large and small generally go wrong when they put what they want over what the prospective customer wants. I always tell my marketing clients, don't think about what you want to tell the customer, think about what the customer wants to know. Anticipate and answer the customer's questions and you'll get the sale, whether or not you ever get a chance to make your 'pitch.'

That wisdom is as old as the hills and nothing about all this new technology has changed that or any of the other basic principles of selling. Shame on whoever thought of this and shame on the advertisers who accept it. Sure, I could give them a gmail address I never use, but if their business instincts are so poor, I have no interest in doing business with them.

Looking at it that way, maybe they did me a favor. I'm sure it wasn't on purpose. If you believe you know the rationale for this, please feel free to share it, but I doubt you'll convince me it's a good idea.


Anonymous said...

We are in a phase of interactive marketing where more money can be made mapping your interests to your personal information than actually selling products. Think 2002 and the internet gold rush for eyeballs, huge sums of money changer hands strictly on the basis of free subscriptions. Something similar is happening now except with the plummeting cost of tech, the ability to aggregate and mine this personal data for sale to other advertisers is exploding. It is quite possible that the business whose ad you clicked on exists for no other purpose than to associate your email address to an interest in furniture.

Kevin said...

While I haven't run into such a similar fiasco myself yet, I have to believe it's due at some level to rampant click fraud.

Anonymous said...

All over the web. I recently tried to look up a restaurant guide for Ann Arbor, mi and it insisted on full name and e-mail before I could get a list. How amazing stupid. I tend to give them Fake@123.com and see if they are at least smart enough to look at them. They almost never are.


Anonymous said...

Creating additional friction between you and your customer is not optimal. I tend to agree with the first poster as to the reasons why they're introducing that friction. Signed, myob@nsa.gov

Ken said...

I'm with you, Chuck. I have a related problem with Total Beverage. One, in order to even look at the first product description, they make you perform 14 actions (swipe, click, etc.). I understand not showing price or stock without specifing store and buying-method, but making folks with only general interest jump through irrelevant hoops is just shooting themselves in the foot. Two, after you do all that, they don't save it in the URL that you bookmark. So if you clear cookies and return later, you have to perform those same 14 actions all over again. Three, they don't list ABV, which defies logic for an alcohol product. I emailed them about all that, including an alternate Web design yielding the 2 data they want in just 6 actions, and they emailed back a shrug.

I think the biggest problem is ego. All developers come up with the best solutions they can, but only *good* developers don't fall for the conceit that theirs is necessarily good enough (much less the best there is). There are just a lot of less than-good developers out there.

For the "email wall" problem, besides leaving or supplying @.com, sometimes I'll try reloading the page with javascript turned off, and sometimes I'll try deleting the wall with the Firefox addon "Remove It Permanently". Depends on how badly I want it.

Anonymous said...

That's what masked email is for.


Anonymous said...

try mailinator.com or suremail.info (both the same site). No passwords, email boxes are created when an email is sent to them, and frequently trashed, so you can create a fake email address, and still get the first email if needed. ...

Chuck Cowdery said...

That's so not the point.