As I grew increasingly interested in marketing automation and funnels, I became more exposed to the digital marketing realm and gained valuable insights into how marketers are running their businesses and launches. I also witnessed a lot of deceptive practices that have shaped my views and practices when marketing my own or my client’s products, campaigns or solutions.
I’ve always taken a scientific and data-driven approach to digital design, so while I discovered my passion for funnels and automation through the eyes of a designer and developer rather than a seasoned marketer, it should be no surprise that immersed myself and dove in deeply.
I learned a great deal about conversion rate optimization and clever “marketing tricks” to boost conversion rates and increase user engagement. There’s a lot that can be done to optimize one’s campaign, yet a lot of the practices I see today have me questioning the ethics of marketers and the long-term effects the practices they promote have on their clients’ bottom line.
It’s not all about the conversion rate.
Many popular marketing tactics exploit the most vulnerable. An example of this is false scarcity. Sure, scarcity tactics can help boost sales because they play into our fears. FOMO (or, the “fear of missing out”) is a real thing that many of us face day to day. When faced with countless business decisions, it becomes difficult to choose what will suit us best and bring about the greatest lasting value.
Scarcity, when done authentically can be a powerful motivator, but all too often, I encounter false scarcity tactics being used by marketers to generate hype around a product or campaign. Having fallen for these tactics before, I can assure you that once I’ve discovered that the scarcity wasn’t real (by realizing that the cart remained open, the price of the product or service didn’t increase as promised, or I saw the “exclusive, one-time offer” elsewhere, etc.), it soured my experience with the company promoting the offer. The result is that they lost a customer for life. While I’m more discerning than most, I’m confident I’m not alone.
If conversion rates are the “gold standard” by which we judge marketing campaigns, I’d suggest that we reconsider. Not all successful campaigns lead to immediate sales. Many effective campaigns plant seeds that will blossom over time. Successful marketing also has a lot do with exposure and some audiences require quite a bit of nurturing before they’re ready to commit. Instead of conversion rates, I’d advise that we focus on long-term growth and customer retention.
In my own efforts, I adimt that I’ve often hesitated promoting my own marketing automation and funnel solutions because I feel that a lot of users are brainwashed by marketers’ tendencies to fixate on conversion rates and quick financial wins as a sole indicator of marketing success. As a collective, we’ve been misled by gurus promising wealth and fast gains, which regardless of the caliber of your products or services, are not a guaranteed outcome of even the best-designed marketing campaigns.
Even the most brilliant marketing campaigns can be poorly received or face various challenges as there are many factors involved (a lot of which we lack full control over). Even the gurus fail. Time and time again. They just don’t share that, and in rare instances when they do, it’s because there’s some “catch” or some sneaky upside that they wish to exploit for their own gain.
While conversion rates matter and I take conversion rate optimization seriously, I also focus on the bigger picture. I assume that audiences are intelligent, and while human and prone to making impulsive decisions or buying out of FOMO, I value longevity. I feel compelled to help businesses play the long game; to win customers and advocates for life through their campaigns and marketing efforts.
I refuse to use tactics that exploit or mislead customers. I also refuse to sell false hope and hype (enthusiasm and excitement for a product is fantastic, but if you spend enough time in the digital marketing space, you’ll see there’s also a lot of hot air).
If you spend enough time in this space, you’ll see marketers tell business owners to make purchases they can’t afford on their credit cards or to take out an additional line of credit to buy their course or product. Sure, sometimes business is risky and business owners choose “Hail Marys” (as I’d call them) to survive in the competitive landscape, but more often than not, these tactics can leave families struggling to pay rent or to stay afloat in an increasingly challenging and financially polarized world.
I choose to differentiate. I give my work my absolute best, but I won’t sell anyone a dream. There are no guarantees in this industry. Success is often iterative, and the result of dozens of tweaks based on gathered data, insights and research.
I choose to do right by others and urge other marketers to do the same. We’re all interconnected. We all have a social responsibility to do what’s fair and ethical. We hold an immense amount of power and impact that we may not realize. Let’s choose to market with integrity and support and uplift others who choose to do the same.
Many marketers and gurus focus on conversion rates as indicators of marketing success. Conversion rates are important but they don't tell the full story. Focusing solely on conversion rates can be damaging, especially if it requires using tactics that may result in immediate wins but long-term losses and harm to your business or brand. I advise that we focus on long-term growth and retention instead. Audiences are brighter than we given them credit for. I also believe that integrity is critical in long term marketing success. We're all interconnected and have a social responsibility to use our skills and insights to what's right. Let's choose to market with integrity and support and uplift others who choose to do the same.