7 Ways to Turn Off Your Online Audience

Stephanie Sammons Founder, Build Online Influence

Posted on September 11th 2012

7 Ways to Turn Off Your Online Audience
Don't turn off your audience

photo credit: Al_HikesAZ via photo pin cc

When building your digital brand through content and social media, it is so important to consider the experience you give to your audience.  Creating positive experiences online for your audience will develop trust and keep them coming back for more.

The list below is not exhaustive. It includes some online practices that have become more and more common, but they are less and less effective for cultivating trust. The last thing you want to do is distract your audience, waste their time, or lose their trust. These are big risks to take in the digital age.


Yes I know the data says that they work. I’m referring to those pesky little pop-ups that greet you on a blog or website just as you’re settling in to consume that wonderful blog post. Pop-ups are intrusive and distracting.

2)Lengthy Forms

There are times to ask for more information from your visitors, but not every time you have something valuable to share. Give some content away that is not behind a form on occasion. Also, maybe just ask for a first name and email address rather than the kitchen sink. Relationship building is a process. Start the relationship first, and gather more information as you build more trust.

3)Heavy Ads

The major media and industry trade sites are the biggest offenders here, and I understand they have to be given the dependence on ad revenue. Some of these sites, however, make it an obstacle course just to get to the article you’re trying to reach! Your audience will be conditioned after a few times of going through your obstacle course not to click through again because it’s just too much trouble. Many bloggers make use of heavy ads as well. At some point, too many ads can reduce your credibility and be off-putting to your visitors to the point of no return.

4)Off-target Landing Pages

So you’re running social engagement ads on sites like LinkedIn and Facebook, but following the link in your ad takes your audience somewhere without telling them what to do next, or even worse, they land on your website homepage? (LinkedIn ads are especially notorious for this) It seems that if you’re going to spend budget on social ads that you would have also considered what you want the person to do once they’ve clicked. It kills me to see all of those wasted ad dollars.

5)Sales Pitch Emails

Most of us agree that the value is in the list. Getting into the email inboxes of your target audience is critical for cultivating and strengthening relationships. Therefore, your email communications should be delivered with that in mind. It’s okay to pitch something (tastefully) from time to time, but make sure it’s truly a value-added offer for your audience. There is a right time to ask for the order and certainly there are ways to do so creatively. If you’re constantly pitching offers and claiming that each of them is urgent, unique, and important, eventually your audience will catch on and realize it’s less about them and more about you.

6)Deceiving Headlines

I know, I know, everyone says you have to master the art of writing great headlines. However, should we be doing this at the expense of quality, value, and substance? If you write and share a great headline on social networks, back it up with equally great content. Some of the most popular news sites and blogs are the guilty of this one. It’s become a game of who can craft the best headlines to grab attention versus what content is really worthy of clicks and shares.

7)Bad Design

Whether you have a small or big following in social media, your blog or website is your brand. It’s the first and lasting impression. Even if you do have great content, an unprofessional web presence will totally ruin it. This includes your site design, layout, and even the formatting of your blog posts. I’m amazed at the number of individuals and companies who throw together a blog just to say they are blogging without giving attention to professional design. This is just an area where you cannot skimp.

What have I missed?

I know I’ve left some items off of the list, can you please help me add to it in the comments? Or throw out a tweet about it with the hashtag #stopdoingthis. (I wanted to also add “list posts” to the list, but I needed to use one for this post!)


Stephanie Sammons

Founder, Build Online Influence

I help business professionals Build Online Influence on the social web. You can connect with me on Google+ and follow me on Twitter.

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Posted on September 18th 2012 at 9:01AM

Nothing turns me off more than Twits who never engage with their followers, or never reply to their tweets.