The Dark Side of Conversion: Treating People Like Fish

The Dark Side of Conversion by Cuppa SEO Web DesignAfter careful review of this blog title, you might be wondering — how in the world could a business treat a person like a fish?

It’s pretty simple really.

When trying to gain new clients or customers, some businesses perceive their potential customers as fish. Or at least they seem to, because they take out their fishing rod and drop a hook in the water with some enticing “bait” on it. Of course, the fishing rod is metaphorical, but the process that transpires is very much like fishing.

The bait is something that, at first glance, feels irresistible — and often times a little bit too good to be true.

For instance, I recently signed up for a free webinar to help me attract more participants to my own webinars. The Facebook ad for the event was liked by many of my friends and colleagues, and it promised to be a “master class” with “incredible value,” offering solid strategies to help me pack the house. I figured it might be worth my time, even if I only gleaned one good bit of info.

Once I signed up, it was all downhill from there. Let’s dissect what happened …

  1. I had signed up the night before the webinar. In less than 24-hours, I received FIVE emails from the facilitator of the webinar, each one trying to hype me up and add importance to the webinar I signed up for — and reinforcing that I simply must to attend. This is just a bad user experience (UX). I signed up for a free event and I wound up with a stalker girlfriend that simply wouldn’t leave me alone for more than a few hours! We’ve all had this happen though, right? Sign up for some “free” information, only to find that we’re now “buddies” with someone we didn’t want to hear from in the first place. This is a HUGE mistake in the conversion process, but it’s rampant.
  2. When the webinar started, I noticed that it was pre-recorded, and the facilitator wasn’t even on screen! The information, which was a slide show with audio, was infantile and maybe had value for someone who knew nothing about webinars. There certainly wasn’t any info on how to gain more attendees. So I left. Figuring that was that …
  3. Until I started receiving multiple follow up emails. I kept unsubscribing, and eventually the emails stopped. Now, it’s one thing to get in touch with people (who have given you permission to do so) once in a while. But you better be offering real value, WITHOUT harassing them.

At this point, I strongly suspected that I was the victim of being treated like a fish. The line was cast, and the tasty bait taken. Now, the thing is that many other people who attended this webinar probably felt the same way as I did. But here’s the thing, organizations that “go fishing” like this don’t care. They are trying to get as many people as possible caught on their hooks, and then they’re on to the next round of fishing before you know it. Some of the people who come to the webinar will surely spend money, but most won’t. But with this type of model, that’s expected. It’s a volume thing, a numbers game, where the need to create meaningful relationships is replaced by the need to find paying fish.

To be sure, I checked the facilitator’s website and found that what she was really trying to do was get us to sign up for her paid service, which is lifetime membership to her “Webinars that Convert” content …

Conversion and Web Design by Cuppa SEO Madison

This is all part of a calculated conversion strategy, but it lives on the “dark side” of conversion, where potential customers are not treated like people. Instead , they’re commoditized (like a fish), and corralled into a funnel (ok, so fish aren’t technically corralled, but yo get the idea) to see how many of them are profitable.

Conversion, quickly defined, is a strategy that takes a website visitor from where they are, to where you want them to go. Whether it’s to download a free e-book, fill out a form, call, or some similar action, the conversion process often begins by having someone click on a button or text link. This is referred to as a call-to-action (CTA). In the case we’re dissecting, the first CTA is to sign up for the free webinar. The second is to make a purchase. And although this isn’t always necessarily a bad conversion strategy, it’s missing one main ingredient — VALUE in the freebie. 

Make sure you’re ALWAYS DELIVERING VALUE in your freebie. Because, when you do, you stop treating people like fish and …

… start teaching people how to fish!

A very different philosophy, teaching people how to fish empowers them with relevant, helpful information right from the get go, without asking them for anything in return. It’s relationship-based, as opposed to the numbers game being played when you treat people like fish.

When you empower your clients, you’re giving them some of the tools they need to take care of their business themselves — and treating them like human beings along the way. Or, quite often, you’re simply educating them as to what they need (and what they don’t need) so they have a clear understanding of where they should apply their budget.

And in doing so, you’re building TRUST, which is essential for any long-term relationship.

Working with the relationship-based model doesn’t mean you’re giving away the entire farm, or making your business non-essential in the process. In fact, it can often make you more essential because you will be perceived as the true expert that’s not afraid to share their knowledge.

At Cuppa SEO, we like to help clients, potential clients, and anybody else who will listen, how to brew a better blog. That’s why we’ve created our Blogging 101 E-book based on the philosophy of teaching people how to fish. If you sign up for the e-book, you won’t be bombarded with daily or weekly emails. You will receive a friendly, information-packed monthly newsletter that contains things like popular blog posts, free webinars and our Two-minute Tuesdays and Five-minute Fridays Facebook Live events.

Well, all this talk of fish has put me in the mood for a cup of coffee (sans the fish). Time to brew up a fresh pot!

I hope you enjoyed this installment of The Dark Side of Conversion.


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Posted in Conversion, How To, Marketing
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