Ok, so this is bound to get me some name calling from colleagues but I’m talking about the amorphous and wide-ranging ‘act of Marketing’ rather than a department or individuals…
Why ? Well I’ve just worked out (after getting annoyed by an email from Google for their totally pointless AdWords service †) what the root cause of my recent outburst about SEO fluff articles was all about, and it’s nicely represented by the shill article on Wikipedia describing the ‘Call To Action’:
Check footnote number 3, allegedly a reference citing more information about converting a ‘user into a lead’ is actually just linkage to a page selling a book on how wonderful CTA is as a marketing tool. (This also exposes the single most obvious elephant-in-the-room issue with Wikipedia’s insistence on citations without any deeper reason, but I digress).
The Wikipedia definition (not the sales pitch on the page) says:
In marketing, a call to action (CTA) is an instruction to the audience to provoke an immediate response, usually using an imperative verb such as “call now to find out more” or “visit a store today”.
A quote from that shill (emphasis theirs):
“…in a world where potential buyers do most of their research online before ever engaging a salesperson.”
That’s right – in the very same breath that Marketing staff are (finally) noticing that real information is more valuable than bright colours when it comes to making the sale, they are demanding an imperative statement to force customers back into old habits.
Why, if we (as individuals) want to research and shop online, would we ever want to visit a store for more information ? Those sites that offer details and information online are the winners here, and those that simply create an animated version of a half-page newspaper advert are dying whilst having such a lack of self-awareness they haven’t actually noticed how out of touch they are.
This is only good for a certain class of sales (TV’s, socks, etc.) where there really is no material difference between items – choose the colour, pick the price, check the availability and just buy it. Other types of sales do benefit from specialised knowledge or physical presence when choosing the goods (ie: finding a bicycle that fits is not a trivial task). This is, however, the exception rather than the rule, for B2C sales. And that’s before we come to sales such as furniture where the staff ought to be an asset and genuinely improve the customers satisfaction with the end product, but are stunningly awful (occasionally downright useless) at almost every turn – the last time I left a store because of the salesman it was a furniture store.
But I digress.
So what is really so annoying to me ? Other than the indignity of having to accept that I am a cookie-cutter-styled, trivially-substitutable paying customer ? The fact that for the most part, CTA’s are written in a demanding tone (this could be US English <> UK English sub-text misalignment) which basically tells us to spend money in order to do what we’ve always been doing. When I see “Increase Visitors with AdWords” I read “Pay money to do what you’ve done since before the web had ads”. SEO is an extreme example of demanding payment for little more than an attempt to second guess an automated algorithm which changes daily, but equally why would I want to “Call for the best price” when I know I want ?
† In the same way that other websites say that they use AdWords to pay for hosting and bandwidth costs, this site is driven 100% by the savings I make by never having paid for AdWords in any form or variety, and with the added bonus that I get to express my opinions any way I see fit rather than having arbitrary and 100% pointless forms of censorship aimed at me – read how public album art deemed suitable by record stores and individuals worldwide is now, somehow pornographic and illegal solely according to Google. They’re starting to make Facebook look more sane…