Website Offerings: Don’t Advertise What You Don’t Have

It wouldn’t make a lot of sense to advertise a product or service that you couldn’t provide, would it?  Yet that’s what many websites currently do.  They manage to create interest, get a user to take action, and deliver . . . nothing.  This most commonly happens with newsletters, downloads, or trial offers.  If you offer something, deliver it.

While this can happen on any offer (i.e. downloads or trial offers don’t email the document or link to an active page), it happens the most with email newsletters.  “Sign up for our newsletter” is prominently posted on the site.  A handful of people are intrigued and put their information in.  Then they wait, and wait, and wait until finally, nothing happens.  So the best case is the user doesn’t remember signing up for the newsletter and forgets your organization exists, the worst case is they remember and carry a negative opinion of your ability to deliver what is promised.  Neither option is very appealing. 

Thankfully there are some easy solutions to this problem.  The first, either do a newsletter or don’t. Commit to it and have a plan. If you can’t commit to it, don’t offer it on the site.  Too often people set up the offer waiting for a flood of people and neglect the handful that come in.  Have a plan for an interrim solution or don’t get started because most companies will have that in between time of sending to less than 100 people.  The other common mistake is doing half a dozen newsletters, posting them to the site and abandoning the project.  This is even more detrimental.  Every visitor can see the original attempt, which is typically poor, and how long before you gave up.  It’s like an advertisement not to sign up for the newsletter because despite what you say, it doesn’t exist anymore.  You’re showing visitors how good you are at not delivering on a promise.  Again if you don’t do a newsletter anymore, get it off the site, even the archives.  People will notice a 2 year lull in your weekly newsletter.  Incidentally this same rule applies to a business blog, if you’re not going to post, remove it.

Don’t advertise what you don’t have.  Downloads, trial offers, newsletters, and yes, blogs can all be valuable tools on your website.  But a tool is only valuable if its used.  If you’re going to have them, use them.  Have a plan to maintain it and look to make it as efficient as possible.  If you do give it a go and can’t make it a valuable part of your marketing, then stop doing it but get rid of it everywhere.  At least visitors will know what you’re offering and what you’re not offering and will see only what you plan to deliver. 

– Eric

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