The scenarios I am about to present to you are not like: kids, don’t try this at home! (which we both know that you look forward to if you get the opportunity).
The following scenarios can and will cause you a lot of damage from which it will be very difficult to recover. They took companies bankrupt, destroyed partnerships and got people fired.
Treat them with lots of caution and avoid them at all times!
Don’t: Redesign website and change all your URLs
Do this, and you’ll lose most if not all of the website traffic. Links from other websites will stop working. Google will stop ranking your website. Social media websites will fill with complaints of broken links on your website. It will take ages to recover.
As a best practice, if you have to redesign your website, don’t change the URLs.
If you do have to change the URL’s, make sure to follow documented guidelines. This way, any scars from losing your old URLs will heal soon.
Never: Store passwords in clear text
Never, never store passwords in clear text on your databases. It’s like tweeting from a beach far away that you left 1 million dollars on your dining table and you forgot to lock the door of your house.
Thieves will need to find your address, but that might be easier than you think with how much data is available online today.
The same goes with stored plaintext passwords. Outlaws will need to hack into your server, but that might be easier than you think.
It happened to Sony and it can happen to you. Sony had the cash to mitigate the harm, but the lost trust is something that will take a very long time to recover from.
You don’t know how are passwords stored on your server? Ask your developer. It is amazing how many developers still choose to not encrypt or hash passwords.
Not even: Make it impossible to unsubscribe
Email marketing had a huge impact for Obama’s re-election. However, once the campaign was over, the email marketing list was offered to Alliance For Peacebuilding.
Obama had amazing emails, AfP has terrible ones. Not being interested in their offer of content, I decided to unsubscribe: a nightmare experience. This is how not to implement an unsubscribe process:
- Clicked the Unsubscribe link in their most recent newsletter
- I was asked for a username and password that I never set
- I had to recover the password from their website (to which I’ve never been before)
- Managed to log in and change my subscription options but there was no way to delete all my data from their website
- Went back to inbox and marked the email as Spam
Here is another worst example on how to get people to unsubscribe:
Make it impossible to unsubscribe and your deliverability rate will suffer to the point that most emails won’t reach your subscribers.
Want to do it right? Check out 6 best practice tips for email unsubscribe pages.
Everybody hates spam. Don’t fool yourself that your content is not spam just because you make it look nice. If people didn’t ask for it, it’s spam.
The awful thing about spam is that if you are ever labeled as a spammer, that label will almost never get away.
In a former working place, we used to submit articles to journalists and bloggers, a common practice about 6 years ago. One blogger replied saying that they do not cover our industry and asked us to stop sending articles to him. We ignored him. He asked for a second time but no one even bothered to read his email.
A few weeks later, on the first page of Google search results for our company name, there it was: a nasty article calling us Spammers. It took more than 3 years to take that down and probably a big chunk of lost leads and customers.
Don’t: Ask contact details before introducing yourself
It’s like being at the wrong time, with the wrong people and saying the wrong things.
People just get to your website, they don’t even know what it is about and there it slaps them on the face: a pop-up asking for their email address.
Yes, it will get you subscribers, but don’t bet on high quality. Bounce rates will go through the roof and potential customers will be lost.
Once or twice we’ve seen this method work when targeting only returning visitors, but even then it is advisable to use more advanced targeting rules.
Your turn now. What other actions should be a big No-No!