What it’s like to experience click bait in real life


Post by Nicole Williams, Marketing Consultant, Heinz Marketing, Inc.


The scenario:

We’re at a Summit (possibly one that took place recently). The session title and description really pulled us in, promising actionable learning we’d be able to take right back to the office. Templates, workflows, and best practices. Sounded great. No wonder the place was packed as we filtered in, found our seats, and waited for the session to start.

By the time the session was half over, almost half of the seats were empty. We’d been had. Click-baited. As the rest of us quickly got up after the session ended (there were certainly no questions for the Q and A segment), I overheard more than one frustrated comment from other attendees that we’d all just “sat there like jackasses” while the presenters wasted our time. Those of us who hadn’t left in the middle wished we had.

This session became a bit of a running joke and a conversation starter with other attendees at the conference. It even came up on my shared ride back to the airport. This kind of buzz was likely not what the session’s presenters were hoping for. We left with a bad taste in our mouths and will probably not buy or recommend their solution.

The rewind:

How did this fall apart on them so royally?

It started with the session title and summary. They did not deliver what they promised. Instead of giving us useful insights, we were treated to a 50 minute product pitch. Although the examples of the potential growth were interesting, the methods and techniques promised in the session introduction were only possible if one was using the product.

The reason we were all there—the reason there was only standing room in the back before the session started—was so that we could learn something. To get information that would make us all successful. The only thing we learned was how the product worked. And even then, not entirely. For so many of us who have little time to spare already, it was alienating to be treated as if our time was dispensable.

And there was the finishing touch—two people stationed at the exits to scan our badges without asking or giving context. You can bet I squeezed past them without giving them a scan of my badge with a brief “No, thanks.”

The whole experience was jarring and left us more than a little cranky. We’d been victims of real-life click-bait, sucked in by enticing promises that didn’t deliver. Worse still, after giving us little of value, they took (or tried to take) our information to use however they pleased, without our permission.

The lessons:

What can we take from experiences like this? This isn’t the first (nor will it be the last) session like this at a conference. So how do we look at examples of pitches gone wrong and decide how we’ll present ourselves to our own potential customers, both at industry events and through digital channels?
To me, there were 3 big lessons to be learned here:

Deliver what you promise. This may seem like a no-brainer, but if you’re putting on a webinar or offering an e-book that promises tangible methods or tips, make sure you actually have those methods and tips in your content. Same goes for an ad’s click through landing page or your web page content. Especially now, so much of the success of communication with prospects hinges on whether they’re getting what they’re expecting to get. Give your prospects exactly what you told them you would—this makes for a better user experience and gives them reasons to trust you.

Educate and they will come. Give the people what they want—valuable information. If you give away your knowledge instead of exclusively attaching it to your product, leads will trust you as a source of quality information, and they’ll keep coming back to you until they’re ready to buy. And guess who they’ll give their money to?

Remember:  Use of contact information is a privilege, not a right—This is why segments of your database that contain inbound leads consistently outperform purchased lists; we see it time and time again. People who have volunteered their information to you are not only prepared to hear from you, they’ve asked to hear from you. When you do use their information, deliver content that shows that you respect their decision to give you their information. Constant barrages of product information is an easy way to get your leads to “check out” (be that walking out of a room or hitting unsubscribe) fast.

Let’s face it, all businesses are after the same goal: at the end of the day, you’re looking for leads who will ultimately buy your product. But the way your business approaches interactions with potential customers can make the difference between alienating your audience and winning devoted advocates.