Digital Marketing Strategies to Avoid

Digital Marketing Strategies to Avoid
The Twitter Hump and Dump

9 Digital Marketing Strategies to Avoid at All Costs

9 Digital Marketing Strategies to Avoid before Annoying Your Audience!
9 Digital Marketing Strategies to Avoid before Annoying Your Audience!

If you are active online, you have no doubt encountered many of these annoying digital marketing strategies that you wished online marketers would have avoided.

It amazes me that individuals and companies use these online marketing strategies to begin with as I question their efficacy and more importantly, their negative impacts to brands.

Based on our experience online, here are nine digital marketing strategies to avoid. Consider yourself warned 🙂

#1 Email SPAM – We all know what a personal drain email SPAM is on our own inbox management. If we dislike email SPAM so much, why would we think that others would appreciate and respond positively to our unsolicited emails? #1 digital marketing strategy to avoid is email spam Sending email SPAM violates federal regulations in the US referred to as the CAN-SPAM Act. Other countries have similar regulations for email communications. Fines in the US for spamming can be over $10,000 per incident so think twice before buying a bunch of  “opt-in” 3rd-party email lists or attempting to harvest email addresses from websites.

#2 The auto newsletter – a more organized specialization of #1 where an email “marketer” signs up  email addresses to a newsletter that the email address owners did not want, opt-in or otherwise give the sender permission to email market to them. Just because someone provides their business card at a networking event or happens to be in your contact list, it does not mean they gave anyone permission to add them to an email marketing list.

Sending unwanted (unsolicited) newsletters not only violates the CAN-SPAM Act here in the US, it makes it highly likely the recipient will immediately unsubscribe and in the very best case, question the senders level of business competency and in the worst case, question their ethics.

The Twitter Hump and Dump
The Twitter Hump and Dump

#3 The Twitter Hump and Dump – otherwise known as the Twitter Yo-Yo. It goes something like this. A Twitter user follows you and if you don’t follow them back in 60 minutes or less, they will unfollow you.

Some may stay followers for a bit longer, maybe days or even a week. Many of these kinds of follows are enabled by software automating the process of building Twitter profiles and gaining followers. These Twitter users are clearly aimed at one goal: to pump up their profile follower count at your expense.

These profiles frequently unfollow as many previously followed users as possible so that they can follow more new profiles, all in an effort to get follow-backs. They are not interested in contributing to the conversation or adding value to anyone but themselves.

Many are bots adding to the online debris field the Internet is becoming.

#4 The Twitter auto response direct message SPAM – e.g. “thanks for the follow, now follow me on Facebook” even though you have not used my product or services.

Twitter follow auto-response
Twitter follow auto-response – Give ME MORE!

This approach screams narcissism. As if following them was not enough of a benefit, they immediately move on to the next goal advancing their online cause, usually involving activity to build their audience on other channels, even before the new follower gets a chance to know them on Twitter.

Since these direct messages are easy to spot as auto responders triggered immediately after a follow, this strategy is not only annoying, but highly impersonal and insincere. In fact, these direct messages often make followers question their decision to follow the “offender” resulting in a % of subsequent unfollows.

#5 Facebook Faux Pas –  which is simply when someone that you are friends with on Facebook asks you to like their Facebook page. Now don’t get me wrong, for a true friend, liking their Facebook page is a no-brainer which we would all be glad to do. Right? (all should be nodding heads up and down vigorously)

The Facebook Faux Pas
The Facebook Faux Pas – 426 Requests to Like Pages for Products/Services Never Used!?!

But for the person whom was added on Facebook after a friend request following a chance meeting at a networking event or who is just an acquaintance, then not so much. A good rule of thumb is that if someone has not personally experienced your product / service / business / brand, then don’t ask them to like your Facebook page. That is unless you consider them a friend outside of Facebook or they are family.

#6 Comment SPAM – Use automated software to dump as many SPAM comments (like mouse droppings) on the Internet as you can making it super easy for Google to identify and penalize your site for unnatural links. I wonder what part of the Internet this marketing tactic still works?

Comment Spam - Just Don't Do it!
Comment SPAM – Just Say No!

Maybe on Bing or Yahoo! which are less focused on unnatural links. It’s a good thing for Akismet and similar plugins that help to filter these kinds of crap comments. Anyone who has a blog knows what I am talking about. These kinds of strategies clog up the blog ecosystem, killing productivity.

#7 Community SPAM – Post the same duplicate content blog post in as many Internet communities as you can and then wonder why your post, which has been marked by Google as SPAM, does not show up. Then continue reposting, joining marginally relevant communities just to repost the same duplicate content, and then wonder why your posts never show up.

Example of Community Spam from the Internet Marketing Community on Google+
Example of Community SPAM from the Internet Marketing Community on Google+

Now that’s what I call link building! Somehow that’s not what I think the Google+, Authorship and Authorank experts had in mind when they talk about using Google+ to add value and build authority. This behavior will not provide any benefits to the Google+ user or the content they are posting.

#8 The Intersital Ad – You, know, those big FUs you see that standing between you and the content you just a clicked a link to navigate to. It’s a distant cousin of the Twitter auto response direct message SPAM. Intersital ads are like asking for a second blind date before you go on first one!

Intersital Example of Popular SEO Blog
Intersital Example from a Popular SEO Blog

To be fair, most, but not all intersitals, are fairly easy to close. We view intersitals as barriers to utility making those who encounter them question whether or not they want to subject their social networks to the same kind of FU. The outcome is that intersital ads inhibits social sharing.

Some of these publication’s users already subscribe and in those cases, the intersital intrusion is wholly unnecessary and counterproductive. A much more palatable approach is to provide something of value and then ask the reader at the end of the valuable piece of content, if they would like to be added to your email list to get other high value content delivered directly to their inbox.

The conversion rates may suffer with this alternate approach, but will likely be offset by more social shares resulting in broader reach of your content.

#9 Bait and Switch Headlines and Emails Subjects – As content marketing fills our newsfeeds in our social networks, readers rely heavily on headlines to decide what to click on and where to spend valuable time and attention. This same headline scanning technique has been perfected by newspaper readers for decades. Many do the same for subject lines within their inbox.

Bait and Switch Headlines and Email Subjects Mislead
Bait and Switch Headlines and Email Subjects Mislead

Tricking people into reading an article, email or post by promoting them with misleading titles and subject lines wastes people’s valuable time.

This strategy is likely to drive traffic in the short term, while at the same time increasing a web site’s bounce rate and yielding reader backlash in the comments. Wasting people’s time with bait and switch headlines is a good way to put your brand in the penalty box with readers.

When writing content, think 6th grade writing skills and remember that everything in the article should flow from and support the content title/headline/subject line.


There are plenty of positive online marketing strategies to use without resorting to the above flawed digital marketing strategies that should be avoided.

Use digital marketing strategies to bolster your brand, no sully it. One can never go wrong with sincerity and adding value.

Let us know in the comments which of the above items annoy you the most and/or add annoying strategies that we have missed.


Rick Noel is an experienced digital marketer enabling businesses and organizations to grow through the Internet, while maximizing marketing ROI (Return On Investment). Rick is the CEO and Co-Founder of eBiz ROI, Inc., a full-service digital marketing agency located in Ballston Lake, NY.

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