News article

10 marketing mistakes guaranteed to annoy potential clients

You can’t please all the people all the time and nor should you try too.

However, there are some things which are just plain wrong and guaranteed to annoy potential clients.

If you’re a regular reader of our blogs, I’m sure you won’t be guilty of any on the list. Have a read anyway though, just in case one or two have crept through!

1. Making it hard to unsubscribe

Legally you need to give anyone who receives your newsletter (or other marketing emails) the opportunity to unsubscribe.

It’s good practice to make it easy for someone to unsubscribe. Make the link easy to find, don’t hide it by using different colour text or significantly smaller font. Also, make the process as slick and pain-free as possible once they’ve clicked the unsubscribe button.

If they want to leave, why make it hard? They’ll only resent you for it.

2. Failing to comply with unsubscribe requests

There’s a well know wine merchant who, no matter what I do, insists on continuing to send me marketing emails. I’ve unsubscribed numerous times, sent social media messages, replied to their emails. Nothing. No matter what I try, I still get their emails.

My current view of their brand? It’s not positive and I won’t shop there again.

As I said, if someone wants to leave, let them. Doing otherwise is a monumentally majestic mistake.

3. Not responding to online enquiries

We’re a growing business and decided we needed some HR support. I submitted an online request to a firm I’d been recommended to. No response. I sent another email to a firm of solicitors we were considering working with on another project. No response.

The consequences of not responding are obvious; lost business and someone who could have been a useful advocate now being the opposite.

If you’ve got an online enquiry form on your website (and we recommend that you do) check that they are being received and followed up. It’s also worth making sure your website stores a copy of the form just in case your email fails.

4. Pop-ups on your website

I recently visited an adviser’s website only to be immediately hit with two pop-ups offering different things. The two calls to action were competing against each other and were hard to dismiss stopping me from reading the rest of the site.

It was just too much too soon.

Potential clients visit your website because they have a trigger; a financial problem they want to solve or aspiration they’d like to achieve. If you are going to turn them from a visitor into a prospect you need to convince them that you’re the person to help. Not annoy them with pop-ups for things which are important to you, but perhaps not to them.

Unless you’ve got evidence to show the pop-ups are working, give your visitors a break and ditch them.

5. Making personalisation mistakes

There’s no doubt that personalising your marketing emails and newsletters (either in the subject line or at the start of the content) increases open rates and engagement.

But only if you get it right! We’ve all received emails which start: “Dear <insert first name>” or with your surname in the wrong field. For example, “Dear Bray”.

Makes you feel special doesn’t it?

If you’re going to the effort of personalisation,  ensure the emails are set up correctly. Also, if you’re importing data from your back office make sure (where necessary) that you substitute the clients first name with their known by name. For example, Bob instead of Robert, Jo instead of Joanne. It’s little touches like that which show you care and make a world of difference to clients.

6. The dangers of BCC

I received an email message recently from our local council. To save time all the recipients’ email addresses had been cut and pasted into the message. However, rather than blind copying everyone in, the sender used the CC function.

The result? All recipients could see each other’s email address.

In the age of online fraud that’s bound to annoy some people. It also shows the sender has lax systems and processes, and a poor attitude to data security. Imagine the damage to your reputation with clients if you made the same mistake?

If you’re going to send emails to multiple recipients using a bespoke system, such as Mail Chimp or Dotmailer, will prevent you from making the same mistake.

7. Broken or incorrect links on your website

You’ve got your visitor’s attention; they’ve clicked a link on your site only to find it’s broken. It’s a simple but easy mistake to make but nevertheless annoying to your website visitors.

The remedy? Some people might suggest avoiding outbound links altogether. We wouldn’t recommend that as it impacts the visitor’s experience and Google will frown upon it. Better to include the links your visitors need and check every so often that they are still working.

8. Using misleading subject lines

You want as many people to open your email newsletters and marketing communications as possible.

But not at any price. As I mentioned a few weeks ago, a marketing agency once emailed me with the subject line: “Your website is down.” They certainly grabbed my attention and I opened their email, but they pissed me off. The result? I unsubscribed.

The same applies to fake reply indications (Fw: and so on) – they are misleading and best avoided.

It’s a fine line to tread but try to keep your subject lines both honest yet enticing.

9. Websites which don’t work on mobile devices

Our adviser website index shows that the majority of traffic to your website will be via desktop devices. However, a third or so will probably from mobiles and tablets.

If your site isn’t optimised for these devices you will find your engagement levels (including time spent on the site per visit, number of pages viewed and bounce rate) will be lower than for visits on a desktop. Google Analytics will tell you if you’ve got a problem.

You can sort this problem, and avoid annoying visitors, by ensuring your site is optimised for desktop, tablet and mobile.

10. Adverts which send people to your website under false pretences

Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising on Google or social media is a great way of generating new enquiries.

However, you’ve got to be authentic. If you’ve promised a useful guide on, for example, retirement options, that’s what you’ve got to deliver. You’ve got to add value too. The guide can’t simply be a sales tool, it has to benefit the reader.


As we said at the start of this blog, I’m sure you’re not consciously guilty of any of these mistakes. No one’s perfect though, so it’s probably worth checking, just in case!

If you’ve seen any other mistakes which we’ve not included, please let us know. In the meantime, if you are making any of those we’ve listed and you’d like our help to fix them, please get in touch.

Stay in touch


Sign up to receive our hints, tips & ideas to improve your marketing.
As you’d expect, we’ll never pass your details to anyone else and if you don’t like what we have to say, you can unsubscribe at any time.