How to Alienate Customers, Lose Sales, and Get People to Unsubscribe.

Let’s have some fun, shall we?

I’ve been scrolling (but only mildly trolling) the internet for a few years now, and I’ve started to amass quite a bit of what I can only call:

Epic Marketing Fails! 

From experts in digital marketing, to brand new startups, I’ve been taking screenshots of anyone who happens to goof up on their website in a hilarious way.

And now it’s time I share these disasters, and some lessons learned, with you.

But first…

I need to be clear that these marketing mistakes could happen to any of us, and the one lesson we can all learn from these epic fails is that you need to double check everything you do, especially with your website… And especially with mobile.

Okay… Let the insanity ensue:


Alt Text Fail

Alt text fail

Description: Neil used an image exclaiming that you should use Alt text in all your images to give a description of that image. His alt text reads, “image24.”

Let’s start this off with a bang!

I mean it’s literally an image that is telling you the importance of using alt tags in images… And yet…

I’m a huge fan of Neil Patel and have had the pleasure of meeting him in person. He’s so good at SEO, he doesn’t even need to listen to his own advice (I’m actually not kidding).

I’ve sent him 3 or 4 Tweets about how his images don’t have alt text and it’s a pain to Pin them to Pinterest because of this. We’ve written in the past about how to optimize image alt text and why that’s important for search engines and social sharing, but what strikes me is that he still hasn’t listened.

I know he doesn’t completely manage his entire website, but it seems like a quick fix.

And he can pay someone $400 to fix all of the alt text across the site and probably see a very small SEO boost (and then he could blog about it and make a million dollars, because that’s what Neil Patel does!)

Lesson: Use alt tags in your images, especially images that reference using alt tags in your images…


Double Direct Mail Fail

ClickFunnels Direct Mail Fail

Description: Got two pieces of direct mail from ClickFunnels with hand-written notes while wearing their schwag.

[Affiliate Link] Clickfunnels is a good company, with some epic internet marketers at the helm. (Yes, I’m still going to promote them as an affiliate. They are good people.)

I have to use the term “internet marketers,” because they are still using a lot of online marketing tactics that really just fit that IM yuckiness.

I’m not saying they aren’t good at what they do, simply that they toss dollar bills in the air, use tons of bolds, and try to pressure you into the next best thing.

And I’m OK with that.

I do it sometimes and I get it, so I can’t hate.

But I do try to distance myself from IM and move more towards digital marketer or growth hacker.

So I was already wearing my ClickFunnels shirt in support of their pretty cool product, when I got 2 letters in the mail from them telling me to join them for an upcoming conference.

Oopsie, two letters, whatever…

But it’s the personalized note at the top of both letters that makes this an epic fail. It reads:

“Derric, please call if you don’t have your ticket yet! XXX-XXX-XXXX –Ben”

This “double note” destroys the illusion of it being a personalized note and makes it clear that they sent this exact letter out to everyone. Oopsie…

One more thing about the letter, is that it’s a high-pressure sales pitch disguised as an email between two of the founders/execs of ClickFunnels and even has a fake confidentiality note at the bottom…

It’s WAY over the top, and when you are marketing to marketers about a marketing conference, I prefer being sincere and genuine. I’d rather hear about the value, the speakers, and the people. This letter made my maybe into a no.

I’m sure they sold lots of tickets, and I wish I could have been there still, but I decided I didn’t want to be sold for an entire conference with upsells and masterminds and yada yada. Which is what their tactics here are portraying to me.

Lesson: Remove duplicates from your email list and mailing list. Sort by name or address rather than email address. Sometimes one person will subscribe with 2 different emails by accident and it pays to quickly browse through (even if its 10,000 subscribers) or pay a VA to browse through your list.

[Tweet “Remove duplicate contacts so you don’t destroy the illusion of personalization in your marketing.”]


Stellar Team Fail

Team Fail

Description: Their company is run by triplets…

No wonder they are growth wizards! They learned how to duplicate themselves!

We all know what happened here, but just for a quick LOL I wanted to throw this in the mix.

There is a difference between a website MVP and a website that is not ready for traffic yet and Growth Wizards should know the difference.

[Tweet “There is a difference between a website MVP and a website that is not ready for traffic yet”]

We are supposed to trust you with driving traffic to our website. Attention to detail is going to be pretty important… But we all make marketing mistakes, so I forgive you.

Lesson: Double and triple check your page content before pushing it live. Have a few friends navigate your site in the early days and ask them to see if they can find anything that is broken, so you can fix it. Same goes with apps and tech products.


Social Proof Fail


Description: Nothing says social proof like “lorem ipsum.” This is clearly a fake tweet…

Social Proof Fail

I was browsing through this site and came to the pricing page – the MOST important page on any product-oriented or SaaS website – when I saw this great taint of social proof staring me in the face.

I mean, talk about a trust breakdown. Now I have to wonder what else is completely fake on the site, or at best incomplete.

I just checked and this account has been suspended. So thank you GridCoder for forgetting to fix your “Lorem ipsum” statement and saving me from considering this product for one more minute.

Lesson: If you are going to add social proof to your website, make sure you add social proof to your website. And make it real or people will find out! And maybe, spend a little extra time double checking the most important page of your website for issues…


Get Demo Fail

Get Demo Fail

Description: Where am I supposed to get what demo?

I just love that the arrows are telling us, “Go away, swipe left or right, but please don’t hit this button.”

This is a B2B SaaS company in the marketing tech space (they do analytics) with a fair amount of yearly revenue… Yet they have not noticed that their website isn’t optimized for mobile in the slightest…

Who’s going to trust this site? Even if I come back later on desktop, I could never take them seriously. And their homepage is a bit outdated and has some other red flags for “spammy or scammy.”


Lesson: Remove arrows on mobile because they will never point in the right direction. Make sure your line height is set to the same or more than your font size.


Opt-in Fail

Marketo Opt In Fail

Description: An image covers the CTA and is literally preventing me from clicking the button.

Even the marketers at Marketo aren’t immune to making epic marketing mistakes…

Of course, when I showed this to them, they blamed it on my screen resolution…

How many leads did they lose from this? Who knows?

Is it an epic fail? Hell yes.

They wanted this image to be a little cool and stand out on the page, but that comes at the cost of sometimes not working. It’s just not worth it.


Lesson: You won’t catch all the errors all the time, so try to keep things simple and avoid “technical debt” – which is another way of saying the more bells and whistles you add, the more things that will explode and you will have to fix later.


[Tweet “The more bells and whistles you add to your site, the more things you might have to fix later.”]


Party Blog Fail

Party blogs fail

Description: This is a lonely party…

What else can I say? I was looking up party blogs and did one of those, “heh, awww…” moments. It’s sad, but it’s funny.


Lesson: Maybe your Facebook group should be public if you want a lot of people to join. Save private for some sort of gated or “customer only” group.


Reasons Your Facebook Group Sucks | SplashU


InfusionSoft Test Email Fail

Test email fail infusionsoft

Description: The email looks great, but when I sent a test email to myself, they sent me a blank template!

I was about to email my whole list an empty email with “add your text here” on it…

Luckily I decided to send a test to myself one more time…

To say I’m pissed about this bug is an understatement. Had I not triple checked the email after making a minor change, I would have been in big trouble with my list.

I told InfusionSoft about this issue and they were basically like, “We are coming out with a new email builder soon.” Great, how about you don’t sell me a $250/month piece of $*!% to begin with though. Maybe that bug should have been sorted out a few years ago…

So I don’t use InfusionSoft anymore…

Lesson: Work with companies that solve bugs fast and care about their product enough to stay on the leading edge of their industry. And you can never test an email enough before sending to a large list. (OK you just need to test it once thoroughly, that’s enough).


TV Social Proof Fail

Wendys Twitter Social Proof Fail

Description: Wendy’s is boasting about all the fake Tweets they got on national television.

When someone doesn’t have a personalized profile picture, you probably shouldn’t put them on television!

I’m not sure why they did this, if the Tweets are fake, or if their marketing team was like, “Yeahp, those faceless avatars look great for the commercial,” but I do know that it makes me trust Wendy’s less (which is hard).

Lesson: Make sure you run your Tweet selection by your Social Media Manager before using eggheads as your social proof on national television.


Home Office Fail

Home Office Fail

Description: Woman uses stock photo to pretend she has a nice setup and gets BUSTED.

This one came across my newsfeed a while back and it was just an epic fail. But it gets worse…

After the woman gets caught, she pretends that it was some sort of mistake. Yeah, like you didn’t put up your own logo on that laptop and just tell everyone that’s what your desk looks like.

Kermit does not approve of your false claims | SplashU

Lesson: Don’t lie to people, they will find out. When they find out, admit guilt because hiding it even more makes you look really dishonest. Would you do business with this woman?


Facebook Memories Fail

Facebook Memories Fail

Description: Facebook (correctly) thinks I’m an alcoholic.

Wow Facebook, you know me so well.

I would like to share this “memory” from 5 years ago. I mean, I was just hanging out with my son at the park and this comes up in my newsfeed as if I hadn’t matured at all in the last 5 years…

Yeah, I posted it. Duh!


Lesson: Some product features can come back to bite ya. They got lucky with this one, but what if someone else had a picture of an abusive ex come up? Or a dead family member (or dead pet, which seems to happen to my wife every single day…)? Facebook is playing with fire and could alienate some users with this feature.


That’s it for now…

But to keep the fun going… I found you a list of terrible pop-ups you might want to LOL at.

So what about you? Ever seen any epic fails while you were out trolling the interwebs? I’d love to share them on this post here, just send them to me, @SixPeppers on Twitter.

And if this post was as epic as those fails, let me know your favorite in the comments below. Thanks for goofing off with me.

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Derric Haynie