How Not to Make Your Website Look Like an Ad

Thu, Sep 10, 2009

Copywriting, Web Design / Usability

We all know that some websites are created simply to procure ad placements. With every mote of informative content and helpful text, the surfer on such sites is hammered by inline ads and pop-ups. While advertising is the bread and butter of this website, I see no good reason to turn it into a giant ad. It’s tacky and looks desperate. Though I’m certainly not averse to sales, I don’t think it’s a good idea to shove my sales pitch down my intended consumers’ throats. It may choke them!

Your readers should find it easy to discover information about the product or service you’re pushing on your website. By all means highlight the product’s advantages, just don’t get too carried away and resort to hype and starry-sky promises that you know are too good to be true. This will only make your readers wonder if what they are getting is accurate information.

Here’s what you should do:

Tell the truth

Be open about the product or service you are promoting. Give your prospects the kind of general information that will answer their queries and satisfy their curiosity. Do not focus on the particular brand you are representing. Instead, think of your service or product’s claim to uniqueness. For example, if your site is made to promote a weight loss product with the main ingredient as L-Carnitine, you could write an in-depth report on what L-Carnitine can do. Write about the benefits of this particular ingredient. Explain why the ingredients L-Carnitine is combined with in your product offer better benefits than L-Carnitine alone (because L-Carnitine is also found in other weight loss products.)

Why provide factual, detailed information? Most people go on the Internet to look for information. This means that before they buy a product or avail themselves of a service, they want to do their research. They want to find out if they are making a good decision. They don’t browse the Net looking for ads–in fact, people prefer sites that don’t have ads distracting them from what they are reading or looking at. If the site comes across one big ad, it will be off-putting.

On the other hand… don’t bombard

If you want your site to be successful in both providing information and selling products and services, you should focus the most important and attractive details. While your reader is looking for information, he or she will not appreciate being swamped with unnecessary detail. Unnecessary information in this case includes things that may be hard facts, but are not really the stuff that people want to know. Just include easy to digest, relevant information–something readers always need and enjoy.

Adopt a logical, unbiased voice

Though you are promoting your product, do not disparage competing products. Instead, concentrate on promoting yours without any obvious hype. Just focus on your product’s good points while providing scientific (or at least logical) explanations and justifications. Reference legitimate research whenever you can. Consumers want to see good research.

If you sound like a retarded gonzo hype machine, your audience will regard you with suspicion. Is the product or service really that good? How can it be that good? Just state positives and back your statements up with facts. (Interestingly, people will trust you more if you are willing to share both pros and cons. This suggests to them that you respect their intelligence and that you want them to be properly informed.)

Be professional

Your site must not look like a bazaar selling novelties. You don’t want an online version of a print ad. Use clean, minimalist, professional-looking designs.

Convince your readers

This relates directly to all the above-mentioned tips. If you provide relevant and adequate information while being logical and unbiased, you will be able to convince readers to buy your product or service. Remember–you don’t have to act like a desperate salesman. Go the tasteful route. Provide content that will make the readers really think about your product or service.

Subtlety is the key to good sales and building customer loyalty. You have to make people believe that it was their idea to buy the product or service. You just happened to provide the information that led to their purchase.

Even though you are selling something, you do not have to have your site look like one big, fat, sleazy ad.

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13 Responses to “How Not to Make Your Website Look Like an Ad”

  1. Friday Says:

    Very helpful post. This one’s got me: Remember– you don’t have to act like a desperate salesman. Go the tasteful route.

    I kinda like remember I read about features versus benefits. Might as well consider that it’s better to state the benefits when selling services/ products.


  2. Nhoel Says:

    Well, my blog was decorated with adsense. it’s ads-packed but i always intend to give useful information to my visitors.

    -Nhoel of
    .-= Nhoel´s last blog ..Eight Reasons Why I Like Google Chrome =-.


  3. K9 Says:

    Don’t over sugarcoat. Customers know when ads are going overboard. Let the product speak for itself.


  4. Money-Era Says:

    Another proof that blogging is not get rich quick scheme and requires a lot of effort to get credibility and audience.
    Thanks for refueling my energy levels.
    .-= Money-Era´s last blog ..How much does 1 million e-mail addresses cost? =-.


  5. GoBusiness101 Says:

    hey, you can visit my site and evaluate and support my sponsors. tanx for the tip
    .-= GoBusiness101´s last blog ..How LinkedIn’s founder got started =-.


  6. R.W. Jackson Says:

    I am a believer in this as well, though I would also point out that sales have never been subtle. I worked in sales over several periods of my life and the sad fact is, the guys who make the sale are usually the ones who are shoving the information down the client’s throat, they may choke, but they do make the purchase.

    It’s a hard line for me to cross or straddle, I’m trying to figure it out, but without too much luck so far. You’re article is certainly helpful in finding the right position for myself.

    All the best,

    .-= R.W. Jackson´s last blog ..Make money blogging – 10 easy lessons =-.


    • Mogul Says:

      Yeah I guess it can come down to whether or not you’re going for the quick “love ‘em and leave ‘em” sale or whether you’re trying to establish long-term relationships and cultivate loyalty in your prospects.

      I don’t doubt that an aggressive approach can be more effective in the short term, but in the long term it causes too much “customer churn” and will stop you from building a following/customer base.


  7. Josh Zehtabchi Says:

    Great advice I wish more would follow. 9 out of 10 websites now look like ONE HUGE advertisement.

    It’s almost depressing and not to mention drives the end user (me) crazy trying to find content and not click on ads that will open in new windows and resize my browser screen.
    .-= Josh Zehtabchi´s last blog ..About V2interactive: =-.


  8. Adsense Says:

    These tips are helpful and all notes are noted. Thanks for sharing them.


  9. Andre Arnett Says:

    This is a very helpful post. I would like to think that my blog is not one big ad and that I can provide value and knowledge to my readers.
    .-= Andre Arnett´s last blog ..7 Super Tips On Using PLR Articles =-.


  10. Fran Jeanes Says:

    As repellent as real life sales people can be when they are desperate for a sale, so too can a website trying too hard to get a sale. If a site gets enough traffic the site owner might not care how obtrusive their sales message is, however, I for one will click away immediately if I feel I am being pushed too heavily. This post is food for a webmaster’s thought.


  11. alex farguson Says:

    Hello. Great job. I did not expect this on a Wednesday. This is a great story. Thanks!


  12. Louise Says:

    Instead of “we, we, weeing” all over the website, focus on “you, you, you” to resonate with your visitors’ needs. Describe the desired outcome from working with you or buying your product. Make them feel it.


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