Annoying Things Marketers and Brands Do Online (That Probably Irritate You Too)

by Josh Barney

Maybe I’m just having one of those days…

…or maybe I’ve seen way too many irritating things on social and websites recently.

Pushing for more leads, conversions and social follows is amazing (I do it every-day), but a lot of these actions can completely destroy the user experience.

In the remainder of this post, I’m going to share some of the most annoying things that marketers do online, explain why they’re so irritating and what action they drive me to take.

And if this irritates me as a marketer (who loves seeing and discovering the latest marketing tactics in action) imagine what the average user thinks.

Here they are, in all their irritating glory:

facebook audiences ebook

Flashing Messages From Live Chat (in the browser tab)

I know that live chat is hot and yes, we implement a messaging service on Einstein Marketer, but when that chat tells me that I have ’19 messages waiting’ from a guy named John and it’s FLASHING in my browser tab…

…it just gets on my nerves.

live chat browser


If I’m reading, viewing content or have opened a tab that I haven’t quite got around to looking at yet and it’s flicking, flashing and moving about in my eye-line, it’s nothing short of irritating.

These things seem to be on tons of websites nowadays and I’m sure the brands who implement them say that it increases their messages and Messenger subscribers, but have they ever considered the MAJORITY who it annoys…

…and therefore leave the website and never visit again?

Why is it annoying?  

It’s intrusive and ruins my experience on a website.

How do I respond? 

I close the tab immediately, even if the page holds something I was searching for. I then look for alternatives that don’t have this annoying flashing ‘unread’ messages feature.


Live chat and messaging services are amazing tools for capturing more leads, helping users navigate your website and solving problems…

…I’d recommend them to anyone! But that doesn’t mean that you should add that irritating flashing message at the top of my browser!

There are plenty of ways to drive users to live chat that aren’t intrusive or annoying, the flashing message is just so annoying!

Pop-ups on Entrance

I’ve used (and still do use) pop-ups and they definitely have their advantages (particularly for collecting leads), but there are few more irritating things than entering a website, only to be immediately hit with a full page pop-up.


It forces me to take an action, either leave the page or click on the ‘x’…

…because I’m definitely not going to hand over my contact details straight away unless the offer is seriously irresistible.

Why is it annoying?

One of the most irritating things you can do (as a digital marketer or online brand) is to ask for something from a user before you’ve even offered anything.

Yes, I know that most of these entrance pop-ups are offering some sort of lead magnet in exchange, but how is a user supposed to judge the value of it when they haven’t even measured the quality of your content.

How do I respond?

50% of the time I leave the page. It tells me that the brand cares more about my contact details than they do about actually engaging me.

And with the other 50%, I close the pop-up, view the content and then exit afterwards (usually before being hit with at least one more pop-up).


Exit pop-ups can be a great way to save a bounce or a visitor going directly to a competitor.

If you insist on implementing pop-ups, go for the timed or exit version.

Social Media Spam

I don’t follow a lot of brands on social (from my personal account), but from the accounts that I do, I expect quality content…

…usually in the form of educational or entertaining posts.


But every so often, I follow a brand (that I’m really excited about) and they spam my feed with irrelevant, boring and repetitive posts.

This ‘spam’ can come in a few different forms:

  1. Constantly pushing their products on me (instead of providing any form of value)
  2. Posting 10 times a day in an attempt to completely dominate my feeds
  3. Posting the same type of post over and over again 

Why is it annoying?

Social media is a place to connect, learn, (occasionally) kill some time and keep up-to-date with my friends and the latest news.

I’m not there to have a brand repeatedly shove promotions or boring content in my face. Brands like this totally ruin the social media experience for their followers.

How do I respond?

I unfollow without a second thought. Why should I give brands like this even a tiny piece of my attention?


Find your optimum posting time and frequency, by testing, analysing and optimising the results.

Every social network is different and requires different tactics. Don’t treat them all the same!

Discover how the Instagram algorithm works, how to reach more people on Insta or How to Use Hashtags in 2019

Slow Responses (or complete ignorance) to Customer/Prospect Communication 

Just because a business is based online, it doesn’t mean that they can disregard or automate their entire customer service process.

As a prospect or customer, I expect to be treated as human, not a problem, number or hassle.


There are tons of different ways for businesses to communicate, whether that’s Messenger, a web based chat, telephone or email…

…it doesn’t matter, as long as somebody who actually listens and sympathises with my query can spare a few minutes ASAP. 

Why is it annoying?

I love chatbots, but I absolutely hate them when they can’t solve my query and it takes 3 days for anybody to see my message and respond.

Email responses that take anything more than 2 days are infuriating and brands that don’t implement a Messenger service are missing out on a great opportunity to improve the user experience with immediate solutions.Click To Tweet

There are so many communication channels that can be used to answer queries within 24 hours (48 max), that I feel completely disregarded when I have to wait ages for a reply.

How do I respond?

If I’m already a customer, I don’t usually take my query any further. But I make sure that I don’t ever purchase from that company again and I tell anyone who’ll listen how bad their customer service is, quite often I’ll also recommend competitors who I wish I had purchased from.

If I have a problem with my product, I’ll ask for a refund instead of an exchange. And If I’m a prospect, I make sure not to purchase anything from the company.


Make it your brand’s mission to respond to all communications within 24 hours of receiving them.

Implement a messaging or live chat option on your social and do not neglect it! 

No Personalisation in Communications

When a company collects me as a lead and then follows it up with generic communications that don’t include my name, or any idea when and where they collected my lead from, it’s just annoying.

personalised email

I don’t want to feel like I’m being grouped in with 1,000’s of others. Brands have enough technology available to them to at least include my first name in their communications…

…and they should also be tagging my lead collection point and sending me messages that are as personal and relevant as possible. 

Why is it annoying?   

Messages that aren’t personal make me feel unvalued.

They give the impression that an automated process is at play and the company are spraying and praying with their emails.

I’m a marketer and that means by my very nature, I love automation, but I also know how to pair automation with personalisation, and the importance of tagging and separating my leads by their entrance point.

How do I respond?

I unsubscribe from the list with a poor opinion of the company. I will usually avoid any other lead magnets or email capturing content from the same brand as I know what their follow-ups are like.


All of your communications should include the first name of your contact at the start of your message. This is easily automated in any CRM or chatbot.

Tag users by their lead collection point and send them relevant messages.

Social Media Bot Comments 

This (incredibly) annoying marketing ‘tactic’ is performed wholly on Instagram.

It usually involves a comment that includes one (or several) emojis, or a short sentence that says how amazing my photo is and that we should connect.

instagram bot comments

This may have worked years ago, but now it’s just annoying. I know you don’t care about my post, I know you haven’t seen it and I know you’re using the same comment for 100’s of posts every day!

Why is it annoying? 

Social media is all about being social and robots are not programmed to do that in a human way.


It takes two minutes to put a real comment on my photo if you’re actually interested in it. So, if you really do want to get results or generate interest from an insightful comment, do it properly and stop trying to take shortcuts. It shows!

How do I respond? 

I mute or report the account and remove their comment from my post.


Take the time to show some care or don’t bother at all!

Irrelevant Ads

This used to happen a lot more, but I still see it.

The reduction in the number of irrelevant ads on newsfeeds isn’t completely down to better marketing (from everyone), it’s thanks to social media algorithms trying to personalise their user’s experience.

Irrelevant ads are often found further down the pecking order (much lower on newsfeeds), but they definitely still exist.


As a marketer, I absolutely hate seeing ads that have no relevance to me. Given the amount of targeting options available to modern digital marketers (especially on Facebook and Instagram), there is simply no excuse.

Why is it annoying?   

Being targeted with a product that’s based in an industry I showed interest in years ago, ruins my social experience.

It gets in the way of relevant, personalised posts and is a complete waste of everyone’s time.

How do I respond?

Irrelevant ads are (usually) completely ignored, but sometimes, I’ll also ‘report’ or ‘hide’ them to make sure I don’t see anything similar again.

When a post receives negative feedback, social media algorithms view it as ruining their user’s experience and lower it in the newsfeed (even to those audiences who it is relevant to).


Take time to discover as much about your ideal target market as possible and implement the results in your social media audiences.

Every ad campaign requires testing at its inception, but you can give yourself a head-start by using detailed targeting options.

Cold Calling

Who likes a cold call?

Seriously, they’re outdated, have incredibly low conversion rates and feel incredibly intrusive.

I know a lot of businesses are still based on this model, but trust me, there is a much better way of doing things than to buy a list and call everyone randomly, hoping to sell more products.


BTW: the most irritating type of cold calls are from companies who think they can save me money. Maybe it’s just me, but I prefer to pay more to ensure I don’t have any problems. Problems = time. And time has never been more valuable. 

Why is it annoying?

They’re intrusive, rude and force you into engaging with somebody who is usually reading a script.

I don’t want to be called by strangers or companies I have never heard of, who does?

How do I respond?   

As soon as I realise that I’ve answered a cold call, the first thing I’m trying to do is hang up as quickly as possible.

If the caller badgers me or won’t quit (despite my best attempts) I’ll hang up.


Collect leads from prospects who actually have an interest in your product/industry.

The best way to do this is to build your profile, raise your positioning and prove that you’re an expert in the industry. We’ve always found that high quality content (and ad creatives) are the easiest (and cheapest) way to do this.


facebook audiences ebook

So, those are some of the most annoying things marketers have been doing online recently…

…if you can think of any to add to the list leave a comment, send us a message (via the chat box) or drop us an email.

If your suggestions are any good I’ll add them to the post and give you credit!

And remember, just because a tactic raises your CR by 0.5% that doesn’t mean it’s good for your brand in the long run! Always keep the user experience in mind.

Josh is the Founder of We Imagine Media, an award-winning content marketer, best selling author and creator of the He creates and strategises content, sharing the most successful tactics with his lovely audience. He hates writing in the third person, follow him on the social links so he can get back to writing as himself.

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