Moral Border, or How Far We Can Go For Better Conversions?

750-moralWhen I visited 100K launch school virtual summit there was one recording that I quit soon after it started. It was about dynamic personalization. Why? Because I realized that I don’t want to use that strategy in my projects.

Just days before the summit I was a victim of dynamic personalization. I broke my tire and failed to unscrew my wheel with existing tools. I needed external help. Where do you seek help in an unknown area? In search engines, of course. And those guys who use kinda personalization are the kings of search (both organic and paid one). What do they do? They create fake addresses and pages for any geo-linked query people may ask. They hide their real place insisting that it is you who should answer their questions, not vice versa. The result? I needed a fast response from people and service outlets near me but was unable to find them. All I could find were “personalizators”.

It was not the first time or even first year when I suffered from them. In my current concrete-and-mortar business (that I wrote at “About” page) scammers and ordinary cheaters create fake concrete plants addresses for better SEO ranking. They do it because a proximity of concrete plant is a valuable factor in choosing a concrete supplier. Fast forward several years of their activity. If you know a real number of concrete plants in Moscow region you will get shocked how much is listed on search engines. There are dozens of times more listed in search engines than there are in reality. If you search for just a “plant” in any random village in Moscow region – you get a list of plants that never existed. And all of them are fake concrete plants. Why is it so? I have already given both reasons. A proximity of concrete plant is a decision-making factor. And people know about personalization.

Do they have better conversions? You bet. They fake not only plants’ addresses to attract customers.

You may say that it is my personal phantom pain brought from another industry. OK, let’s consider using Facebook that was the base for the presentation I started with. I mean getting information from people’s Facebook profiles to use at your site. Do you think it is a cool technology? That is why I don’t think so:

  • in my understanding of search engines’ policies, websites must not cheat their users. One of the types of cheating is hiding real content from the user. Many people who are excited about the technology may even not know the way they get information. It is loading a visitor’s Facebook in a 1*1 pixel frame at your site. My understanding could be outdated, but as I remember using 1*1 pixel frames is restricted,
  • Here and there you can see cookies policy agreements. I mean “Our site uses cookies, if you are not OK with that, please leave us”. The same is with IP addresses (but less widespread in my practice). But why nobody uses Facebook upload agreements? Why nobody declares from the beginning “We load your Facebook at our site, if you are not OK with that, please leave us”? Only because when it comes to cookies there is a certain law that requires owners to do that? And there is no law for Facebook hidden iframes?
  • You may say that the size of 1*1 pixel is chosen to make better user experience at a site. He came there not to use Facebook but for possible purchase. So you get rid of all distractions. But when it comes to Facebook, in reality, it is not getting rid – it is hiding. The needed element is not thrown away – it is made unnoticeable.

For the moment I am not annoyed with the use of Facebook in unnoticeable frames. If it becomes the case – I will just use incognito mode in my browser. Or even better – open Facebook in a separate browser. These implications are easy to cope with. But what will be next?

  • Internet business owners will send private messages in social networks asking “What wasn’t excellent at our site for you?” Do you think it is fantastic? In Russia, it is already the case: proof (hope your automatic translation will not kill the sense). In comments, people argue that messages are not always but rather OK, unlike phone calls,
  • at and you can see, unsolicited calls are also used by pushy sellers: Another proof. This may even decrease your conversion but may increase it too.
  • fake social proof in FOMO widgets (that inform you about other people who have purchased something at the site). It is also getting more common and common, another example from Russia. They don’t hide that it is manipulation. In fact, they underline it. Do you agree that all means are appropriate in the struggle for conversion?
  • fake countdowns for a special offer. Often countdown is real but in many cases it is fake. So by default, I stopped believing in it. And even if it is real – in case of a personal offer, it is easy to see it again. But that is the topic for a separate article.

As you can notice, following the trend and deleting Facebook will not help much. Your social profile can be obtained in Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat or anywhere else. Principles are the same. And any social network is unnecessary when it comes to faking.

It seems to me that in the race for short-term gain people do not see long-term picture.
That people will trust each other less and overall communication on the Internet will be harmed.

It’s an ecological issue. I borrowed the term “ecology” from pick-up industry. There it means not creating harm to people who you interact with for the sake of overall well-being. But different people have their own definitions for in their minds. Continuing PUA analogy, I personally don’t support approaching every attractive woman and manipulating their feelings. But many people in the movement do. Thus they make lives of many attractive women in big cities a nightmare and the term “pick-up artist” became notorious among women. What is the conclusion? They harmed the ecology while declaring they care about it.

The issue becomes moral and thus complicated (as any moral issue is).
Will you use ambiguous instruments to enhance your conversions if they are not restricted by law?
What is your personal moral border?

For me using Facebook profiles without explicit confirmation from the user is inappropriate. That is why I stopped that virtual summit session and moved on.

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