We, the people in the business of marketing and optimization, know (I hope) that certain images, text, ad copy etc. work better than others in driving user to convert on our sites. We continuously test (A/B and Mult-variate) to see what works and what does not work for our visitors/customer on our sites and then optimize our sites/banners/emails etc. accordingly. In order to make users click we test headlines, text, testimonials etc. making certain claims about our services, and products in those headlines, ad copies, emails etc.
In making those claims we need to think responsibly. We need to make sure that we do not go over broad and make false claims, promises or exaggerate the results. Yes, those claims might give you higher click through rates and higher conversions but there is one more KPI that you need to keep in mind i.e. the KPI that measures responsibility (both ethical and legal). We need to all think ethically and legally about all the claims we make. Think about how we will feel if another company made such claims and we fall for it, will we feel cheated or not? Think about the potential of lawsuits.
Classmates.com is being sued for allegedly making false claims in their email. According to Media Post
“The plaintiff, Anthony Michaels of San Diego county, alleges that he signed up for a free membership to the site last Christmas Eve, but then upgraded to a paid one after receiving e-mail ads stating that other schoolmates were trying to contact him. Those statements turned out to be false, according to the lawsuit.
Michaels’ lawyer, Brian Kabateck, said his client had no way of verifying whether his former schoolmates were actually seeking to contact him on the site, short of signing up for a one-year membership.
“The e-mail said: ‘So and so’s trying to find you, and in order to hook up with him you have to join and become a gold member,'”
Media Post further reports that Reunion.com also faces a lawsuit by members complaining about the site’s marketing efforts. In that case, filed in federal district court in San Francisco, the members allege that Reunion.com sent e-mails that appeared to have come from specific friends, but were actually sent by the site.
We might (or might now) find out if the claims by classmates were false or not. Either way this lawsuit provides a great lesson for the marketers – Market and Optimize Responsibly.
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Technical Consultant for Internet Marketing and Web Analytics at Unica (Waltham, MA)