There is a thread on the ClickNewz.com discussion area that has sparked some very heated debate on the subject of forced continuity.
You know what it is even if you haven’t heard it called that before.
You get an email from a trusted internet marketer touting their latest low-cost product. You know they produce valuable, usable content so you jump onto the sales page and order the product. You’re not asked for anything unusual for an online transaction so you complete it without hesitation. After all, you’ve dealt with this person before and you know you can trust them.
Within minutes, you get a confirmation email and a thank you for subscribing to the blahblahblah newsletter. The email goes on to tell you how this newsletter will be worth several times your monthly fee of X amount of dollars per month.
You have to re-read that email because you don’t remember signing up for anything.
That’s right, you’ve been honored with an automatic enrollment in the marketer’s premium monthly/weekly/daily newsletter and you don’t have to do anything to start receiving your first issue. Of course, you can cancel at any time within 7/14/30 days.
This, my friend, is forced continuity. You buy a low-cost product from a trusted source because you’ve done business with them before and you can’t resist getting one of their products for dirt cheap. You hurry through the sales page because they’ve never “tacked on” anything before and you’ve already made up your mind to purchase. You don’t need to read the sales letter.
At least you didn’t think so…
You discover, much to your disappointment, that you should have read the sales letter because it probably explained the conditions of your purchase. This is not to say it was featured in the sales letter. Most of the time it is cleverly inserted in a paragraph they know you won’t read anyway.
In the marketer’s defense, they probably honestly believe that the add-on is of tremendous value to their customers/readers and think it is something that you will thank them for in the near future.
My question is if they really believe in the offer than why is it not broken out with a link so it may stand on its own and allow you to evaluate it on its own merits?
The answer is simple: any additional clicks required to make a purchase reduce significantly the possibility of the purchase happening in the first place. Plus, in internet marketing circles, forced continuity makes tons of money! The percentage of people who actually mark their calendars and remember to cancel before they are charged at least one more fee is relatively low.
How many times have you read a marketer talking about how many thousands of dollars they made by piggy-backing a paid subscription product with another of their products?
How many forum posts have you read by people who didn’t realize they were signed up until their credit card balance went up, a receipt email was received or their PayPal account took an unexplained dip?
Before I get blasted with emails telling me how easy it may be for these people to get their money back, let me make two statements:
- It’s irrelevant whether they can get their money back because what we object to is being signed up in the first place. Having somebody sneak an offer in on you and then telling you not to worry about money you may have to spend misses the point.
- It’s simply NOT ALWAYS easy to get your money back. I’ve personally had a situation where a marketer was so hidden behind their support application that I had to contact a super-affiliate before I could even get a response.
I’m not against online marketers making money by providing quality content to their customers. This is what makes our world go round. I just want to make sure the next time I go to purchase their product I don’t think twice because I don’t have the time to have my lawyer look over the sales letter.
Present the subscription product from a prominently-placed link from the low-cost product sales letter. If it’s a strong enough offer people won’t mind adding to their shopping cart.
Have you had this happen to you recently? Please share your story with my readers. Don’t forget to share it with your favorite social media site by clicking on the ShareThis icon below.
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[tags]forced continuity,marketing tactics,subscription content,sales letters[/tags]