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Fear equals PPC conversions?

Posted by Michael Bloch in web marketing (Monday December 1, 2008 )

A tactic I’m seeing used increasingly in PPC ads is the cultivation of fear.

I’m seeing this strategy being used in relation to business to business products such as software and also many consumer products. It’s pretty simple and goes something like this:

“Don’t buy product X until you read this”

“Scam alert – most product X’es are a con. Get the details”


“The shocking truth about product X”

When you click on these ads, they of course take you to a page extolling the virtues of product X or a related product.

I’m assuming this strategy is working as many of these ads are in the top slots. It’s a pretty cheesy strategy and on the increase; therefore businesses and consumers will wisen up to it before long and the performance of such ads will (likely/hopefully/thankfully) tank.

Let’s say the searcher clicks on the first two ads of this nature – do you think they’ll click on the third.. or any other similar ads in future?

Fear is a great motivator, but I think the story of the boy who cried wolf can also apply in the online world and in particular advertising. Playing on fears can be done in all sorts of subtle ways but it’s really hard to do it in just a couple of lines without having all the subtlety of a sledgehammer and more importantly, being unique.

As for “unrevealed secrets unveiled” sort of lines, they will likely go the same way – I hope. The first thing I think of when I read “secrets unveiled” is “rehashed information, publicly available everywhere”.


Toilet roll sales letter pages


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