I can’t tell you how many times I have quickly closed a site because of self-playing audio or video. (And I have never gone back). Here’s what the owners of those sites need to understand:
1. Many people check out web sites at the office. In a cubicle you cannot afford to have some sound blaring out. It annoys coworkers. And it looks bad. It sounds like you’re just aimlessly surfing—even if you are looking for something for work!
2. Those who visit your site from home may be surfing late, late at night. Nobody wants to wake up their kids or partner with your stupid web site. You have plenty of competitors that don’t do that.
3. Many of us do not use earphones, or may not have them plugged in at all times. Music or voices blaring out suddenly can be infuriating for many reasons.
4. If your site visitor is already listening to music or a video, the self-playing audio cuts across it, so they can’t really understand either one. So that’s waste of time. And guess which browser window they are going to close. That’s right: yours!
5. As a site visitor, I have a right to listen to what I want to, not what you want me to. So I get really annoyed. If I want to hear what you have to say, I’ll click the Start button and listen. If not, I have a right not to listen.
6. You’re just not that cute. Some marketers have voices like fingernails on a chalkboard. Others just sound stupid. How can you be sure that the impression you are creating is actually helping your business? At least, if the site visitor has the option to not listen, then if they do listen, it is because they are interested in what you have to say. If they choose to listen, they will forgive much more if your presentation is less than professional.
7. It’s just plain rude. On some level everyone knows that, and it makes you look bad. It suggests that you don’t respect your potential customers. It makes site visitors subliminally wonder what your customer services would be like. In short, it turns people off, even if they don’t leave right away—and many will leave right away.
So think twice before you put yourself out there. If you offer an audio presentation, fine. If you force it on site visitors, that’s counterproductive. Either way, audio is no substitute for a good visual presentation with good content.
So give your site visitors a choice, and they will be much more receptive.
Just in case you think this does not apply to you, consider this. There is a professional TV presenter with whom I will not do business ever, because he (being so sure that he is so professional and so cute), forces his self-playing video on all visitors to his sites.
Consequently I cannot stand the man. And I often unsubscribe from the list of any marketer who sends me one of his offers.
Yes, self-playing audio and video are that annoying. Let’s face it, you’re just not that cute. But even if you are that cute, bad manners make a bad impression.
Visitors deserve to have a choice of whether to listen to you or not. And we reserve the option to listen, or not, on our own schedule, not yours.