Given the ubiquity of technology these days, there’s a lot more competition between apps and online services than there ever was in the past. This means that all of them have to stoop to increasingly low levels in order to get people to “engage” with them, leading to a situation we’ve simply not had prior to the last few years.
That situation comes in the form of apps and services begging you to use them. It’s obnoxious, obtrusive and, more to the point, makes me disinclined to make use of that app or service ever again. In fact, in most cases, if an app or service begs me to use it or come back, I will simply uninstall it or unsubscribe from their mailing list.
The most egregious example I can think of recently was an app called TuneIn Radio. I was recommended this as a good means of listening to both streaming Internet radio and podcasts, but was dismayed to discover after firing it up just once that it then insisted on reminding me of its own existence at least once a day via a push notification that was usually recommending something I had absolutely no interest in whatsoever. (“Listen to TalkSport!” Oh, how little you know me.) However good the app is, notifications bug me enough at the best of times, so in the bin it went.
I’m still getting email messages from services I had to sign up for when I was reviewing endless reams of shitty mobile-social apps for Inside Mobile Apps, too. Eventually I simply registered for these services with an email address I don’t use any more, and this mitigated the problem somewhat, but there are still times where there are services that I haven’t touched for a year or more feel the need to email me and remind me that they exist.
Worse, when you unsubscribe from these mailing lists you inevitably end up signed up to, you’re often questioned as to why you’d ever want to stop your inbox being cluttered up with this meaningless crap. I had one email the other day from a service called AppData, a ludicrously expensive analytics service that was attached to the Inside Social Games and Inside Mobile Apps sites I used to write for, which asked whether I had unsubscribed “by mistake”. Seriously. Look.
The sheer arrogance of this is absolutely astonishing. “Oh, no, whoops, I unsubscribed from your marketing spam by mistake. I actually do want you to try and sell me things! Sign me back up, quick!” Or, indeed, “oh no, the pointless marketing spam I forwarded on to my friend [who does this?] annoyed them so much that they tried to unsubscribe themselves and instead unsubscribed me! Sign me back up, quick!”
I kind of understand why this happens. As I said at the beginning, the sheer amount of competition between mobile app and online service providers these days is ridiculous, so they have to resort to ever more drastic measures to retain their users, and hopefully convert them into paying customers — or at least people who will click on ads.
I can’t say I feel much sympathy, though. Surely having to resort to this is not a signal that you should market harder. Surely having to resort to this is, instead, a sign that there is far too much pointless, useless crap on the market, and maybe you should try a bit harder to come up with an idea that is actually innovative and helpful to people rather than a rehash of other things people already use? Harsh as it may sound, these days I find myself smiling a little with every email I receive that informs me a pointless, stupid mobile-social service that I reviewed a year or more ago is closing down. I’m glad; there’s too much noise in our lives anyway even with just the well-established services like Twitter and Facebook, so stop adding to it.