What You Can Learn From Bing Ads’ Terrible User Experience

If you’re reading this, chances are you either run some type of business, or are interested in helping a business acquire more customers.

I mean, that is the point of advertising right? To spend money so that you can eventually make more money when all is said and done?

So doesn’t it sound ever so sweet that Bing is willing to hook us up with $100 worth of ad credits to help us expand our respective businesses?

The upside seems too good to ignore.

Think about it: if you design your ad just right and come up with a creation that nets you 10 cents per click (very doable), you can essentially send a thousand visitors to your website… for FREE.

But do you remember that old saying: if it’s too good to be true, it probably is?

Well never was that statement more true than when I tried to use Bing Ads.

I’m about to share my experience with this sad excuse for a promotion and why you’re simply better off spending your money with Facebook and Google.

It All Started On Facebook (Ironically)

As someone who’s into marketing, I have to say, I still use AdBlock to block extremely obstructive ads that ruin a good web experience. (I’m looking at you, autoplay videos!)

But on the flip side, there are quite a few websites where I’ll leave my AdBlock disabled. (It’s a great way to know what your competition is up to).

Facebook happens to be one of these websites.

Ironically, Microsoft found a way to target and seduce me with a simple ad promising “FREE $100 ad credit” just for trying out the Bing network — which apparently gets used by millions of people whom, I presume, aren’t aware of Google’s existence (?)

Either way, I was like “Sure… why not? Can’t hurt to try. Might get a few customers out of it.”

So I clicked.

While going through the process of setting up the account, the final stage asked me for a coupon code of some sort — if I had any.

Of course, I didn’t. And nor was any type of coupon pre-applied on my behalf. (Red Flag #1)

Now you have to understand, if you were a business that created an offer which promised a discount or a freebie, you have to ensure that your “promise” shows up for the end user at some point during their buying journey VIA tracking methods like a cookie.

So as an example, if I were to display and ad to you saying “Get 15% off my fancy sneakers if you buy today” and you clicked the ad, I’d place a cookie on you (don’t worry, it’d be delicious).

Then if you were to make your way to the check out process, I’d recognize the cookie and know you clicked my promotion and thus, apply the 15% credit auto-magically. You wouldn’t need to lift a finger.

This is called consistency, and as fancy as it sounds, it’s brain-dead easy to implement. If a half-functioning man child like me can do it, then anyone can.

So for a company like Bing (owned my Microsoft) this type of implementation shouldn’t have been difficult.

Anyways, fearing that maybe I wasn’t adequately “cookied”, I contacted their live chat help to make sure I’d get my 100 bucks.

It took 15 minutes for the turkey on the other end to understand that I clicked an ad on Facebook and am simply looking for the coupon code to apply my $100 credit.

He kept blabbing on about how “he’s looking into the issue.”

Eventually, he said that after I went through the account creation process, the $100 ad credit would indeed be applied automatically.

“Ah! So they do cookie me”, I thought.

While I was slightly annoyed it took him so damn long to just tell me this, I went ahead and created my account (oh yes, it did involve putting my credit card on file, FYI).

Eventually I made it to my dashboard where I was greeted with a bright red notification stating that I had no credit loaded into my account, and thus ads wouldn’t run. (Red Flag #2)

So much for the “automatic” $100 ad credit. Fortunately I still had the live chat window open, so I reluctantly told him about my situation.

At first he reinforced that I’d get my ad credit automatically. I told him that wasn’t the case.

Then after staring at an uneventful chat window for what seemed like eternity, he said I have to finish account creation process in order to trigger it. I told him I already did that, and my credit card was on file to prove it.

After even more waiting, Mr. Helpful reveals to me that “account creation” really means setting up an entire ad campaign (Red Flag #3)

Ok, so at this point my bullshit alarms started blaring full-blast. (Imagine the Frankenstein child of a smoke detector and an egg timer. That’s what it sounds like.)

Let me give you some context in case you haven’t done any type of online, direct response advertising in the past…

First, one does not simply slap an ad together and let it fly out the door.

It takes some real time to research an audience, find keywords they would most likely use, make sure those keywords are getting traffic, make sure the keywords aren’t too competitive, then come up with a bunch of iterations for the ad copy to test etc.

Basically, it’s a fucking process. And they want you to go through something like it before giving you $100 to spend.

You might think this is fair, but that’s because I haven’t even gotten to the best bit yet. Keep on reading to find out…

Frustrated, I tell him that I’m not going to waste more of my time setting up a full ad campaign — especially after I had already jumped through enough hoops.

My question was simple: “Am I going to get my promised $100 credit at this point, or not?”

Again, I got the same response: “to get the ad credit, you must complete the account creation process.”

Having felt that I already got taken for a ride, I decided to see how many more hoops these crafty bastards had set up for me.

So I dug a little further.

Sure enough, after playing another round of digital ring-around-the-roise, I got him to spill Red Flag #4.

Or as you and I would call it, the deal breaker…

You have to spend $25 in order to get the $100 ad credit.


Now let me back up for a second. For the record, I have no problems with offers where you are required to spend a little to get a lot.

The “buy one get one free” offer is a time-tested, proven winner.

But one thing I won’t stand for, is an utter bait-and-switch. Dangling “free” ad credit to a marketer just long enough for them to realize that they actually have to spend their own money first is an insult.

There is literally NO BETTER way of putting a sour taste in someone’s mouth.

Naturally, I had enough of this nonsense and simply called it quits.

As it stands, they’re currently trying to win me back with some lame email and Twitter attempts, but we both know that’s a fool’s errand.

You wanna know what’s really funny? I didn’t need to be “won” back. I was already sold! All they had to do was not fuck up, and deliver on their promise. And should their ad product have turned out even mildly useful, I would’ve dumped a few grand towards it.

After all, if I knew I’d make back more money than I spend, why would I NOT spend?

But they never even gave me a chance.

How To Do Freebies The RIGHT Way

Since I didn’t want this turning into a “rant” piece, I figured I’d end off with a another experience I had with a free trail from a company that ended up closing me as a customer.

This experience comes from the email marketing company Drip.

Like Bing, they served me an ad on Facebook that promised a FREE trial along with bonus access to their entire email marketing course.

So I signed up for their trial.

Yet somehow, the access to the bonus email marketing course was nowhere to be found. Seemed like deja vu… until I contacted them through email about the whole situation.

And delightfully, in under 24 hours I was given exactly what was promised. No mess, no fuss, just a direct link to the complete email marketing course along with unrestricted access to their email marketing software for up to 100 subscribers.

I got to test every feature I wanted, and in the end came away impressed.

Instead of making me jump through hoops, Drip kept the talking to a minimum, and simply let their product speak for itself.

Naturally, when the time came for the trial to end, they sent a gentle email reminder and offered me 2 free months if I committed to one year of the service up front.

I told them I wanted in, and just like that, Drip made a customer out of me.

Can you see the difference in the user experience between Drip and Bing? There is a lot of subtle details that I hope you picked up on which, if applied, can make a huge impact on your business.

Here’s to your success!

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