Need help with marketing? Get your personalised Marketing Support Pack.

Why it’s not profitable to use dark patterns

Paul Boag writing for Smashing magazine on How To Convince Others Not To Use Dark Patterns

‘Brands always used to be able to get away with manipulation because consumers were mostly unaware of being manipulated. Even if they did realize(sic), the choice was limited, and so there was very little they could do. That is no longer true. The web has changed that.

We need to help management realize the fact that consumers have changed. That in every consumer’s pocket is instant access to every other company on the planet that offers the same thing as you. It is so easy to find your competitors and so simple to swap that one small annoyance is enough to make people switch.’

Dark patterns are tricks to make people do things they don’t mean to do. You’ve probably come across them on an airline website when booking seats or paying extra for insurance. Find out more about what they look like here.

While these tricks seem like a clever way to up-sell, here’s an example Paul cites as a reason why dark patterns are not as profitable as they might seem.

‘Sure enough, the sales of filters skyrocketed, and the e-commerce team was pleased because they were one step closer to meeting their targets.

Unfortunately what they were not aware of was what was happening elsewhere in the company.

The marketing team who ran the companies social media channels found themselves having to spend time addressing complaints on Twitter and Facebook.

The customer support team received an increase in calls asking for refunds or complaining. Each call was costing the company £3.21, more than the profit margin on the filters.’