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🤬Rubbing customers the wrong way? (work on frictionless sales)

frictionless sales

This is Inbox Hacking, a free newsletter with slick marketing insights, tools, & tactics sent every Wednesday. Join marketers from Ad Age, ADP, & the NBA, and sign up for your Free subscription here.

Crushing this week, Inbox Hackers? Remember, not getting crushed by it is also a win.

What’s up in our feature story? 13 friction points that stop sales cold. Some are tiny, so you may never spot them, but they are costly to your business. I’ll save the craziest sale-stopper for the end. 

After the feature, look to our Knowledge Base for some hot links (inedible), Facts & Stats, then we wrap with a Hack you can use right away – and should, to avoid tiny / devastating errors.

Frictionless Sales: Avoiding Hidden Friction

Why are we looking at sales friction this week? Because my butt got rubbed wrong last week by an audiobook platform. Loved the affordability and massive selection. Hated not being able to log in after being logged out automatically after an update.

Customer service was no help – as usual these days. After my unhinged email to customer service telling them to cancel my subscription because “after 11 tries, I cannot log in!” – they said “sorry” and gave instructions to cancel… “just log in and cancel.”🤬 Again, no customer service. So I had to go one more step to log in to Paypal to cancel the subscription. 

See, some friction isn’t truly hidden. There’s just zero effort from some companies to notice it or invest in legit customer service to fix it.

So, if you could only focus on one aspect of frictionless sales, I’d start with improving customer service (won’t take much to beat the competition nowadays).

Wait, there’s more…

8 Things Stopping Frictionless Sales in E-commerce

Shopping online should be slick, smooth, sultry even. So avoid:

  1. Any hint of hidden costs or gotchas
  2. Unclear shipping times
  3. Checkout steps involving tons of clicking!
  4. No (visible) testimonials/reviews
  5. Poor website navigation
  6. Buttons that don’t work
  7. Confusing order verifications (i.e., company name XYZ Inc. doesn’t match website name)
  8. Slow page loading (2 extra seconds provide a window for users to bounce)

Constantly testing your site and processes is a no-brainer. Testing competitors’ sites should be, too. If their user experience and processes are smoother than yours, then step yo game up!

What about friction stopping sales in the physical world?

5 Things Blocking Frictionless Sales in Physical Stores

  1. Bad first impressions
  2. Slow-moving checkout lines 
  3. Annoying self-checkouts
  4. Lack of product information
  5. Sales staff interrupting versus serving customers

First impressions might be made from a vehicle moving 45 miles per hour. 

Customers don’t receive “training” on self-checkouts. 

And why do so few brick-n-mortar stores not offer some product how-tos? Could be as easy as sticking a QR code on a shelf/packaging/signage linking to a video demonstration or review. 

Now for solid proof that all businesses could work on frictionless selling.

Reviews Highlighting Frustrating Friction for Customers

I could do this all day, but I’ll limit myself to a couple real quotes from reviews.

“The app signs me out EVERYTIME I lock my phone!” (Be careful when you merge apps, sites, processes, platforms, etc. since that’s what led to many issues for this company – 2.1 star avg.)

“I write to customer service and get a canned response that says it could take up to two weeks to address my issue.” (If this is the best the company can do, why not save money and lay off the entire support team?)

However, positive reviews below show some companies do want to remove friction and keep customers.

Positive Reviews 

“Enjoyed actually talking with a human and not a machine.”

“This interaction was a little different from previous online insurance purchases, a little clunkier but your rep Megan was very pleasant and professional.”

*No company is perfect and neither are customers. My deep and dirty research into reviews showing friction issues revealed this strange fact – several customers who had only glowing things to say about a company still only rated them 4 stars. Odd. 

As for…

The Craziest Friction Point in Online Sales?

Mandatory account creation before shoppers can purchase is major friction! The polar opposite of frictionless selling. Proof…

Go to Home Depot, Walmart, and Dollar General today. Watch the checkout lines. How many shoppers are forced to create an account before buying their doodads? Lesson – let people check out online as guests.

frictionless sales

Bonus: The 3 Best Subject Lines in My Inbox

  1. The Markup’s “What To Do If You Think You’ve Been Shadowbanned on Instagram” (mysterious & controversial)
  2. The Hustle’s “💔Billion-dollar breakups” (unique emoji)
  3. Axios’ preview text caught my attention – showed date “February 27th, 2024” (only one in inbox to do so)


Knowledge Base

💪Knowledge is power, so is paddling

🤿In the trenches of video SEO (deep dive)

🖼️Do your content marketing photos lack this?

📂Fix a messy content library (easy how-to graphics)

👻Less is more, but gone is more engaging 

📩10 proven email capture page examples


Brought to you by Smart Recognition

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  • Reduce marketing spend 

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Self Help

Not all success can be reverse-engineered, so relax.

I heard a podcast on earworms last year. Earworms are the opening sound of a song that hooks listeners (in theory).

The podcast broke down why hit songs were hits – and an epic opening hook was a huge part of the formula for success. Mystery solved! Yep, those researchers then went out and produced 99 hit songs the next week!

They did not. All they had was hindsight. Of course, hit songs have great hooks – the songs are great – not just the first three seconds. There are too many variables in music (and life) to say for sure why something becomes successful.

*Inbox Hackers Shout-out:

📢Amanda at Terillium (ERP consulting)

📣Anne at DayStar (IT) 


Facts and Stats

  • Data analytics technology has a return of $6.20 for every $1 spent & boosts annual revenue by 10% (Nucleus Research)
  • Home Services category saw a 20% YOY annual ad revenue growth on Yelp (Search & Performance Insider)
  • Ad spend on TikTok in Q4 2023 was 43% higher than Q1 of 2023 (Media Post)

Bonus: 48.1% of Instagram users rely on _______ to discover new products. Answer: Branded hashtags ~Gitnux.org


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Get Hacking

Today’s Hack should be a no-brainer. Yet, life moves too fast now, so everyone’s work gets rushed.

But when you get ahead on projects – like a newsletter or a month’s worth of articles, you have time to perfect them… and catch mistakes. Think tiny mistakes won’t matter? Depends on where it is. 

Could be in a stock price that costs your company about $225 million. Or missing zeros on a service price like Alitalia Airlines, which cost them over $70 million. Today’s Hack is to get ahead on any writing you have on your plate – the quality will rise, and mistakes will be avoided. I get it, some of you have to wait on last-minute news. Still, you can draw the line at some point, so you don’t have to rush out a newsletter. How often is last-minute news Earth-shattering anyway?

(ALT Hack: Check default settings on your ads. Just because Google and Meta want you to use certain ad settings – you should ask yourself if it benefits 100% of their customers or enough of them that it mainly benefits Google and Meta).


Share Inbox Hacking with a friend, coworker, mortal enemy – whoever – we appreciate it😅.

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