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Please Don’t Try This At Home

How to Annoy your Visitors

While perusing real estate blogs today, I came across one that had implemented a chat feature.

In and of itself, this is nothing revolutionary. Google Talk, Meebo, Plugoo and similar chat solutions are scattered all across the blogiverse.

I’ve tried a few such solutions and have had mixed results. I like the concept, where they fail is in my execution. Seems I have a proclivity of leaving the chat live when I’m away from the computer. This results in chat conversations like this:

Visitor: Hi, can you help me?

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Me: {insert sound of chirping crickets in visitors mind}

Visitor: Hello?


Visitor: Hello???


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Well, you get the idea. To leave a chat function that says something akin to “CHAT WITH ME NOW LIVE!” and not be around to engage in said chat is a bad idea.

How to REALLY Annoy your Visitors

Enter the chat solution I saw today on a blog that shall remain unnamed.

As the blog post was loading, the rather distracting image you see above entered on screen left, proceeded to scroll across the screen to the right side, where it then reversed course and resumed its slow, agonizing trek back across the screen – all the while obscuring everything in its path. I did what I suspect 80% of visitors do and reached for the mouse to click “No Thanks”.

I read the post I was interested in, and clicked to close the window.

And here is where it got interesting.

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To my surprise, when I clicked to close the window, a pop-up window appeared — apparently throwing me into a chat with the site owner. This despite the fact I’d already expressed that I was not interested in chatting.

Here’s how that chat conversation looked:

Richard Says: Please type ‘HI’ or ‘HELLO’ in the space below to let me know you’re there…

At this point, I paused in disbelief at the audacity of someone forcing a chat on me. Swiftly the “chat” resumed:

Richard Says: Are you there? I have an exclusive list of available homes not listed in the Realtor MLS system.  Type ‘HI’ or ‘HELLO’ if you’re interested to receive this FREE list.

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About this time, I think there is close to a 100% probability that a site visitor would be thoroughly disgusted, leave the site, and never return. I on the other hand thought it might be interesting to carry on a conversation. So I replied:

Me: No interest what so ever. Looking for a less pushy realtor

Richard Says: Hi 😉 To receive your FREE list, CLICK HERE and let me know exactly what you’re looking for.  I’ll respond as soon as I get your information.  It will only take a few seconds!

Me: Wow, what part of “less pushy” don’t you get? Or is this some automated chat?

Richard Says: Because I’m an automated virtual chat service, I’m unable to answer your questions at this time.  If you need further assistants (sic), please call me xxx-xxx-xxxx.  You can also CLICK HERE to send me your contact info.  It’ll only takes a few seconds!

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Richard Says: To view all available homes including bank owned, short sales, and pre-foreclosure homes, visit: (Author note: this is not the actual domain of course)

Me: You really may want to reconsider this auto chat thing. It reeks of smarmy desperation. And without being able to answer questions, well, it’s beyond worthless.

From the “What Were You Thinking?” Files

An “automated virtual chat service”? Are you kidding me?

It’s true. This “feature” is offered through MoxieChat. For a fee ranging from $29.95 to $149.95 per month, MoxieChat will give you the tools to add this staggeringly obnoxious service to a web site or blog. They claim to employ “artificial intelligence” which allows “chats” to be conducted between your site visitors and . . . well . . . a piece of software.

While I have yet to figure it out, I suppose there are some applications for this sort of thing that might work well. But in real estate, where you are trying to engage people on a personal level, I think it is. . . how do you say it?  Ridiculous? Pathetic? Stupid?

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Engaging your site visitors is a terrific idea. Forcing a “chat” on them AFTER THEY’VE SAID BOTH “NO THANKS” AND CLICKED OFF YOUR SITE is beyond my comprehension. Do people really think this sort of pushy tactic works? It reminds me of the old story of the door-to-door salesman sticking their foot in the door so you can’t close it. Believe me, if I’ve rejected your chat offer and clicked off your site, I‘m done. Popping up windows, deceitfully implying that you are on the other end of the internet offering to help, none of that is going to compel me to use your services.

In fact, I can’t think of anything that would turn me off more and ensure I don’t come back to your site again. Ever.

But maybe that’s just me.

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Written By

Jay is the Broker / Owner of Thompson's Realty in Phoenix, Arizona. A self-professed "Man with a blogging problem" he can be found across the Interweb, including at the Phoenix Real Estate Guy blog where he opines on all things real estate and tosses out random musings.



  1. Tony Sena

    December 20, 2008 at 6:20 pm

    I could see how that would be very annoying. Someone needs to do him a favor and email him telling him how annoying his chat feature is and how it could cost him business.

  2. Elaine Reese

    December 20, 2008 at 6:44 pm

    Sounds like this “feature” is aptly named. Takes a lot of moxie to add such an irritating, awful thing to a blog. And we wonder why the public rates us so low … GEEZ!

  3. Jim Gatos

    December 20, 2008 at 6:53 pm

    I am not normally a “Chatter” personality, and that in itself (a scrolling chat window?) would drive me absolutely batty! I respect your wish to keep the irritating blog private; I just wish I knew who the guy was so I could NOT do what he does LOL..

    Jay, maybe he should be told to go visit his site. Some people never check out their own sites, for Pete’s sake… LOL…

  4. Russell Shaw

    December 20, 2008 at 11:23 pm

    Nice Jay. Really nice. I am still laughing.

  5. Bob

    December 21, 2008 at 1:43 am

    I saw that on a site the other day and my first thought was, “I wish this was cheaper so every agent in the county addicted to useless web bling would use it.”

    Now you come along and write this.

    Thanks a lot.

  6. Ricardo Bueno

    December 21, 2008 at 2:59 am

    I don’t like it Jay! I don’t like the automated chat or the fact that you chose the name “Richard” (too close to Ricardo).

    I don’t like site pop-ups (either to subscribe or for some chat function like this). I also don’t like site pop-ups that scroll and make it difficult for you to click the tiny, itty-bitty [close] button.

    If I want to chat with you, I’ll notice the sidebar widget, and if the little light is green and says you’re “online,” I’ll give you a holler. Otherwise, please leave me be and if you’re site impresses me, I might give you a shout!

    This reminds me of a quote I read on Chris Brogan’s site. Something to the effect of: “I’m reaching for a handshake and you’re trying to shove your tongue down my throat. No thanks!”

  7. Jim Duncan

    December 21, 2008 at 6:13 am

    Nice. I’ll admit that the meebo widget I have on my site has been very effective; if I could get the gTalk one to work with my blackberry I’d use that.

    That said, if I ran across that, I’d be equally offended … but … it might work. I saw on Twitter yesterday that works for some Realtors … who knew?

  8. Paula Henry

    December 21, 2008 at 7:35 am

    Hi Jay – Are you there? 🙂

    Most appalling is someone actually paid money for a virtual chat response.

    I also don’t like the animated assistants who show up on the screen.

  9. Jennifer Kirby

    December 21, 2008 at 8:29 am

    Hi Jay,

    Long time no talk to. You approached it just like I would have…too bad you didn’t send him any smiley faces that were doing something else other than smiling.

  10. Missy Caulk

    December 21, 2008 at 10:48 am

    Jay, ugh…. to me that is worse than ghost writers.

    I went to a ArbBar Camp in Ann Arbor last week, met a geek there who has one I installed on my blog

    It interfaces with all networks, which ever one the consumer is using.

    Of course I wanted to try it out as he is from A2, a few buggs but I am testing it.

  11. linsey

    December 21, 2008 at 12:03 pm

    I saw a chat offer the other day that popped up and then followed me as I scrolled up and down the site – even blocking the content I was trying to read. I finally noticed the ‘x’ to close it, but only after I was annoyed by it.

    If someone wants to connect, they will. Chasing a visitor around your site is a surefire way to chase them right off it.

  12. Lisa Sanderson

    December 21, 2008 at 7:41 pm

    It sounds like it was annoying enough but then you say it’s automated to boot? WTH is Richard thinking? However, there are plenty of agents out there who act that way normally so maybe he just doesn’t know any better.

  13. David Silverman

    December 22, 2008 at 12:56 pm

    It seems like this MoxieChat solution works well for lead generation. Granted this Richard guy has a lot going on with his website, but it seems like the Chat would be effective in getting a decent percentage of would be lost traffic to go back to his site and request more information.

    I think I’ll see what it has to offer since there’s a free trial. I don’t know about you guys, but I could sure use a few extra leads right now.

  14. David Silverman

    December 22, 2008 at 1:11 pm

    It seems like this MoxieChat solution works well for lead generation. Granted this Richard guy has a lot going on with his website, but it seems like the Chat would be effective in getting a decent percentage of would be lost traffic to go back to his site and request more information.

    I think I’ll see what it has to offer since there’s a free trial. I don’t know about you guys, but I could sure use a few extra leads right now.

  15. Jay Thompson

    December 22, 2008 at 4:45 pm

    I don’t know David. Forcing a window to open after someone has “said” two different times they aren’t interested just seem way too pushy to me. Yes, I can see it getting a few people to click. But I can see it turning off a whole lot more.

    If you try it, it’d be interesting to hear how it works for you. Though it would be hard to quantify the number of people that left your site and never returned because they were turned off by it.

  16. David Silverman

    December 22, 2008 at 6:01 pm

    Let me start off by saying yes, I agree that asking multiple times is too pushy. However, I did sign up for a free account and it appears I can actually control just how “pushy” I want the Chat to be. It actually gives me the option to either display the Chat when a customer is leaving a page, when a customer comes back to my website or if they sit on a page for too long.

    I went ahead and emailed MoxieChat and they said I can also place an image on my website which customers can click on to receive a Chat. I’m seeing a lot of other options but I think I might try this approach and read through the “Chat Conversations” before I try a more aggressive approach.

    FYI… I was bit skeptical of the whole Artifical Intelligence thing before signing up but when you login there’s a Wizard that helps you get started and creates a bunch of these things called “Intelligent Lines”. Somehow these things pick up on what the customer types into the Chat and then allows me to enter how I’d like to respond. The Wizard kind of educated me on the whole thing and it finally started to make sense as I was going through it.

  17. Jay Thompson

    December 22, 2008 at 6:30 pm

    Interesting David, can you share the URL when you get it going?

  18. David Silverman

    December 22, 2008 at 7:37 pm

    Absolutely… I’ll post the URL when it’s all finished.

    …btw I just noticed that the real estate site you posted actually has 2 chat services. There’s the automated one which is MoxieChat and displays when you leave the page. Then there’s a live chat called Live Person which is the link at the bottom of the page and the annoying thing that scrolls across the page. However they are 2 different services.

  19. Ken Brand

    December 23, 2008 at 7:02 am

    Too True.

    The days of “Chase & Capture” are done. It’s the era “Attract, Magnetize & Woo”.

    I guess the only positive thing about boorish behavior is the clueless are chasing pissed people into the soft warm arms of savvy servers.

    Rock on!

  20. teresa boardman

    December 23, 2008 at 3:00 pm

    So many still believe in chasing and capturing. It is still the standard in our industry.

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