Direct Marketing, Mail Order, and E-commerce News from the National Mail Order Association


Survey Says…Internet Pet Peeves: What Drives Consumers Away From Your E-Business

Hostway Corporation, a leading provider of Web hosting and managed services, conducts a national
survey identifying Web site pet peeves and consequences.

As small to-medium-sized businesses (SMBs) continue leveraging their online presence to build their
business, consumers are demanding more, and tolerating less, from the Web sites they frequent.

A new national survey of consumer “pet peeves” about commercial Web sites identifies some of the
top offenders as pop-up ads, registration log-on pages and eye-catching Flash software. This may be
bad news for businesses that rely on these tactics to encourage, track or engage their current and
potential customers.

What’s more, in responding to the survey commissioned by Web hosting leader Hostway Corp., more
than 70 percent of consumers say they’re unlikely to purchase from, or even return to, a Web site after
encountering these pet peeves. And, because only 25 percent of consumers say they’ll complain to the
companies about their pet peeves, the use of these online annoyances may be having a negative impact
that’s difficult to trace or measure.

“The results of this survey are a clear warning to e-businesses,” said John Lee, vice president of marketing
at Hostway. “The Internet has matured to the point where consumers demand an easy online experience.
Quite simply, consumers are warning companies, ‘you’re going to lose my business if your Web site
experience is annoying.”

According to the survey results, a whopping 93 percent of consumers say pop-up ads are annoying or
extremely annoying; 89 percent are annoyed at the need to install extra software, and 83 percent express
annoyance with registration log-on pages that block access to online content.

This survey also measured the likelihood of other consumer responses when encountering their top pet peeves:

Seventy-four percent are extremely or somewhat likely to unsubscribe from the company’s promotions or messages
Seventy-one percent are extremely or somewhat likely to view the company in a negative way
Fifty-five percent are extremely or somewhat likely to complain about the Web site to friends/associates

“In an increasingly Internet-focused world, consumers have many choices,” said Lee. “These results clearly show
that consumers will make a behavioral change if they encounter a Web site that annoys them. In the context of this
research, SMBs have the opportunity to analyze their Web sites and make appropriate changes.”

Most Annoying

What irks consumers the most? The survey asked consumers to rank their most annoying Web site pet peeve
and 35 percent of consumers responded that pop-up ads are their number one pet peeve. Directly following
are requirement to register and log-on before viewing a site (at 17 percent) and requiring the installation of
extra software to view the site (at 16 percent).

How annoying are they?

Additionally, the survey presented a list of Web site quirks and asked consumers to describe each one on a
scale of annoyance:

Eighty-six percent of consumers stated that dead links are annoying or extremely annoying Eighty-four percent
stated that confusing navigation is annoying or extremely annoying
Eighty-three percent of consumers stated that slow-loading pages are annoying or extremely annoying
Slightly over eighty percent of consumers stated that ineffective site-search tools are annoying or extremely annoying

Comparatively fewer consumers ranked aesthetic characteristics of Web sites annoying or extremely annoying:

Fifty- nine percent of consumers think moving text is annoying or extremely annoying
Fifty-five percent of consumers feel strongly that poor appearance in regard to color, fonts and format are annoying
or extremely annoying.

Gender, Generation and Income

The survey data additionally identifies differences between genders, generations and income levels. Survey results
suggest that women and those beyond 60 years of age are more likely to have a strong opinion on their pet peeves,
regardless of their income or geographic locations.

Consumers with an income greater than $90,000 and those aged 40 to 49 had the highest percentage of respondents
naming pop-up ads as their top pet peeves.

Market research firm TNS conducted the survey for Hostway between July 7-11 questioning 2,500 adult consumers
nationwide about their Web site pet peeves.

To obtain top-line survey results please visit 

About Hostway Corporation

Hostway Corporation provides Web hosting and managed services to more than 300,000 customers worldwide. Hostway helps individuals, small businesses and large enterprises achieve more value from state-of-the-art Web-based technologies by reducing their complexity and cost. Founded in 1998, Hostway is one of the five largest Web hosting companies in the world with offices in North America (Chicago, Tampa and Vancouver), Europe (London and Amsterdam), Asia (Seoul) and Australia (Sydney). For more information about Hostway Corporation, please visit or call 1-888-290-5170.

About TNS

TNS is one of the world’s leading market information groups, providing market measurement, analysis and insight through its operating companies in 70 countries. Working with national and multi-national organizations, TNS helps its clients develop effective business strategies and enhance relationships with their customers. In July 2003, the group merged with NFO WorldGroup, Inc. For more information about TNS, please visit

Survey Methodology

TNS conducted the survey online on behalf of Hostway Corporation between July 7 and 11, 2005 among a nationally representative sample of 2,500 U.S. adults, aged 18 and older selected from TNS-NFO ACCESS panel. For more information on survey methodology, please contact Tina Janczura at


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