10 Reasons Why the Marketing Association of New Zealand’s Website Sucks

1. The search is crap

To demonstrate, here is the results for my search for “marketing”:

Search for “Marketing” on Marketing Association of NZ website

Can you detect a complex search algorithm at work here? Me neither.

They can take some comfort in the fact that very few websites have a decent search engine, but the rule is “if it doesn’t work like Google it doesn’t work at all”.

So what should they do? Simple, just plug in Google search

2. Their “do not call/mail list” is lame

Their claim to fame is the “do not call/mail” list where citizens such as yourself can opt out of receiving phone calls or mail from advertisers.

The catch is that only advertisers that are members of the Marketing Association of New Zealand get this list.

So the most annoying spammers and market surveyors probably aren’t members. So you will probably continue to get junk mail and phone calls during dinner, even after to spend 30 minutes of your life working through this tedious process.

And by the way, the “do not call” and “do not mail” lists are completely separate forms and you have to enter each person in your household separately too. Enjoy.

3. They serve banner ads

For example:

3 Examples of Ads on the Marketing Association of NZ Website


To earn revenue?

They should just stick to what they’re doing and choose not to distract their visitors from their task.

It makes them look cheap. Who do they think they are? The NZ Herald?

And I suspect that these 3 customers are not paying the ratecard rate because at $400/month for the homepage and $320/month for the rest of the website, do you think they’ll ever get a return on investment?

Advertising Rate Card for MANZ website

4. They don’t have blogs or a forum, there is no 2 way communication

Marketing is built on communication is it not?

Where are the blogs? Where are the Question and Answer forums? Where are the links to other social networking such as Twitter or Linked-in?

They are absent.

They should be leading the way with marketing techniques in the 21st century, but sadly, it seems they are stuck in the 90’s.

5. They use “click here” for internal hyperlinks

2 Examples of Using "click here"

This is poor for users because it doesn’t provide “information scent” – a preview of what they will see on the next page (because often when people read on the web, they scan quickly and read only hyperlinks).

And they are missing a Search Engine Optimisation opportunity here too because Google loves keyword rich anchor text in internal hyperlinks.

6. No breadcrumbs and no highlighting of the page you are on, so you get completely lost

These are 2 standard features that are completely missing from this website, and that is why you will get lost in minutes if you bother having a look around.

7. They list a fax number on their contact page


What the hell is a fax machine anyway? I’ve never heard of it.


8. Their email addresses are plain text

I shudder to think how many spam emails their staff get.

Why do I care? Because I have less confidence that an important email I send them will get blocked or deleted by an overly aggressive spam filtering system.

What should they do? Use HiveEnkoder to obfusicate their email addresses so spambots can’t read them, but humans can (and can still click on them).  It creates a little bit of javascript code that can be easily inserted in to the html.

9. The national news page doesn’t even have dates and the headlines are as boring as hell

See for yourself:

Screenshot of so-called "National News" page

What should they do? Incorporate thumbnails to give it some life, have the full date, and show a few sentences as a teaser.

10. In the footer, the copyright is 2005


This tells me it has been 4 years since their last major upgrade. And it shows. The site is dated.

Are the web developers – Net Concepts to blame?

No. I’m not hassling the original web developers: Net Concepts.  Infact, their latest stuff is really really good. But if I was them, I’d either put pressure on the Marketing Association of New Zealand to let them build them a new website, or ask them to remove the hyperlink, because it’s just embarrassing being associated with them.

What next then?

If you represent the Marketing Association you may be a bit pissed off with this report, but somebody had to wake you up.  I’m for hire, I can help you fix these things, so call me on (07) 575 8799.

And if you have a website of your own and you want a frank, honest, cut-the-crap evaluation of your website, so you can start generating business from it, you can call me too: (07) 575 8799 (only call if you promise not to cry over the phone when I point out all your mistakes).

26 Replies to “10 Reasons Why the Marketing Association of New Zealand’s Website Sucks”

  1. Great post.

    Totally agree about click here ..It’s one of the first things I say to my clients. In fact, instead of click here you can gain not one but two searchable links.

    And there are more than ten.

    1 For an org supposed to promote brand consistency, their Title tag is The Marketing Assoc of NZ while their header graphic is The NZ Marketing Assoc.

    2 The page Title tags are not very inventive and offer very little by way of searched keywords hence not optimised.

    3 They don’t use two other optimisation tricks.

    4 No Back to Top for visitor convenience.

    5 The Home Page articles are very internally focused. What are Nexus and RSVP awards? Explain them in the headline.

    6 The webpage copy sucks. In fact as a reader, you have to suck … in breath to finish a sentence. “Our Purpose” on Why Join, runs to 8 lines!

    In “Our commitment” – very 80s corp-speak. The only redeeming feature is that they didn’t use the word “solutions” in otherwise very dull copy which again is not optimised. Plus they miss tho opp to expand the components with detailed benefits so they can dominate Google. ANd of course provide greater value and clarity to their readers.

    In fact, if you provide clarity and value to readers Google will help you get great rankings.

    7 No signs of any actual benefits or results.

    8 Useful links – loads of wasted space – they could bring far more useful stuff above the fold.

    9 The meta description is very boring and doesn’t offer any SEO benefit.

    10 No Home Page notification of upcoming events.

    So, 20 easy and obvious ways to make the site more useful to potential and actual visitors.

    1. Agreed Carl, thanks for the comment. You’ve got me wondering if any representatives from the marketing association have a Google alert set up when a blog such as this one mentions the association… probably not.

  2. I agree with you, the site could do with some work. Although it seems that most industry association websites suffer from this, I suppose mostly because of lack of commercial imperative.

  3. Hi Sheldon
    Do you just like to find faults, or when you see something that needs fixing are you willing to assist? If you dislike the (not for profit) Marketing Association website and their activities so much, then why not get involved. After all it is an association created by marketing members to improve marketing in New Zealand. I’m sure that if you joined and offered your services as a volunteer, like so many other members do, then your assistance would be greatly appreciated. The association also has several special interest groups that might be of interest to you.
    But I know that it is lots of fun to poke fun at others faults, by the way have you looked at the W3C report for the faults on your own site?

    And by the way, I’m not even a member of the Association.

  4. Thanks for your perspective Iain.

    You’re right, rather than take a constructive viewpoint “I’m going to join so I can help fix what’s broken”, I have taken a critical, destructive viewpoint “I’m not going to join because so many things are broken”

    hmmmm you’ve made me think Iain, thanks again!

    W3C is too picky, and most of those errors are from the embedded YouTube video so that’s Google’s fault. Life’s too short to validate html 😛

  5. I like the way you’ve laid out how a proper site should work. Technically you’re way ahead of the game than most people Sheldon – I’ve been doing a bit of research into people’s attitudes around social networking, websites, blogging etc and most just have no idea. Some traditional marketers / PR people like myself understand the psychology and politics of the game, but still scrambling to catchup with the technology.

  6. Iain they should be mature enough to take on-board a good critique like this, the author even offers advice on what to fix, pretty simple things too, not try to hide behind such a disingenuous excuse: you should never critique anything an association does unless you’re involved – well the author just got involved even pointing to a tool for encoding email addresses.

    They might be “non-profit” but don’t they take member fees? They’ve obviously hired a professional web firm.

    W3C is a technical report on markup standards not a usabilty report – don’t know what usability is? You sure you aren’t connected with them?

  7. Thanks for that Colin. I think we are all scrambling! There is so much going on in the social networking area in particular that no single person can keep up with it all. Traditional marketers like yourself have the benefit of looking at whats going on through a lens that doesn’t get sucked into the hype “let’s just wait and watch and see if this latest fad has some staying power. Does it add value or is it just hype?”

  8. Well, what’s exciting about this is we can bypass the media completely – they’re no longer the gods of information and when you see how they distort everything anyway we can thank our lucky stars…

    1. Agreed, there is a dramatic shift in power, the greats of advertising are finding the sand shifting under their feet, now someone with a great product can launch it and get world wide attention without having to go through the traditional routes. Moe power to the little guy

      Sheldon, put a bob each way “here-hear, or heir-hare…

  9. Thanks for your feedback Sheldon, and in short, yes – we agree our website is in need of improvement – and that’s exactly why we’re currently working on a major redevelopment project.

    The new site will overcome several of the points you’ve noted, including improved search functionality and incorporating blogs and forums so we can have some of these discussions on our own site.

    If you have a proper look around the site, you’ll see we do have some short term social media activity in place – most recently through the MAC blog, and several of our other special interest groups have a presence on LinkedIn, Twitter and/or Facebook.

    Also, while you may find the Do Not Mail/Do Not Call lame, rest assured that is not the case for marketers who subscribe to these Name Suppression Services and implement more cost effective campaigns as a result, or for the consumers who (in their thousands) use the online web forms to add their names to the registers. By the way, you’re incorrect in your assumption that only advertisers who are members of the Marketing Association get the list, both members and non members currently utilise the Name Suppression Services.

    At the end of your post you provide your contact details if we’re interested in your services. Thank you, but we’ll respectfully decline that offer as we have the matter well in hand. Those involved in the Marketing Association and who support the work we do protecting this wonderful industry we’re in are actively working with us in this area.

    Lisa – Marketing Manager, Marketing Association

    1. Well said Lisa,
      I think the whole 2.0 experience is exactly what is happening here, people now have a medium to voice their opinions, (whether right or wrong) and also an added advantage is you can tap the minds of many others, and enjoy the wisdom of crowds.
      Look forward to the new site.

    2. Great to hear from you Lisa, thank you. I also look forward to your new website.

      Regarding my assumption that only advertisers that are members of the association get the list, this information came from your webpage: “the Marketing Association cannot guarantee to stop all mailings because not every company is a member of the Association.”

  10. Some valid points on best practice approach and issues you’d expect that the MA would have under control, but my overall out take is that this is a cheap shot when you don’t have any back ground to the strategy or the development path.

    Do you have some client work you’d like to put up to the industry to critique?

    1. Thanks Boyd. Would I like a free critique from other marketing professionals on my client work? Hell yes! Doesn’t everybody? I’d be honoured. You’re right of course about back ground strategy so I’d ignore the ideas that don’t conform to that, but surely they’d be a few ideas in there that I could take action on. (The only risk I supose would be if the client got hold of that report and told me I was incompetent for not thinking up all these ideas myself)

  11. Oh Sheldon….if only I was as certain of best practise as you!
    You’ve made some interesting (if uninformed) points about the M.A. website, but I’d particularly like to comment about the name suppression service.
    Are you aware that over 60,000 New Zealanders find this a valuable service ? And did you know that the families of the 180,00 people who have died in the last 7 years are grateful that they don’t get unsolicited marketing communications?. You’d probably be surprised to learn that the Privacy Commission and the Department of Internal Affairs trust us with data that many Government departments can’t access. We didn’t earn that trust by writing destructive blogs!
    Are you aware that countries like USA, Canada, Australia, Germany etc all have State operated suppression services.? We don’t, because marketers who care about the freedom to communicate support their industry association.
    Call me old-fashioned but I can’t understand why someone who purports to be a “Marketing Consultant” would risk alienating their target market by being a smart ass instead of offering to help.
    I’m sure we’ll pass on your tips to some of the dozens of professionals who freely give their time to help us encourage best practise marketing
    Keith Norris, Director of Public Affairs, Marketing Association

    1. Thanks for your input Keith.

      Thanks for filling those gaps in my knowledge about the “do not call/mail” list.

      Yes, I was taking the risk of alienating my target market and being thought of as a smart ass, but I took that risk because I care about the marketing industry (because I just luuuuuuuv marketing), and I care about change (because we must).

      Sounds like you’ve got things under control Keith, but I’d say you need people like me to shake things up a bit who are passionate, driven and challenge the status quo. If you would like to offer me a complementary membership I would gladly accept. Let me know.

  12. It has been 8 months since Lisa’s and Keith Noris’s promise of a much improved Marketing Association website.

    Has anything been fixed?


    No improvements at all.

    1. Sheldon dear boy,
      People who live in glass houses etc.
      There are some golden rules in marketing. You’ve managed to break 2 in your short message:

      (1) The most important part of any personalised message is the recipient’s name….mine is Norris…not Noris!
      (2) Be accurate…I did not “promise a much improved website”. Somebody else maybe. But not me!

      You see there is more to marketing than simply having a technically sophisticated online presence!

      Keith Norris

  13. Thanks Sheldon, both the article and ensuing comments were worth the read! My two cents worth – I really enjoyed reading your critique on the old NZMA site. As a member and user I found the site frustrating and was amused at how accurately you highlighted the issues. But mainly I was interested in seeing your thought process and the commonsense fixes suggested.

    The good news is that the new site is vastly improved however you still need to dig to find some of the value. There’s a lot on the homepage which makes it easy to overlook things.

    No one likes to hear bad news or criticism but in this case The NZ Marketing Assoc. was provided some useful insights to improve their site for FREE and several of the fixes could have been easily achieved – especially the search function.

    I can certainly emphasise with the NZMA, just because it’s helpful doesn’t make it sting less! And usually you get to endure the pain in private through your own testing – having it reviewed on a blog for the world to see ‘rubs salt in the wound’ to say the least.

    Sometimes, you need to suck up your pride and try to see criticism as the key to improvement. And I should know, my company is undergoing a total website redevelopment after some brutal external testing (one person even said they were LESS likely to buy our product after visiting it!).

    The real question what is better pain of criticism now or go on thinking that there’s no problems?

    For my company it was a blessing in disguise, allowing us to secure additional funding to start from scratch and outsource when needed and also provided the momentum needed to embark on the rebuild.

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