Climbing to the top of the marketing totem pole can be tricky. It requires both business savvy and a strong sense of ethics. And both dictate that there are certain practices you should never engage in while marketing. Here are my top five, in descending order, based on the amount of harm they do to your campaign:

5. Never fail to track the effectiveness of your marketing efforts. Online, you can usually use your analytics program to find out where your traffic is coming from. Yet, both online and off, using a code that brings prospects some benefit (e.g. a discount or free gift) can help you track which marketing venues are bringing you the greatest response—and which may be yielding little to no response. If the unproductive venues are costing you money, you may want to rethink your marketing strategy.

4. Don’t put all your eggs in one marketing basket. This is especially true if you have to pay for the basket! Before buying expensive advertising that may not pay off in the end, try some of the many free marketing methods that are available today thanks to the internet. Free social media pages are one excellent way to market your products or services (though paid social media advertising may not be helpful). A blog is another. Forums appropriate to your niche can also help when you post content that offers added value. Content marketing via free online article directories can also prove helpful.

3. If you use pop-ups on your website, don’t make yours extra annoying! You may feel you have little choice but to use a pop-up opt-in form to add visitors to your mailing list or to sign them up for a free offer. But, be aware that many people find pop-ups extremely bothersome and distracting, and the more blatantly presented they are, the less likely these people are to even read them, much less respond to your call to action. Anything you can do to reduce the obtrusiveness of your pop-ups—and therefore lessen the annoyance of your visitors—can only help your marketing efforts.

2. Resist the temptation to post marketing spam online. While social media networking and forum postings can benefit your marketing efforts tremendously when done right, they can be disastrous when handled carelessly or unthinkingly. Posting self-serving links that fail to engage or provide real value to the reader is a no-no if you hope to gain positive attention for your marketing campaign. You’ll never inspire interest in your offering by plastering impersonal marketing spam all over the internet.

1. Never disrespect your prospects—or, worse yet, your customers. Remember that you’re nothing without them, so don’t talk down to them or jump to negative conclusions about their motives. Never try to pressure them into buying—or keeping—something they don’t want. And never insist that they accept other merchandise in place of the item(s) they return—especially if you originally sent those items by mistake. These actions never bode well for your image with the customer or the people they are sure to tell of your transgression. It’s simply not worth it. Why? Because word-of-mouth marketing is one of the best ways you can attract ongoing business and ensure future profits.

Always remember: You’ll never reach the top of the marketing totem pole by engaging in tactics that are counterproductive to your goals.

What other actions would you advise the aspiring marketer never to practice?

 Author Bio: Guest post contributed by Charles Dearing, for WhoIsHostingThis – A review site and webmaster tool that enables you to discover which web hosting company any site is hosted with. Find out more on their website.

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