You’re an ambitious entrepreneur who will stop at nothing short of world domination. But while your diligent work ethic, single-mindedness and determination to succeed are admirable, entrepreneurship is all about the learning curve. Mistakes are inevitable, both in terms of operations and outreach. But when it comes to your digital marketing efforts there’s very little room for error. The internet always remembers. So any mistakes you make in your digital marketing efforts can leave a sour taste for months or even years.
Digital marketing is both an art and a science. And whether you choose to handle all your digital marketing in-house or rely on an outsourced website marketing agency, all the intent in the world can’t make up for a misjudged execution.
With that in mind, we’ve compiled this list of some of the biggest cardinal sins of digital marketing which are made all too often by ambitious entrepreneurs desperate to establish their brands in the face of fierce competition.
Make sure you steer clear of these to ensure that your brand makes the perfect impression in 2020…
1. Starting out with no clear goal
So, you want your digital marketing efforts to be popular and successful? That’s great… but what will be the strategy that propels you toward that endgame? How will you know what success looks like? How will you quantify and measure it? How will you adjust your strategy if you’re falling short of targets and expectations?
As tempting as it is to forego this stage and get straight to the fun, creative part (creating the marketing materials themselves) you will fail if you don’t have clear goals and strategies at the heart of everything you do.
What is your strategy intended to do? Drive sales? Build brand awareness? Inspire loyalty? Be wary of trying to do too much in a single campaign, and make sure that your materials across various channels and platforms have a clear message.
Start out by defining a clear target audience and building buyer personas. Find out what motivates them, and what they’re looking for in a brand. Carry out extensive market research before and during the preparation of marketing materials. And, of course, ensure that you have clear, achievable goals in mind and know what achieving them will look like in real terms.
2. Failing to copy test new ads and campaigns
Copy testing is the process of gathering consumer feedback on marketing materials before they are launched. In the current fast-paced landscape of digital marketing, not all agencies and brands carry out this integral step. This is understandable. Too many cooks can spoil the broth and potentially dilute the impact of your campaign’s message. However, take a look at some of these bizarrely tone-deaf or downright offensive campaigns and you’ll realise that even the biggest brands can be guilty of failing to read the room as a result of neglecting copy testing.
3. Joining the dark side of SEO
Getting ahead in the digital world is all about ensuring that your online content ranks above your competitors’ in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). Your campaigns can help you find great success by position your brand in front of the competition at those intent-rich “micro moments” when consumers will instinctively reach for an internet-enabled device.
SEO is a multifaceted discipline and how you approach it will depend on whether you have your sights set on the local, national or international market. However, in order to make quick gains by gaming the algorithms used by Google and other search engines, some brands resort to what is known as Black Hat SEO tactics. These include;
- Keyword stuffing
- Hidden text on the page that’s loaded with keywords
- Linking out to irrelevant content
- Bait & switch redirects
- Blog comment spam
As tempting as these dark SEO practices may be for hungry businesses looking to get ahead, the small immediate gains they produce are quickly nullified when search engines clamp down on these aberrant behaviours.
Don’t fall for these “get noticed quick” tactics. Instead build your SEO by ensuring that your NAP data is accurate wherever it’s listed, generating links from valued sources and turning out a stream of high-value content with which your target audience can engage.
Which brings us to…
4. Sacrificing quality for quantity when it comes to content marketing
Content marketing is a great way to improve your SEO while also building value for your target audience. Blogs, videos, infographics, tutorials and other forms of high-value content improve your SEO in a number of ways. They encourage users to move around through your website. They encourage greater time on page and scroll depth and they result in meaningful forms of engagement like commenting and social sharing. And the more content you have, the bigger your website which is another big check for your SEO.
However, many brands have learned all the wrong lessons when it comes to the value of content marketing. They stuff their websites with low-quality, duplicate or spun content (content copied and pasted from other websites with only minor changes to wording and sentence structure). Not only does this create more SEO problems than it solves, it’s really not a good look on any brand and can diminish the trust that you’ve worked so hard to build in your target audience.
5. Wasting your efforts on the wrong social platforms
We live in the age of social media, and any digital marketing strategy should include efforts to engage your target audience on social platforms. However, when you use a platform-agnostic approach that encompasses all platforms (even the ones your prospects aren’t using) this can result in a lot of wasted time, effort and resources. Worse still, it pretty much defeats the purpose of social media marketing in the first place.
Social media is all about delivering highly targeted content to the people in your target audience as opposed to the costly and inefficient “spray and pray” approach of traditional marketing. Take the time to find out where your target audience spends their time online. Not only will it influence which platforms you use, but it will also automatically influence the nature of your marketing materials.
An ad on Instagram, for instance, will look markedly different to the same ad on Facebook by nature of the platform’s User Interface. Oh, and if you’re targeting a female audience you’d be remiss in your social strategy if you neglected Pinterest. 80% of its 291 million active users a month are women, and almost 80% of Pinterest users find the content they get from brands useful. It’s a platform that surprisingly few brands are keen to capitalize on.
6. Doing social media wrong
Speaking of social media, it’s worth remembering that you never get a second chance to make a first impression. Especially in the digital realm.
Think of your approach to social media as a networking event. Anyone who’s ever attended one of these events knows that they’re an opportunity to meet and greet influential people in your industry and start to make an impression. They’re an opportunity to be yourself and hope that your personality and enthusiasm make people want to get to know you and your business better. They are not an opportunity to go in with the hard sell and try and convert every potential contact in the room. This is a good way to alienate potentially lucrative contacts and prevent yourself from being invited back next year.
The same goes for social media. Social platforms offer an opportunity to build a meaningful relationship with your target audience. Sure, some platforms like Instagram are making it easier for shoppers to buy directly from small businesses by clicking on their ads, but this shouldn’t be the sole aim of your social strategy.
You should engage meaningfully with your target audience on social platforms. Like what they post. Leave comments. Tag them in things that you think will interest them. Celebrate them for the difference they make to your business.
This will start to establish the kind of relationship that leads to ongoing loyalty. And it’s invariably more effective than going in for the hard sell all the time.
7. Letting paid ads do all the heavy lifting
First of all, refusing to see the value in paid ads is a cardinal sin in and of itself. Yes, organic is always best, but gaining the kind of reach you’re looking for organically can take a great deal of time. The time you don’t necessarily have, especially with so many competitors snapping at your heels.
Paid ads on Facebook or Google allow you to deliver highly targeted content to your target audience and can build a great deal of buzz around your brand quickly… but it’s also essential to know how to carry that momentum forward. Otherwise, it’ll just fizzle out. So make sure that you have comprehensive lead generation and organic engagement strategies in place to ensure that you get the most out of your paid reach.