10 Top Marketing Mistakes and How to Prevent Them

23 November 2017

Seller beware

While experts might agree there’s no definitive “right” way to run your marketing campaign, there most certainly is a wrong way. Actually, there are several wrong ways. The following list covers just a few of the classic missteps made by novice (and sometimes even highly experienced) advertisers who have trouble hitting their mark, along with some ideas as to how to prevent these potentially damaging slip-ups from happening.

Misstep 1: Avoiding a Personal Touch

If you’re in the business of marketing, you’re in the business of personalised customer service. All points of customer interaction—from the friendly “Hi John!” at the beginning of your emails to the handling of a delivery complaint—should fall within your purview. Though immediate customer service may not be your department, it’s essential you play a role in establishing a company culture that promotes convivial communication and swift action for consumers in distress.

Don’t just model your marketing campaigns around what you think customers want, do your best to validate how they feel. This may include person to person connections on social media and in the comments section of your company blog, or it may involve an intense study of your website traffic and consumer metrics, which will give you insight into consistent points of satisfaction or frustration among your average customers.

Misstep 2: Casting Too Wide a Net

Marketing experts like Neil Patel are very clear on this subject: If you’re targeting anyone and everyone with your branding, you’re doing it wrong.

Your business is unique and therefore has unique customers. Don’t ignore them. Understand your audiences as best you can by researching who buys your product or services and for what reasons. Once that work is done, consider which advertising channels and which media platforms are more likely to rein in your optimal consumer. Do your findings suggest your service plays well with millennials? Invest in a Snapchat or Instagram campaign. Have you discovered your customers are discerning tastemakers with a penchant for radio? Maybe reach out to them with a thoughtful, in-depth and inventive podcast that outlines your business model.

Misstep 3: Wasting Funds on a Single Project

While you should remain selective about your target audience, you shouldn’t restrict yourself in terms of how you reach them. Marketing campaigns tend to thrive on variety. While it may be tempting to divert your entire advertising budget towards one thrilling idea that only works within a single media outlet, you’d be placing your company at huge risk if the concept misfires or fails to resonate with audiences.

Rather than putting all your marketing eggs in one basket, you should spread your message across multiple channels, especially when you’re just starting out. In an Entrepreneur.com excerpt from his book MadScam, George Parker says of marketing diversity: “Make your ad budget work harder for you… Find out which of the various media options have the most readership with your target groups, then put all your money in those.”

Misstep 4: Letting Your Website Collect Digital Dust

According to Forbes.com contributor John Rampton, certain misguided businesses believe that Facebook, Twitter and all other forms of social media can serve as sufficient replacements for a company website.

They’re wrong.

“When social media first exploded,” Rampton writes, “there was a lot of chatter about driving traffic to social media sites. Some major companies even discussed shutting down their websites and just focusing on their social media pages…Don’t do that.”

Instead, Rampton advises, you should probably think of your social media outlets as satellite operations designed to funnel customers towards your home base: your website. These days, websites are tantamount to the “face” of your organisation; they’re essentially the front line between you and your customers. Make sure that face is a friendly one. All websites should feel immediately welcoming and accessible—and they should be gleaming with professional polish. Concerned a well-designed site might cost too much? Rampton counsels employing the services of a top notch yet affordable website creator.

Misstep 5: Neglecting Customers Who Own a Phone

Think about the last time you were travelling via public transportation or found yourself waiting in a public space. How many people around you were interacting with their phones? If the latest numbers on mobile usage are any indication, it was probably a sizeable amount—particularly as Australia is on a trajectory towards having mobile usage overtake desktop interaction in terms of time spent online.

Let this be a lesson: You’re missing out on a huge swath of potential customers if you overlook mobile platforms. Got a spiffy website like the ideal one mentioned above? Great. Now make sure it’s optimised for smartphone or tablet use. Thinking of taking your mobile interface to the next level to attract even more customers? Fabulous. Consider creating a mobile app that’s unique to your business. Be careful, though: app failure rates are astronomically high. If you do go that route, try hiring an expert to test your proposed app’s viability before you invest money in an ambitious mobile launch.

Misstep 6: Forgetting to Blog

We understand. Blog upkeep is work. All of that updating and content creation takes a lot of time and talent…and who really reads those things, anyway?

The short answer? Everyone. Everyone is reading blog posts. Well okay, not everyone. But, according to recent HubSpot findings, 38% of inbound customer traffic across 15,000 surveyed companies comes from compounding blog posts (that is, posts that see a graduated increase in visits over time because the content addresses frequently searched terms or topics).

Blogs may take a lot of effort, but they’re worth it in the long run because they multiply your audience. Make sure your blogs keep up with current trends (internet search analytics can help you in this area) and industry news items. In addition, remember to connect to your readers directly. Allow room for comment threads and respond to customer questions or concerns as regularly as possible.

Misstep 7: Overwhelming Your Potential Customers with Spam

Remember: The keyword in email and message marketing today is “automation,” not “automatic.” Don’t make the fatal error of allowing robotic constant contact to outweigh your marketing message.

While it’s understandable you’d want to remain foremost in your customers’ minds, there’s such a thing as too much engagement. Steer clear of flooding your customers’ email inboxes with annoyingly frequent messages that lack punch or potency. If you’re sending out an email blast or firing off a quick text to your customer base, be certain there’s always a definable reason for being in touch (such as a sale, a crucial industry news update or a necessary tutorial). Keep in mind that your definition of “essential contact” may be vastly different from your customers’. Before hitting “send,” ask yourself: “If I were in the market for my product, would I want to receive this?”

Also, be discerning with your content. Pumping your emails full of gimmicky or pointless fillers such as excessive images or randomly capitalised words might trigger email server spam filters and could hide your message from your customers indefinitely.

Misstep 8: Omitting a Call to Action

In keeping with the theme of making emails as relevant and impactful as possible, it’s also highly advisable for you to include a verifiable and instantly recognisable call to action with each customer message. Don’t leave customers in limbo. Your email or text message advertisements should activate your consumers by giving them a specific task or by encouraging their participation in a current event. For example: If you’re having a sale, you should provide your customers with a direct link to your sale site when you email them. Similarly, if you’d like your consumers to read up on a recent industry report, add the report as an attachment to your email or guide customers to a landing page that will allow them to download the document. (Landing pages like these can be extra useful in that they offer you the opportunity to collect data on who’s downloading your information and why they feel its important.)

Misstep 9: Overlooking the Repeat Customer

While you’re out attracting new audiences, don’t forget to love the one you’re with. Businesses sometimes get painfully literal with the word “more” and make the dangerous assumption that “more customers” always means “more money.” Sometimes, though, a few dedicated consumers can actually yield bigger returns than a wider pool of one-time buyers. Don’t abandon the customers you have in favour of the customers you might secure sometime in the future. Set aside marketing funds to foster your community of repeat purchasers. Use buyer metrics to help uncover which aspects of your business appeal most to your returning customers and try and catch your repeat visitors’ eyes with enticing cross-selling or upselling techniques that cater to their tastes.

Misstep 10: Taking Your Eyes off Your Competitors

Here’s a case where healthy competition is a good thing.

Your company doesn’t exist in a vacuum, and neither should your marketing department. Investigate the other guys. If their sales are suddenly spiking, ask yourself why. If they’ve filed for bankruptcy, go to school on their mistakes. Should you notice your competitors are using new tech tools to rope in customers, see if those solutions are right for your organisation and give them a trial run.

This is not to say you should always be doing exactly what your colleagues are doing, however. Enlisting in the same campaign strategy as your competitors can drown out your advertising message in a sea of static. Strive for a balanced approach: Use trade secrets to your advantage but find a distinctive voice with which to promote your product.

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