Online marketing offers a ton of flexibility; you can choose any number of different strategies, allowing them to interact in diverse and varied ways, and thanks to instantly updated metrics, whenever you realize a tactic isn’t working, you can switch it out for something better. Yet most marketers still make critical and fundamental mistakes that prevent their campaigns from being as effective as they can be.
These nine mistakes are some of the most egregious I’ve seen, so steer clear of them at all costs:
- Not starting with a brand. Your brand provides the skeletal framework for your company and overall online marketing strategy; without a solid brand at your core, you’ll have no identity standards to guide your marketing and advertising direction. Among other things, your brand will determine who your target audience is and how you relate to them, how you’re differentiated from your competitors, and what feelings you’ll need to evoke in order to communicate effectively to your customers.
- Failing to have an anchor point. Every online marketing strategy needs to tie back to some solid anchor point. For most businesses, this is a website, where visitors will be able to make purchases, fill out a contact form, or otherwise convert into leads and customers. You may also have a landing page, or use a social media profile page as your anchor point; whatever it is, it’s where your traffic will be funneled and where your traffic will become meaningful revenue.
- Not setting specific goals. What are you actually trying to achieve? You’re trying to earn more revenue, yes, but how are you going about that? Are you trying to improve your conversion rate, or just increase your brand visibility and reputation? How fast are you trying to do this, and how are you going to determine whether you’ve succeeded? The only way to answer these questions is by setting specific, achievable goals that your marketing team can follow. Without those goals in place, you’ll be flying blind—and you won’t be able to formally achieve anything.
- Investing too little. There are some online marketing strategies that are cheap and some that are virtually free, but don’t let that fool you; you need to invest in your strategies if you want them to pay off like building high domain authority links back to your site via guest articles or even PPC campaign management to drive leads to your site. If you’re not investing money, you need to invest time, and without that investment, they aren’t going to yield results.
- Neglecting your audience’s needs. Your audience should be the main focus of your campaign. Everything, from the content you write to how you spin the copy around your products, should revolve around your audience’s wants and needs. If you don’t know them well enough, you need to do more market research.
- Forgetting the competition. You aren’t the only business in your industry relying on online marketing for support; chances are, you have multiple competitors challenging you for dominance in your space. If you neglect them, they’ll be able to walk all over you. Do your research and stay aware of their changing tactics; you’ll always want to stay a step ahead of them, or at least on their level, and you’ll always want to remain differentiated from them so you stand out in the white noise.
- Choosing the wrong channels. You have a number of channels to choose from, whether you’re placing banner advertisements or supporting your onsite content through syndication and promotion. Some marketers end up choosing a handful based on their preconceived notions, or sign up for as many as possible because they believe more is better; don’t fall for these traps. Do your research in advance, and choose only the channels that will be most appropriate for your audience and effective for your brand. Anything else may waste your time and money.
- Not measuring your results. The only way to know for sure if you’re successful is to measure your results; without the numbers in front of you, how can you possibly know your return on investment (ROI)? Make sure you have tracking systems in place early on, and take snapshots regularly to monitor your progress. This is a way of checking up on the health of your campaign; you need to know when something’s going right or wrong so you can reinforce or correct it accordingly.
- Remaining inflexible. Things change in the online marketing world, and they change fast—technology comes and goes, trends fade in and out, and it’s hard to predict exactly how customers will behave even a few months in the future. You need to be prepared to adapt your strategy to compensate for these changes, not to mention responding to new competitors and new opportunities.
Upon reading them, these nine mistakes may seem obvious to you, but you’d be amazed at how many experienced, seasoned marketers I see falling for these same pitfalls. They’re dangerous to the health and performance of your online marketing strategies, and to make things worse—they can be easy to miss if you’re not looking out for them. Keep them in the back of your mind, and comb over your campaign just to make sure you aren’t using them unwittingly.