What Digital Marketing is NOT about
Many company owners, new to online digital marketing, know they have to do something to grow their online customer base, enhance their brand and increase their online coverage.
However, many of them rush headlong into launching a series of marketing activities, with giving little or no thought to what they must NOT do. These same people have lost a lot of money, damaged their business reputations and have had their fingers serverly burnt.
This article is desgined so you don’t make the same mistakes. I will be discussing the most common mistakes made in digital marketing and I hope to save you time and money in the long run.
1. Failing to integrate online with offline marketing
Never operate your digital marketing independently from your other marketing activities.
You should have a fully integrated marketing strategy embracing both your online and offline activities. For instance you should be promoting your social media, blog and website through your direct advertising and marketing channels. In the same way, you should be promoting your direct marketing activities through your website, social media, blogs and email-marketing.
A consistency of message, creative design and tone should be used across all of your marketing channels. A potential customer who sees one of your posters in your shop window should be able to visit your website to experience the same branding, design and adverts online, and allow your customers to seamlessly pass from the offline world to the online world with an exact or, at least similar, user experience.
2. Believing it is all ‘hot air’
Recently, one of our customers, Andrew, came to us with some pretty strong views believing ‘digital marekting was a load of hot air’ and a ‘waste of time’. After spending several months designing and deliveirng his online marketing strategy, I am glad to say that Andrew is now a true convert to the power and effectiveness of online marketing and it’s ability to grow a company’s customer base.
However, I do have a lot of sympathy for people like Andrew, who share, what were his original beliefs. There is certainly a lot of hype out there with regards to online marketing services. New technology is constantly shaking up the industry. First there were websites, then email-marketing, then paid advertising, then social media and blogs. Today, all the talk is about mobile and tablets. The change never slows, giving online marketers always something to get excited about.
On top of technological advancements, you have also got an industry, like any other, with its own experts, consultants and businesses, who are all too happy to talk up the ‘overwhelming’ benefits of online marketing, at times wildly exagerating its potential. Then there are the charlatans (and there are plenty of these too!) who will tell you how much money you can make from online marketing (which, only a cursory scratch beneath the surface will tell you that the only people making such large amounts of money are themselves).
But, it would be a huge mistake to believe that with all the ‘hot air’, hype and exagerations out there, that digital marketing is entirely worthless. The fact that there are rogues out there doesn’t mean everyone in the industry is like them. That would be a cyncial and gross misunderstanding.
The balanced view would be to recognise the existence of hype and charlatans, and to avoid them, but also to recognise and understand the opportuntiies available to every business to use the many digital marketing channels to great effect, to generate leads, increase sales, grow customers, and boost profits.
3. Getting your IT team to do it
While online marketing does involve computers and technology, it is not a job for the IT department. Yes, they need to support you, and sometimes deliver your plan, but online marketing is for marketers, not techies, and should not be delegated to your IT team.
It is the marketer that should create and own the marketing vision, turning to their IT colleague only to deliver that vision through a range of technogles available.
For this reason, every aspect of your digital marketing should be rooted in the fundamentals of marketing, from the identification of your target audience to understanding their specific needs. This is a job for the marketer, not the IT professional.
4. Trying too hard to be the next Gangam Style
In 2021 there are now an estimated 4.59 billion Internet users, up from 1.8 billion in 2009. This amounts to over 65% of the world’s population being online. That’s an awful lot of people!
So, the Internet has the potential to reach billions of people across the world, in different countries and on different continents. If you can create an interesting article, a story, or a product then you have an extremely large potential audience.
In 2012 the video Gangam Style received over 1 billion views in just 5 months. It was an overnight Internet sensation and perhaps the world’s most successful viral video.
It is natural for every business owner, blogger, and marketer to want to emulate the success of Gangam Style. However, is this realistic? I doubt it. Not only is it unrealistic but thinking this way leads to you focus only on the possibility of viral marketing, missing out on the greater potential of consistently applied online marketing across a range of digital channels. It is the latter approach that will generate the most benefit in the long run.
Be realistic in your marketing goals, and work to a well researched marketing strategy that is consistently applied, monitored and controlled.
5. Seeing onling marketing as free and easy
At face value digital marketing can appear to be cheap, even free. Let’s face it, apart from your existing IT costs, you can setup a basic website yourself these days, and sending emails is free. It doesn’t cost a penny to write a blog, post onto a social network like Twitter or LinkedIn. Even paid for advertising on Facebook’s or Google’s networks costs only a fraction of what you would pay for an advertising space in a local paper.
However, the little amount that is paid out in terms of money is rather a distorted perception of the true cost of digital marketing in terms of investment of time, and the various inidirect costs that are involved. Producing quality blog articles (like this one!), writing engaging email maketing, or building an online network of contacts and followers takes an awful amount of time. And, for most of us, time is money.
The indirect costs should not be ignored either. You may pay very little for paid advertising, but if those users who click on the advert land on a poorly constructed website, with slow page load speeds, sub-standard navigation and few ‘calls to action’, then that advertising campaign can become expensive very quickly, without any significant return. The investment made in a professional website, built for speed and userability by a reputable web design agency, is an investment that should not be overlooked if you are going to take digital marketing seriously.
Digital marketing is neither free or easy, but when done properly can certainly be cost-effective and produce returns many times in excees of the original outlay.
6. Don’t lose a sense of reality
I have met too many people who have been sucked in by all the hype and exagerated claims that some in the industry have made, that they have rushed headlong into spending vast amounts of money on the wrong things, and have been left disillusioned and almost disgusted, vowing never to touch any form of digital marketing ever again (Andrew, mentioned above, is a good example).
Always begin with a well-thought out strategy that is balanced and rooted in common sense and reality. A good marketing model will always generate customers, generate leads and bring a good return in terms of sales and profit.
But, be aware! While online marketing can certainly bring rewards, it can also be dangerous. It is both time consuming and can be extremely addictive. There are an array of analytics, KPIs and data available to track and monitor results, and tools to edit designs, adverts and campaigns, on both desktop and mobile devices. This information and the exciting tools can distract from the real objective, to realise business benefits in terms of sales and profit. It is very easy to become over-indulged and spend hours, days and weeks doing nothing else but sending emails, writing blogs and building followers! The key here is to manage your time, as much as your budget.
And, always keep an careful look out for those charlatans who will entice you with inflated promises. My advice here, is to treat all SEO, SEM and PPC experts with a degree of scepticism. No matter what the marketing metrics say, only the business benefits matter at the end of the day. A thousand people may read your emails but if none of them make an enquiry or make a purchase then your campaign has had zero benefit. What matters are the leads you create, the sales that are made and the profits generated. Nothing else really matters.
Finally, never let a marketing consultant brush over metrics or reports you don’t understand. Question them. Integrate them. If you dont’ first understand, ask them to explain it more clearly. If you still don’t understand them, ask them to explain it in business terms, and if all else fails, then simply thank them for their time and show them the door. They’ll get the message.
7. Failing to get the right balance of user data capture
Website owners appreciate the need to capture user data and turn this data into userful leads. However, the danger here is to go overboard and present a scary questionnaire every time a user lands on your site. A user that lands on a site simply looking for some information will soon leave if they are requested to fill out a form with all their personal details.
The advice here is simple. Don’t be that site! Gather data, yes. But only what is absolutely necessary.
Online marketing presents many opportunties to gather data on potential customers, and to use that data in future online and offline campaigns. The key is to use and capture that data wisely. Build in some element of data capture into each campaign you run, then use this information to better segment your campaigns and improve their performance.
8. Don’t be complacent
While you are in business, you must also be refining your marketing strategy and finding new ways to reach your target audience. Technology is contantly changing, and users move from place to place within the digital world. It is your job to continually follow them, track them down and target them.
Each day there will be a new idea to explore, a new tool to test or a new channel to leverage.
Keep alert, keep focused and keep going. Integrate your marketing into everything your company does. Yes, it is hard work, but over time the returns will follow.
9. Don’t try and control the conversation
What I mean here is don’t attempt to start a conversation (maybe using a hashtag #) thinking everyone else will repeat, share and follow your post and start talking about the same thing. Unless you already have celebrity status this will not happen.
Rather, join on the back of conversations that are already popular and happening. Join into their conversations, introducing your unique content, opinion or input. Offer something of value to these audiences, and benefit from the momentum that has already been built. Like this you will more likely succeed in getting your desired coverage and exposure.
10. Failing to integrate your digital marketing strategy
I have left the most important point to last, and the one that is most overlooked, namely the failure to integrate all aspects of your digital marketing including your email marketing, website design, SEO, paid advertising, social media, content marketing, and so on.
Digital marketing is most effective when all channels are fully integrated, reinforcing each other and working hand in hand.
In your email marketing you should enourage people to read your blog, and on your website you should channel people to sign up to your email newsletter. Your social media posts should be designed to augment your search marketing, and your paid advertising should have the same look, feel and design as your website.
Always address the problem at hand. If you don’t have enough visitors landing on your site, then conduct a PPC campaign or spend money on SEO. If you have plenty of visitors to your site but few are converting to leads or customers, then redesign your website with improvements aimed at increasing your conversion rate.
Don’t necessarily follow the competition and what they are doing. Many of them are probably doing things for the wrong reasons. Rather, focus on your business benefits and design activities that will realise them.
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