Online marketing and online advertising have become the pillars of any modern marketing strategy, simply because the Internet is such a vast market that abounds with potential customers. Regardless of whether your target demographics are teenagers, people in their 20s, 30s, 40s and even 50s (I don’t expect that people over 50 use the Internet as much as these counted here), you can count on the Internet to get your message across.
With the number of Facebook users well over the one billion mark, and the rest of the social networks counting their users in the high hundreds of millions, it is easy to understand that, just on Facebook, you have the potential to advertise yourself to a market as big as the whole of China (and if you count the rest of the networks, the numbers are bigger than the populations of China, India, Russia and USA combined).
However, not all businesses know how to exploit this vast online market to the fullest. Some don’t even do it at all. These businesses will remain the relics of an older age (if they don’t drown in bankrupt waters), and most of them already serve as a reminder of how not to create your marketing strategies. Here are some lessons learned from their failures.
Creating a Weak Brand from the Very Beginning
First of all, you have to realize that the brand is everything when it comes to marketing. It is impossible to advertise your working spaces, your wonderful staff, your quality product; at least not separately. This is where the brand comes into play. It will unite everything that you want to advertise under a single banner, and, through that advertisement, form a public opinion about your brand. And this opinion is the difference between life and death for any business.
The best way to make sure that your brand is properly reflecting your business’ aspirations is to consult a team of experts who will help you create your brand’s image from the ground up. This way, you will avoid having a cliché name (or one that is too obscure), an unintelligible logo and similar problems. You can also search the web to find the best practices when it comes to creating a brand, but it is essential that you go big from the very beginning. Having a weak brand to start with will only lead to more complications down the road.
Non-Existence of a Clear On- and Off-Site Marketing Strategy
When I speak about on-site strategies and off-site strategies, I mainly think about SEO techniques. Being in the industry for quite some time now, I’ve noticed that, although the number of businesses utilizing SEO techniques is on the rise, overall, they pay little attention to it. Let’s get something clear here: creating a clear and strong SEO strategy does not entail solely finding any SEO “expert” who will tell you about how he or she will make your website #1 on Google.
What it means is that you have to sit down with a trusted SEO consultant and have them suggest the best course of action. Preferably, they will speak about quality content (not spammy, 200-word articles that are a dime a dozen), good inbound links (if he starts mentioning link-farms, go to another consultant), and quality outbound links.
Of course, some other courses of action might be in there, too, but these are the essentials. You can also learn a lot about SEO from the Internet and do some of the things yourself, or just be able to recognize a bad SEO “expert” when you meet one.
Rushing to Get the Results
When it comes to a good SEO strategy (and a good marketing strategy, as well) business owners often fail to realize that any kind of investment in marketing and SEO takes time to return the invested money. You can’t just splash some cash on marketing and expect to see the results tomorrow. Nor can you, for that matter, expect to see them within a month. For those of you who are impatient, know that, no matter how much money you spend, this type of marketing is going to show its results in 5-6 months’ time (and that is a minimum).
Business owners give up their hopes a lot sooner than this. I understand that, today, people need big profits right away, but some things you just can’t rush. What’s worse, if you give up on a strategy so soon, you will lose all the money that you have invested in it. No refunds, no returns. So, do not be that business owner – play it cool, instead.
If you hire a good marketing company and a quality SEO expert, you can just sit back, relax and know that your money will be paid back eventually, with profits to boot.
Ignoring Social Media (or Paying Too Much Attention to It)
As stated at the beginning of the article, Social Media has become the largest marketing pool there is, with their ability to spread news, ads and other content growing ever larger by the minute. This alone should be a reason not to ignore them. Think Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest (especially for start-ups), but also go along the lines of LinkedIn (especially if you need strong networking), Tumblr and even Snapchat (that’s where all the cool kids are).
One of the major reasons to do this is that you can get instant feedback on your marketing strategy and product quality. People on social media will not hold back in their comments, and it will give you a clearer picture of what you’re doing right and what might be wrong.
Also, another reason would be that you can communicate with your customers and your target group. Your customers will appreciate the quick response and feel content knowing that their feelings are respected.
However, some businesses go too far with this and succumb to flame wars and derogative comments targeted at the people who leave negative comments. Like I said, people do not hold back on social media, but you should not let this get to you. Responding to a negative comment with your own negative comment is a sure way to show people that you don’t have the reins of what you’re doing and you’ll lose more than that one customer who left a negative comment.
Always be professional and reserved, and take both negative and positive comments as indicators of what you’re doing right/wrong. Then work on correcting the mistakes pointed out.
Getting Poor Hosting for Your Website
This one is fairly obvious. As important as your SEO strategies and Social Media Marketing may be, none of it will matter if your site is unreachable 90% of the time. This signals unprofessionalism, at best. Also, it will make your strategies unimportant, as they all have the point of bringing people to your website, where you can explain what your brand is all about.
When you choose a hosting plan, most of the hosting companies will promise you 99,9% uptime (if any one of them promises 100% uptime, run as far away as you can from them, because they are lying). However, before going for the first one you encounter, ask around a bit. Ask them to provide websites that they are hosting and go to their clients and ask how satisfied they were with their service. While hosting is not at all expensive, you still need to make sure that you get quality service, because you will most definitely need it.
Spreading Too Thin
Many business owners try to save money by delegating additional tasks to their already over-worked employees. So, instead of having a worker for each social network (for example), you might find one guy to do all the social media tasks. Or, they may have someone who is not responsible for marketing at all to write blog posts every day. While this may bring some expertise to the article, you cannot expect your worker to go about his daily duties and then have time to write a quality blog post.
One of the best ways to avoid this is outsourcing. Services like Upwork, Freelancer, iWriter, etc. offer businesses to hire the people that they are looking for. You can almost assuredly find an expert in your field there, who will also be a quality writer.
You can also find SMM experts, SEO experts (although be sure to double-check all of them), and even a personal assistant. Evaluate what your workers are doing and whether you need additional hands to help with all of the work.
The best thing about this? You don’t have to keep paying the freelancer after their job is done.
Disregard for Constant Updating on the Latest Techniques in Online Marketing
The last one goes as a general reminder. What would happen if you didn’t constantly stay updated in your line of work? New techniques and products would come and pretty soon you would find yourself being beaten by the competition, simply because they offer better quality services and products than you.
The same goes for marketing (especially online marketing). The standard practice three to four years ago was to spam Google with poorly written 300-word articles that contained enough keywords to bring your page to the coveted #1 spot in the SERPs. Then, guess what? Google changed. And it keeps constantly changing and updating its algorithms so that such things never happen again, and only the highest quality information gets served to the public.
Fail to follow only one change, and your page will be lost in the depths of search engine limbo, never to be found again. Now, I’m not saying that you should do this yourself, but make sure that updating is a part of your online marketing strategy.
Online marketing will help you tap into the biggest advertising space there is. Gone are the days of traditional marketing over television, newspapers, radio, etc. You have to keep up and you have to keep up well. Do not ignore the internet, because it will not be good if it ignores you back.