Digital Marketing is not cheap and is full of different options. Setting up the right Digital Marketing Strategy takes focus and planning because the one thing that Digital Marketing can do very well is quickly suck the money right out of your budget. Throughout the course of my career, I have made some of these mistakes (fortunately, not all at the same time) and these days when I put a strategy in place I try avoid all of them and this has made the results of my digital marketing strategies better.
1. Not Defining Success
You may have a plan however, do you have an idea on how are you going to measure the results for this campaign?
Everyone’s version of success is different particularly when it comes to clients and agencies. Agencies may think that someone submitting a form is a success and the client thinks that converting a lead is a success. This difference of opinion can cause for some very tense meetings.
Before starting your campaign, it is a good idea to get both parties on the same page and agree upon what is considered successful results.
2. Not Researching Your Target Market
Clients (and sometimes Agencies) make assumptions on their target market and where to advertise to them. These assumptions are where much of the money sucks tend to happen. For example, you could assume that a particular social media platform is a slam dunk for your audience only to find out you were wrong.
You need to do some research. In many cases, a ten question survey could provide enough information to get you started. I wrote a blog post about some techniques on how to use surveys to get valuable marketing information. The point is don’t go into it with blind faith that you have it right. Have the data to back it up.
3. Going Too Big, Too Quick
One thing I always do with my clients when we start a digital marketing strategy is dip my toe in cautiously. If I hadn’t followed that philosophy, there were times where I could have cost my clients hundreds, if not thousands of dollars.
Here’s something to keep in mind, double the ad spend doesn’t necessarily equal double the conversions. More commonly it’s about one and a half times. I always like to be conservative with ad spends. As I said on many occasions to my clients, I don’t make any assumptions that I can predict human behavior and I particularly don't like wasting my client's money trying to figure it out.
4. Betting the Farm on SEO
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) seems like a great strategy on the surface. People search, they find you and they click to your site. However, it’s not that easy.
First, if you are trying to build traffic to a new site or for a new product, betting solely on SEO is the worst thing you can do. SEO is based largely on the popularity of a site. This popularity is based on many different factors which are too lengthy to go through here however, it is safe to say that if you just launched, where you land in the search results is not going to be great.
Take a look at a search engine results page (SERP) for the search term for which you are optimizing. In Google, for example, you have ads at the top, then if you have local businesses, they appear next in the Google Map and then below that you have the top three listings of the map. You are literally “below the fold” before the first organic result shows up.
Something else to consider, are people really searching for your product specifically? My favorite example of this is Sports Crate.
Sports Crate delivers a box of team merchandise to your door bi-monthly. If you think about it, who is searching for a company that delivers team merchandise to their door bi-monthly? Practically no one. They would have made a huge mistake if they went big on SEO. I only know about them because of their social media campaigns. They did their research, found their target audience on Twitter and Instagram and went to them, not the other way around. In many cases with SEO, you’re waiting for someone to need what you are offering and you could be waiting a long time.
5. Ignoring Reviews and Testimonials
Let’s assume for the moment that you are rocking the SEO. You’re in the top three organic listing. The user searches and has the three choices in front of them. Your two competitors have over 50 four and five star reviews. You have three. Who are they going to pick?
Let’s make another assumption, they decide to click on all three to explore their websites. Your competitors have almost as many testimonials on their site as they do on their search results and you don’t even have a testimonial page, no matter how impressive your site is, they will, in many cases, choose your competition because of the level of social proof they have shown. Social proof is basically the choice of people in the past influencing the decisions of other people’s choices for the same item. Think of the reviews on Amazon as an example of social proof.
Don’t ignore the value of getting testimonials from your customers. If all things are equal between you and your competition, it will be the recommendations of others that will influence the decision one way or another.
6. Sending Your PPC Ad Campaign to Your Homepage
Let’s cut to the chase, why would you do that?
Your homepage has so many click options. I am willing to bet that your visitor will pick the wrong ones. Worse yet, they will get confused because of different messaging between your ad and your homepage and just leave. Take a look at my article on how to increase your conversions by creating landing pages for your pay per click campaign. I go through the need to create landing pages for your ad campaigns.
As I stated in my article, you need to send your traffic to a landing page with one option and that is to convert. The messaging needs to be in sync. The visitor lands on the page and knows that they are going to learn more about whatever it was that caused them to click.
That doesn’t mean you can’t use a lead magnet of some sort to get their email, but to give a visitor too many options to click is a great way to lower the possibility of converting them.
7. Prematurely Asking for Visitor Emails
This drives me crazy. I come to your site and I am there for five seconds and BOOM a pop-up appears to give you my email. I see this the most when I am reading a blog post on my phone and the pop-up takes up the whole screen. I came to your site for information. Why are you trying to sell me something? I just got here. This would be the equivalent of meeting a woman for coffee and just before she sits down, ask her to marry you. There’s a good chance she’s leaving.
You need to build trust. If the visitor sees that your website has value to them, they will be more willing to give you their email. Going back to Sports Crate, they showed me value and they have my email. I love their product and I hope someday that I will be their customer.
8. Not Having a Funnel
When someone visits your site they need direction. If you don’t give visitors direction, there is a good chance that they get lost in your site or they will leave.
Having a defined action or actions for the visitor when they visit your site is a funnel. There can be multiple funnels but each needs to clearly lead the visitor to a desired action. Letting them just roam around and hoping for the best is not a funnel. With every digital marketing strategy we build, there is a defined landing page that leads the visitor down the funnel to conversion.
9. Not Having a Re-engagement Plan
When a visitor comes to your landing page, they will either convert or not convert. Those should be the only two options. In both cases, we want to get their email to re-engage with them. Just asking for their email may work sometimes but offering value to them in exchange for their email, has better odds.
If you have done your market research then you will know the pain points of your audience. What value can you give them that will lead them to willingly to give up an email to a complete stranger? That’s a re-engagement plan.
In my opinion, the most successful pieces usually focus on informing or educating the visitor so they can "do it themselves". That doesn’t mean that they are going to do it themselves but if you are good enough to teach them how to do it, you are probably good enough to do it for them.
10. Not Being Patient
This is the biggest mistake most businesses make. Businesses want win, after win, after win. However, if you have run into any of the previous mistakes I’ve mentioned up to this point, you probably aren’t winning as much as you like.
The most important thing takeaway from this is to take your time. You need to plan, test, analyze, implement and test again. If you are starting your digital marketing strategy as a last minute effort to increase sales, save your money, it’s not going to get you the results you need. There needs to be time to plan, research, strategize and then implement. That could take anywhere from two weeks to over a month. If you don’t have that sort of time then it might be too little too late.
The most successful campaigns we have run are ones that have fallen into this pattern. We analyze our results, fine tune, test, implement and the next month we do it all over again. I’m sure if you throw enough money at anything eventually you may get it to work but a more systematic, patient approach will be a more cost effective solution long term.
Like I said in the beginning, I have made these mistakes at various times and fortunately, I have learned from them. It’s easy to get wrapped up in a new campaign and want to come out with guns blazing. Unfortunately, a spray and pray approach to digital marketing typically only succeeds in spending more of the client’s money than was needed. Digital marketing campaigns need to be methodical, almost like solving a mystery, which in truth, they are.