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For almost any business operating in the 21st Century, digital marketing is an exciting, growing and ever more essential tool. It also seems deceptively easy – just set up a few social media accounts and write a blog and you’re set — right?
Not at all. There are many layers, nuances, tricks and best practices to online marketing — and often these are overlooked by people who haven’t been trained in online, or simply think that they know better.
Here are the top five mistakes that people make in the online space.
1. Love it and leave it
A lot of time, care and thought usually goes in to developing an online space like a website. Unfortunately, once it goes live, it suddenly loses all that loving attention since it looks like it’s finished. In the online world, things work a bit differently. Things change so fast that your digital marketing platforms should be considered to be works in progress. You must keep updating, iterating, tweaking and optimising them to make them truly effective – and this covers everything from the home page design to the SEO meta data you use.
2. Acting on instinct
The web offers an unparalleled opportunity to measure and evaluate the performance of online tactics, but people often fail to take advantage of this. There are three main errors that fall under this:
The first is acting without data. Some people make the mistake of basing their campaigns and platforms on instinct, feelings and presumptions rather than looking at the cold, hard facts contained in analytics data.
The second is gathering data, but not using it. This covers both ignoring the data entirely and sticking to just a few vanity metrics. While there are some things that web analytics data can’t tell you, it does contain a multitude of insights and trends that are well worth looking at.
The third error is not testing. If you have a platform that’s struggling, or even one that’s running just fine, testing is a great and inexpensive way to make it do better. Testing involves creating new versions of existing content and seeing which one results in a better response and more conversions.
3. Thinking tactic X is magic
Everyone in the industry has their favourite “tactic X” – that one flawless tool or platform that they hold up as the solution to all online marketing questions. Social media, online advertising and search engine optimisation are the three biggest culprits here.
But things aren’t that simple online. Each tactic has its own risks and shortcomings. Take social media, for example. It’s excellent for building a community, sharing great content and really engaging with your audience, but it takes an awful lot of time, money and dedication to get it right – and it opens you up to risks like brand attacks.
Likewise, online advertising isn’t going to do you much good if your website looks unprofessional, while SEO is pretty useless without rich, fresh content and solid user experience design.
4. Marketing in silos
Leading on from this, a lot of people in the space look at their digital efforts as siloed, stand-alone channels. They end up creating unique marketing plans for each one, and each channel is managed by a different team, leading to mixed messages. On top of that, online and offline efforts are completely disconnected.
In the digital age, however, integration is key. A brand needs to speak with one unified voice across all its communications, and all marketing needs to act together to maximise its potential. If you’re not supporting your social media with a solid website and online reputation management strategy, or your email newsletter with a content marketing or SEO plan, you’re not going to see the returns you deserve.
5. Doing too much at once
Finally, because the potential of digital marketing seems limitless, many enthusiastic marketing managers want to do it all. They sign the brand up for every social network under the sun, launch a blog, go mobile, and all the rest – but never stop to think about the value each tactic will bring, or even whether it’s useful at all.
Slow and steady is the name of the game in internet marketing, especially if it’s new for your brand. Do a bit of research (and again, look at the data) to find out where the best starting points are. For example, if less than 1% of your website traffic is mobile, you probably don’t need a mobi site just yet. If you’re selling teen fashion, there’s not much use in having a LinkedIn profile.
Start somewhere, build your presence, get used to the platform, and only then move on. There’s already so much that you need to be doing from the start – a good website, SEO strategy, ORM plan and UX design are pretty vital – that there’s no need to overfill your plate.