Digital is not an option anymore; it’s a must. Unlike the traditional-offline-print-and-advertising world, digital is still maturing at break-neck speed. It’s not simply a case of switching tactics when the industry undergoes a massive change – you need to constantly keep up with the daily leaps forward, from new tools to Google updates and evolving social media platforms.
That mad scrabble to stay current can sometimes distract from proper management of the more basic foundations of good digital marketing. Here are 5 of the most common foundation-level mistakes we see on a regular basis and how to avoid them.
1. Rushing in.
Getting a website is easy – you throw money at a digital agency, right? Done. Oh, setting up social media profiles? Even easier – you can do that yourself by registering with your email address and uploading a few images and whatever standard ‘about us’ blurbs you have lying around.
But is it enough to just have a website, some social media profiles and/or other channels such as email marketing platforms? No. You need to define a strategy first.
Without a strategy you won’t know what your website, email campaigns and social profiles need to say and do. OK, you’ll probably know what they ultimately need to achieve (i.e. sales, sign-ups or enquiries) but you won’t properly understand the intermediary steps that will get you there. That will lead to an inefficient web presence that you can’t measure in a truly meaningful way.
Furthermore, you need to understand how much work you are creating for yourself. If setting up social media profiles is easy then it might be tempting to make a profile on every network you can find. But managing profiles is more demanding and you don’t want to spread yourself too thin. You’re much better off using one or two profiles that you can concentrate on than ten profiles that you hardly focus on at all. That leads me to my second point…
2. Gathering dust.
Blogs, social media profiles, email marketing lists, websites… each of these digital properties can do more harm than good if they stagnate.
Do you want to give the impression that your brand or business isn’t active? That you have nothing to say? That’s precisely the impression you’ll give if you neglect your digital estate.
If customers message you and you don’t reply, your most engaged customers can feel ignored. As for email marketing lists, people quickly forget which newsletters they sign up for and will hit the spam button even faster, so you need to make sure that you add real value with your campaigns and you do it often. You need to keep lists active and embed yourself into your customer’s brand memory. Then there’s the myriad areas you need to manage and maintain on your website, from regular blogging to keeping your designs current and cornerstone content packed with value.
No matter which property goes stagnant, it will look to all-and-sundry like your commitment to adding value is waning. That includes Google, who see active social profiles, traffic from non-Google sources and regular content updates as crucial signals of value. If you don’t send those signals to Google, they will stop sending traffic to your website via organic search. And rightly so. If you want the web to work for you, you’d better earn it by making the web a more valuable place to be.
But beware! The going-through-the-motions approach has its own problems…
3. Bare necessities.
“If I tweet every day, write a quick blog once a month and bang an email out if I have time once the blog is live… yeah, that’ll probably be enough”. Unfortunately not so.
If all you are doing is ticking boxes then you are not doing enough. In fact, if you are just ticking boxes then it is likely you haven’t understood the real potential of the web as a marketing channel. Digital has become a must precisely because it is so efficient; for finding customers, targeting them, maintaining dialogue and measuring key metrics in unprecedented resolution and with unprecedented ease.
Don’t fall into the trap of doing the bare minimum. If you can’t see a reason why you should do more than you currently do, speak to an expert. I’d bet that in 99% of cases you could be doing much more and would see improved results and/or efficiency as a result.
4. Me me me. I am and we are. Me me me.
You don’t need me to spell this one out, but I will anyway. Don’t be an egocentric brand, disinterested in your customers, always talking about yourself. Firstly, it’s just not a good way to get people to like you. Secondly, it makes it much harder for you to talk about the benefits of what you are selling (i.e. what ‘you’ get) alongside the features (i.e. what ‘we’ offer).
I’ve used the following example in a few different blogs and always find myself coming back to it… imagine yourself at a bar trying to make new friends or chat someone up. Do you talk about yourself relentlessly or do you ask questions that invite the other person to talk about themselves in order to unearth the common ground? Marketing is no different really, so make sure you are showing empathy and understanding by framing your rhetoric in terms that will resonate with your customers, allowing them to take centre stage instead of your brand.
5. Spam sandwiches.
If you take the advice in this blog seriously, you’ll likely implement a couple of changes to the way you manage the most important web properties in your estate. But only focusing on the properties that ‘deliver’ can have it’s own problems.
Google’s Zero Moment of Truth research showed that when 3,000 people were tracked from website-to-website while going through a purchasing decision, no two people took the same route in the same order. In other words, just because web property ‘A’ delivers revenue and web property ‘B’ delivers sign-ups, that doesn’t mean customers aren’t visiting web properties C, D, E, F and G in between or before. So you can’t focus on certain web properties more than others because each web property will be adding value as customers go through a long process – the branded customer journey.
If a customer signs up on a well-managed social profile and later makes a purchase on your website, they may very well have seen several other branded web properties in between. If those properties look spammy, you are eroding the value added on the social profile and are therefore making your final job harder on your website. That ladies and gentlemen, is a spam sandwich – value, spam, value.