Whether we like it or not, in the marketing world we always have to be “on.” That means that whenever we try a new platform, whenever a new ad launches, or whenever we start a new campaign, somebody is going to be watching. There is not a “pre-game” that is forgiving of gaffes. In fact, making a mistake that your customers, peers, or competitors feel is easily avoidable can not only be humiliating but it can also erode the credibility of your brand.
We wanted to look at five mistakes that would qualify as significant in today’s marketing world and offer advice on how to make sure you avoid them. Most of this advice consists of simple common sense and it can be acted on right now. Of course, the best bet, as we’ve said time and time again, is to plan before you dip that toe into the water. Know what you want to accomplish, how you’re going to get there, and how you’re going to KNOW you’re there. That being said, let’s get a bit more specific.
Mistake One: A Website That Is Not Mobile-Friendly
There is a difference between a mobile site and a site that is mobile-friendly. A mobile site (one that has a URL that begins with m. and then the regular URL) is developed specifically for the small screen. The navigation and functionality are all built to maximize the smart phone user’s experience. As tablets become increasingly popular, this kind of mobile site may not be as necessary. It seems that tablets can display websites just as a computer can. The only difference is the size.
The ramifications for having a website that is not mobile-friendly can be serious according to a new article from AdWeek. According to a study published by Google, 72% of consumers said they expect brands to have a mobile-friendly site, and even more significant, 55% said a bad mobile experience negatively influences their view of the brand. Why let one facet of your marketing efforts tarnish your entire company?
Mistake Two: Poor Use of QR Codes
Few things make you look more unprepared than a poor use of a QR code. This can include using a QR code that leads to a flash-heavy site (since QR codes are accessed via smartphones and iPhones can’t display flash), using a QR code on a website, or simply popping a QR code onto an ad or a literature piece without any indication of why someone should scan it. The people to whom we are marketing are becoming increasingly savvy. Intelligent marketing will resonate. Sloppy marketing reveals itself quickly and can truly diminish your brand’s credibility in your industry.
Mistake Three: Using Social Media Like a Self-Promotional Radio Station
Few things turn people off in the online world more than accounts that simply blast out information about that particular company, product, or service. Whether you are using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Blogs, or YouTube, you are sure to turn potential and existing customers away if all they encounter is content that is self-promotional. While it is okay to promote yourself to a certain extent, this needs to be balanced with conversational updates and the sharing of information, as we discussed as part of our Fifty Fundamentals series. If your company is using social media with the hopes of increasing business in some way, you do not want to give the impression that you are an automated spam bot. Again, the most effective use of social media as a marketing tool stems from planning, not just trying things haphazardly while hoping something “sticks.”
Mistake Four: Creating Ads That Assume Everyone Knows You And Your Products
Marketers are often lured towards the wild side of creativity. The temptation is to be so clever and so creative that it would be virtually impossible for anyone to miss your ad. The problem arises when someone new to your industry (or to your company) sees your ad and has no idea what you are trying to say, what you do, or why they should give you a second thought. Mistakes in this arena can also include failing to include contact information in your ad so that it is easy for people to learn more about your company, or placing your advertisement in publications that simply do not make sense. Creating memorable ideas is a good idea, but you want to be memorable for the right reasons.
Mistake Five: Using Black Hat SEO Techniques
Search Engine Optimization has been a hot topic for a few years now. It’s no secret that most people do not scan past the first page of results in Google. That means if your company isn’t positioned well based on professional search engine optimization, web users will simply not find you. That puts a lot of pressure on those keywords and meta tags, and it may seem tempting to try to cheat, just a little bit, so that you can make sure your company performs well. With increasingly harsh measures, Google is cracking down on unsavory SEO methods. If you are not secure in your SEO knowledge, you could end up breaking the rules (and getting penalized) without even realizing it. Not only would this tarnish how your customers view your brand, but it could also cause you significant problems online for months, if not years. If you are not 100% confident in what you are doing, find a reputable SEO company and get advice. Even if there is a fee attached, it is far better to be safe than sorry. A little insurance on the front end can save a world of grief in the future.
There are of course multitudes of mistakes a marketer can make, and with the increasingly complex infrastructure in which marketers work – “traditional” channels, video, digital, social media, and more – it seems impossible to keep track of all of the rules, regulations, and best practices for each type of marketing tactic you may want to employ. Take a big breath, and before you engage in any marketing, no matter what it is, make sure you have considered all of the possible effects of what you are doing. If you do not know, feel free to ask us or another trusted source.
The stakes are high for companies these days. A single mistake can be enough to encourage a customer to fish for a new resource. Don’t give your customers a reason to leave you. Don’t make it easy for your competitors to lure your audience away. Caution is the name of the game.
Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/aloha75/3458301956/ via Creative Commons