Guest author Stephen Moyers is the Web marketing manager at SPINX Digital Agency, a designer and a blogger who writes about Web design, and online and social marketing.
The success of digital marketing depends on a number of factors: understanding your marketing history, knowing what’s being said about your brand, and meeting the needs of your consumers in a valuable way.
Unfortunately, with all those factors, nascent entrepreneurs often make mistakes that hinder early growth. These can range from failing to plan effectively or measure results, to overlooking the entire mobile category. But that’s not all.
Here’s a look at a few of the biggest blunders to avoid.
Failing To Understand Your Audience
The gap that a product or service fills is just the beginning. Marketing requires an in-depth understanding of your consumers’ traits and tastes.
Beyond the existing needs of potential customers or end users, businesses need to profile their prospects. Focus on how they spend their time, what other products or services they’re more likely to want, and where individuals who fit the profile tend to live. Such detailed information informs your marketing efforts, making them more pinpointed and accurate.
Not Planning Adequately
Many marketers never achieve great success because they don’t have clearly outlined goals and a distinct plan of action.
Planning does not mean brainstorming in a room of decision makers. It means writing out an analysis of your current needs, strengths, weaknesses, and goals. It involves taking your budget and going through it, line by line, to determine where your marketing dollars should go.
Once you have a written plan of action, make sure to reference all these documents regularly throughout the campaign process.
Consider using a template for optimal planning.
You can’t do it all in the beginning, so start with small, concerted efforts. They can be just as effective as large campaigns that aim to reach a wide audience.
Focus on the types of prospects your product or service will fit with naturally. Then pick measurable goals that align with industry benchmarks you can track over a period of several months. Long-term goals are vital, too, but seeing meaningful results—even if they aren’t ultimately driving the bottom line—can improve momentum for reaching those future goals.
Holding Unrealistic Expectations
Few marketing campaigns will achieve instantaneous results. Unless your first post goes viral, you’ll likely have to tweak and improve your pay-per-click strategy, social media, and other digital marketing campaigns as you go.
Social media campaigns tend to have a shorter turnaround time, while pay-per-click campaigns often take about a month and a half to deliver results. Search-engine optimization (SEO) strategies tend to take the longest of all. SEO campaigns typically need 4 to 6 weeks to get off the ground, but can take as many as six months to a year to meet meaningful goals.
Think of digital marketing like a long race, not a sprint.
Not Budgeting Properly
Many startups fail to allocate a fair amount of money for digital marketing. While some elements can work on a shoestring budget, many campaigns require a strategic investment.
That may require taking a hard look at where your money is going right now and making some judgment calls. For instance, avoid spending money on tools that you aren’t sure will work for your business. Instead, focus on hiring talent inside and outside the company that can help you reach your goals.
Using Too Many Social Media Platforms
Social media platforms are a fun and fast way to market your company, but focusing on too many at once can weaken the overall campaign. Try to keep your social media strategy targeted at the few social media platforms your audience frequently uses, and deliver relevant information through them on a regular basis.
Build a social media strategy that makes sense for your brand and market, not necessarily the platforms that are trending right now. Twitter, Facebook, and Snapchat are great social media platforms to start with, but depending on your business audience, you many want to consider LinkedIn, Instagram or Pinterest.
Forgetting the Importance of Content
Content is the foundation of any successful digital marketing campaign. But the information or media must be relevant, engaging, and insightful. Otherwise, you can post articles, images or videos all day long, and still not see measurable results.
Look for elements that will convert site visitors into long-term customers. Video content, in particular, is becoming a staple of digital marketing, and companies can no longer afford to ignore it. Entrepreneurs can start using video content with homegrown campaigns on Snapchat, Vine, and YouTube that are both cost-effective and successful in striking a chord with your audience.
The number of global mobile users exceeded desktop users in 2014, earning a steady place in the pockets and hands of most consumers.
Plenty of businesses pay lip service to this area of tech, but haven’t really thought through their mobile strategy. Those companies will likely be forgotten and become obsolete. Responsive web design and layered interfaces are sleek, user friendly, and fairly easy to develop with the right professional help. Mobile marketing should be synonymous with digital marketing at this point; it’s that integral to the success of a campaign.
As the above chart indicates, millennials and others are being successfully influenced to act by mobile campaigns.
Not Measuring Results
The work doesn’t end once you’ve come up with ideas and put them into practice.
After the initial launch of your digital marketing campaign, you need to use relevant metrics that confirm its Return On Investment (ROI). Essentially, your goal is to find out whether the money you spent was worth it.
The good news is a digital campaign is not static once it has launched. You can continue to use analytics throughout the campaign period to tweak posts, keywords, and other information to better target your audience. Over time, your content will be optimized so that it reaches your goals.
Using Old School SEO
Beware any SEO or digital marketing agencies that push keyword stuffing, outbound link building, and other methods. As Google’s algorithms evolve, old SEO practices are getting companies penalized.
If you’re providing valuable insights, images or videos (see content section, above), then that content will naturally lead to better search results, since they create natural inbound and outbound links. This type of organic marketing is the new strategy that SEO companies are adopting.
Not Using a Combination Of Offline And Online Marketing Strategies
Digital marketing should always be supported by more traditional marketing strategies. People still drive by billboards and act on the information they see.
The difference now is that print advertising includes digital marketing information. Social cues are ever-present in the bottom corner of magazine ads and on subway signs.
Some print campaigns are even entirely digital in focus, featuring a hashtagged word or a Twitter handle. Mixing traditional and modern marketing strategies makes for a multi-level campaign that has the potential to not only reach consumers, but connect with them on a deeper level.
The Startup Advantage
New entrepreneurs have the opportunity to begin from a fresh slate. They can craft their company personality and marketing campaigns without battling established expectations.
Over time, they can also transform as the brand or consumer interest evolves.
By understanding where to focus initial efforts, entrepreneurs and small business owners can develop digital marketing practices that will fuel their bottom lines for years to come.
Lead photo courtesy of Bigstock Photo via Stephen Moyers