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What NOT to Do With Your Online Marketing Efforts

Multiethnic Group of Business People with Online MarketingIn recent years, online marketing has emerged as the most cost-effective method for attracting prospective customers. But as any online marketing proponent will tell you, there’s a right way to go about it and a wrong way (or several wrong ways).

Here are four common mistakes to avoid, thus saving time, money and resources:

1. Choose quantity over quality.

When attempting to share content with prospects, some companies mistakenly believe that quantity trumps quantity. Makes sense, doesn’t it? The more people you reach out to, the higher the likelihood of an acceptable conversion rate. In reality, this is almost never the case.

One problem with a scattershot approach, says speaker and entrepreneur AJ Agrawal, is you “don’t actually know whether someone needs what you have to offer before contacting them.” Making matters worse, this approach creates “a barrier because if you’re connecting with cold prospects, they already don’t trust you. And most of them are just going to hang up.”

It’s much more effective to undertake some preliminary customer research, identifying the particular niche where your products or services belong. Then target that niche with your online marketing efforts, significantly tilting the odds of conversion in your favor.

2. Neglect email marketing best practices.

Email marketing remains an effective method for engaging, nurturing and eventually converting prospects into leads—as long as you don’t neglect the basics. Here are common mistakes you should avoid:

Using a company name in the “from” field. Recipients are far less likely to click on an email marketing message if it’s sent by a company name or some other generic name. Put a real person’s name in the “from” field.

Sending out messages at the wrong time in your contact’s lifecycle stage. Some marketers bundle together their email messages, not caring if recipients are current customers or new names on the mailing list. Prospects are much more receptive if the message aimed at them reflects where they are in the cycle.

Forgetting to include a call-to-action. Some businesses simply forget to include a call-to-action, while others bury this request in a flurry of confusing messages. What is it you want the recipient to do? Make this clear, concise and to the point.

3. Devise a flawed content marketing strategy.

Helpful, informative content is one of the most successful ways to influence prospects—all the more reason to not commit to a flawed content marketing strategy at the outset.

Before engaging in the time-consuming process of producing content, know what purpose each piece of content is meant to address. Are you looking to boost your email newsletter subscription rate? Generate sales leads? Establish a reputation as a thought leader in your industry?

Also, don’t rush to churn out generic and overly promotional content no one really wants. “Many businesses make the mistake of generating ordinary, boring, or non-useful information that doesn’t help their target audience,” notes digital marketing expert Aaron Gray.

Not only can this damage a brand, Gray adds, it can lead to increased bounce rates: “When someone visits less than wonderful content, then clicks it away from it” and moves on to something else in search results, this bounce “signals to Google to move your search result lower.”

A smart marketing strategy incorporates content in more than just one form, in order to reach prospects. You can write blog posts (but should only do so if you commit to a regular and dependable publication schedule), but content can also be repurposed in a variety of other forms—from articles and infographics to case studies, white papers and video. Offering content of value in numerous areas boosts the chances the right people will come across it.

4. Fail to leverage social media.

Even now, some businesses are reluctant to dive headfirst into the social media pool. If you’re one of those, even a cursory look at how social media influences buying patterns should convince you otherwise. “Social selling” is a very real thing, and can be used to your advantage, as long you fully understand that social media marketing is not about the hard sell. Rather, a business’s long-term presence on selected, influential social media platforms can result in a legion of dedicated followers and potential customers-for-life.

Done well, online marketing can help your business forge relationships with customers and generate sales. No business can afford to overlook the growth potential this strategy offers.