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8 Digital Marketing Mistakes to Avoid in 2018

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Words by Beth Osborne
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Brands launch digital marketing campaigns every day. And while every marketer has the best intentions when developing a campaign, there can still be gaps. Digital marketing campaign mistakes are often inevitable. It’s what you learn from those mistakes that can help you build a better campaign. From creating content to targeting audiences to optimizing for keywords, there are lots of opportunities for a misstep. In this article, you’ll learn about the seven most common digital marketing mistakes to avoid.

1. Not defining your target audience

Understanding your audience is vital to the success of any digital marketing campaign. Even if you know some basic information about your buyers like titles or demographics, doesn’t mean you understand them. You have to develop buyer personas, which are fictional representations of your idea buyer. These go way beyond surface attributes, looking at motivations and objections. Crafting and keeping buyer personas current is hard work but worth it.

Consider this statistic from a Network Advertising Initiative (NAI) study: behaviorally targeted ads are twice as effective as non-targeted ads. Because if you are going to spend the money on ads, whether those be via paid search or social media, you must target appropriately.

Who do target audiences matter?

When you don’t define or target properly, users will see you don’t know what they want or expect. You can’t sell lawnmowers to people that reside in the desert, and those in southern Florida don’t need snow bibs. Those are obvious examples, but taking it a bit further, here’s a more granular example. If you offer a service to help teens prepare for college then you need to understand that the target is their parents. And not any parents; it may be more beneficial to target those that are college-educated. And that type of specific targeting is possible when you have a well developed buyer persona set. Use that to influence who you target and where.

2. Not using a smart SEO strategy

Search engine optimization (SEO) still matters. But the rules have changed. If your campaign is holding on to outdated notions of optimization, you need an intervention.

Here’s what is out:

Keyword stuffing

Search engines penalize for this now. Content should be written for humans first, search engines second. Keywords should flow naturally and have a proper density. Keyword tool Yoast recommends between 0.5 and 2.5 percent density.

Low quality or paid backlinks

Backlinks to your content can be a great way to improve SEO, but it must be done right. Paying for backlinks or placing links on directories aren’t going to work. Search engines are smarter than that.

Putting all your keywords into meta data

There is no reason to stuff all your keywords into meta data. It won’t help your rankings, and it looks spammy. Instead, make the meta data more of a message.

Repeating keyword anchor text linking

Linking back to content on your site is a not bad, it’s how you do it that matters. Don’t use the same anchor text again and again. If you’re linking back to a page about wood windows, you shouldn’t use wood windows as the anchor text on every subsequent page.

For SEO to be valuable to your brand, you need to think forward. Here’s what’s in:

Be ready for voice search

With the rise of digital assistants, voice search is becoming a huge opportunity. According to Google 55 percent of teens and 41 percent of adults use it daily. This impact search in several ways. First, it enhances the importance of long-tail keywords. As those asking questions or talking to search are more likely to use longer phrases. It also means that content should be written in a more conversational tone. Voice search also means creating question and answer content, which can rank high in voice searches.

Quality not quantity

Search engines are much smarter now. They have “learned” that well written, readable content is more relevant to searchers. Again, you should be writing for your audience first; search engines second.

User Experience (UX)

UX is a critical part of SEO because search engines take that into account as well. Search engines are focused on UX and have continued to demand it be the best. After all, Google now puts more emphasis on mobile-friendliness of a site. So if you’re site isn’t mobile-friendly that’s the number one thing you need to evaluate.

Besides mobile-friendly design, your site’s speed must be quick. Content should have high readability and its navigation should be clear and minimal.

Another segment of UX is accelerated mobile pages (AMP). Google introduced AMP 2015 to ensure a smooth UX. It is noted that AMP web pages load in less than one second and utilize very few data compared to non-AMPs web pages.

3. Not optimizing all channels for distribution of your campaign

Once you’ve created your campaign, it’s got to get out into the digital world. Don’t neglect any of the channels you have available. But also consider how you can differentiate the publishing or posting by channel.

What channels should you use? That depends on your offer and audience, but generally: web, email, social media, events/webinars, and paid media. You will want to publish on the channels where you know your audience is, which is an important part of your buyer persona research.

Your approach of publishing on different channels should be directed by relevance. Is your offer relevant to your LinkedIn followers? Is the campaign robust enough to warrant a webinar? Figure out your channels then determine how you’ll post. For instance, your post on LinkedIn will be different than the one on Twitter. Twitter posts are shorter and more conversational by nature. LinkedIn posts tend to be longer and slightly more formal.

In addition, if you are promoting this campaign via email, your message to recipients would be different. You already have their email address. These contacts are further down the buyer journey path. If using paid ads, then this audience is completely different as well and may have little brand familiarity. You’re going to need to “introduce” yourself before telling them about your campaign.

If you find yourself lacking inspiration with your distribution strategy, read to the best blogs for digital marketing, you’ll find it there.

4. Not integrating all efforts

Is your campaign suffering from a split personality? This is mistake that even veteran digital marketers make. When you launch a campaign, you need to know where it’s going and when. If your landing page is published on day one, but your social media campaigns doesn’t start for two weeks later, or your email campaign comes 30 days later, then you risk confusing your audience.

Start strong and consistent with all your efforts. This also helps reiterate the message, as your audience may be connected with your brand in many ways. If you send an email campaign followed closely by social media postings, you are going to touch some users in multiple ways. They may open the email then click on your Facebook  post. This cohesive messaging is supported throughout your digital footprint, which can lead to higher quality and quantity conversions.

5. Not measuring what matters

So, you’ve launched your campaign! That’s great, but what metrics or key performance indicators (KPIs) are you tracking? The buzzword metrics that are considered to be what matters, really aren’t. Your cost per click (CPC) on any paid digital marketing doesn’t mean anything. Why? Because there is no context. Context enters when you look at the size of the deal compared to the CPC. If your CPC $15 this may seem high, but if your average deal size is $10,000 then $15 is great.

Other not-so important metrics include impressions—all this says is how many people may have seen your post. You’re better off to look at engagement numbers on social media to discern how users are interacting with your campaign.

Further, on-site metrics like page views, time on site, and new visitors don’t offer much insight into if your campaign is resonating. These aren’t completely useless stats, but not valuable in terms of measuring success. Look at conversion rates based on the goals completed in your analytics set-up. Another great site factor to look at is referral source. Determine what channels are referring the most traffic to your campaign then leverage those.

6. Your website doesn’t support your campaign appropriately

For any digital marketing campaign to have its best outcomes, at the crux of it must be a highly evolved, modern website. Yet, this too often a fail as well. Even if you add new content like blogs on your site to promote your campaign or create a new page for interested parties to land on, if your site is less than stellar, you’ll lose them. At a minimum your site needs these attributes to best support digital marketing campaigns.

Your site must be mobile-friendly. Yes, this is still a concern. If your site is not designed for mobile, there’s little hope your campaign will prosper. Mobile is king with nearly 80 percent of time spent on social media platforms is on a mobile device. And 63 percent of all emails are opened on mobile devices. So if you’re posting on social media and sending emails that then link to a non-responsive site, you will disappoint your audience.

Your site must look modern and provide a great user experience. A modern site has many interpretations. In this use of the word modern, the focus is on functionality and design. What does a modern look consist of? Here are a few standards:

  • Use top navigation only; no side menus
  • Layouts stretch the entire length of the screen, rather than being designed in a “box”
  • Imagery is up-to-date and doesn’t have specific characteristics that would place in a certain era
  • Fonts are easy to read
  • Providing indicators of clicks or action like a button changing color or becoming underlined (this is critical for mobile users)
  • Offering a quick way to get back to the home page

7. Failing to personalize the campaign when applicable

Everyone wants a personal digital experience. They want to feel as though, your brand is talking directly to them. Data supports this statement, as 74 percent of online consumers reporting frustration at brands that present them with content that isn’t relevant to them.

While this isn’t possible all of the time, there are ways to create more customized experiences, and it’s more than entering their name in the salutation of the email. You need to think about who your audience is (go back to your personas) and what your campaign means to them. Here are some personalization ideas:

Segment your email lists based on needs of users.

This way you can better tailor your message to them. If your campaigns involves a seasonal sale and you have a variety of products, segment based on what you know. For example, parents would be interested in seeing children’s clothing. Those on your list without kids, aren’t going to care about those items.

Use tools that allow you to “score” leads

By doing this within your campaign, those who are showing interest get additional messages with follow-up offers. Scoring is based on how a user interacts with your campaign. So, you want to keep feeding interested parties content.

Respond on social media as a real human

People are going to comment on your social media posts related to your campaign. There may be questions, which you should promptly answer. You’ll also have to deal with positive and negative feedback. Many brands automate this function or use chatbots. However, if you want to imbue that your brand is friendly and authentic, be just that on social media. These interactions, even if it’s a complaint, will humanize your brand.

8. Learning from other’s mistakes

Every digital marketer is going to commit errors in the launch of a campaign. Digital marketing campaign mistakes are part of the journey. Now that you know some of the most common blunders, you can be proactive in setting up your next campaign so you can avoid them. It’s all a learning process, and digital marketing changes rapidly, which is another reason to not do what you’ve always done with your campaigns. Be confident in your next campaign by purposefully examining these areas so as to optimize rather than err.

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