Content marketing, social media marketing, prospecting, selling and networking; everybody's doing it but unfortunately many are laboring without positive results. The internet and social media are not as new and exciting as they were a decade ago. Back in then, everyone was eager to acquire an email account and read every single email that hit our inbox, not to mention the excitement they felt when a Nigerian prince decided to share his dead grandfather's wealth with you. Things are just not the same and we've grown tired and accustomed to the shenanigans. As consumers we're not as gullible and although we're spending more time, we're in fact paying less attention. A recent experiment has shown that the average American now has an attention span less than that of a goldfish. Therefore, how do we create content that appeases this narrow window?
As marketers we have diluted the platforms and messages meant to be compelling, to a point they have little effect, especially with our new Generation Z, those born in 1995 - 2012. Members of Gen-Z have an even lesser attention span, ignoring the typical 15 - 30 YouTube videos to consume 6 - 15 second micro content popularly produced on Instagram and Vine. The times, people and platforms are changing and marketers and entrepreneurs need to adapt.
Adaptation is not easy but can be achieved through attentive study of the platforms and learning from the most common mistakes as we witness them in the industry.
Misusing Email Marketing
Email, although it is still among the most effective online marketing tools, has been grossly overused over the past decade leading to the formation of entire businesses whose mandate is eliminating spam and helping users and companies regain control of their inbox. Many marketers embark on a hunt to acquire email lists to be used as targets for their campaigns. Forget about marketing by permission, once your email is in their possession, its go time! All hell breaks loose. The problem here is that the general unqualified email recipient receiving an unrelated email blast does not convert as well as the user who was exposed to your service in a natural way and made the decision to subscribe. Emails designed to nurture valid leads get 4-10 times more interaction compared to standalone email blasts. While relevant emails drive 18 times more revenue than broadcast emails.
Knowing who to market to
Another interesting fact to take note of is determining who is most likely to be reading your emails. Who are they, what are their interests, where do they live? For example, while we know that millennials are caught up with social media and spend a great deal of time there, email use is still growing in popularity within that age group. Therefore, study your email audience and tailor your message.
Your email marketing campaign needs to be a well-planned, thoughtfully designed marketing activity. Random mass mailing is not only a waste of time but is a nuisance that marks your business and product as a spammer in the mind of the consumer, sabotaging all efforts.
Mass Producing Social Content & Excessive Automation
We're all trying to be more efficient in our daily business lives and reaching the largest audience with the least effort is a worthwhile proposition. However, if it's at the expense of having clear, well executed content then there's no amount of automation that can make your marketing work.
Almost every WordPress website, for example, has a built in feature that allows new blog posts to be circulated via numerous social networks automatically. An app such as Oktopost allows seamless, scheduled and automated distribution of content and messages across networks. Social automation tools are powerful no doubt, but they cannot be left to run completely on auto-pilot. Each social network has a different audience that relates and reacts to different messages. Therefore, your stunning 3,000 word research article on sea turtles will experience varied results on Facebook versus Twitter versus LinkedIn. Sharing an update that says, "Check out my new blog post, It's awesome..." across every network is lazy and is not tailored for each audience. The results from this approach are negligible and will yield very little ROI on your marketing campaigns - your messages are inert. Instead, create a custom message for each target platform that aligns with the spirit or tone of each network.
In addition, it's becoming abundantly obvious that images outperform plain text, videos and links on social networks. Facebook reports that photos receive an average 87% of all engagement on their network. Your freedom of creativity is endless here, especially with the ease of access to royalty free images for commercial use, accompanying your post copy with a brilliant support image is quite simple.
The point here is to forget about mass production, start tailoring content. Get to know your audiences and customize messages for each network and you'll experience a world of difference in conversions and clickthroughs.
No Optimized Landing Page
Landing pages work wonders for businesses in the process of executing an aggressive sales and marketing strategy because they are designed to close sales and capture leads. These highly focused, conversion-centric pages get the message across in a very concise and hard-hitting manner; provided that they're well-designed of course. In fact, companies have been able to increase lead generation by up to 3,000% along with increases in revenue and ROI on accompanying PPC campaigns.
While landing pages are producing excellent results for many, a majority of businesses still haven't caught on and are by default, relying on home pages and poorly optimized pages for acquiring sales.
Your landing page should never be your website's home page, unless it has a direct call-to-action that allows visitors to make a direct purchase, sign-up or some other action. Or even worse, your landing page must relate to the content being promoted or shared.
Frankly, there's no excuse for omitting this vital element of your online sales strategy since there are so many tools available that make landing page creation seamless. Most landing page creation tools are equipped for not only executing a beautiful layout but also provide tools for tracking conversions that easily integrate with social media marketing software as well as for A/B testing to determine the perfect approach.
For anything you're aggressively promoting online, ensure you have a strong landing page ready to close.
Acquiring the Wrong Type of Traffic
There are so many ways to attract traffic but they're not all beneficial to your business. Acquiring an extra few thousand visitors is as easy as spending $5 on Fiverr or blindly pouring thousands of dollars into Facebook advertising. However, what will those visitors do once they hit your site? Nothing! A website receiving 100 visitors per month with 50 paying customers is more profitable than receiving 1,000 who visit and do nothing because your content simply does not apply to them. It's a waste of resources, time and energy.
Focus your energy on building relationships with every qualified lead you acquire with the end goal of the sale or other metric important to you. The mass market approach will not necessarily reap greater rewards, especially for service related products.
Acquiring legitimate, engaging traffic will rest highly on how involved you are in the industries and communities you're targeting. Having profiles across the major social channels with thousands of followers looks good but what value does it provide in terms of sales and traffic; especially if you're not actively engaging your audience? Be creative, join and become active on a powerful community like ViralContentBuzz to ramp up your social engagement and get your stories shared on social media. Actively contribute on LinkedIn groups to acquire legitimate, high converting and engaging traffic. Scrap the gimmicks, save some money and be driven by value instead.
Spending Too Much Time Onsite
All marketing activities have their relevance and place in building a performing online presence. However, spending too much time trying to implement every single SEO guideline on your site will not yield as great a result as stepping out of your comfort zone and joining a conversation on Triberr or Google Plus.
Gone are the days of "if you built it, they will come," we are in the era where search engine performance relies heavily on an active presence off your website. Meaning, building genuine backlinks, mentions and virality on the backbone of a personality or product that provides massive value for the community or a specific niche does the gist nowadays. These cannot be accomplished while "pruning your garden at home" but through actively engaging the networks. This is one of the reasons for the massive success of content marketing and more companies are investing time and money.
Your key to success is your ability to quickly adapt and grow as people, their expectations and technology changes. Your work is never complete and the moment you feel complacent, you have already lost ground. Keep moving forward.