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10 Online Marketing Mistakes to Avoid {and How They Hurt Your Brand}

As an agency, we work with brands that want current, creative marketing and a fresh perspective when it comes to their marketing mix. There are several common areas where we see brands struggle (regardless of their industry) and, worse yet, these are areas where they get taken advantage of — all while paying a significant marketing retainer each month. Today I want to talk through some of the most common missteps we see brands making in their online marketing so you can evaluate your own brand, improve and/or share this post with someone who you think needs to read it. 10 Marketing Mistakes to Avoid and

Online Marketing Mistakes to Avoid - Belle Communications
Online Marketing Mistakes to Avoid - Belle Communications
Photo credit: Death to Stock.

As an agency, we work with brands that want current, creative marketing and a fresh perspective when it comes to their marketing mix. There are several common areas where we see brands struggle (regardless of their industry) and, worse yet, these are areas where they get taken advantage of — all while paying a significant marketing retainer each month.

Today I want to talk through some of the most common missteps we see brands making in their online marketing so you can evaluate your own brand, improve and/or share this post with someone who you think needs to read it.

10 Marketing Mistakes to Avoid and How They Are Killing Your Brand

The points below can serve as an audit for your online presence. Note which marketing mistakes your brand should focus on and be sure to include them in your 2015 marketing strategy.

1. No Social Media Strategy.
Maybe you’re posting on your company Facebook page more than once a week and tweeting as often as you can. Perhaps you’ve started a Pinterest account and are ‘pinning’ a bunch of brand photography. If you are engaging on social media without a strategy, you are most likely wasting time, energy and valuable budget on the wrong social channels or approach best suited to your target audiences. This is where a highly researched strategy comes into play and it’s a must-have, regardless of your target audiences.

2. Overly Self-Promotional Social Media Content.
Look at your brand’s social media channels. If you were to assign a percentage to the amount of content you share about your brand vs. target audience specific content that’s not self-promotional, what would the percentage be? If your social media activity is too brand-focused, your fan engagement will suffer and your social media audiences may get bored and stop following you. Strive for an 80/20 ratio (with your self-promotional content representing the 20%) and watch this video to delve further into this topic.

3. No Google Analytics.
If your brand website isn’t actively using or tracking Google Analytics, you will not be able to track basic measurements such as website traffic and traffic referrals. Without this FREE measurement tool, you can’t track who is visiting your site, what they do while there, when and where they click, how long they stay on your site or how your other marketing tactics like PR and social media are impacting those metrics. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Set up your analytics today.

4. Website Not Optimized for Search.
Your website can be beautiful and eye catching, but if your site isn’t optimized for searches related to your product or service within search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.), it could all be for want. If your target audiences cannot see you on the first page of Google when they search for key phrases related to what you’re selling (Example: “Columbus Ohio Food PR Agency”), then your lovely website isn’t worth the hefty design ticket.

5. Website Not Optimized for Mobile.
Maybe you spent a bunch of money on your current website and you don’t see the need to invest in mobile right now. Perhaps you don’t think your target audiences use their mobile phones to make their buying decisions. According to the latest Pew research, more than 90% of adults have cell phones and nearly 60% have smartphones. Work with a consultant or agency who can quickly move your company website to mobile without charging an exorbitant fee.

6. Lack of Focus on Owned Media.
When someone visits your brand website, what do you want them to do? Your website should be the spot where prospects learn more about you and move toward becoming qualified leads. Owned media is the media you ultimately control, meaning its controlled through your brand and not a third-party. One of the best aspects of owned media is that you can control exactly what is said about your brand and provide clear calls to action (CTAs) for potential customers to engage via your website, e-newsletter, white papers, e-book downloads, coupon downloads, special offer clubs and on. If your website isn’t clear — you most likely have a high bounce rate (visitors immediately leaving your site once they arrive) and could even be confusing or deterring potential customers.

7. Lack of Measurement for Paid, Earned, Shared, Owned Media.
First, this point is assuming you have your Google Analytics setup (see point 3). Regardless of the marketing tactics you employ, it’s essential that you measure outcomes and evaluate processes and results. If you can’t measure and assign tangible goals, consider whether a specific marketing tactic should be pursued.This means social media, public relations, advertising, Google Adwords, e-newsletter campaigns, consumer contests, blog posts and more should be measured and evaluated in a continual loop. Ditch what isn’t working and experiment — but first, you must be able to measure outcomes.

8. Lack of Lead Capturing.
Even if you have great website content, if there is not a clear CTA (call-to-action) with a way to capture prospective customers’ basic information, a major mistake is taking place. At the very least, your website should have a “Contact Us” form and a way to capture leads that’s less committal. Meaning, have an email opt in, white paper download or incentive for visitors to provide you with their name and email address so you can move them into your sales funnel.

9. Infrequent or No E-Newsletter Communication with Target Audiences.
This tactic falls within your “Owned Media” wheelhouse. Once you have an e-newsletter editorial calendar constructed and your template design construct, your lead capturing CTAs will begin to populate your email list. You must use this list! Lead capturing is in vain if you do not then take the information captured and move those prospects into more knowledge of and engagement with your brand.This can be a monthly e-newsletter, weekly or even daily — frequency and content will depend on your product or service and target audience preference. Work with your marketing partner to outline this tactic.

10. Paying a Web Design Company to Handle Your “SEO” and “Content” Needs.
This is one of the most expensive mistakes we see brands making right now. Just because you have a designer or agency build your website does not mean that they will include strategic content that accurately conveys the voice of your brand. It also does not mean that your site has been optimized for search. This is a huge mistake. Not all web design agencies are created equal (just like PR agencies for that matter), so always ask for references and ask them to explain their process for SEO’ing websites.

  • Do they research keywords and include them?
  • Will they provide you with that list of keywords once the site is constructed?
  • Will they add Google Analytics to your site?
  • If these questions aren’t answered or if they seem unsure of how to answer — it’s time to look elsewhere. See point 4 and read this.

Evaluating Your Brand and Preparing for Success in 2015

How did your brand score? If you’re not a marketing expert, you aren’t expected to be a marketing expert. You are, however, responsible for guarding your brand from unscrupulous agency partners, wasted resources from tactical execution without a strategy and sticking your head in the sand. I’m being very frank here because I’ve seen dozens of wonderful brands waste tens of thousands on poorly researched online marketing initiatives or even be taken advantage of due to lack of reference checks and simply not knowing what to expect or ask of a vendor.

If you see opportunities for your brand to grow and improve in the list above, now is a great time to incorporate this list within your marketing strategy for 2015.

Kate Finley

Founder + CEO of Belle
Currently thriving in Puerto Rico