November 2, 2017 Kit Mullins

The 7 Deadly Sins of Online Marketing

Sin is defined in the original biblical language as “missing the mark.”  It is we when do not live in a way that embodies the goodness for which we were made. A “deadly” sin could be further defined as being so far off the mark that our behavior becomes damaging to the point of being destructive.

When we apply the term “deadly sins” to the topic of online marketing, it means we are “missing the mark” and even partaking in some practices and behaviors that turn out to be destructive to our objectives and goals.

The following list is the seven deadly sins that are destructive to your online marketing efforts. Don’t be guilty of committing them.

Deadly Marketing Sin #1: No Strategy

The number one sin that will hurt your marketing efforts is to jump online and not have an organized, written plan. It is tempting to put up a website quickly, and without thinking through the marketing process and how your site will help to increase revenue. It is an alluring idea to sign up for social media and just start posting without considering what message your content will serve to potential customers. The following flaws in your marketing efforts may indicate a deadly sin:

  • No Target Audience – If your audience is so broad that you try to reach “everyone,” you may wind up reaching no one
  • No Marketing Plan – If your marketing efforts (website, social media, email, print, TV, radio, etc.) are independent of one another and lack a cohesive message
  • No Goals – If you don’t know whether you are trying to gain audience (Following), answer questions (to attract potential buyers), build relationships (customer loyalty), or lead them to purchase
  • No Strategy – If you have not defined the tactics that will help accomplish the 4-E’s: Engage, Entertain, Educate, Empower

Why is it deadly?

It is deadly not to have an online marketing strategy because you will be spending money, time, and energy that does not produce a return on your investment. You will be spinning your wheels in the mud. You will hear your marketing engine running but you will not be making any progress towards building a loyal audience that wants to purchase your products.

Deadly Marketing Sin #2: Website is Static and Unchanging

The second sin deadly to your online marketing is putting up a website and walking away from it for months or years. A website is a window into your company so you want to make sure Google and the other major search engines can find your site. A small site with a limited number of words makes it difficult for Google to know what your business is really about. Add new content regularly to get and keep Google’s attention. The following flaws in your static website may indicate a deadly sin:

  • Too few keywords – If you have too few words for Google to understand what your business is about
  • No fresh content – If your site indicates to Google that your business must not be dynamic or growing

Why is it deadly?

Having a website that is not refreshed frequently is like bringing home a beautiful plant from a garden center and setting it on your porch. For the plant to grow and stay beautiful you have to water it and fertilize it and prune the parts that are not productive. So it is with your website, in Google’s eyes, a site that is never nurtured and improved eventually withers in the search engine rankings.

Deadly Marketing Sin #3: Not Educating Potential Customers

In a recent issue of Forbes magazine, William Craig wrote an article entitled, “Don’t Market To Your Customers; Educate Them Instead.” He summarized his message in this way:

…too many modern companies seem to believe that ignorance makes for the best customers, the real world bears things out differently: the more informed and empowered customers are, the more satisfied and confident they are with their choices.

We strongly recommend Content Marketing –  Once you understand that today’s marketing is customer-centric, then you will be eager to abandon that mindset that you don’t need to answer the questions that potential customers are asking about your products. You will be eager to answer those questions with the distinctiveness that sets your company apart from your competition. These flaws in your content marketing may indicate a deadly sin:

  • Not building authority or credibility – You are not enhancing your credibility nor building trust with your potential buyers
  • Not distinguishing you from the competition – You are not helping potential customers understand what makes you different by leveraging your company’s unique selling proposition and message

Why is it deadly?

If you do not invest in your company by educating your customers at every step of their buying process, then your competition will. You will lose the opportunity to stand out as a leader in your field, and your customers will be buying from the company down the street.

Deadly Marketing Sin #4: Website is Not Mobile Responsive

In late 2016, Google announced that it was changing to a mobile-first index ranking system. According to the Official Google Webmasters Blog,

“Today, most people are searching on Google using a mobile device… To make our results more useful, we’ve begun experiments to make our index mobile-first. Although our search index will continue to be a single index of websites and apps, our algorithms will eventually primarily use the mobile version of a site’s content to rank pages from that site.”

Google’s algorithm changes will not impact your page ranking unless your website is not mobile compliant. This means your site does not respond well to change in screen size. According to Forbe’s magazine,

“make sure you have a fully functioning mobile version of your site—preferably by using a responsive design on your site that automatically flexes based on the device used to access it.”

Why is it deadly?

As we read above, most searches are conducted on mobile devices these days. If your website is not mobile compliant, you will be missing out on all the traffic that would potentially come to your site via a mobile device.

Deadly Marketing Sin #5: Neglecting the Best Practices for Social Media

Social media is a must-have in your list of online marketing tools. But social media marketing must be done well to be effective. Here are six ways you may be tempted to carry out your social media, but if you engage in two or more of the things on this list, you could be in danger of committing deadly sins that will result in a negative return on your investment. More than one of the following flaws in social media marketing may indicate a deadly sin:

  • Always Selling – If every post is about selling your product and telling your followers how great your company is
  • Poor photography – If you always use quick mobile phone snapshots that look like they were taken by an amateur (you are hurting your company’s branding)
  • Not linking back to your own site – If you post your heart out and don’t drive your followers to your website, you miss opportunities to present the full picture of what your company does
  • Not posting consistently – If you post great content, but do it inconsistently
  • Posting to a small audience  – If you do everything right but you don’t build your following

Why is it deadly?

If every post you make in your marketing is a sales pitch, you are not understanding that you have to attract and earn your audience in two ways – be “social” and be the “media”. To be social you must be relational, engaging, and let your following see the people and purpose behind your company. To be the media, people have to have a reason – other than a sales pitch, to follow you. Consider how many viewers would watch a half hour TV show that consisted of nothing but commercials. If you will not “be the media” and inform, educate, and entertain your audience, you cannot build and keep an audience that chooses to follow you.

Deadly Marketing Sin #6: Not Using PPC Ads

Earning a top page rank for keywords on search engine results page takes a lot of time and search engine optimization effort—especially for highly competitive keywords. Your local company could be competing against national brands for the same key words. One way to compete in such a case is to bid your way to the top position through paid search advertising. The following flaws in your digital advertisements may indicate a deadly sin:

  • Relying on Organic – If you are putting all your eggs in the organic basket, hoping that your potential customers will find you through search alone
  • Keywords are too competitive  – If your most important keywords are too competitive, especially if they attract competition from national brands
  • Trusting Facebook – If you trust Facebook to show your company’s content in people’s news feeds without putting a little money behind key posts

Why is it deadly?

You are missing the the opportunity to reach new customers and help your business grow. If you don’t take advantage of using paid advertising to reach your target audience, you are reducing your potential revenue stream by being satisfied with a smaller piece of the pie.

Deadly Marketing Sin #7: Not Using Data for Decisions

Goal setting is important in marketing, and tracking the data will inform you as to whether or not your marketing efforts are accomplishing your goals. Without looking at the data, you cannot know which marketing efforts are bringing the most traffic to your website. Without looking at the data, you are susceptible to making incorrect assumptions. The following flaws in your data analysis practices may indicate a deadly sin:

  • Data shows you have targeted the wrong audience – If your assumptions are that you should target Audience A and your data shows that Audience B actually purchases more from you than Audience A does
  • Data shows you are posting the wrong kind of content – If you look at your social media reach and engagement, you might find that the content producing the greatest engagement is different than what you regularly post

Why is it deadly?

One of the big advantages with digital marketing is the ability make decisions based on data. If you don’t look at the analytics to see what is working, and as importantly, what is not working, you are shooting in the dark. Don’t miss the opportunity to make informed decisions. A lack of information will negatively impact your bottom line and lessen the return on your marketing investment.

Don’t Commit the 7 Deadly Sins of Marketing

Now that you know about some of the behaviors and practices that can be destructive to your digital marketing efforts, don’t be guilty of committing them. Choose a better marketing path. You can make virtuous decisions that will result in an increased audience, improved engagement, and higher revenues. The choice is yours.

7 Deadly Sins of Online Marketing

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