Business owners are humiliated when they fail to catch major marketing blunders. That's understandable, especially when those blunders would've been easy to prevent.
From embarrassing spelling mistakes to excessive e-mails to customers, marketing mistakes can make your audience wonder if you're as careless about product and service delivery as you are with your marketing campaigns.
You don't want to be a turn off to customers, so put your best foot forward and put best practices to work. That starts with knowing what not to do. Below are ten common marketing blunders to avoid, along with preventative steps.
1) Inundating Customers with Too Many Emails
"If you keep bombarding your email list with emails, whether promotional or non-promotional, your subscriber list will begin to shrink at a rapid pace. In fact, 69 percent of users unsubscribe due to 'too many emails'."
- Renzo Costarella, Entrepreneur
It's tempting for business owners to email customers every day to bolster sales or promote new products. But customers aren't your BFFs, and if you email too often, they're more likely to unsubscribe. The problem is finding a balance, because it's hard to pinpoint how frequently you should contact customers. Your industry and audience will help your figure it out.
Coschedule analyzed 20 studies and reports to determine the ideal frequency for e-blasts. They also uncovered the key reasons why customers choose to unsubscribe to e-mail lists. With a few exceptions based on company and industry, most people said they'd like to receive emails "At least monthly." Still, a smaller portion said they wanted daily or weekly e-mails, highlighting that customers don't enjoy frequent contact.
2) Creating Irrelevant or Boring Content
Irrelevant or boring content makes audiences tune out, so it's up to you to know your audience and cater to their needs and interests. You want to make sure your content is interesting, relevant and valuable. For instance, if you own a medical equipment company, maybe feature a case study on a hospital that used your transport incubator to save a baby's life. Neil Patel highlights strategies to help you create valuable content:
- Make sure your content is original
- Use images and video to engage your audience
- Accurately report data and statistics
- Update your website and blog regularly
3) Choosing Dull or Impersonal Subject Titles
Never underestimate the power of a strong subject title. Nearly half of all email recipients open emails based on subject lines, so you can't afford for yours to be a snore-fest. Marketing expert Khalid Saleh highlights the key mistakes marketing specialists make in choosing a subject title:
- Too Wordy: Less than 10 percent of people will open an email with a subject over 20 words.
- No Personalization: Impersonal subject titles are 22 percent less likely to be opened than their personalized cousins.
- Including "Fw": Emails that look like forwards get read 17 percent less than ones that look original.
- No Urgency: Subject titles without a sense of urgency are opened 22 percent less than their counterparts.
4) Using Poor Quality Images
Blurry or low-resolution images on either your website or e-blasts make you look out of touch with technology and ill-equipped to handle client needs. But it's easy to fix if you swap in high-resolution images to show off your products and services. Hell, your iPhone might even get the job done!
5) Promising Free Products You Can't Deliver
Offering freebies or bundling products to move inventory can be highly effective marketing strategies. Bit if you make promises you can't keep, you'll irritate customers and even lose their trust. For instance, if you offer a free stainless steel reindeer decoration with every holiday wreath purchase, you better make sure to have enough units of that accessory available or you could be in hot water.
If you're going to promise free products, avoid costly marketing blunders by checking your inventory and contacting vendors to ensure your supply won't dry up in advance of your promotion's expiration date.
6) Using Shady Tactics
"Unfortunately, underhanded and shady practices are still alive and well in the SEO world. While most SEOs and website owners don't intentionally set out to deceive the search engines, ignorance is no excuse; using these strategies to get ahead in the search rankings will inevitably get you penalized, whether you meant to be deceptive or not."
- John Rampton, Entrepreneur and Founder of Due
Shady marketing tactics are worse than stale marketing techniques. Unfortunately, too many businesses use black hat tactics, hindering your SEO rankings and resulting in penalties from Google. The unsavory marketing blunders might land you in Google's cross hairs:
- Keyword stuffing, or using the same words or phrases excessively in an article to improve SEO
- Article spinning, or changing a few words in an existing article and passing it off as your own
- Scraping, or taking content from a site and using it on another to attract traffic
7) Failing to Stay Updated on Industry Trends
Failing to stay abreast of the latest industry trends leaves customers thinking your business is lagging behind. If you aren't networking, attending trade shows or following industry news, your competitors will run laps around you as they stay on top of the latest marketing developments.
8) Not Profreading Your Content
See what I did up there? That one was intentional, but too often it's just a lazy marketing mistake. Launching a marketing campaign without proofreading the content is one of the marketing blunders that can easily make your business a laughing stock. While some spelling mistakes are funny, while others are downright offensive. Consider a few examples of how one or two letters can ruin an effective marketing campaign:
- To promote its Angus Burger, a McDonald's restaurant in Hartford, Connecticut advertised an "Anus Burger." It was the butt of more than a few jokes.
- Trying to appeal to voters, Mitt Romney misspelled "America" (spelling it "Amercia") on his mobile app.
- H&M misspelled the word "genius" on a new t-shirt.
9) Sending Emails to the Wrong Audience
Imagine this: You create a special "20% Off" e-mail campaign that's designed to "earn back" the business of customers who haven't purchased from you in over two years. Instead of sending it to dormant customers, it went out to current customers.
With just a couple mouse clicks, you managed to offend your most loyal customers. They'll wonder why they aren't eligible for discount savings when they regularly reward you with their business. Some customers might even leave, thinking, "Maybe if I take my business elsewhere for a year or two, I'll get a coupon when I come back."
10) Failing to Monitor Campaigns
"Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half."
– John Wanamaker
You can introduce the best marketing initiatives in the world, but if you don't track results, you'll never know which campaigns were effective. Laura Lake, marketing consultant and author of, "Consumer Behavior for Dummies," says it's critical to track your marketing campaigns. In her article, "How to Track Marketing Efforts," Lake discusses call tracking and other techniques to help you monitor marketing campaign effectiveness.
Avoid Costly Marketing Blunders and Do Better
Marketing blunders are more common than you'd think, even for seasoned pros. With a focused eye, you can avoid these pitfalls by carefully executing your marketing strategies. To recap, follow these key takeaways to avoid costly marketing blunders:
- Avoid excessive e-mails
- Know your audience and the content that's valuable to them
- Use an expiration date or "while supplies last" footer on special offers
- Check your inventory before offering freebies
- Use a headline analyzer for subject titles that are personalized, interesting and relevant
- Steer clear of black hat tactics
- Stay current on marketing trends by networking, attending trade shows and setting up Google alerts
- Send promotions to the proper audience segment
- Have at least two people proofread all content before distributing it
- Monitor your marketing campaigns to assess their effectiveness
Put your business on a path to success with enthusiastic and strategic marketing campaigns. These tips will help you prevent some of the most embarrassing marketing blunders and grow your positive reputation.