Digital marketing: it’s kind of a big deal, right? I mean, it’s 2016. By now, we can all admit that promoting one’s business through blogging, social media, content offers, and landing pages isn’t just a fad—it’s an integral part of success in the modern age.
That being said, the field of marketing isn’t without its flaws. And for all of the automation tools and great advice available out there, there’s still a lot of room for human error.
A lot of this human error in marketing manifests itself on a strategic level, and in how messages are conveyed. So if you’re looking to start marketing your business in a significant way in 2016 (or if you’d like to make sure your current strategy is up to snuff for the new year) let’s examine what can go wrong—and how to fix it.
1. Offering promises you can't live up to.
Do you promote your brand in a way that's highly unrealistic? It’s one thing to have a snazzy slogan that promises a lot, but there’s a fine line between extolling your own core values and making promises on your website that you simply cannot keep.
For example, if you promise fast shipping but routinely take several days or even a week or more to get products to your customers, they might start wondering whether or not you're adhering to any of your marketing claims. Likewise, if you promise your customers that you're offering the best deals around on the products they want, you better make sure you're actually offering those deals, or customers aren't going to come back to you with future business.
Instead, make realistic marketing claims. An exterminator that promises to kill every bug in the house with a single treatment might not be able to keep clients for long when the bugs just keep crawling out, but one who promises to stick with his clients for the long haul, treating until the bugs are gone, will see satisfied customers who are eager to recommend the service to others.
2. Using vague statements that don't actually mean anything.
Do you fill your marketing material with vague platitudes that you hope will ring true to your customers, pulling them through the door of your business? Do you use a lot of buzz words like “synergy” or “ideation”?
If so, here’s a tip: Don't.
You're far better off with clear, specific claims that will let your customers know exactly what you're capable of. Is there something about your business that sets you apart from others in your field, whether it's a low price point, commitment to excellence, or customer service that's far beyond what anyone else offers? Let your customers know about this aspect of your business instead of marketing yourself as just like everyone else.
3. Ignoring marketing opportunities.
Compare marketing to the art of spinning plates. There are a lot of different activities that must be performed in tandem to get the most out of your efforts. Omit one and you may start missing out on the potential to bring customers to your business.
Your blog is one of the most important parts of your inbound marketing strategy. It's one of the few outlets that allows you to communicate freely with potential customers without limiting your word count or insisting that you fit your message into a certain algorithm in order to be seen by potential customers.
Not only that, it helps to establish you as an authority in your field. A good blog shows that you know your stuff, are up on current events in your field, and are regularly making advances to your knowledge, skills, and services. Your blog can also establish a sense of community among your customers, making them more loyal to your business.
By skipping out on blogging altogether, you close that window of opportunity. Plus, an inactive or nonexistent blog can make your website look stagnant to both potential customers and Google, which won’t help your search rankings.
Your social media accounts are the best place to connect and interact with your customers in real-time, short of a live chat system. On social media, you can get customer opinions on important issues, feel out your customers with potential ideas before you put them into practice, and share promotions with your customers.
You can also use your social media account to attract new business. Contests and promotions give your current fans the ability to share more information about your business, while simply sharing fascinating information that your fans will share, re-tweet, or re-pin allows you to stretch your marketing time and budget with less effort on your part than ever before.
Guest blogging opportunities are another great way to grow your audience and your business. A lot of marketers tend to ignore this one, either out of a lack of confidence or because they simply don’t think it’s worth the time and effort.
Got your own blog? Great. That means that most your creative energy is going into it. You don't want to share that with someone else and let their blog get all the hits, right?
Wrong. Actually, a properly-designed guest post can boost your business more than a month's worth of posts on your own blog. This is especially true if your host blog gets more traffic than your own. You'll reach a whole new audience, establish more authority in your field, and boost visits to your own site—a win all the way around!
Paying attention to SEO is critical to keeping your website at the top of the search results for people who need your business.
As you design or continuously improve your website, take SEO into account. Develop your local traffic first and foremost: small business owners in particular don't have a lot of use for business from halfway across the country, but they can definitely benefit from someone in their own town or city!
At the same time, focus on building several keywords that bring in people searching for the products or services you offer. Your blog and landing pages are a great place to do exactly that!
4. Losing out on opportunities to reconnect with your existing customers.
A returning customer who will bring their business to you on a regular basis is worth more than half a dozen customers who will only visit your business once. Make sure that your existing customers are very happy with the service they're getting from your company.
Yes, Virginia. Good customer service is a form of marketing.
Think of it less as customer service and more as customer satisfaction. If your customer isn't satisfied with an item, what are their options? Is making a return as easy as possible, or is it too difficult to work through the process? When a customer calls in with a complaint, does your customer service team go out of their way to make it right?
It's also important to make your customer service easy to access. Some customers prefer an immediate phone call, while others may appreciate the convenience of dealing with an issue through email. Offer as many outlets for customer service as possible to create the best experience for your customers, and make sure that your contact information is highly visible. Display it clearly on the front page of your website or have a contact page that's very easy to find.
When there are issues with your products, make sure you handle them fast! Nothing will drive away a customer faster than slow customer service with an unsatisfactory response. On the other hand, when you deal with issues quickly and efficiently, you create satisfied customers who are more likely to come back—and to recommend your business to their friends.
5. Missing the value of sales.
Customer loyalty is a wonderful tool, but that loyalty has to start somewhere! If business is slow or you need to bring in new customers, try offering a big sale. The lower you go—especially compared to others in your field—the more people you'll bring to your business and the better your business will be.
In order to make those sales effective, market them in a big way! Share social media posts, host contests, and talk it up on your blog to help bring in the business you need.
Is some of this stuff Marketing 101? Maybe. But with so many new innovations and trends coming and going every year—heck, even every month—it’s important to step back and make sure that you’re covering all of your bases at all times when it comes to your marketing strategy. So let 2016 be the year that you plug up the holes, try something new, and start getting those new leads flowing!