When we speak publicly about online marketing, the first question I ask is: “Is online marketing a priority? And without fail, nine out of ten people in the audience say “yes”.

I think we can all agree that for businesses to thrive in the coming years it will be critical to have a strong online presence and to consistently engage in the right online marketing activities.

You’ve heard it over and over again: your business needs to be online to stay competitive; online marketing drives inbound leads; your prospects are going online to search for businesses like yours; etc.

That’s all well and good … but there’s one problem. Most businesses are not taking advantage of these powerful tools to grow their business.

In this post, we identify 7 common deadly sins that inhibit businesses from driving sustained results from online marketing.

Online marketing deadly sins1.      You’re Not Committed to Being a Content Publishing Organization

We can’t stress this point enough – you must consistently create and disseminate relevant, quality content to be successful online. Smart content educates your prospects and moves them closer to a buying decision, and search engines like Google rely on signals from fresh content to rank your website.

The best content publishing tactic to begin with is a blog.

Blogging will help you increase the qualified prospects that find your website, give them the information they need to make a decision, and ultimately, convert them into customers.

Check out “Why Blogging is Good for Your Business”.

2.      Your Contact Data Base isn’t Solid

You should be emailing prospects and customers with information, offers, and so on. Therefore, you need an up to date, clean data base of contacts for your email communications.

Email marketing works – if you’re doing it according to best practices.

You must cultivate an opt-in email list. This means that your contacts have given you permission to contact them. The process may be slow, especially at first, but once you get rolling you will have a highly valuable list of people who actually want information to help them make informed decisions.

We recommend against purchasing lists of contacts for your database. Do not add people to your list who have not opted-in. Not only is this a bad business practice, but Canada’s new anti-spam legislation (CASL) prohibits companies who do not obtain consent from sending commercial electronic messages.

Click here for more information about getting the “opt-in”.

You should also consistently communicate with your existing customers. You don’t want to disappear after the sale. Your existing customer base is a fertile source of incremental revenue.

3.      You Don’t Use Calls-to-Action (Or You Have Bad Ones)

Are you using calls-to-action (CTAs) on your website, in your emails or in your social networking?

CTAs entice prospective buyers to do something, such as download your whitepaper, sign up for your newsletter, or request contact with you. 

The most important aspect of the CTA is that it provides a form for people to fill out, giving you their basic contact information and their permission to communicate with them.

If you don’t have CTAs, you will have no way of capturing lead information. CTAs allow people to put their hand up, get in touch with you, and opt-in to receive follow-up communication.

You need to use CTAs strategically and they need to be compelling – read about “5 Surefire Ways to Increase the Effectiveness of Your Call-to-Action Buttons”.

4.      You’re Using “Black Hat” Search Engine Optimization Tricks

Just like purchasing email lists is bad practice, so are certain search engine optimization (SEO) tactics.

Some of these “black hat” tricks used to work, but Google and other search engines have gotten more sophisticated in recent years.

If you are using third party “SEO companies”, make sure they do not:

  • Purchase inbound website links from a link farm
  • Pack your targeted keywords in your content over and over again (known as “keyword stuffing”)
  • Hide keywords in the background of your site (e.g. white text on a white background)
  • Create spammy pages inaccessible to users that are meant only for search engines

To optimize for search, you must ensure your on-page SEO is solid, then secure quality inbound links to your website from respected pages around the web.

5.      You Don’t Know What to Measure

Are you using online marketing analytics to measure the key performance indicators that matter?

Online marketing tools provide so much data that it can be hard to know what you should focus on.

The first step is to identify your business goals. Do you want more website traffic? Do you want to generate more inbound leads? Do you want to increase your referral sources? Do you want to expand your reach beyond your traditional markets?

Once you determine your specific goals, you must then identify the data that allows you to track whether you are winning or losing. The data must be directly aligned with your business objectives and associated metrics.

So make sure you measure and analyze, but don’t blindly measure everything without an idea of how it is impacting your business. Be precise, specific, and targeted with your analytics activities.

Click here to learn how to use analytics to drive online marketing success.

6.       You’re Not Taking Action on the Data

Once you’re measuring the right things, you need to actually use the data to make the necessary adjustments.

Take insights from what you’ve measured to improve the results of your online marketing activities. With online marketing, you must constantly test and refine everything you do, from email subject lines to home page layouts.

Just make sure you aren’t changing too many things at once. If you make too many adjustments simultaneously, you won’t be able to pinpoint which of the changes made a difference to your results.

Read “The 4 Steps of Online Marketing Analytics” for more tips.

7.      You Expect Immediate Results

Online marketing is not a sliver bullet, and you shouldn’t expect overnight success.

As business owners, we want to see results right away. We’d love to have new clients beating a path to our door the day after we launch our new website. Unfortunately, that’s not how it works.

It takes consistent, relentless execution to build momentum and eventually achieve the results you want. It is about the long game.

The worst mistake you can make is to stop engaging in online marketing activities just when they’re beginning to pick up steam. Too many companies assume that online marketing isn’t working for them, when in reality, they are close to reaching the threshold where they will start to see real results.

Online marketing is like a flywheel; it moves slowly at first, but once it develops momentum, the results build on themselves.

>> Core Online Marketing can help your organization consistently execute the right combination of online marketing activities to drive success. Contact us today!

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Ben Molfetta