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When digital marketing goes wrong

How to avoid 3 common pitfalls of online marketing and position your business for success

When new customers come to us for advice, the question they ask most often is, “How can I get more leads through digital marketing strategy? Should I be doing Google AdWords or Facebook ad funnels? What about social media and SEO?”

Sorting out what channel(s) to spend your marketing budget on is never easy, even when you’re an expert. Small business owners hear about the success other businesses have had with digital marketing and get carried away, envisioning overnight success for themselves.

The result? They spend thousands on websites that don’t really speak to their unique selling proposition – and on digital marketing campaigns that don’t deliver. The results are often underwhelming. Why? Because their approach wasn’t strategic enough to start with and no one’s been accountable for actively analysing the results.

Without evidence-based decision making, you’re basically shooting in the dark, and the chance of stumbling across success in the dark is, as Eliza Doolittle once said, “not bloody likely.”

Instead, to create a great marketing campaign review the data at regular intervals and form hypotheses you can test. Track metrics consistently and apply actual findings and real-time values to your campaigns to drive continued growth – but test one variable at a time so you can determine which one is having an effect. Conversely, don’t change variables randomly or too often, before a message has had enough time to take root.

Particularly when you’re a smaller business on a limited budget, acting on speculation is asking for trouble. You literally cant afford to make mistakes – yet businesses of all sizes do all the time. How does digital marketing go wrong and why? And most importantly, what can you do about it?

Problem 1: Your agency partner delivers only one solution.

Often, the client has picked an agency who specialises in one form of digital marketing, typically Google Ads or SEO. Running Google Ads or relying on SEO marketing to generate leads won’t work for every business, but quite often, a dedicated agency won’t tell you that. So, you end up wasting time and money on platforms that aren’t suited to your business, product, or service.

For example, a client who came to us recently had spent $900 to “optimise” his website for SEO. All the companies he had spoken to wanted to put him on a monthly retainer for at least a year, and none of them recommended updating his content. Nor did they suggest a strategy for positioning his business.

We took a look at his site and noticed issues straight away: It had no clear customer niche and the copy was almost non-existent. Optimising a content-poor website that obviously needed a refresh was not going to be an effective use of time or money.

Problem 2: Your agency doesn’t provide the services you need.

Contrary to what you might expect, it’s not the web agency’s job to develop clarity around your brand, your business offer, or even your messaging. If you’re lucky, you’ll get a good copywriter who’s able to do some of that, but who wants to depend on luck? That said, even the most experienced copywriter won’t necessarily understand what makes your business unique or why your customers love you. In most situations, they simply make up guff or tidy up what they’ve been given – which is often next to nothing!

You’d be surprised at the number of clients we take on who haven’t invested enough time in defining their brand or positioning.

What do we mean by “brand” and “positioning”? We begin by asking each new client, who are you? What exactly do you do, how, and for whom? What makes you different or better than the competition? Many companies have never asked themselves fundamental questions or put themselves in the customer’s shoes in any meaningful way.

What is the most important message you need to communicate to your customer? That should fall out of your self-analysis. Unless you’ve told your agency what your positioning is, they wouldn’t actually know. Furthermore, you can’t tell them if you don’t know how to articulate it yourself.

Problem 3: You have a “yes” contractor – who does exactly what you say.

Sounds ideal, right? Well, yes and no. For the purposes of this blog, we’re talking about a contractor or in-house content writer who is asked to write blogs regularly and post them to social media. Naturally, any professional content producer worth their salt does exactly that.

But what’s missing here is a prior analysis, an understanding of the business, and a comprehensive digital strategy developed to support your overall marketing goals. Why? Well, that’s not actually a writer’s job. Unless a person is a content strategist, they won’t always know how to design your communications in a globally logical, user-friendly way. Their realm of expertise is more focused on the details of whats being said rather than the high-level “why.”

So, the number-one reason we see digital marketing go wrong boils down to: “You don’t know what you don’t know.” Small business owners often don’t understand who performs what role in order to seek help in the areas they need – typically, brand positioning, which in turn informs marketing strategy and then content strategy. They may assume content strategy is being handled by their agency or may not even know about the discipline in the first place.

Looking for an unbiased content marketing strategy?

Contact the team at Creative Content. Because we’re not tied to any service or channel, we won’t steer you in a direction that doesn’t benefit you. We’ll be saying, “Let’s stop this, change it, or improve it.” Or refer you to a trusted partner for any services you need that we don’t already provide.

 For an obligation-free consultation with Creative Director Theresa Brady, contact us today.