Internet marketing is still relatively new in the grand scheme of things. While it is common to come across blog posts claiming “SEO is dead” or “Facebook will put Google Ads out of business”, the reality is that many small business owners still don't have a website. I know many of us find this hard to believe, but the statistics tell the truth.
The trends are clear, however, Internet marketing is here to stay and more and more businesses are investing in digital strategies as a means to acquire new customers. As with any new discipline there are many pitfalls to be avoided. Here are the top three things internet marketers miss as they venture into the digital landscape.
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Digital Marketing is a journey not a destination but make sure you understand this rule of 3 as well.
Jeff Stanislow, The Chief @ Chief Internet Marketer answers a question from Quara.
Many business owners, particularly if they come from an engineering background, want to view digital marketing as a checklist of items they can complete and be done with. Unfortunately that is not how any type of marketing works.
It is true that digital marketing is much more trackable than previous marketing techniques. However it is also true that results do not happen in short time periods and that marketing is an ongoing discipline that will need continual improvement.
When done correctly, digital marketing campaigns will have a constant feedback loop in the form of hard data. This will inform business owners of how well each strategy or technique is working. A well-designed digital marketing strategy will require continual evaluation and an iterative approach.
For example, when you launch a PPC campaign with Google Ads, it is common that the first series clicks are not particularly effective for bringing on new business. Many professionals who run the PPC Ads for living understand this “burn in” period and approach the first few weeks as a learning period.
SEO has many similar characteristics. Many marketers are convinced they know the keywords their website needs to rank on only to find out that the traffic generated doesn't actually convert. A smarter approach to SEO is to actually use PPC first to determine what traffic is highly relevant and will convert to customers. While PPC may be too expensive in the long run, it can quickly inform the marketing team where lucrative traffic sources exist. Once those audiences have been identified, a longer-term SEO strategy can be deployed to generate leads at a much lower cost per customer.
Social media is another area of digital marketing it requires continual investment. Many business owners want to prop up a Facebook or Twitter account and consider their social media presence “established.” This is not how consumers see it.
Potential customers will be interacting with social media properties on a continual basis and rapid response is one of their requirements. To have a solid social media presence these various outlets will need to be monitored and staff need to be ready to respond.
Email marketing follows a similar path. Constant testing, refinement, re-testing, evaluation is the name of the game.
Shiny New Object Syndrome
A second major mistake many internet marketers make is sometimes called “shiny new object syndrome.” Marketers are eager to demonstrate that they are up on the latest trends and show that they have knowledge of what is hot in the industry. This has the unfortunate downside of sometimes overhyping the current trends that may or may not have a huge impact on digital marketing in the long-term.
Great example of “shiny object syndrome” today is that a voice search. In the first half of 2019 there has been no shortage of blog posts, articles and expert opinions on how voice search will fundamentally change the nature of digital marketing. In fact if you go to any of the popular conferences you will find many sessions on how you need to completely change your marketing strategy to be ready for voice search.
Rand fishkin, formerly of Maz, recently pointed out that much of the hype on voice search is overblown. He contends that voice search doesn't fundamentally change what you need to be doing around SEO, PPC or Social. Consumers may be receiving the results through a different device but the search index process is essentially the same and the fundamental attributes of the algorithms driving results are not different.
We have seen this phenomenon before with many different strategies that have fallen by the wayside. The mobile first index was a huge story in 2018. However what did it really change in terms of internet marketing strategy? Not much. In essence, you need to make sure your website is available on mobile as well as desktop.
Email marketing is one of the best examples of shiny new object syndrome. Email is not new. It is not sexy. For this reason, many marketers don’t emphasize it. Yet, in study after study email is found as the top-used technology. It is still very effective. Ironically, the most recent trend in SEO is to use email to solicit people to link to you - bringing SEO back to a very old technology.
The scale and efficiency of the Internet
A third mistake that internet marketers make is not understanding the scale of the problem they're up against and the efficiency of the marketplace. While the field is relatively new, competition is fierce.
We can see this phenomenon in PPC where new business owners believe they can jump into digital advertising and see a positive ROI in a very short amount of time. How in the world could this be possible? If digital advertising could bring a positive return in a short amount of time why wouldn’t previous marketers have already capitalized on the situation?
Arbitrage has been around in various forms for centuries. And the Advent of digital marketing has reduced barriers-to-entry, not increased them. Following this logic, any deficiencies in the marketplace would quickly be discovered and exploited until they don't exist. PPC campaigns, like everything else in digital marketing, takes a long time to perfect. They seem to work best in business models where customers have a long half-life. This allows business owners to amortize the total lifetime value of a customer across their advertising costs.
SEO is another area of digital marketing where marketers are notoriously naive about the challenge. Everyday brave new entrepreneurs enter the SEO space believing that they will quickly dominate the keywords they want. Again, the competition is fierce and any open keyword spaces that have economic value have already been capitalized. To believe that there are high-value keywords just waiting for marketers is far from realistic.
According to Adam Stetzer, Ph.D., CEO of a white label SEO services firm, “Many small business owners don't understand the risks involved with investing in SEO. SEO is very much like financial investing where some campaigns have a high return and others are a total flop.” Understanding these risks, it is important to diversify strategies as well as use incremental approaches so that business owners don't become frustrated. Start with small projects. As small wins are accumulated, invest more in the strategies and teams that are able to produce results according to the data.
While the field of digital marketing still relatively new many new internet marketers make the same three mistakes. They tend to believe that digital marketing is a list of to-do’s they can add to their current marketing strategy and don't realize that shifting to digital strategy is a journey not a destination. If the marketer does understand size and scale of a well-executed digital strategy, they tend to fall prey to “shiny new object” syndrome, fueled by the hottest topics on the blogs and conferences. Finally they tend to underestimate just how steep the competition will be and how efficient a digital marketplace is. Rather than falling prey to these three mistakes a stronger strategy is to be data-driven, invest for the long haul, and iterate on your approach continuously based on what is working and what isn't.
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