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10 Marketing Mishaps That Haunt Strategists

A ghost in a mask representing marketing mishaps that haunt strategists
There’s never a dull moment in the life of a marketer. Our days go from brainstorming creative ideas to gathering data on campaigns, putting together strategies, and cringing at the bad marketing mishaps that we see online. We thought we’d share a few scary marketing tactics and practices that haunt us (daily). But, of course, these are all marketing mishaps that you can easily avoid by just knowing what to look out for. Here are ten freaky marketing mistakes to avoid and what to do instead this Halloween season and beyond.

1. Targeting too broad a target audience

Trick: We all know how frustrating it is to plunge money into advertising, but nothing appears to be converting leads into customers. “Anyone can be a customer” is not the right way to think. The days of pushing out standard messages to mass audiences are over. Treat: Categorize your target audience into those who could be a customer and aren’t ready to buy and those who are ready to buy. Then, get your team together and agree on a unified marketing and sales strategy for both categories. While you’re at it, avoid these common pitfalls when identifying your customer avatar. Real-life: While you don’t want to target everyone, there’s also the risk of going too niche and alienating potential customers. In an interview, Procter & Gamble’s Marc Pritchard said that they were changing their targeting strategy from micro to macro. “We targeted too much, and we went too narrow, and now we’re looking at: What’s the best way to get the most reach but also the right precision?”. The trick comes down to finding the sweet spot that targets enough customers.

2. Customer service as a curse

Trick: Bad customer service can haunt your marketing, leading to complaints and negative reviews on social media. Flipping into angry monster mode is the worst thing you can do. Don’t provide inhumane or insincere responses or miss opportunities to address negative comments. Treat: Social media offers a way to provide excellent customer service even after the clock strikes midnight. By handling customer complaints and concerns on social media in the proper manner and immediately, you’ll show the rest of your audience how dedicated you are to keeping them happy. It’s also essential to have a game plan for any potential mishaps. Real-life: John Doe tweeted at an airline about lost luggage, and it took about eight hours for their social media team to respond. Additionally, their response was confusing and demonstrated a lack of competency. Nevertheless, over 76K users saw the thread, and the story was featured on multiple news websites. See their interaction below:

3. Creative brief changes

Trick: You’re finally tackling a project that has been haunting you. You get into the groove and work through it pretty swiftly. Then. . . an email notification pops up, and you see the words: “I’d like to make the following changes to the brief”. It’s Doomsday. Treat: Your client must know you’ll work to the best of your abilities and deliver the results they want, but they should also understand that this needs to be within realistic terms. You’re only human, after all! Briefs change for all kinds of reasons, but an ever-changing brief isn’t completely unmanageable. You can outsource some tasks, set boundaries early on, and keep your client in the loop. Real-life: An art director took on a project that “was one of the biggest challenges she’s ever had in her years as a designer”. The client’s brief changed several times, but Natalie kept a cool head. After eight proposals, she finally hit the jackpot. This client came on board permanently and continued handing out big projects.

4. Headless social media accounts

Trick: This might come as a shocking surprise, but you don’t need to be on every social media platform, especially when you’re not doing anything on them. You’ll be digging your own grave. If you think you need to be everywhere, people are to reach your audience, and you’re mistaken. Treat: Be on the platforms that generate a return for you. Every platform reaches different audiences and has other goals. Grow a loyal following on selected media, and speak in a specific language using specific marketing tactics. Start small and do things well – it’s better than wasting time and posting meaningless content to zombies. Real-life: Facebook is the ideal social media platform if you’re a corporate company. More than 65 million businesses use Facebook Pages, and over six million advertisers promote their business on the site. But only use it if it makes sense to your brand and audience. For example, a product targeting a Gen Z audience is unlikely to find its audience on Facebook. 

5. Ghosts in your email database

Trick: No one wants to have skeletons and cobwebs in their email database. Receiving bounced messages from mailer demons can feel unpleasant. What’s just as silly is having subscribers with a valid email address, but they never open emails.  Treat: It’s time to clean the haunted house. First, identify recipients that don’t open their emails or those who opened one mail out of ten but never once clicked. Then you need to understand why those addresses are sleeping in your database. Segment inactive recipients, ask them why they’re dormant, make changes, and test and monitor it. Tip: Follow-up and reminder emails have the highest conversion rates. Real-life: HubSpot’s Dan Wolchonok ran experiments to understand inactive subscribers. He discovered that it wasn’t that his customers were deciding not to use the service anymore; they had just forgotten about it.

6. Medieval SEO strategy

Trick: Having a dated SEO strategy can be scary. The SEO sphere is rapidly evolving and ever-changing. Efforts that used to work 15 years ago are not practical today. And if you don’t keep up, your website won’t make it to page one on Google (and a few scary-looking pages are lurking on page 10+). Treat: A successful SEO strategy is needed to increase organic web traffic and improve search rankings. It’s vital to optimize for mobile and that your keywords are on point. It would help if you balanced both short- and long-form content, adding value and being more informative. While you’re at it, give your website a full audit. Real-life: Hunter Branch, a digital marketing consultant and the founder of Rank Tree, helped increase his clients’ SEO traffic by 600% in 24 months by simply following the most up-to-date SEO best practices.

7. Budget-sucking projects

Trick: It can be horrible to have vampire projects that suck money out of your budget without delivering a return on investment. A project that falls out of scope can put the project in danger and risk your reputation, your team, and your company. Treat: Take a good look at your analytics, identify vampire projects, and don’t keep them around. You can effectively manage a project budget by establishing key performance indicators, which help you ascertain how much has been spent on a project. Then, constantly revisit your project’s budget to keep it on track. Real-life: A great way to ensure that your marketing projects stay on budget is first to perform marketing experiments. Join this marketing experiments course to learn how.

8. Chaotic marketing tools

Trick: When it comes to your marketing tools, you should have a clean and organized flow from platform to platform. If your marketing plans are all over the place, it causes chaotic systems. Treat: An organized system can make you more efficient, make your campaigns effective, and make the whole process easier to track.  Real-life: A great way to grow your business is to start automating specific tasks. Common use-cases include email marketing, social media, customer relationship management, customer journey, and pricing.

9. Scary-looking data

Trick: Many marketers are scared of using their data for analysis and rather hide under the covers. But data-driven marketing is changing the industry, and it’s critical to the success of any marketing campaign. Treat: Choose to embrace data-driven marketing, and you’ll see better results than those who ignore it. Reorganize your team and make data and creative work together. Analyzing your data will help inform you about your customers. Real-life: In 2015, Coca-Cola managed to strengthen its data strategy by building a digital-led loyalty program. Their director of data strategy said in an interview that data played an increasingly important role in marketing and product development.

10. Stale images

Trick: You won’t make a good impression with boring and outdated social media images. When you don’t change image types from time to time, you’ll have a feed that feels “same old, same old.” And you’ll run the risk of losing followers due to boredom and repetition. Treat: Images are more important than ever, especially on social media. Make sure you have attention-grabbing images, which are likely to give you high engagement. Find visuals that mean something to your audience. Real-life: Businesses that regularly change up their visuals have seen an increase in their engagement, as well as followers. They’ve seen that pairing a relevant image with the content causes the audience to remember 65% of the information after three days.

Don’t get left in the dark this Halloween.

Marketing doesn’t have to be a scary place to hang out. If you know what to look out for, you won’t get caught in the trap! Avoid these ten frightening marketing mishaps, and you’re well on your way to creating a fun, pleasant, and effective marketing strategy.