This Week in the News: Digital Marketing

digital portfolio

in the newsWelcome back to “This week in the news”, which was preempted last week by the long 4th of July holiday. Today, I have a mixed bag of news in the digital marketing world that peaked my interest — and I hope it will peak yours.

The 5 Biggest Digital Marketing Mistakes Entrepreneurs Make

By Christine Baldassare

Search Engine Journal identified the 5 biggest digital marketing mistakes made by entrepreneurs. Personally, I’m surprised it was only 5, since I see a lot more mistakes made by entrepreneurs — and everyone else. My 2 biggest pet peeves are:

  1. Not investing in digital marketing or marketing period (or not investing enough)
  2. Putting someone in charge of digital marketing who doesn’t know marketing (like a tech)

But, let’s look at what Christine identified.

Not surprisingly, Profoundry discovered the same 2 mistakes that I already stated:

A recent survey by Profoundry, reported that only 8% of startups outsource their marketing to a consultant or an agency and 65% of startups have never received nor considered any formal digital marketing training. With the added pressure of being funded, startups have to find the right balance between what makes sense from a digital marketing point of view and what will please investors and venture capitalists.

Personally, as a former marketing professor, I believe it takes a serious effort to learn marketing — something not possible without formal training.

I also firmly believe that someone with an undergraduate degree isn’t what you need unless they have substantial experience working for a successful small business or startup. That’s because most marketing majors have 5 or fewer marketing classes, they didn’t learn anything that happened in marketing after 2000, and they didn’t have any or very limited practice applying marketing concepts, which is where things get really hard fast.

Marketing majors who worked for a large company may be in high demand, but they often have little to contribute to the startup world.

For instance, they probably weren’t very senior, so they did a lot of grunt work like collating press packets and they probably wasted more money than your entire budget.

But, I digress.

#1: Long time horizons

Startups gain a lot of power by being flexible, so your marketing plans should be, too.

I plan out about 3 months in advance and constantly review those plans for new opportunities. When one strategy doesn’t deliver like I thought, I switch to a different strategy.

Startups may pivot on a dime and so should their marketing.

#2: Budgets versus costs

Budgeting for marketing may be a fools game.

First, it’s nearly impossible to develop a long-term marketing plan (see #1) and marketers will spend every dime you give them. Every expenditure should be weighted against the value of that spend, rather than whether it fits within a budget.

I try to prioritize marketing spend.

  • Long-term marketing activities get allocated first
  • Short-term marketing activities get allocated next
  • Advertising gets lowest priority

#3: Too many platforms

With a small budget and few resources, it’s nearly impossible to do a good job on multiple platforms.

I initially set up the major platforms, but I focus about 90% of my attention on building Twitter for myself — that varies with other clients. That way I test the waters on all platforms and focus on the one that performs the best.

There just isn’t the bandwidth in a small organization, so participating on all platforms spreads the efforts too thin and results in not reaching critical mass on any platform.

#4: Retargeting

Now, for me, this isn’t a biggy. The notion is that folks who clicked your ad originally are the best prospects for future sales. My personal feeling is that they’re also likely to include a lot of tire kickers, folks doing research, and competitors. If they didn’t see what they wanted the first time, why would they find it more persuasive the second time.

My personal preference is to focus on creating good quality content that captures the entire customer journey and sharing that with as broad an audience as possible. That way, you’re creating more traffic to your site (without advertising) and giving them inducements that are most meaningful for their stage of the consumer decision-making process, which are more persuasive.

#5: Split testing

Again, not a biggy for me. I’m more a fan of using analytics to guide everything you’re doing, not just testing the conversion funnel. And, let things run a little before making any changes — sometimes it’s hard to see a pattern until you have enough data points.

Important PR Lessons We Can Learn From Shark Week

By Richard Lorenzen for Huffington Post

This week marks the official kick off of one of the biggest and most popular events in television year after year: Discovery Channel’s Shark Week. This summertime television event is viewed by millions every year. However, this week of television does more than just teach the public about one of the most feared animals in the ocean, it also serves as a reminder of some of the most important PR lessons that all entrepreneurs should know.

  1. Promote your hashtag. The Discovery Channel does a great job of promoting the hashtag, even streaming Tweets at the bottom of the screen. This gets viewers more engaged with the program and spreads their enthusiasm to broad communities.
  2. Listen. When Shark-nado started trending on Twitter, The Discovery Channel jumped in with both feet to piggyback on the movie’s success.
  3. Reality doesn’t matter; only perception. In reality, more people are killed by dogs, bees, and other animals than sharks. And, deaths due to drugs and alcohol are much higher than sharks. So are automobiles, guns, and other devices. Yet, we’re terrified of sharks. Shark Week capitalizes on our fascination by showing fear, blood, and portraying sharks as the worlds most efficient killing machine.

The ABCs of Digital Marketing

By Paula Andrea Gean

My friends over at posted something on getting back to the basics of digital marketing — something we all need every once in a while. So, here goes.


Want more?

The equation is simple. Repeat after me: Always Be Communicating (Bonus: Consistently). At this point, you’re probably thinking, “I know this. So, how do I achieve this in a time efficient way and connect with my audience? “ Here are a few ways to always be communicating consistently in your digital marketing campaigns:

Communication is easy — and time-consuming. And, not everyone does a good job of it.

Every day I get post submissions and I’m amazed at the (poor) quality of writing. Or, writers don’t appreciate the difference between writing an essay and a blog post. The same goes for the myriad of posts on other social networks that waste time and effort by not recognizing that communication is two-way.

Just creating words isn’t communicating.

Now, the post goes through ways to improve communication across a number of communication channels and I promise you’ll get something out of this rather short read. Here are some highlights with my own advice thrown in for good measure.

  • Think about the reader. Don’t throw in a bunch of words that make you look smart, but confuse your reader. I tend to hyperlink to terms I think readers might not know, but SEO and ROI don’t fit that bill. If you don’t know what those words mean, you’re not ready for the rest of my content.
  • Make a snack, not a meal. Blog posts, as well as posts on other social networks should be snackable — not War and Peace. Break up paragraphs into small chunks and use headings, sub-headings, and bullets to make your content easily scannable.
  • Include images. It used to be that you used a single image in each posts. Now, folks commonly use several images to break up the monotony. I have a post on creating images for your content.
  • Vary content. Be open to other types of content, such as video, infographics, podcasts, etc.
  • Paraphrase, don’t steal content — it communicates that you lack authority and work outside the rules.
  • Be consistent. But, don’t just share to be sharing. Have something valuable to say.
  • Have theme days. I have this column — This week in the news. I also publish a column on Sundays (when I have content worth sharing) called Social Good Sundays (please submit an idea or column for this topic, if interested).
  • Engage. Communication is two-way. Thank folks for commenting (and comment back), liking, sharing. They took time out of their day to support you, return the favor.

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