This article was published on July 20, 2014

The 7 most deadly mistakes that smart marketers make

The 7 most deadly mistakes that smart marketers make
Ritika Puri
Story by

Ritika Puri

Ritika Puri is a San Francisco based blogger who writes about trends in business, internet culture, and marketing. She's inspired by the int Ritika Puri is a San Francisco based blogger who writes about trends in business, internet culture, and marketing. She's inspired by the intersection between technology, entrepreneurship, and sociology.

Ritika Puri is a content marketer, freelance business writer, and media entrepreneur.This post originally appeared on the Evergage blog.

Marketing is hard. For every ‘hit,’ you’ll likely experience 10 misses. The process of launching the perfect campaign is absolutely grueling and if you’re not careful — a huge waste of money.

It’s almost as if failure is a right of passage. It takes one ‘bad apple’ campaign to show you your business’s blind spots — the path that has led you astray.

Chaos has amazing potential to illuminate a clear path forward for your business. But here’s the thing. These mistakes are expensive and can easily cause damage to your marketing budgets. In addition to forging your own paths, pay attention to the lessons that others  — so many  — have learned before you.

Here are the 7 most common marketing bloopers — patterns we’ve seen repeated and lessons learned the hard (read: expensive) way.

1. Focusing on traffic acquisition

It’s exciting to see visitor and social media data rise — it means that people are learning about and engaging with your brand.

The challenge with these numbers is that they’re addictive and often, driven by vanity. More importantly than bringing people to your website, you need to convert them into dedicated customers. It’s much better to have 100 website visits at a 10 percent conversion-to-customer rate than 100,000 visits with zero conversions.

Traffic acquisition is only part of the marketing equation. And it’s expensive. The most successful marketing teams focus on the entire customer journey in connecting the dots between visits and revenue.

2. Ignoring input from client-facing teams

It’s very easy for sales and marketing teams to operate in silos. After all, you’re bound by separate objectives and quotas. By operating independently, however, marketing teams risk losing an incredibly valuable asset — the most direct channel between your brand and the outside world.

Sales and customer service teams can help marketers achieve two very important goals: (1) customer research and (2) distribution of content marketing assets.

That’s why it’s so important to keep your account reps in the loop. What trends are they observing? What questions are audiences asking? These questions can help you develop a more focused, high-impact marketing program.

3. Only capturing direct revenue

After launching a campaign and seeing zero conversions, it’s easy to deem your marketing efforts a failure. But there is more to the story. Much more. Paths to conversion are complex, especially for B2B businesses that sell their products (or services) at a high price point.

Direct revenue presents only one side to the story. People might be coming back to your website organically, through email — and even social media. Some marketing channels might even bet generating repeat visits.

That’s why it’s important to capture long-term value — revenue generated per customer, over a span of months or even years. When you capture this holistic marketing picture, you’ll be able to afford a much higher customer acquisition cost as well — empowering your marketing team with much more flexibility (and accountability).

4. Treating case studies as templates

It’s really easy to copy the results of an A/B test — after all, why wouldn’t you copy the experience of a brand, similar to yours, that has achieved success? It seems like a win-win in that you’ll bypass an otherwise lengthy (and costly) learning curve.

Not so much.

There are so many nuances and variations from brand to brand. A one-size-fits-all approach simply won’t cut it. You need to test what works for your unique business model, customer base, and product. There are so many (often subtle) variables that can influence the success of a marketing campaign, and you need to make sure that all are fully accounted for.

5. Ignoring qualitative research

Metrics are a marketer’s lifeline. But they only tell one size of the story. In order to optimize metrics, you need to focus on why and how which means talking to your customers.

This process means getting on the phone, taking people to coffee, and prioritizing listening above selling.

Qualitative research is a form of storytelling, which is invaluable for bringing perspectives to otherwise siloed numbers.

6. Executing without planning

Marketers are under immense pressure to get up and running. To start generating traction. They’re often held to unreasonable quotas and deadlines.

Structure is important, but it can seriously hurt the creative process. Without execution, you’ll never succeed — but without a process of dedicated planning and learning, you won’t succeed ever. It’s crucial to take a step back and reflect upon your strategy, especially if there is time or money involved with your decision making process.

You need to make sure that you are investing your time and spending your budget wisely.

7. Over-planning

This point is a caveat to the last one. Marketers are naturally curious and intelligent — which makes it extremely easy to get bogged down with perfectionism overdrive.

The fact is that perfectionism can kill. Marketing, even at the largest organizations, needs some degree of a guerilla mindset. In addition to executing well, it’s important to execute swiftly.

Marketers need to balance their desire to plan with the need to get things done. That means making tradeoffs, talking to others in the marketing community, and practicing.

Final thoughts

Even if you’re the sole marketer at your company, you’re not alone. Marketers love to share insights from studies and support one another through their most challenging moments. No matter where you are in the world, there is someone who can help answer your questions.

Embrace the fact that you’ll make mistakes. But remember that there are thousands of other marketers, in your shoes, who will be there to embrace you — before you can really fall.

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