With the New Year almost here, you’re probably already thinking about all the new things you want to try doing in 2015.
Which is great — but have you also thought about any of the habits you want to give up?
When it comes to your online marketing, there are some habits you may not even know you’re doing that could be holding you back in a big way.
Here are seven marketing practices to leave behind in the New Year:
1. Seeing marketing as a necessary evil
Marketing doesn’t have to be your favorite part of running your business. But if you’re approaching email marketing or social media out of a feeling of obligation, there’s a good chance your audience will be able to tell.
Think of marketing as a way to connect with the people who matter to your business or organization. Write your marketing materials like you’re talking to your best friend: Show them how well you know them, be friendly and approachable, and focus on your relationship with them rather than constant self-promotion.
In each email or social media update you create, look for opportunities to share something that will be valuable to your audience. Something they will enjoy and thank you for. This could be a special offer, a link to a helpful blog post, or a fun image.
We’re sure this photo from Mother Earth Pillows got quite a few smiles from their Facebook fans:
2. Starting without a plan in place
“Hope is not a marketing strategy.” That’s one of our favorite mantras around the office, and it’s also a helpful reminder if your strategy is not as sound as you’d like.
Your marketing likely has quite a few components. From your website, to email, and various social media channels — it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. That’s why a plan is so important; you need to have a clear idea of where you’re spending your time and what exactly you’re working towards.
Avoid vague goals like send more email to my customers. Instead, choose a specific frequency, make a schedule, plan around key dates and holidays, and think about how your different marketing channels can work together.
Not sure how often you should be posting on different social media networks? Here’s how to create a social media posting schedule.
3. Trying to do everything
With a clear plan and schedule, you have a great foundation in place. But if you’re having a hard time following through, it’s probably because you’re trying to do too much.
Remember: You don’t have to be on every social media network or send an email out every single week.
Think about what makes sense for your audience. What social media networks are they most active on? How often do they want to hear from you in their inbox? If you don’t know the answers to these questions, you can send out a simple online survey and ask them.
Another common pitfall for small business owners is trying to create everything from scratch. Not everything you share has to be your original content. You use material from others by sharing curated content and encouraging guest bloggers to write for your site.
4. Treating your contacts like names on a list
As a small business or organization, one of your biggest advantages over larger competitors is the personal relationships you develop with your customers, clients, donors, or volunteers.
Make sure you’re reflecting that connection in your emails by adding a personal touch whenever possible.
The easiest way to do this is to sort through your contacts and segment them into different lists. You can sort people however you’d like — location, interest, “Locals” versus “Tourists”, whatever makes the most sense for your audience.
Be proactive by collecting relevant information about your new contacts right when they sign up for your email list. If you’re just getting started, you can add some of your best customers to a “Loyal Following” list and send them special rewards to strengthen your relationship with them even further.
5. Assuming you’re on the big screen
If you’re not thinking about how your business is looking on mobile devices, consider these stats: 65 percent of all email is opened on a mobile device, and 70 percent of social networking takes place on mobile.
There’s a good chance your audience is also searching for your business on their smartphones. Do you know how your website looks on a mobile device?
Start testing how your emails, website, and other marketing materials look on a mobile device. If your information is hard to read or engage with, you are missing out on valuable points of connection with your audience.
For mobile friendly emails we recommend using a single column email template. Keep your information down to the essential, use short paragraphs, a front size that can be read easily on a small screen, and easy-to-click buttons.
6. Multitasking all the time
It’s no secret that multitasking can be a great time-saver. Some shortcuts, however, are more trouble than they’re worth.
One common mistake we see is linking Twitter and Facebook accounts so that the same updates automatically post to both networks. While this experience might seem like a great time-saver for you, it is often frustrating for your audience because the updates might not display properly on both networks, or they feel redundant to your audience.
Of course, some social media automation tools like Hootsuite are a huge help for sharing content across multiple social media networks, but it’s usually best to tweak posts slightly and make sure they’re a good fit for each network.
Use this cheat sheet to help you nail down the differences between some key social media networks you may be using.
7. Expecting overnight success
One of the most challenging things about marketing is that it’s not an exact science — you can never be sure what’s going to get the most attention from your audience. The things you work hardest on might not perform as well as you’d like, while the quick things you throw together may get more way more engagement than you ever expected.
Pay attention to what’s performing well and look for patterns. Ask yourself questions like:
- Are there certain topics my audience is responding to especially well?
- Is there a format (image, text, video, e-book) they enjoy the most?
- Is there a certain time of day or week that works the best?
While these questions can help you find a good approach, it’s also important to remember that the amount of people you’re reaching is not the most important factor.
Most importantly, you want to develop connections where your readers go beyond consuming your content; you want them to act on it. This engagement causes long-lasting relationships that result in repeat business and valuable referrals.
2015 is your chance to make your bad habits a thing of the past.
So, don’t waste it! Think about how you can shift your approach to get great results in the New Year.
No matter how big or small your resolution is, we’re here to help.
Let us know: What’s your resolution for 2015? Is there anything you’d like to know about in the New Year?