#EpicFail: 8 Digital Marketing Mistakes That Alienate Potential Customers

As soon as a potential customer becomes aware of your business, the real test of your marketing prowess begins: you have mere seconds to pique interest, gain trust, and close the sale before your prospect is scrolling through the next page of Google search results. Earn more conversions by avoiding these #EpicFail and #FacePalm digital marketing mistakes.

1. Intrusive Pop-Up Ads

Pop-up ads are universally hated, yet with the correct strategy, they are incredibly effective. Companies often have trouble balancing the annoyance people feel with pop-ups and trying to harness their proven effectiveness.

Common mistakes with pop-up ads include:

  • Having no obvious exit or close button
  • Condescending opt-out or decline messaging
  • Inapplicable ads containing no relevant content
  • Pop-ups with nothing of value to offer the customer

Example of snarky decline messaging in a pop-up window
A snarky-sounding or sarcastic decline message does little to motivate a user to do what you want. Why risk offending a potential customer or new contact with this kind of language?

Pop-up ads are effective tools, but they should be executed with the correct strategy, tact, and company branding, tone and messaging in mind.

2. Being Overeager

It is easy to be so enthusiastic about your marketing campaign that you alienate your subscribers. Instead of an advertisement, think of your marketing campaign as a way to establish a relationship with your customers.

Too soon. Companies often come across as being overbearing by following up too early; you should wait to send product reviews or rating requests at least two weeks after the product is shipped.

Too often. Another common issue is not spacing out promotional SMS texts and emails. If you send texts or emails too close together, people will be more likely to unsubscribe or even report your communications as spam.

Too much. Not being conscious of repetition is also an issue. You don’t want your customers to get an email, text message, and social media ad that are all the same — unless, of course, you’re launching a massive viral campaign (such as end-of-year fundraising). Even then, you run the risk of followers simply tuning you out due to too much repetition.

3. Not Asking Permission

Many, many companies are guilty of buying email lists or automatically opting-in users who have recently downloaded gated content. With the adoption of the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) laws, these actions are now illegal if any of your subscribers are in Europe.

Even adding your own subscribers to multiple lists when they only signed up for one is a crime. Not only are you possibly breaking the law, you will most certainly be losing subscribers and damaging your reputation if you engage in nefarious data collection practices.

Companies can easily become GDPR compliant by using a double opt-in process, offering an unchecked checkbox where users can indicate that they absolutely do want to be added to your mailing list, and providing a clear message below any “download” buttons notifying prospects that they will be opted-in.

4. Formatting Issues

Formatting an email for a marketing campaign is trickier than it sounds. Not only do you need to make sure your email looks good across all platforms, but you also need to make sure all the links and any data-driven code snippets are working properly.

Formatting issues can be more than just embarrassing; they can cost you subscribers. Common formatting issues include:

  • Personalization mistakes (such as sending an email with Dear [name] instead of automatically filling in each subscriber’s name)
  • Broken emojis in your subject lines or text preheaders
  • Long subject lines that get truncated or obscured in list view (remember, 35-45 characters is the safe zone)
  • Incorrect, broken or missing links

Example of broken emojis in an email subject line
Broken emojis and other formatting errors can get in the way of your marketing message. Inbox preview testing across a variety of email platforms can help you avoid all of the above; consider using a third-party service like Email on Acid or Litmus if your email service provider doesn’t offer this.

5. Writing for Search Engines

Make sure you are writing for your customers, and not for search engines. Trying to fit in unnatural keywords and phrases just for search engine results can create a campaign that is difficult to read for your potential customers. Not only that, if search engine crawlers detect that your articles or marketing campaigns are catering to search engines instead of readers, your search engine rankings will be negatively affected.

6. Not Optimizing for Mobile Devices

Optimizing for mobile devices should be a no-brainer for modern companies, however, it seems to be a commonly overlooked issue. Not optimizing for mobile devices such as cell phones and tablets means you will not only lose customers but also lower your Google search rankings.

7. Not Proofreading Your Content

Spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, and sentences that aren’t relevant or don’t make sense are all common (but easily avoidable) issues in digital marketing campaigns. These issues aren’t just annoying; the wrong tone or verbiage can actually leave potential customers questioning your level of professionalism and feeling less than confident about your brand overall.

8. Poor Social Media Presence

One of the most common digital marketing mistakes for both new and established businesses is assuming that building and maintaining a social media presence is easy. It’s not. In fact, the negative media coverage associated with a badly executed social media campaign can be disastrous.

Common social media mistakes range anywhere from simply not striking the right tone with followers to outright spamming, not interacting with or engaging your audience, and not having a daily, weekly or monthly content strategy for each social media platform.

Learn from Others’ Mistakes

These digital marketing mistakes are easy to make, but with attention to detail and a strategic marketing plan, your company will be ahead of the curve. By avoiding common pitfalls you will be able to focus on more advanced marketing techniques that can help take your company to the next level.

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