Once upon a time, digital marketing was considered a “fad” or an element within the marketing mix that was a “nice to have” but not a “need to have.” As we’re nearing the end of 2016, if your business doesn’t participate in any form of digital marketing, you’re behind the times. According to Emarketer.com, in 2010 companies spent twice as much on TV than they did on digital. By the end of 2015, TV and digital spend was estimated to be just about equal.
So what does that mean for you? If you don’t have an up-to-date website, aren’t engaging in content marketing, search engine optimization (SEO) or some kind of search engine marketing strategy you might want to make a business case for doing so. It also means more and more companies are diving head first into digital marketing and buying into the hype of various buzz words they see online or on social media. But many times, they still lack a true understanding of what they should expect from their digital marketing efforts or from a digital marketing agency.
Here are some tips to help you avoid what we would consider the three biggest mistakes companies make in digital marketing.
First Mistake: Poor Planning
When it comes to digital marketing, the biggest mistake a business can make is not being prepared. The lack of an organized and unified strategy will lead to wasted company resources, so before you invest in your digital marketing initiatives, you should have the following planned out:
- Have a strong understanding of your marketplace.
- Perform a SWOT Analysis
- Outline your marketing objectives
- Have a budget
Second Mistake: Unrealistic Expectations
Whether you have a $5,000/month or $500,000/month budget, be realistic with your expectations. The idea that digital means instant results is one of the biggest misconceptions, especially for companies that are new to this practice. The fact is, even digital campaigns take some time to be developed, optimized, and improved to see the results you are hoping for. It’s crucial that you keep your expectations realistic. The following are average timelines per service:
- Pay Per Click Campaign: 3 months. This is an average estimate but with PPC campaigns, the bidding needs to be optimized and the copy needs to be constantly A/B tested to find the right messaging so that goals can be met. This doesn’t happen overnight. As changes are made, they need time to mature and gain traction. This usually takes 3 months.
- Social Media: 1 month. You should be engaged in social listening, researching your competitors, and planning your content calendar in advance. Social media has become data-driven and needs to be tracked just like any other marketing channel. The days of posting impromptu snippets about your company like, “Great time at the company breakfast this morning, ate way too much bacon…” are over. These posts need to be thoughtful and targeted to your specific audience. Social media will also play a major role in any content marketing strategies.
- Search Engine Optimization: 3-6 months. SEO is one of the most mysterious aspects of digital marketing because Google holds all the cards and they are constantly changing the rules of the game. Therefore, try to set attainable goals and manage expectations for potential success. To be honest, 3 months is being generous. 6 months is usually more realistic, and it all depends on the keywords you are trying to rank for and how competitive they are.
The key is to just be patient and let the campaigns develop. Just because you’re not the #1 ranked company on Google in the first week doesn’t mean it’s time to panic and change your strategy or throw more money at the campaign. Just ride out the wave and wait until you have all the correct information before you make a brash decision.
Final Mistake: Not Being Informed
Digital marketing is no longer a cloud of smoke and mirrors where nobody knows if the dollars spent are producing results. There are a number of software options that can analyze every dollar, every click, every view, etc.
As a business owner, manager, or marketing staff member, it’s your responsibility to be informed about how your company is using its marketing budget. Even if you have hired an agency or invested in in-house staff, how do you know they are qualified or performing at optimal standards?
Even if a business is working with a marketing agency, important stakeholders must be aware and take ownership of critical data points. For example, if you are running PPC campaigns, you should know how to log into AdWords and check the account history and be able to follow the modifications being made to the account. This should be the same with any aspects of digital. Know the KPI’s, the terms, and best practices. The amount of free learning resources out there is endless. If you don’t have the time, then you should find someone who does. Hire a consultant to run monthly audits and help weed out unqualified work. This will save you a lot of money down the road. It will also keep your primary marketing agency and staff on their toes if they know someone will be checking their work.
Need help navigating the options? J. Fitzgerald Group can help. Give us a call at 716.433.7688 to find out how!
This post was amended from forbes.com