Even professional marketers make mistakes. That’s just the nature of the business. It’s even more likely, though, that newborn Internauts who’ve caught the digital marketing bug will commit unforced errors in their entrepreneurial efforts. Some of that is due to inexperience, some of it is because of a lack education in marketing, and some of it will be a lesson learned thanks to trial-and-error testing.

However, there are mistakes that some marketers seem to make every year, no matter what it is that they’re marketing or the medium that they’re using to promote a product or service. That’s certainly going to be the case again in 2016.

Here are the 5 biggest mistakes that marketers will make next year.

1. Selling the Steak, Not the Sizzle

It’s an old, and proven, maxim among marketers that they should sell the sizzle, not the steak. The principle behind that familiar saying is that marketers should effectively whet people’s appetites for what it is they’re trying to sell. In other words, good marketers create an environment that generates demand.

Unfortunately, too many marketers focus on selling the product instead of promoting it in a way that piques the interest of people in their target market. In so doing, they come across as the stereotypical used car salesman who’s trying to make a few quick bucks.

Consider the following headline: “This Is the Most Durable Saucepan on the Market.”

While that might be technically true, it doesn’t inspire demand. It doesn’t whet people’s appetites. It comes across as salesy.

Now, consider this alternate headline: “Never Buy Another Saucepan Again!”

Boom. The second headline sells the sizzle. It immediately conveys a benefit to the reader. It also has a curiosity gap – the headline doesn’t say how the reader can avoid buying a saucepan again, so it’s tempting to click on it. The idea is that the company selling the saucepan creates such durable kitchenware that it lasts a lifetime. That message is communicated effectively in just five words.

Remember, good marketing is always an appeal to the innate needs of people in your target market. To continue with the “sizzle” anecdote, the hissing sound of a grilling steak is an automatic trigger that will lead people who aren’t even hungry, but enjoy a good steak, to want to eat. The application here is two-fold: first, learn about the problems that people in your target market are trying to solve and second, market your product or service with an emphasis on how it solves those problems.

The bottom line: instead of trying to sell, focus on creating an environment that makes people want to buy.

2. Falling for the “Bigger Is Better” Marketing Fallacy

Size doesn’t always matter. You might think that if you can get your message out to as many people as possible, then you’ll be successful as a marketer. That’s not necessarily the case.

The “bigger is better” marketing fallacy is an easy pitfall for people who are new to marketing because it’s based on the law of averages. The idea is derived from some level of common sense: if you tell a million people about your product, then you’re bound to sell more than you would if you only tell a thousand people, right?

Not necessarily. If you’re selling automotive parts and you market to 10,000 people who are classic car enthusiasts, you could very likely get more sales from that population than if you market to a million people chosen at random.

The “bigger is better” fallacy also fails to take into account the cost of marketing to a bigger market and securing a customer. If you blindly advertise your product or service online without targeting who sees your ads, then you’ll probably be throwing a lot of money away as you’re advertising to countless people who aren’t interested in what you have to offer. On the other hand, if you target a demographic that’s more likely to be interested in your company, you’ll not only save money but you’ll also have a better bang for your buck.

Here’s the takeaway: identify people who are likely to buy your product or service and find a way to market those people with a message that will appeal directly to them.

3. Using Social Media Solely for Sales

Good marketers already know about the importance of social media marketing. If you’re someone who’s even remotely interested in building your brand online, then you should do so with at least a couple of social media channels.

However, there’s a right way and a wrong way to use social media for marketing purposes. If you come across to your followers as someone who’s out to sell something as opposed to someone who’s providing content that’s relevant to them, then you’re likely to lose good will and followers alike.

Instead, use social media exactly the way it should be used: for social purposes. Engage with your customers using social media. Check your mentions to see if customers are complaining about something or are asking a question and respond promptly. Post funny, but non-controversial, memes every now and then so that your followers can have a good laugh. They’ll also likely share what you’ve posted and you might increase your audience.

Finally, yes, also use social media for sales purposes, but in such a way that you emphasize the benefit to your followers as opposed to simply posting a link to something you’re trying to sell. This is good advice no matter which channel you choose to do your marketing.

4. Ignoring Local SEO

All digital marketers who’ve been at it for more than a few minutes are familiar with the importance of search engine optimization (SEO). However, it’s often the case that even the most experienced online campaigns overlook the importance of local SEO.

Local SEO differs from SEO in that it’s targeted to optimize a website for a particular region. In other words, it’s not just about ranking for the word “plumber,” but it’s about ranking for the phrase “plumber in Raleigh, North Carolina.” That’s a good strategy because it’s not likely that anyone living in Raleigh, North Carolina cares about a plumber in Wichita, Kansas.

However, there’s more to it than that. If you’re offering a product or service that people all across the country can appreciate, why not market it specifically to people in Raleigh, North Carolina? For example, if you’re selling discount TVs online, you can optimize your site for “cheap TVs in Raleigh” or words to that effect. You’ll likely find that, with a local marketing approach, you have a better click-through rate and a better conversion rate.

Of course, optimizing your site for all regions across the United States could be time-consuming and costly. However, it carries the benefit of giving you an advantage over your competitors.

Also, keep in mind that mobile searches are growing in popularity because mobile devices are growing in popularity. What that means is that people in your target market will be performing proximity based searches and you’ll want to make sure that your site is optimized accordingly.

Keep in mind: when marketing, think globally, but act locally.

5. Failure to Nurture Leads

If only everybody just clicked on your website and ordered your products, life would be so much easier. Sadly, it’s never quite that simple.

Some people will buy from you because you’re offering exactly what they want. Others will think about it for a little while before making a purchase. Some of those in that second group might need a little hand-holding to lead them down the sales funnel.

That’s why it’s important that you develop a lead nurturing strategy.

For starters, capture pre-sales leads. When people visit your site, offer them something of interest for free in exchange for their email address. If they don’t convert, send them a series of emails to keep them interested. Use those emails to emphasize the benefits of your product or service and throw in an additional offering to sweeten the deal.

Also, don’t neglect abandoned shopping cart nurturing. There might be an utterly ridiculous reason why one of your potential customers abandoned the shopping cart (for example, because a favorite TV show came on). That’s a problem that has nothing to do with your service, so why not try some retargeting or email marketing to people who bailed on your shopping cart? Those people are great candidates for a discount promotion.

Wrapping It Up

Learn from the mistakes that other marketers have already made, so that you don’t make them yourself in 2016. Then, put good principles of marketing into your own efforts so that you can effectively build your brand and watch your top and bottom line sales grow.

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