A good product with a poor marketing strategy is as good as a dud. Here are some digital marketing caveats you should avoid
More often than not, the success of a brilliant product hinges on not only its technical prowess but also its successful marketing strategies.
One must remember that many consumers do not possess the esoteric technical knowledge that the product developer has.
You need to be able to dissect and package the product’s unique selling point into something that is palatable to your targeted audience. Would Steve Wozniak’s brilliant Apple 1 computer have taken off without Steve Job’s vision and novel marketing strategies?
Jobs describes succinctly the importance of marketing in a keynote.
“Marketing is about values. It’s a complicated and noisy world, and we’re not going to get a chance to get people to remember much about us. No company is. So we have to be really clear about what we want them to know about us.”
The marketing paradigm has gotten a lot noisier with the growth of digital marketing spending especially in the APAC region. In China, digital ad spending grew 28.5 per cent in 2015.
To implement a good digital marketing strategy, here are six caveats you need to avoid.
Making poor use of social media platforms
You may use Twitter and Facebook on a regular basis, but marketing your product through these platforms takes a lot more work than posting your selfies.
Just signing up and posting a barrage of information is not enough. You need to have a clear and focussed social media strategy.
Set goals and KPIs and thoroughly analyse and understand its mechanism. For example, you need to know how to use ad spending on Facebook to boost the visibility of your posts.
Don’t be overzealous and sign up for a whole plethora of social media platforms if you have no idea how to use them or lack sufficient content. Find out first which social media outlet would best suit your needs.
For example, if you are in the business of providing a new form of cloud services, utilising photo-sharing platform Instagram would be a waste of resources and time.
Paying for fake followers can also be a caveat. Last year, Instagram deleted close to 19 million fake accounts, causing many celebrities to lose a huge chunk of their followers. For businesses, fake followers may increase your visibility but, ultimately, it would not improve user engagement.
Not responding to your users is also another major no-no. If users discover that you are unresponsive to queries or complaints, it will harm your brand; which is worse than not using any social media platform at all!
Not utilising mobile web capabilities effectively
Global smartphone penetration is growing exponentially. By 2018, it is expected to hit 36.5 per cent of the world’s population.
Digital marketing no longer relies on just sending out emails. A company needs to know how to optimise its web platform to suit smartphone users instead of focussing only on the desktop and laptop experience.
Beyond user-friendly, mobile-optimised web interfaces, startups should also look at the creation of apps as part of their digital marketing strategy.
This gives you the ability to push notifications such as ads and promotions to the smartphone users automatically.
Not understanding the SEO algorithm
Utilising best SEO practices is a complex task. The algorithm is also constantly evolving. This is the reason the job title ‘SEO specialist’ exists.
Some SEO methods are now antiquated. These include keyword stuffing – the act of putting too many keywords into your content to boost its visibility, and link networks- the act of creating microsites to link back to your main site. Both of these practices are now penalised by Google and will cause your ranking to be diminished.
By enforcing these rules, the companies are now required to create more clear and meaningful content, instead of trying to ‘cheat’ the system.
Not putting your strategies through rigorous testing
A digital marketing strategy should only be executed after it has undergone rigorous testing and experimentation.
You need to find out first whether a customer would be more likely respond to Ad A or Ad B before you execute a large-scale ad campaign, or risk heavy losses should the campaign fail.
By fine-tuning your digital marketing strategy before you launch the campaign through testing, you can better understand your customers’ preferences and maximise your sales and profitability.
Such testing procedures include A/B testing, a method which involves the testing of two variants of any component; be it webpage copy or design, sales email or search ads. Multivariate testing allows you to test a hypothesis by modifying multiple variables.
Since websites and apps are often complex structures with many moving parts, it is important to test out different variables at the same time.
Not understanding your marketplace
Before you even spend your first dollar on creating an ad, you need to first understand your marketplace. Thoroughly analyse your customer demographics or buyer persona’s psychographics (their behavioural patterns when using your product).
You also need to keep abreast of the market trends and the competition as well as perform a Lean Canvas or SWOT analysis to first understand your business strengths, weakness, opportunities, and threats.
Not effectively managing your in-house and outsourced talent
At the early stages of a startup, the founder usually manages most digital marketing activities on their own, which can be a stressful talk.
However, as a startup grows and tries to scale eventually, it may make sense to outsource some of these marketing tasks or employ a digital marketing executive or manager to effectively manage these consultants. But with hiring budgets as thin as a roti prata, sometimes founders find it difficult to hire someone with the perfect fit.
The Singapore government’s Workforce Development Agency (WDA) has launched many schemes to help in attracting, developing and retaining talents.
There are also workshops designed for this very purpose. One example is Lithan Academy. It runs a six-week program called the Startup Bootcamp, which covers the principles of Lean Canvas to help businesses accurately capture a product’s unique value positioning (UVP). It will also help startups identify the right tactical go-to-market strategies that will ensure that every marketing dollar spent, is spent in the right channels.
Disclosure: This article has been written in partnership with Lithan Academy. Sign up for their Digital Marketing Course, which begins on 22nd December 2015. For more information on how startups and SMEs can benefit from WDA’s schemes, register for one of Lithan’s briefing talks here.
This piece originally appeared on e27
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