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Top 10 Digital Marketing Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

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Digital marketing is something that is necessary for just about every type of business. However, 36% of marketing professionals say that promotional efforts both online and off have become “cluttered” during the past five years.
When it comes to online marketing, there are so many different places you can promote and so many different tactics you can utilize that it becomes easy to make mistakes. Fortunately, you can study what others are doing right and wrong and learn from those mistakes.

Mistake # 1: Sending Email Marketing to the Wrong Address
In 2011, the New York Times intended to send an email to people who had recently cancelled their subscriptions. The email was to go out to 300 former customers, and offered a discount if they would resubscribe. Unfortunately for the NYT, the marketing person emailed current subscribers, all 8 million of them. People were pretty upset that loyal subscribers weren’t being offered the same discounted rate.

The Takeaway: Check and double check that you are sending the right email marketing to the right list.

Mistake # 2: Trashing Your Competition
Trashing your competition makes you look petty. A perfect example can be seen in a post by London Luton Airport on their Facebook page. They decided to say that they could keep planes on the runway even in icy conditions and to use an image from where a plane at a competitor slid off the runway.


The problem? Not only was it rather risky as the situation could also happen at their airport, but they used an image where a plane had slid off the runway and a six-year-old child was killed. It was insensitive and made them look truly petty.

The Takeaway: Even if you have a lot of HVAC or other service contractors in your area, refrain from trashing the competition – both online and off.

Mistake # 3: Inappropriate Humor
In 2015, iHop tweeted out a photo of a stack of pancakes with a glob of butter in the middle and syrup strategically drizzled into place to resemble a woman’s breast. They added the words “flat but has a GREAT personality.”

The response was swift and furious, forcing them to quickly remove the offending tweet.

The Takeaway: Save crass, juvenile humor for when you are with your friends who appreciate it (if any actually do). When marketing, try not to offend half of your customer base.

Mistake # 4: Not Controlling Online Branding
QR codes are a neat way to tie a product into online marketing. However, when you allow a domain name you own to lapse and an adult website to take it over, it probably isn’t a very good idea to put a QR code that points to that domain on your ketchup bottles.

This is exactly what Heinz did when marketing to its German market, however.

The Takeaway: Online branding is vitally important. Maintain control over domain names once you put them out there, even if you just park them.

Mistake # 5: Forgetting Who Your Target Audience Is
Last year Kmart announced that its stores would be open on Thanksgiving to allow for more shopping. Public backlash was swift. People accused the company of greed in not letting their employees off to enjoy time with family before the Black Friday madness hit.

Making matters even worse, Kmart simply posted the same terse response over and over to anyone who complained.

The Takeaway: Think about your target audience. If it is families, then they likely won’t appreciate a decision that is going to force people to not spend a holiday with their families. Also, if there is a backlash, you might want a more personal response or statement than the one above.

Mistake # 6: Trying to Profit from Tragedy
When tragedies happen, it is natural for companies to send out a note that they are praying for the victims, donating money, or otherwise have them in their thoughts. However, Epicurious decided that the Boston Marathon bombing was a good opportunity to express their condolences along with some links to their best recipes. They sent out tweets such as:

“In honor of Boston and New England, may we suggest: whole grain cranberry scones!”

“Boston, our hearts are with you. Here’s a bowl of breakfast energy we could all use to start today:”

Needless to say, people were not too interested in those scones. Here are a couple of the angry responses Epicurious received:

The Takeaway: If you’re going to comment on tragedy at all, let it only be to express condolences and not to drive traffic to your website.

Mistake # 7: Suggesting Illegal or Illicit Activities
In 2015, Bloomingdale’s released an ad stating that you could spike your best friend’s drink. The ad made its rounds on Twitter with people talking about the poor taste behind it. Bloomingdale’s later issued an apology. Even though the ad was in their catalogue, that didn’t keep it from showing up on social media.

The Takeaway: Be aware of all branding, online and off. Don’t suggest , even in jest, that people do things that are unethical.

Mistake # 8: Missing the Innuendo
When KFC launched their boneless chicken, they came up with a marketing campaign with the hashtag #IAteTheBones. However, the campaign took an unexpected turn when people began to use the hashtag to talk about everything from murder to cannibalism.

The Takeaway: Think through all angles of any marketing you plan to do, even if it seems very basic and simple. Are there any double meanings behind the words?

Mistake # 9: Offering More than You Can Deliver
Amazon promised some amazing Prime deals for online Black Friday. Because some deals were only offered for short windows of time, people stayed up late and got up early to get in on these limited offers. Unfortunately, many people reported being extremely dissatisfied with what was offered.

People took to social media to complain about the lack of deals and made fun of Amazon, not leaving the brand with the image they wanted.

The Takeaway: If you make a promise, make sure you can deliver on it. Whether it is for a free inspection, a discount, or even that you’ll make a call within 24 hours. Whatever you promise, fulfill the promise or your brand may suffer.

Mistake # 10: Forcing Yourself on People Who Aren’t Interested
In September of 2014, U2 announced their new album would be free to iTunes user. The problem? The album was automatically downloaded to all users of iTunes and not everyone who received the music was a U2 fan. On top of that, removing the songs was a royal pain.

Fans spoke out angrily and Bono, the lead singer of U2, wound up issuing an apology and Apple wound up releasing a removal tool.

The Takeaway: Don’t force your services on anyone. While it is important to get your business in front of possible customers, a hard sale rarely works.

Avoiding Mistakes
By seeing some of the mistakes that others have made, you can hopefully avoid the same errors. Digital marketing is an ongoing thing, so you have to remain vigilant month after month and year after year. The good news is that with proper marketing, you can reach new leads and drive your HVAC business toward more success.

Lori Soard

Posted In: Sales & Marketing, Technology

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