8 Common Online Marketing Mistakes

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Digital Marketing MistakesThe promises online marketing seems to offer are many and great: measurable results, laser-beam accuracy in targeting specific demographics, lower costs than television and newspaper advertising. Nevertheless, some marketers who have jumped onto the online marketing bandwagon aren’t seeing the kind of results they had hoped for in their company’s bottom line. What’s the problem? These online marketing firms are probably falling victim to one or more of the most common mistakes in online marketing. In the course of this article, we’ll sketch out 8 of these common online marketing mistakes, with hints on how to avoid them.

1. Online Marketing Firms Leap Before they Look

By far the most common mistake online marketing firms are making are leaping before they look. That is, marketers are diving into forums such as Facebook, YouTube channels, AdSense, and other forms of online marketing without first forming a cohesive strategy for their online marketing agenda. As a result they end up with disparate, incongruous online marketing that confuses customers about their brand rather than building on that brand.

Online marketing is a completely different world, and it is as big and as important (or it will be soon) as any other media channel. Just as a marketer would never dare to release a series of television spots without a very clear idea of how they would use the spots to shape perception of the brand and tie in to other marketing efforts, they shouldn’t dare to leap into online marketing without a clear, cohesive online marketing strategy.

2. Tricked Into Thinking They’re Too Old to be Smart

A white collar professional with experience in sales and marketing who now owns her own real estate firm recently confessed to me, “I don’t have a PayPal account. I think I missed the age cut-off.” Too many marketers “of a certain age” view are stuck in the view that old dogs can’t learn new tricks, and therefore they must rely upon the young, hip, chic online marketing firms who make lofty promises about campaigns that go viral and engage millions of viewers.

Don’t be intimidated by online marketing, and don’t rely solely upon online marketing experts who pat you on the head and say in a patronizing tone, “Don’t worry your pretty little head over how it works.” Instead, take the time to get educated and deepen your understanding on who’s actually engaging different types of online content, how they’re engaging that content, and what actions they take after they see an online marketing campaign – just as you would with any other marketing genre. Online marketing is a brave new world, but there are plenty of tour books and guides who can teach you the ropes, no matter what your age.

3. Online Marketing Firms Abandon Email Marketing

Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter would very much like marketers to believe that the age of email is over, but this is not true. In crafting an online marketing strategy, don’t ignore the power of email. It is still a major player when it comes to getting consumers to take action.

4. They Prostrate Before the Shrine of Google

Google is powerful, there’s no doubt about it. Putting a company’s website, or alternate domain names related to that website, into the first few slots on Google’s search engine results page is still the best way to get free, qualified website traffic.

However, just getting high marks on Google isn’t enough to convert traffic into sales. That takes good content and clever marketing messages.

5. They Prostrate Before the Shrine of Facebook (or Twitter)

Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg is the new Big Man on Campus, but just as online marketing firms shouldn’t put all their eggs in the one basket of Google, neither should they put all their eggs in the basket of Facebook, or for that matter Twitter.

Social media is powerful when used correctly. Again, though, without carefully, deliberately linking social media to meaningful marketing calls-to-action and the rest of a marketing campaign, social media is just another online marketing red herring. It is time for marketers to relearn the lesson that their efforts on Google, Facebook, and Twitter only work when combined with other well-honed marketing components.

6. Their Blog’s a Bore

Content, content, content – content is king online, right? Content is where keywords are artfully sprinkled in. Content is what you feed the insatiable, Little Shop of Horrors search engine known as Google. Content is ultimately what brings people to the site.

But does content bring people back to the site? It doesn’t if the blogs and articles are boring and too obviously self-promoting.

Content is a place to impress and intrigue consumers, not a place to jam in as many keyword phrases as possible and tell the same old story with each blog post. “We’re great. We offer these services. Did we mention we’re great? These are the services we offer.”

Good content isn’t mere product promotion, and blogs shouldn’t tell the same story, slightly re-phrased, again and again. Compelling content is educational, fresh, humorous, controversial, confident, and/or a little bit of all of those things. This is the content that online marketing firms should be creating.

7. Online Marketing Firms Forget that Brands Still Matter

Online marketing is still essentially about brand development. Good online marketing firms still evaluate every online campaign against how it will shape the brand. Multiple online marketing channels aimed at slightly different audiences sometimes lead marketers to stray from their brand’s main message and confuse consumers. A confusing brand is a brand that will not profit.

8. They Fail to Reach Connectors

Campaigns go viral not because they reach a lot of people; campaigns go viral because they reach the right people. The online world’s connectors are like the matchmakers of the 21st century. With a grin and a pat on the knee, they wink and say, “You will absolutely LOVE this one.” They aren’t necessarily the people who have the most Facebook friends or Twitter followers. They are people who have influence amongst their friends and a passion about a certain product or online campaign. Campaigns that don’t spur these connectors or influencers into actions are campaigns that should be declared dead on arrival.

Will online marketing live up to its great promises? For some companies, it already is. For other companies, it’s failing abysmally. The problem is not the online world itself, but the marketing strategies (or lack thereof) that marketers are applying to the online medium. Start examining your own online marketing efforts against the eight common mistakes above and make changes accordingly.

Web Marketing Video Trends for 2011

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Web Marketing Trends in Video

Of all the changes in the ever-shifting landscape of web marketing, perhaps one of the most influential has been the increasing ease of viewing video content.

web marketing video trends

From local news stations to moms with a camcorder, video content is now ubiquitous on the web. Take these recent statistics:

• 62% of B2B marketers user video content as a part of their web marketing and social media marketing campaigns (Source: below)
• Almost half of small businesses intend to increase online video in their 2011 web marketing budgets (Source: below)
• 65% of C-level executives have visited a vendor’s website after viewing a video, and 42% made a purchase as a result of viewing a web video (Source: below)

It’s not only overall viewership of online video that’s on the rise; accessing this content via mobile devices is also skyrocketing as smart phones become pervasive. In fact, mobile video delivery company ByteMobile predicts that 60% of mobile network traffic for 2011 will be video content (Source: below).

Together, the increased use and viewership of online video, combined with the increased use of mobile devices to view these videos, is an advertising revolution in the making. Who will the winners in this new advertising environment be? Here are some thoughts.

Video Ad Interactivity

Chris Young, the CEO of Digital Broadcasting group, puts it this way:
With video channels like YouTube offering the viewer the ability to skip over advertisements on certain videos, marketers need to have some sort of added value to the content they’re distributing. You can’t just beat a consumer over the head with your static video ad and expect them to take action. In 2011, advertisers will have to be just as focused on content creation as today’s leading online publishers (Source: below).

In other words, with so much user-driven content and emphasis on interactivity in the online world today, static video ads will gradually come to be seen as old-school and irrelevant – the online equivalent of the local used car salesman showing up on a cable TV ad in a gorilla costume. Just as they do in front of their television sets, expect viewers to increasingly roll their eyes and change the channel on static video ads.

Interactive YouTube ads are new, but by the end of 2011 they’ll start to become standard. Marketers who take advantage of the trend while it’s still intriguing for viewers will be rewarded with much more leverage out of their ads.

Humorous Ads Still Rule Viral Video

The mere words “snakes on a plane” were enough to ignite a viral video bonanza back in 2006. Why? Because it was funny! Parodies, fan-created videos, allusions in television, and even video games came out of the viral buzz just because everyone found those four words to be so amusing.

Fast forward to 2010, when the Old Spice online videos with “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” theme earned more than 25 million views. The brilliant team at Wieden + Kennedy made additional spots that were video responses to YouTube and Twitter comments using the same popular look/feel. This move by Wieden + Kennedy opened up a whole new paradigm of what was possible with viral video ads. Once again, the key to their success was smart humor.

Even amongst non-commercial viral videos, humor rules. The homemade “Charlie bit my finger – again!” features a little boy sticking his finger in his baby brother’s mouth. The 56 second video has already earned almost 3 million views. Earning 78 million views is the bizarre “Potter Puppet Pals: The Mysterious Ticking Noise”, which features hand puppets made to look like characters from Harry Potter merely repeating their names in a sing-song manner. It’s strange, but it’s funny – funny enough to be one of the most popular YouTube videos of all time.

Has the point been made? Interactivity is great, but humor still trumps all in viral videos, no matter where it’s viewed.

Bite-Sized Videos Work Best

A B2B marketer might be seriously tempted to create a twenty-minute video featuring all his product’s best benefits, but he should resist this temptation. Both brand-oriented videos and home videos that go viral tend to share the common characteristic of being four minutes or less.

Case in point: one viral video, in which a dog pulls a little girl forward and dumps her into the pavement, is three seconds long, proving that three seconds of good content is worth much more than twelve minutes of bad content. Moreover, which is a viewer more likely to watch through to completion – the three second video, or the twelve minute video?

This is not to say that all longer videos should be avoided. After all, a particularly funny set of YouTube video reviews of the Star Wars prequel movies have earned millions of views, and each of them are more than ten minutes in length. The main point here is that online users most often consume both text and video in bite-sized chunks.

Part of the reason people like to watch short videos may be the overall decrease in human attention span in the age of the internet, but there are practical reasons, as well. First there is the issue of processor speed. Online video is smoother than ever, but people with slow computers or mobile devices still experience choppiness or viewing interruptions, which is often made worse with longer videos. When such a viewer anticipates difficulty watching an online video, they are much more likely to watch a short video than a long video.

The second issue is the where and the how viewers are watching. Viewing a viral brand video at work is much easier to justify when the video is three minutes long versus twelve minutes long. Likewise, the initial phase of an executive beginning the process of product and/or vendor research, which might include viewing videos, will likely include reviewing a number of different marketing messages. Such an executive will probably be more likely to slow down and watch a two minute introductory video at the beginning of such a process than to take the time to watch a twenty minute video. They might watch the twenty minute video later, but probably only after the two minute video compelled them to do so. Watching on a mobile device on the run, too, makes short videos preferable over long ones.

These are just a few of the video marketing trends to expect in 2011. In all, the next three or four years should prove to be exciting ones for both online video viewers and producers alike as online videos continue to evolve.

Ad-ology Research
Forbes Insights
Business Wire

Internet Marketing as Elder Wand: The Internet is the most powerful marketing tool ever created – that is, if a Marketing Wizard can wield it

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Ah, the magic wand of Internet marketing. In the world of Harry Potter, the Elder Wand was supposed to be the most powerful wand ever created. In the hands of someone like Dumbledore, the Elder Wand was a powerful force for good. In the hands of evil Lord Voldemort, it would be a weapon of mass destruction.

Internet marketing like the Elder Wand

Most wizards, including Internet marketing wizards, though, are neither Dumbledore nor Voldemort. Most wizards are well-meaning, but mediocre, less like heroes and more like Ronald Weasley. In the hands of these wizards, the Elder Wand was just another tool, not better or worse than any other wand. And so it can be said about Internet marketing wizards.

Internet marketing wizards

For Internet marketing professionals, the Internet is the Elder Wand. It is the most powerful Internet marketing tool ever created – that is, if a marketing wizard can wield it. For creative agencies like Wieden + Kennedy, who unleashed the viral Old Spice ads upon the online world, the Internet is a well-oiled machine responding easily to the most subtle guiding touch. For other agencies and companies, the living dinosaurs of their respective industries, understanding how to make an Internet marketing campaign go viral on Facebook or Twitter is like Ron Weasley trying to wield the Elder Wand.

Internet marketing Elder Wand

The trouble these agencies have with Internet marketing can be divided into two broad categories: first, the Internet has fragmented consumer attention, and second, successful internet marketing means a two-way dialogue rather than a one-way soliloquy.

Internet marketing challenge = fragmented consumer attention

Prime time commercial TV spots on NBC, ABC, and CBS used to have a guaranteed audience. If a company ran the same ad for long enough during the Nightly News, soon the whole country would be humming the ad jingle. Today, with nearly 34 million owners of TiVo and other DVR services now recording their shows and fast-forwarding through the commercials, while other television consumers stream shows through their laptop, that ubiquitous jingle-humming is much harder to achieve.

Compare TV and Internet marketing

Harder to achieve, yes, but not out of reach. The Internet has shattered the easy dominance of mass marketing channels, particularly the two giants of the field – television and newspaper. Knowing this, creative agencies can no longer rely upon a single television ad or group of ads to spread their marketing message. Instead, their success depends upon customizing their message in such a way that it gains a following via Internet marketing; on YouTube, spreads across Facebook, catches the attention of bloggers, and ends up with links from tweets.

creative Internet marketing opportunities

On the one hand, the Internet provides the professional marketer with a dream come true: the Internet gives access to very particular demographics, with an ability to track precisely the responses of those demographics. On the other hand, the sheer number of marketing channels available through the Internet makes connecting with target audiences more daunting than ever. That is – if you are the marketing equivalent of Ron Weasley. If you are Dumbledore, these various channels represent new playgrounds of unprecedented creative Internet marketing opportunities.

Internet marketing challenge

Internet marketing challenge = 2-way dialogue

Facebook Internet marketingDavid Kilpatrick’s new book, The Facebook Effect, begins with a story of an unlikely viral Internet marketing phenomena. Oscar Morales, engineer and self-described “computer addict” in a small town in Colombia, decided to make a new Facebook page railing against the Colombian rebel group, the FARC. Kidnappings by the FARC are so common that Colombia has a nightly radio show designed to reach the jungle-bound hostages and give them hope. Each evening, families of those held captive line up outside the radio station in Bogota, hoping to send words of encouragement through the airwaves to their loved ones.

You know you have a kidnapping crisis on your hands when you have an entire radio show dedicated to kidnap victims, and Morales was fed up with it. His anti-FARC page attracted 1,500 Facebook friends in less than 24 hours. In one month, the group organized a worldwide march against the FARC, which drew the participation of 10 million in Colombia, and another 2 million worldwide (Source: The Facebook Effect).

mastering the art of Internet marketing

Internet marketing challenge = mastering the art of discussion

Every business wants the kind of Internet marketing results that Morales achieved with no money and hardly any effort. To do so, however, they must make a fundamental paradigm shift. For decades, they’ve only spoken at consumers; to succeed today, they have to speak with consumers.

Internet marketing 101

Morales hit a nerve with people; he opened up a topic people wanted to talk about. Instead of backing away from a free form, unmoderated conversation with customers, companies have to master the art of having that discussion while still setting the tone.

The great difference between the Elder Wand and the Internet is that there’s only one owner of the Elder Wand at any one time, but multiple Internet marketing wizards can wield the wand of the Internet with equally amazing results. It’s not luck that makes an Internet marketing campaign go viral; it’s talent.

Internet marketing IS THE Elder Wand

The Internet as Elder Wand: It’s the most powerful Internet marketing tool ever created – that is, if a Marketing Wizard can wield it – Another powerful article on Internet Marketing from 4thWeb.

Marketing in the Future is like Sex: Only the losers will have to pay for it [Web Marketing]

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To traditional advertising agencies, staring into the face of the world of Internet marketing must be like looking into Godzilla’s gaping maw. Already, Godzilla has gobbled up newspaper advertising: PricewaterhouseCoopers reported in June 2010 that the Internet passed newspapers by as the second-largest advertising medium in the US.

Internet Marketing GodzillaWith Newspaper’s bloody guts strewn across the walls, Television must now be screaming. Godzilla already ate Television in the UK; if new-school creative agencies have anything to say about it, Television as a primary advertising venue will be the next morsel on Godzilla’s menu.

Internet Marketing Thought Leaders

Just like a damsel in distress, Andy Nibley, former CEO of old-school ad agency giant Marsteller, cried out, “First the news business, then the music business, then advertising. Is there any industry I get involved in that doesn’t get destroyed by digital technology? (Source: New York Observer).

“Marketing in the future is like sex,” Jon Bond says, the cofounder of Kirshenbaum Bond Senecal + Partners. “Only the losers will have to pay for it ( Internet Marketing ).” (Source: MissionParadox).

What Jon Bond understands about Internet Marketing might be what Andy Nibley realized too late. In a marketing environment in which “going viral” is the catchphrase of the day, the Mad Men-style agencies of yesteryear don’t move fast enough to keep up.

Think of the old-school advertising agencies being like the Soviet army. They’ve got the money, the tanks, the manpower. Now think of the new-school, internet-savvy, Facebooking, YouTubing, blogging creative companies like the mujaheddin. They travel light. They know the terrain. They can ambush a tank with an IED and slip back into the village undetected before the Soviet general can even finish scratching his goatee in confusion. They’re best-suited to excel at Internet Marketing.

[4thwebvids video=”2Q2OlqsknXI” embeddedHeight=”295″ embeddedWidth=”480″ autoplay=”false”]

In the brave new world of Internet Marketing, all the money, Hollywood talent, and professional film studios in the world can’t compete with a clever, low-budget YouTube video that goes viral. The new-school Internet Marketing troops are natives to the online terrain; while old-school ad agencies continue to spend millions on prime time TV spots that Tivo users fast-forward through, new-school Internet Marketing troops spend just thousands on online videos that they can tweak and send out to hundreds of distribution channels. One creative online video that goes viral will capture more eyeballs than a typical TV commercial ever could.

The result of all this YouTube, social marketing and Internet marketing cleverness is that a bunch of 30-somethings wearing jeans and baseball caps are making the suits on Madison Avenue feel like they belong on AMC.

Internet Marketing: Google is My… Frenemy?

It’s not just the kids in jeans making the Mad Men feel a little stupid. In a “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” twist, it’s the software itself that’s out-dating the agencies. With a few lines of copied-and-pasted code into the header of their HTML, any Joe Schmo website owner can track visitor statistics like an expert.

Tracking software like GoogleAnalytics, together with the powerful tools offered advertisers in AdWords, take away the need for expensive “market analysis” that ad agencies used to get paid big bucks for. With the few clicks of a button, Google’s software tells advertisers exactly which keywords they should use, then with a few more clicks it they can see which ads led to sales and which didn’t. There’s no more need to say “Mention this ad for 10% off” as a way of tracking the ROI of advertising dollars; Google tells you – and it tells you for free.

Internet Marketing: Let’s be Friends Forever


Google might be the undisputed king of the Internet hill for now, but don’t expect it to last once the slightly Napoleonic Mark Zuckerberg’s plans for world domination go into full swing. Founding Facebook from his Harvard dorm room back in 2004, his social networking website actually overtook Google as the most popular website in America for the first time in the spring of 2010 (Source: TechCrunch.

Zuckerberg was named Time’s “Person of the Year” for 2010 for a good reason: social media, social media marketing and Internet marketing are completely changing the world. Railroad networks in the 19th century changed the face of commerce and human interactions forever; social networks are doing the same thing in the 21st century. Nowadays, companies don’t list their website address at the end of a TV commercial, they list their Facebook address.

The creative agencies who know how to leverage Facebook, Yelp, Endgadget, YouTube, and other social media sites to make marketing efforts go viral are the agencies that will make money for their clients and tame the Godzilla-like world of Internet Marketing.

The creative agencies that don’t know how to do Internet Marketing…? Well, maybe AMC will do a casting call soon for the next season of Mad Men.

The Internet as Elder Wand: It’s the most powerful marketing tool ever created – that is, if a Marketing Wizard can wield it – Another powerful article on Internet Marketing from 4thWeb.

Why Old-School Ad Agencies are like Dinosaurs

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Black Sun It is widely suspected by scientists that the age of the dinosaurs came to an abrupt end when a comet, shards of a comet, or similar space debris struck Earth at the end of the Cretaceous Period. It wasn’t the impact itself that killed the dinosaurs, but the blotting out of the sun. Dinosaurs, like all reptiles, were cold-blooded creatures that relied upon external sources of heat to keep their bodies working. No sun meant no vegetation to eat, and no heat to keep the body functioning. Meanwhile, small, forest-bound mammals, which are warm-blooded, managed to survive the apocalyptic conditions. We all know what happened next.

Why Old-School Ad Agencies are Like Dinosaurs

While the jury is still out as to whether or not old-school ad execs themselves are actually cold-blooded reptiles, what can be confirmed is that ad agencies have relied upon mass media channels for decades as their main source of revenue, in the same way that dinosaurs relied upon the sun for heat.

The internet revolution affected the advertising industry in the same way that the comet at the end of the Cretaceous Period affected the Earth. The comet-like internet struck with great speed and without any warning, throwing up such a cloud of dust that ad agencies were temporarily blinded. Now, that worshipped source of millions of dollars in advertising revenue, the sun-like institutions of television and newspaper, have been all but blotted out by the internet’s dust cloud.

Companies today are less interested in pouring advertising dollars into television than they used to be, and that’s bad news for ad agencies. The traditional business model in advertising was a 15% commission off the amount a client would spend in media. Ten to fifteen percent is a lot when you consider how much money a prime time, 30-second commercial spot can cost.

Dinosaurs had huge bodies; they required huge amounts of calories. Ad agencies have huge staffs, big offices, and several executives who expect to get wealthy; they require huge amounts of dollars.

The Cretaceous Period’s mammals survived because they were small, lean, and able to create their own heat. Digital media agencies will survive the ad industry crisis because they are small, lean, and able to rely upon creativity rather than commissions.

Evolve or Die

Not every dinosaur went extinct; some evolved to adapt to their new reality and live on to this day. Birds, for example, have reptilian roots. Alligators and crocodiles downsized and live on. Turtles did alright. Tyrannosaurus Rex, the Brontosaurus, and even the tiny Velociraptor, however, didn’t make it.

Some of the old-school agencies show signs of evolution. At Mullen, for instance, the former Chief Creative Officer now calls himself the Chief Innovation Officer and holds the less-official title of Chief Social Media Officer. Thanks to Mullen’s willingness to adapt to the new advertising landscape, they were able to win contracts with JetBlue and Zappos. Both contracts came their way because they recognized that the 30-second spot is no longer what smart companies are looking for; rather, today’s clients are looking for marketing companies that put social media campaigns and other types of viral advertising ahead of stale TV commercials that are likely to be fast-forwarded through anyway.

Evolve or Die

Diversification of Species

These days, marketing officers at major corporations are no longer likely to rely upon just one ad agency for all of their marketing needs. Instead, they may hire several smaller agencies to do the job that one big agency used to accomplish. Dinosaur-sized agencies are usually just too large to handle user-generated content with efficiency, so more and more CMOs are shifting to a multi-agency model instead (Source: Robert Gourley, Mojave).

When an agency is one of several that a CMO is relying upon, they can afford to be small, because they’re not being called upon to handle every aspect of the client’s marketing needs. When they can afford to be small, they can afford to accept the smaller commissions that are inherent in the world of digital advertising. They simply don’t need to rely upon the 15% commission of a multi-million dollar media spend, and that gives them a competitive advantage over the agencies of yesteryear.

In short, the new advertising industry will favor companies who focus more on the big idea than the big spend. Lean, nimble digital agencies are today’s mammals, busying themselves with out-maneuvering sluggish dinosaur agencies as they compete for scarce resources. History has shown that sudden changes in both terrestrial and business environments easily lead to mass extinction; the ad agencies still using yesterday’s business model would be wise to take this history lesson to heart before they turn themselves into museum exhibits.