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10 Avoidable Marketing Mistakes

Hi everyone – This article on marketing mistakes that you could easily correct or avoid is by Cyndie Shaffstall, and it is well worth your time! You can read more about Cyndie at the end of her article:

10 Avoidable Marketing Mistakes

Many entrepreneurs are responsible in whole or in part for their company’s marketing — and in many cases without any prior experience. We’ve seen our share of their marketing campaigns deliver disappointing results and have compiled a short list of the errors we see most often, and those that are the easiest to address.

1. No NCOA/de-duping

To send a direct-mail campaign you will need a mailing list and these days it’s more common to have one than not, but ill-maintained, purchased, or rented lists can sometimes produce questionable results.

direct mail recycled

Don’t let your direct mail end up here!

We council most of clients to import their invoicing system into their customer database before any campaign since that’s usually a prime source of names and addresses of people with whom they have done business and have developed a relationship. Importing that type of text into a database that was initially designed to capture subscribers, for instance, can be challenging. When you see the final import, you may wonder if it was worth all the trouble. It can be — if you run your list through an NCOA.

National Change of Address is a process performed by service providers that will match your list with the change of address cards on file with the US Postal Service and then update the address to the most current. You’ll save money by not mailing to non-existent or incomplete addresses. Other services are included in this process as well, such as de-duping. Removing duplicates will save you money too and will reduce the frustration of the recipient (no one likes to receive multiple copies of a mailer – unless you’re giving away money). As an added benefit, once you have a clean list you will qualify for the best postal rates.

2. No segmentation

Segmentation is the process of dividing your list into logical (e.g., interest, shopping, or buying) groups. You probably already do segmentation on some level, but take a close look at your list and see if you couldn’t be doing more. You will save money and show better response rates when you send relevant messages to targeted groups.

3. No personalization

I’m sure you’ve received a direct mail piece or email that seemed to know just a little too much about you. Maybe a nice brochure from your car dealership that starts with, “Hi Sarah, We hope you’re enjoying your new silver F150.” It’s a little startling the first time you see it and the more personalized (or targeted) the message, the more they know about you, and the more intently you will read it.

That’s the point.

If a company with whom you do business, or who is seeking your business, sends you a targeted email or direct mail, that goes far beyond “Hello, Sarah,” you pay closer attention. After all, this vendor knows you — don’t they? If they know you this well, then you must want to do business with them.

Personalized or targeted marketing doesn’t have to encroach on a person’s privacy in order to be effective. Take a look at your list. Do you know something about your customers that would enable you to do a personalized mailing? For instance, do you know:

• What item they last purchased?

• The last date they were in your store?

• If they are about to get married?

• If they have children of a certain age?

A lot of detail can be discerned from their past purchases, or maybe you have a web form where you are asking simple questions (if not, you should have). No matter the source, if you have uniquely identifying information about your customers, put it to work.

4. Unprofessional design

woman Needs ad agency

Need a more professional design?

Think back to the last time you sorted through a stack of junk mail. Which piece caused you to take a second look? Was it the poorly designed, photocopied, oversized postcard that looked like it should be hanging on some kindergartner’s mother’s fridge? Probably not. More likely, it was the beautifully designed, four-color postcard replete with personalization.

Not everyone is a designer, and not every small company can afford a designer. The good news is that today there are options. Web-to-print applications such as Tweak, Vistaprint, and 123Print make beautiful designs a possibility for everyone. Most of these services provide professionally designed template sets (so that all of your company’s collateral can match). Just customize the text a bit by dropping in your company name and address (or more, if you want) and you’re ready to print.

Sending out professional designs is like meeting your customer for the first time in your Sunday best.

5. Missing information

Your list is ready and the design is done…what’s left? Drat. You forgot to add your phone number. Oh, wait, the web address is nowhere to be found!

At the onset of your campaign, start a simple list. Add to that list the items that you need on the campaign. Add to the list every time you look at other campaigns and think, “Oh, that’s a good idea. I should include [fill in the blank] on my next campaign.” Here’s a short list to get you started.

• Offer

• Web address

• Phone number(a dedicated number will help track engagement)

• Toll-free number

• Contact name

• Email address

• Personalization

• Postal indicia

• Return address

• Company logo

• Link to subscription form

• Expiration date

• QR code

• Salesperson or rep’s name and contact information

• Social media links

• Call to action

Oh, wait, what’s a call to action? Read on…

6. Missing call to action

It’s very rare that a marketing campaign should not have a call-to-action (CTA) message. A CTA is what you want the recipient to do when they receive this piece. Here are some ideas:

• Call you

• Visit your website

• Subscribe to your newsletter

• Buy, rent, lease, sell

• Share with a friend

• Print the coupon

• Tell a friend

• Return the postage-paid card

Your call to action should sound urgent. Call today! Offer ends soon. In some cases, you can convey the urgency of the CTA by simply adding an exclamation point, and sometimes you need to add more prompts. Remind them that the expiration date is imminent or that the manufacturer’s warranty is about to expire (if that sort of thing is relevant to your message, of course).

7. Incorrect links, phone numbers, or email addresses

The best person to proof your message is your twelve-year old. Yep, that’s right. Find a person who is a fairly good reader and have them read you the message aloud. If you have an error, they will be sure to find it. Have that same person type or click every link, call every phone number, and send an email to every address. If your tester is having difficulty typing a long email address or URL, you can bet your customer will too. Use a URL shortener, such as Bit.ly, to get it down to the bare minimum or talk with your webmaster about setting up a landing page that’s easy to type. Long email addresses need to be simplified in whatever way you can, but when all else fails, at least make them memorable.

8. No targeted landing page

website design

Chris Green’s landing page design is easy to use

Once your customer or prospect receives the mailing or email, you want to convert them into a visitor (or a caller) and from a visitor into a buyer (not necessarily an online buyer). The number of leads who respond to the [e]mailer is called the response rate. This flow is called the funnel. The process is called moving a lead through the funnel to become a customer is called the conversion. How effective you are at converting leads to customers is generally represented as your return on investment, or ROI.

To maximize your response rate, you need to have a compelling offer, one that makes the recipient want to go to your web site, click, click, click, and buy, buy, buy. A great way to do this, of course, is to also have a very engaging web page on which they land. Something that practically drags them from the response phase into the buying phase – pours them down the funnel, so to speak.

A targeted landing page is just what you need. This landing page should look a lot like the [e]mailer that got the visitor to your site in the first place. Use the same graphics, much of the same messaging, but be more verbose and help them to make the busying decision. Multimedia events are good too. Try a video tutorial or Flash animation.

As an added benefit, you can use Google Analytics to fully document the traffic this page receives for a better understanding of your customer’s behavior.

9. Single touch

Marketing experts agree on very few things, but making every campaign a multi-touch campaign is one on which many do. When sending marketing messages, send through as many channels as you can think of — or at least as many as you can afford.

With the bevy of electronic vehicles available today — and most of them free — there’s no reason to send out a single-touch campaign. For pennies or less, you can post the offer or message to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, MySpace, 24-7Press Releases, YouTube, Pinterest, Tumblr, and so much more. These social-media vehicles will forward your message as though it had a life of its own. You don’t have to eat up your budget, use that for the big stuff (like printing and NCOA), but sit down and spend a couple of hours telling everyone about your offer in every way you can — it will catch on. There’s a reason it’s called viral.

10. No follow-up

My last bit of advice: far too many campaigns suffer from no follow-up. Consider these scenarios:

• You get hundreds of redeemed coupons and forget to send a second coupon for a similar product.

• You scan tradeshow badges until the battery is gone, and then forget to send out a special note thanking them for visiting your booth along with an offer from your product line.

• You collect subscribers at your website and never send out a welcome note with copious links to pages within your site and, worse, never import them into your database.

Even if you make all nine of the first mistakes in this list, in spite of yourself, you will still end up with a few customers who responded to your campaign and those new leads will be expecting to hear from you. Be sure they do.

Cyndie Shaffstall is founder of Spider Trainers, holds the patent for Sassy Strappings, and is author of Small-business Guide to Winning at Web Marketing and may other after-market software manuals. Many thanks to Cyndie for writing such a thorough and useful article.

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