The seven deadly sins of Internet marketing don’t show up in any ancient texts. They may not signify moral offenses or religious transgressions. But for marketers, these deadly sins forecast wasted budgets, poor engagement, and underwhelming returns on investment.
No matter how strong your strategy may seen, committing even one of these sins can threaten to throw your operation off course.
That’s why it’s so important for marketers to understand the seven deadly sins of Internet marketing.
Let’s take a look at what they are — and how you can avoid making these common mistakes.
1. Focusing on the Wrong Metrics
Many marketers get caught up in measuring so-called “progress” metrics, such as impressions, clickthrough rates, and keyword rankings. For instance, you can find your keyword rankings in your Google Webmaster Tools dashboard.
These metrics indicate if you’re headed in the right direction. They can be important, but they only scratch the surface of your analytics.
“Success” metrics, on the other hand, provide proof of return on your investment. These metrics might include subscriptions, downloads, and phone calls. They don’t just indicate that people like your content; they indicate that specific consumer is interested in hearing more about your brand and maybe even for your products.
You should consult metrics in each of these categories. Just understand that they don’t all hold the same weight. For instance, 1,000 pageviews might look great on paper. But what does that really mean? Did people actually spend time on your pages and engage with your content? Did they make it to your product pages or signup page? Too many marketers stop after the first question. To truly measure your success, you need to dig further.
It’s also important to align your metrics with your marketing goals. If you’re looking to drive sales, for instance, you don’t want to get too hung up on social likes and comments. You want to look at conversions and consumer behavior during the buyer journey. If you’re looking to drive email subscriptions, on the other hand, you’ll want to focus on form completions and the bounce rate on your signup page.
By matching your metrics with your goals, you’ll be able to identify the most effective and lucrative strategies, and adjust your budget accordingly.
2. Not Targeting the Right Audience
There’s no point in marketing to people who aren’t interested in your products or content. And yet, many marketers take a “spray-and-pray” approach to their online marketing. They think, “Hey, if millions of people are using social media, I can just put out my message and hope that some of the right people see it!”
This is a waste of time and money. And it’s totally unnecessary! With just a bit of time and optimization, you can target more relevant and engaged audiences.
To find your target audience, you need to conduct customers research. For instance, Entrepreneur recommends deploying social media polls and email surveys. You can use tools like SurveyMonkey and Survey.io to help you do this. You can also check your analytics platform to better understand who your readers and customers are, and track their journey.
On Facebook, for example, go to your Page insights, choose “People,” and see a demographic breakdown of your fans.
Over on Google Analytics, you can also check your readers’ age, gender, location, and interests. Just look under “Audience” on the left-side menu.
Once you find your target audience, you can create content that appeals to their needs and interests. CoSchedule calls this the “Content Core.” It’s where what you do matches what your audience cares about.
By refining your targeting, you can focus on creating the right content for the right people. This will help you optimize your spending and drive more high-quality leads.
3. Ignoring SEO
Your site might be filled with stellar blog posts, images, and website copy. But you’ll never show up in search results if you don’t use proper SEO tactics. And considering Google processes over 5.5 billion searches each day, you want your content to be in the running.
Here are three strategies you can use right now to optimize your content for search engines.
Find the Right Keywords
Google matches keywords in your content with keywords in users’ search queries. That’s why it’s important to find keywords that match your audience’s interests. There are several tools you can use to do this, including Moz Keyword Explorer, SEMrush, SpyFu, and the Google Keyword Explorer.
When conducting keyword research, remember to focus on long-tail keywords as opposed to short-tail keywords. For instance, “women’s leather handbags” is more specific and effective than “handbags.”
According to this study by Search Engine Watch, long-tail keywords yield higher search volumes and conversions.
Metadata helps Google find your page. On a WordPress blog for instance, metadata categories include a title, slug, and description.
You’ll also want to identify a focus keyword that’s included in each of these categories. For instance, the focus keyword for this piece would be “internet marketing.” It’s in the title, description, and body of the post.
Write Longer Posts
Longer content crushes shorter content in search results. In fact, after studying 1 million Google search results, Backlinko found that the average word count of first-page results was 1,890 words.
In general, long posts provide more value than short posts, and they keep readers engaged for a longer amount of time. These criteria tell Google that your content is worthy of a first-page spot.
4. Generating Poor Content
So, what goes into creating high-quality content? Let’s take a look.
High quality content must:
Not Include Clickbait
Upworthy learned this rule the hard way. They used to rely on clickbait headlines. Then Facebook changed its algorithm to penalize clickbait, and the publication’s traffic dropped by 46% in just two months.
Catchy headlines are fine. Just be sure that if you tease something in your title, you follow through on that promise in the body of your content.
It can be tempting to duplicate your pages or piece together informative content from other sites. Google, however, can see right through these strategies. High-quality content should be your own. It should show the reader something they haven’t seen before, and offer unprecedented value. It’s fine to cite and link to other credible sources; in fact, this is encouraged. Just be sure that the angle and takeaways are unique.
Keep People Engaged
Don’t just dump a bunch of keyword-heavy text on a page and hope that it attracts some readers. That might get people to click, but it won’t entice them to stay for long. That’s why it’s important to spice up your content with images and intuitive formatting. You can also add social share buttons and comment sections to encourage people to make their voices heard.
Take Neil Patel’s blog posts, for example. They include comments sections, social widgets, and images that link to more helpful content, which keeps readers on his site.
These aren’t tricks for gaming the system. They’re rules that should be at the foundation of your content strategy. The more value you provide, the more favorable you’ll be to your audience. And the more people will come back for fresh and informative content.
5. Not Calling Customers to Action
Give readers that extra push they need to share, sign up, comment, or learn more about your business. Too many marketers skip this step, and they miss out on nurturing valuable leads.
Effective calls to action (CTAs) should be short, snappy, and irresistible. They can be as simple as “Download now,” or as specific as “Sign up today for weekly insights right in your inbox.”
For example, Neville Medhora of KopywritingKourse.com uses this CTA at the bottom of his blog post to encourage readers to download his guide.
And marketing guru Gary Vaynerchuk places this CTA on the homepage of his website, inspiring readers to sign up for his newsletter.
When creating your CTA, just be sure to tell people exactly what action to take (i.e. “click,” “download,” “read”) and the value they’ll receive by taking that action (i.e. “learn more,” “free report,” “daily emails”).
6. Overlooking Mobile
Not optimizing your content for mobile is like inviting 100 guests to a party and shutting out 56 of them at the last second. According to SimilarWeb, mobile devices drive 56% of traffic to top sites.
Mobile-optimized sites should check these boxes:
- Fasting loading times: Don’t make readers wait for your content to load. Reduce complicated code, graphics, and Flash and Java elements that weigh down your site.
- Readable text: Your content should fit within the mobile screen. Users shouldn’t have to zoom in or out to view your information.
- Social sharing buttons for mobile apps: Keep people engaged by inviting them to share your content right on their mobile devices. For instance, you might include share buttons for Instagram, Facebook, SMS text, and WhatsApp.
You can always check your site for mobile readiness with Google’s helpful testing tool.
Just plug in your URL and view your results. Google will even send you a free report with tips on how to optimize your site.
7. Not Tracking Conversions
Too many marketers fail to measure their actual goals. They get caught up in their website views and comments, and they forget about the endgame. But it’s crucial to track your conversions. This will help you gauge your ROI and create more targeted content for people who actually buy into your business.
On Google Analytics, for instance, you can specify a goal, such as an e-commerce sale, app download, or contact form submission. Google will then track these goals for you. And you can view your results in the “Conversion > Goals” reports.
You can also track conversions on social media ads. On Facebook, for instance, you can install a pixel on your site or app. You’ll then be able to trace a customer’s journey from viewing your ad to completing a specific conversion.
Once you understand which content leads to more conversions, you can double down on that content, and optimize or cut the strategies that aren’t working.
Just like envy, gluttony, greed, lust, pride, sloth, and wrath should generally be avoided, Internet marketers should steer clear of these seven deadly sins at all costs.
Each one could put a hole in your content strategy, causing you to waste money and miss key opportunities to reach customers. If you focus on the wrong metrics, for instance, you won’t be able to properly optimize your budget. If you ignore SEO, your content won’t show up in search results. And if you forget about mobile, you’ll alienate a significant portion of your audience.
Again, these sins may not lead to eternal damnation. But when it comes to marketing your business, they could be the difference between failure and success.