As long as there have been products to sell, there have been people working on ways to entice potential customers to buy those products. It’s nothing new. Painted advertisements and even official spokesmen were used as a way to promote events in ancient Rome.
No matter the time or location the goal has always been the same; get a message in front of people and try to influence them to buy the product. Perhaps the only thing that really has changed is how those messages are delivered. We’ve gone from pottery and bronze plates to newspapers, magazines, radio, and television, and now the internet.
As technology and society advances, marketers continue to search for new and interesting ways to reach potential customers. With the huge boom of the internet age many have focused a lot of their attention to online and digital marketing.
Preparing to start another year we take a look back. There are some tactics that marketers continue to use that just don’t seem to work as well as they used to. With that in mind let’s take a look at some of the most ineffective marketing tactics that need to be left in the past.
Stop relying on spray and pray mass marketing.
In a sense, marketing has always tried to be a data-driven profession. No company would throw money down the drain and continue doing something that they know is ineffective. Marketers have always tried to see what has worked for them and try to duplicate those tactics to create more success. Today there are more tools available than ever before.
So-called “spray and pray” tactics just aren’t a smart model with all the options available to marketers today. It is simply no longer enough to get a message in front of people and hope (or pray) that some of those reached will be receptive to the messaging.
We’ve also seen a growing problem that this tactic has caused many to feel overwhelmed and uninterested in generic un-targeted marketing. Even more alarmingly not only have potential customers began to become disengaged with the messaging, but in some cases the brands themselves. To combat this, companies must shift their focus and become much more targeted in their efforts.
Data can better inform you and help guide you to success.
It is now possible to build custom audiences based off who your ideal customer would be. These customs audiences can be built from a company’s first-party data (existing customers or product ownership), or third-party data obtained from a database such as EDA or RigDig.
The data provided through such a database can reveal a number of factors to allow for better accuracy and targeting designed for a very specific audience. Information such as type and age of owned equipment, geographic location, annual income, and credit risk status can all be factored into your marketing efforts to maximize effectiveness.
If at all possible, ditch single-touch attribution models.
Lead attribution is a very useful tool and is intended to help companies align with the most successful marketing channels. It’s another way the business of marketing has tried to find what has worked in the past and to try to repeat the process.
Lead attribution is a way of quantifying this information and trying to translate it into actionable data to help marketers make better informed decisions. There are essentially three major kinds of lead attribution (though there are many varying models, for the most part each model will into one of these categories).
All credit for a lead or sale (depending upon what is being tracked) is attributed to the channel that got the prospective customer to your site for the first time.
The problem with this is that making a purchasing decision takes time and is rarely as simple as seeing something once and buying it immediately. This model does not account for any follow up or secondary touches that are made along the way before a purchase or commitment is made.
Attribution systems utilizing this model assign all credit to the very last channel a prospect has contact with.
This is the easiest to track and possibly the most common form of attribution tracking. However, this method also fails to account for all other touches and points of contact.
Multi-touch attribution attempts to measure and assign value to all touches made before a conversion, not simply the first or last.
There are several subsets of this model that assign values differently. Two of the more common variations being time decay and linear attribution.
Time decay grants more value to touches closer to the conversion and less to those further away from it. Linear attribution distributes all credit equally to every touch point along the way.
Despite their differences, each of these models are all trying to do the same thing: accurately track exactly where conversions are coming from.
Knowing what is driving conversions allows marketers to see which channels are working and which ones aren’t so they can optimize their campaigns.
But how do you know which model is best for you?
What’s the best approach to lead attribution?
The question of which model works best is a hard one to answer, which is why there are so many variations of the same basic idea.
Assigning value for conversions to a single touch point, as with first and last-touch attribution, leaves a lot of data unaccounted for. This is of course, not ideal. It’s very possible you will miss the value a particular channel or strategy is bringing. If it’s the only attribution model available to you it is most certainly better than nothing, but remember that there are many more variables unaccounted for than you are seeing.
What works for one company may not necessarily work for another. Everything comes down to what your goal is and figuring out what the best way to reach that goal is.
There are many models to choose from with multi-touch attribution and each situation is unique. So, in the end it’s best to take a step back and evaluate exactly what your intended outcome is and attempt to work your way backward to find out exactly what information is most valuable to you. This can help narrow things down and allow you to pick the best possible solution for your situation.
The old SEO tricks and hacks don’t work anymore.
It’s perfectly logical for marketers to try and not only track how much traffic they receive, but try to influence and increase that traffic. In the past it was possible to try and game the system and influence search engine results in your favor by how you structured or built out a site or web page.
For example, adding more pages or the sheer number of links featured could influence the rankings of search results. However, over time Google has consistently released updates such as Penguin and Panda to try to combat misleading results.
Through these efforts, Google has tried to ensure that the search results are truly the best possible results for any given inquiry. Ultimately the updates and continued effort put forth by Google has resulted in a higher quality product for them and an overall better user experience.
In addition to the updates, Google also uses Latent Semantic Indexing, or LSI. Despite the fancy name, this is just a way of saying the search engine scans through pages and look for common words or phrasing to identify keywords. This allows Google to understand what the content is about and more accurately rank it among search results.
So, if the old “tricks” simply don’t work anymore, what are marketers to do?
The answer is simple. Stop focusing on how to trick Google and other search engines to get more people to your content, and start focusing on the quality of your content.
The quantity of web pages and links may no longer matter, but the quality most definitely does. Providing quality content and linking to reputable sources will automatically influence SEO and better position you to reach the target audience you are seeking.
For more help on exactly what kind of links Google values you can refer to the previous article Think Links Don’t Matter for SEO? Google Says They Matter More Than Ever (Part 1 of 2).
Though quality content is king, there are a few things you can still do to help your chances.
Including pictures with alt tags:
Google doesn’t actually see the photos on a website, but rather relies on alt tags to tell it what the picture is. Having a photo with an accurate and descriptive alt tag helps Google get a better idea of the overall content and aim of the site or page.
Have an accurate and appealing metadata description:
Your content can still be passed over if the user isn’t exactly sure what it is about. Making sure to include metadata that accurately describes the content is helpful to those searching and can serve to make it more enticing for them to click.
The best recipe for success in the future is to leave these failed and outdated marketing tactics in the past.
As technology and the world in general continues to change, marketers must be willing to adapt to the shifting landscapes to remain relevant.
Over time, even the best tactics can become dated and lose their effectiveness. As we continue to inch closer to 2018, perhaps the best action marketers can take is to finally ditch the tired and ineffective strategies of the past. Embracing data to better inform campaigns, stop focusing on trying to trick search engine results and focus on quality content, and ditching misleading attribution models are three ways to do just that and get off to a great start in the coming year.