When you do business online, communica2on is everything. If your marke2ng isn’t clear, poten2al customers get confused, and when customers get Intro confused, they leave before they ever know what it is you oﬀer. Here is a comprehensive list of 37 diﬀerent ways marketers and businesspeople confuse their customers, and how you can avoid making the same mistakes.
Inactive Twitter Accounts Fruit of the Loom’s TwiEer account has three tweets #1 posted in a three-‐minute 2meframe from 2011. They aren’t exactly gaining social momentum with this account. If a service isn’t part of your strategy, don’t sign up.
Hashtag Overuse If every other word in your social media message is a #2 hashtag, maybe you don’t know how these work— that’s what customers think. If your hashtags aren’t deliberate or meaningful, you aren’t using them right.
Forcing a Hashtag#3 McDonalds tried their hand at forcing a popular hashtag this past January when they started encouraging people to share #McDStories. Their plan backﬁred, and gross stories of fast food nightmares began ﬁlling the hashtag. Forcing posi2ve customer sen2ment can backﬁre and do more harm than good.
Avoid the Egg#4 New TwiEer users have a randomly generated “egg” user picture when they sign up. This should be obvious, but your user picture is a branding opportunity. If you interact with users without changing your user picture to something that represents you, you’ll be ignored in a heartbeat.
Hyperactive Brand Name Tracking#5 Businesses should ac2vely track men2ons of their name brand on social networking services, and interac2ng with users that men2on you is a great strategy. That doesn’t mean you should act on every single men2on, though: replying to any and every men2on of your brand can come oﬀ as obsessive and creepy.
Automatic Social Sharing#6 Does your content translate across mul2ple mediums? Automa2c share systems that distribute your new content across all of your social networking proﬁles can oYen botch the sharing ac2on by including too much unnecessary text or parsing content in a way that doesn’t seem natural. Customers pick up on this as a sign of laziness, and will respond to it accordingly.
Unlock Twitter#7 Another pet peeve of mine: locked TwiEer accounts. TwiEer is about social sharing and interac2on. If you aren’t willing to unlock your TwiEer proﬁle and make your content public, there’s no reason to use the service—unless you’re trying to look like a weird social media stalker business on purpose.
Understand the Service#8 Poten2al customers can tell if you don’t understand a social media service or you aren’t familiar with how the site “works.” If you join TwiEer to promote yourself and never share anything or interact with others, people will avoid you on principal. Learn how to be a social media user before you start promo2ng.
Don’t Be a Ghost#9 Social media proﬁles provide space to share informa2on about you and your business with other people. Again, this is another branding opportunity— ﬁll these out! A blank About Me sec2on makes you look untrustworthy and unworthy of new business.
Facebook Disengagement#10 Do you interact with your Facebook fans? They’re interac2ng with you, and if you aren’t willing to return the favor, you’re chasing poten2al customers away.
Being Annoying#11 There is actually a content strategy called “annoyance marke2ng,” and it can work some2mes—if you’re careful. Social media is not the best place to make this strategy work: consider that with each post you make, you’re interrup2ng your customers’ personal space with marke2ng eﬀorts. Customers are generally not recep2ve to that, so make sure you provide some value with each post, instead of chasing them away with annoying disrup2ons.
No Show, All Tell#12 Images and visual content go a long way online. WriEen content for social media without a visual component is basically throwing away a good exposure opportunity. Even if you have to spend extra 2me ﬁnding some sort of relevant image, the poten2al reach you earn by calling out your content with a visual cue is worth the eﬀort.
Keywords Galore#13 Consumers spend maybe two seconds deciding if a promo2onal post is worth reading. Stuﬃng your social content with keywords like you would write longer-‐ form content is a great way to make your posts look like a ﬁshy sales pitch to poten2al customers.
Open Your Privacy Settings#14 Don’t send customers to your social proﬁles if they can’t see any of your informa2on. If your Facebook proﬁle is completely locked down, people will leave without ever looking further into contac2ng you.
Writing Over Your Customer’s Heads#15 I’ve wriEen about this extensively before: there’s nothing I hate more as a consumer than content that isn’t accessible. There’s no reason to write over customers’ heads unless you’re qualifying your customers by scaring away anyone that doesn’t understand what you’re wri2ng about. Writer’s oYen don’t realize they’re doing this un2l somebody else points it out, so be careful.
Vague Headlines#16 Just like your menu should express clear, immediately recognizable intent, your 2tle lines should be clear as well. Is your product the best in the market? Then say so, don’t hint at it. Vague headlines are a major point of frustra2on for poten2al customers because they can be misleading.
6 Making Assumptions#17 Don’t write content based on assump2ons about your target market. Customers start to scratch their heads when they read content that is obviously directed at them, but doesn’t actually apply to them.
e Rhetorical Question#18 Marketers like to use “do you need this?” taglines and have worn them out for years. It’s supposed to make the customer tell themselves “oh, I guess I do!” We’re smarter than this now. Once in a while these are okay, but don’t hinge your en2re conversion on a 2red marke2ng gag.
Print and Online Are Diﬀerent#19 Businesses will oYen repurpose their printed marke2ng materials for online use by simply throwing the image or raw content online, without changing it or op2mizing it for the web. This is a big no-‐no: large images (like print ads) are diﬃcult to navigate online, and consumers are very frustrated when there aren’t interac2ve elements where they should be an2cipated. Repurposing print content for the web is ﬁne, but be smart about it.
QR Codes Can Backfire#20 Marketers oYen throw QR codes into their promo2onal material because it’s cheap and easy. QR codes have a bad reputa2on for requiring lots of eﬀort to produce minimal value. Don’t use a QR code without making the value of a scan immediately apparent and worthwhile.
Mystery Links#21 Hyperlinks are a major distrac2on. If you ﬁll your page design and content up with them, it’s tough to focus on the actual content. Make every link count, don’t load up content with links to every liEle relevant thing you can think of.
Over Anchoring#22 I was reading an ar2cle today about a service that checked if your password had been stolen aYer a recent hack, and I counted 14 anchor text links in the content of the ar2cle. The actual service was one of the last links on the page. The rest were links poin2ng directly to other ar2cles wriEen by the same news site. Ugh! If your link content is important, make sure customers can ﬁnd it easily.
Link-Bating is Old News#23 Pos2ng anchor text or a link promising something incredible or valuable, then having it link directly to one of your conversion pages is decep2ve. Customers don’t appreciate this, and although it used to be a popular content strategy, now it just makes customers lose trust in your brand.
Appreciate Customer Needs#25 Your web content shouldn’t be designed solely to sell your products or services. You’ll earn more conversions from content that empathizes with customers’ problems and needs. Emphasize that you are providing a valuable service instead of just cour2ng a sale.
Overloading Your Site Navigation#26 Small businesses oYen design their websites so that everything they possibly oﬀer is crammed into an overly busy homepage menu. Don’t throw your en2re business at customers when they ﬁrst arrive. Use your head and guide users through your services with call to ac2on cues and deliberately designed paths through your content.
Vague Navigation#26 Another mistake small businesses oYen make is pulng 2tles on their naviga2on page that aren’t speciﬁc. Making a menu item that simply reads “Lovelies” instead of a buEon that says “My Products” is a great way to lose poten2al sales. Your naviga2on needs to make it absolutely clear what customers can click on and what they can expect on the other side.
Aiming Big#27 Many small businesses make the mistake of trying to align themselves with massive, mul2million-‐dollar corpora2ons right from the start. Most of your poten2al customers aren’t members of Fortune 500 companies, especially in the B2B market. If your services rival large corpora2ons’ abili2es, that’s a great sales point. Make sure that your bold claims aren’t making your services seem inaccessible to everyone else, though.
Hiding Your Contact Info#28 If you aren’t providing an anchor link to your info every single 2me you say “Contact Us,” you’d beEer make your contact page absolutely visible somewhere nearby. Users that want to contact you will get confused and leave if they can’t ﬁnd your contact informa2on, and it is typically an aYerthought in site design.
One Size Doesn’t Fit All#29 If you have mul2ple customer targets you’re trying to market to, you should oﬀer diﬀerent pages that oﬀer content speciﬁcally tailored to them. “Universal” content marke2ng doesn’t exist, and is usually just a way to make “vague content” sound beEer.
Tighten Your Focus#30 It’s okay to cater to mul2ple target markets, but you can’t provide everything for everyone. Content and naviga2on design that appeals to the broadest demographic truly targets no one, and your conversions will reﬂect your confusing targe2ng tac2cs.
Be Considerate in Your Followup#31 Not all customers will convert as soon as they land on your page. Having an automa2c follow-‐up built in to your page, like a newsleEer opt-‐in or a “Get More Informa2on” link, is a great tool, but only if you don’t slam your conversions with too much follow-‐up, too fast.
Provide Adequate Information#32 It’s all too common for products to be listed on business websites with absolutely zero descrip2ve content provided. Give customers more than a name and a price, or they’ll start to wonder why exactly they should buy it.
Don’t Oﬀer False Value#33 I recently saw an awful discount for a digital entertainment product online: pre-‐purchase four unreleased pieces of soYware and get them the day they come out. The “premium” price was $50, and each piece of soYware was $15 each. Great, so I’m saving $10 on one piece of soYware, and that’s only if I even want to purchase all four, which I don’t. If you’re going to oﬀer a deal, oﬀer a good one.
Nobody Likes to Jump rough Hoops#34 Scan this QR code and check in on Foursquare and leave a review on Yelp and print this Groupon oﬀer and THEN you can have your 15% oﬀ? No thank you. You can provide condi2onal discounts, but don’t lock customers out by making it unnecessarily diﬃcult.
Tiered Rewards Can Discourage Customers#35 If you have a 2ered customer rewards system, don’t set the bar for joining a higher level too high, and make sure the increased value is worth the price of reaching that point. If your 2ered reward system doesn’t provide value that is immediately apparent, it’s probably underwhelming or confusing.
Oﬀers Must Be Timely#36 I can’t even count how many 2mes I’ve received email oﬀers that expire by the 2me I see them. Don’t send out email oﬀers that expire 24 hours aYer the email goes out—give your customers some lead 2me to act on your deals.
Oﬀer Repeat Business Incentives#37 There are a few online shops I am happy to be a repeat customer on. I just wish that every now and then, I could get a 10% or 15% discount for my next visit aYer I check out. Don’t let customers think that you don’t want their business again in the future.
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