As digital marketing & SEO (search engine optimisation) analysts we spend a large amount of our time figuring out why a company’s digital marketing strategy or SEO budget failed to deliver the results that they had hoped for.  When everything heads south, we get called in to dissect and often fix the problem.

As digital marketing & SEO (search engine optimisation) analysts we spend a large amount of our time figuring out why a company’s digital marketing strategy or SEO budget failed to deliver the results that they had hoped for. When everything hThere are certainly a lot more than just 10 common errors that we frequently encounter, however we would like to share with you the top 10 that we come across most often that have resulted in some devastating effects on a company’s overall digital performance.

These are listed below:

1. Migrating or upgrading a website without proper planning
2. Managing separate mobile and desktop websites
3. Not doing thorough due diligence on SEO Agencies
4. Reactive social media marketing
5. Neglecting the power of LinkedIn networking
6. Allowing unskilled practitioners to manage your digital strategy
7. Dropping SEO budgets in lieu of paid search
8. Ignoring the competitive landscape
9. Failing to track and measure absolutely everything
10. Basing your digital spend on pure assumptions

As you read this list, you’re possibly thinking that these really don’t sound like such ‘biggies’. Or maybe you’re reading the list aware that you are guilty of some (or all) of these acts in one-way or another. While some of these points may seem mediocre, let me share with you how these mistakes have had detrimental effects on some of the company’s that we’ve helped in the past year.

1. Migrating or upgrading a website without proper planning

This one is at the top of our list because it is the single biggest issue that we encounter on a daily basis at Blue Magnet, and it is also one of the areas that keep our analysts most occupied.

Here are some of the most common scenarios:

The Managing or Marketing director decides that he or she no longer likes the website’s look and wants a brand new look and feel. Or, bandwidth has become far too expensive in South Africa and your Financial Manager has realised that hosting in another country will save the company quite a bit of money. Or, the tech guy heard that you need to upgrade your website to be on a responsive (mobile friendly) platform immediately to remain relevant to Google.

All of the above are valid reasons for a website to migrate to a new platform or hosting environment; or to justify a website revamp or upgrade. However without proper migration planning, these websites (that may have once performed very well on Google) may suddenly vanished altogether from the Google radar or start to lose significant website traffic.
As a result, everyone begins to panic and blame is shifted to the marketing manager, the web developer, the designer or the development agency, who have not even considered that a migration (without proper planning) has now resulted in all previous digital marketing investments being flushed down the proverbial toilet.

2. Managing separate mobile and desktop websites

A couple of years ago, when mobile first started to appear on our radars, everyone jumped at the prospect of creating a separate mobile website from their desktop site in order to provide mobile users with a unique engagement environment. Back then Google also seemed to rank separate .mobi domains better in the mobile search results than desktop sites.

Mobile and Desktop Sites

 

Over the years Google has evolved, and is now ranking responsive websites higher than desktop or .mobi sites in the search results when a user searches from a mobile device. While Google has evolved, unfortunately many companies have not adjusted to meet this trend.

Not only is it more search friendly to have one single responsive website, but it also provides many other benefits in that the company now has only one website to update and maintain as opposed to two different sites. It also means that your digital marketing spend is not diluted between two separate domains and that all of your marketing efforts can rather be concentrated on a single domain – thus building up the credibility and authority of this single domain even further. However, companies wishing to migrate from a separate .mobi domain to a single responsive domain should take note of point 1 above.

3. Not doing thorough due diligence on SEO Agencies

We are just going to come right out and say it…. South Africa is filled with a huge amount of riffraff as far as SEO agencies are concerned. While there are a handful of real gems out there who practice superior white hat SEO tactics. Agencies who get exceptional results because of it, there are also those who practice grey or black-hat (spammy) SEO and continue to ‘pull the wool’ over their customer’s eyes. They ‘guarantee top rankings’ on an almost non-existent budget, and then carry out a number of dodgy SEO activities that eventually result in the company being burned and penalised by Google.

Typically, this is often the first encounter we at Blue Magnet have with a company. They have used a so-called ‘top SEO agency’ (who usually haven’t disclosed what they do with their client’s money) and after months, sometimes years, of throwing good money after bad they knock on our door, desparate for help. By now they have been so traumatised by SEO, they are reluctant to invest any more into genuine organic search, but will try ‘whatever it takes’ to be rescued and reinstated on Google.

At Blue Magnet, we continue to audit a variety of SEO agency’s work on a regular basis and we can comfortably recommend a number of top, authentic SEO specialists to work with. It’s no longer viable for companies to just pick an SEO agency out of a hat or on price, and it is imperative to stay away from agencies that guarantee the number one spot on Google – at any cost.

The best advice that we can give any company is to do proper due diligence on the SEO agency before allowing them to touch anything on the website.

4. Reactive Social Media Marketing

We come across many companies that practice what I like call ‘Reactive Social Media Marketing’. Only 2 out of 10 marketing managers that attend our courses can safely say that they a) know what their objectives are with every social media platform that they use, b) that they have a documented social media content plan, and c) that they are effectively measuring their social media performance.

So many companies have a presence on almost every social media platform available, however they don’t have a clue what they are going to do on it. So they randomly post inconstant updates as and when they feel moved to do so. Usually this results in a page with absolutely no buzz. It’s like walking past Sandton Square at lunchtime on a Friday afternoon and every restaurant, except one, has tons of people in it with loads of activity. This particular restaurant has nobody in it, so patrons walk right past thinking ‘what is wrong with that restaurant’. A social media page without proper engagement and a solid content strategy will end up looking like this dodgy restaurant and will send customers away believing that there is something very wrong with that brand.

Companies should hand-pick the social media platforms that they engage on very carefully, and focus on mastering one before embarking on the next. Have a proper content plan with detailed activities planned out months in advance, and start to create awesome content to share on your platform. Then make sure that you can effectively measure the performance and engagement with your customers on these platforms.

5. Neglecting the power of LinkedIn networking

This might seem like an usual one to add into the mix, however we believe that this little act of wisdom can yield phenomenal business results for most brands, and quickly. Particularly if you are in the business-to-business environment.

LinkedIn has for many years been one of Blue Magnet’s most effective sources of targeted and qualified leads. Not only in the form of advertising, but also to organic enquiries. Whether you are looking to attract top skills to your company, or wanting to network with like-minded people, potential influencers or industry leaders, you should be actively networking on LinkedIn on a regular basis.

All employees representing the brand (such as sales executives, directors and key stakeholders) should have a kick-ass LinkedIn profile that is well networked and highly recommended. Build up individual brand profiles further by identifying a networking group that affords them the opportunity to become the master (top contributor) on that platform.
We suggest that you join as many groups as you like, however participate frequently in a few and set out to become the master of one!

6. Allowing unskilled practitioners to manage your digital strategy

Effective digital marketing requires skill! It is not something to be dumped onto someone who has no experience, because they seem to have too little to do. This is not a job for the receptionist, the PA or the sales guy because everyone else is simply too busy. Digital marketing is extremely cost-effective and highly measurable, but this doesn’t mean that companies should skimp on it.

We come across many delegates at the academy who are petrified of digital marketing, but their managers have appointed them to take ownership of the profile. While we manage to demystify digital marketing for them and send them back feeling more positive and focused on the task at hand – the proof is ultimately in the pudding.

College students in a computer lab

Digital marketing evolves so rapidly that it requires ongoing education. The rules of engagement changes, the platforms keep changing their rules, and Google throws us at least two new curve-balls in the form of minor algorithm updates a day. In a world that is so fast-paced, it is imperative that companies continue to invest in empowering their digital marketing practitioners with ongoing skills and education to deliver ongoing results. Your brand needs the attention of highly skilled individuals working on it.

7. Dropping SEO budgets in lieu of paid search

We often have companies question whether they should rather stop investing in achieving better organic search results, and rather invest more into paid search. These questions usually come from companies who have previously invested large sums of money into subpar SEO and have not yet seen the results that they had expected or that were promised to them.

There is nothing wrong with investing in paid search (in fact we have a very effective and lucrative paid search division at Blue Magnet that driving relevant leads to our clients), however to switch budgets entirely into paid traffic is completely counterproductive.

Before investing in any form of paid search, your website’s landing pages should be well optimised to enhance both the search engine’s and user’s performance when landing on your website. SEO should always come first. A well optimised landing page will not only improve the landing page’s relevance and quality score, it will also result in higher conversions.
Other reasons to continue investing in ongoing SEO is to ensure that you continue to remain relevant on Google so that your competitors don’t have the opportunity to take that away from you, it also means that when you do run out of budget, you can continue to remain competitive and attract leads to your business from organic search traffic.

8. Ignoring the competitive landscape

Competitive benchmarking should be one of the very first steps that a company takes before investing in digital marketing. This includes a thorough audit of the company’s presence on search engines, social media and other digital marketing platforms; benchmarked against its leading competitors.

Many companies simply follow what their competitors are doing without actually looking into whether or not those competitors are doing the right things and the types of results they are getting. Learning from your competitor’s mistakes and taking advantage of areas where your competitors are not can place you leaps and bounds ahead in the race.

A digital presence audit will include key insights on organic and paid search, social media, content and brand buzz. This should always form the foundation of any digital marketing strategy. This is an area that Blue Magnet specialises in, and we have seen many companies gain wonderful traction and achieve exceptional results from their digital marketing strategies by taking this essential first step in the process.

9. Failing to track and measure absolutely everything

It might surprise you to know that approximately 7 out of 10 websites that we audit, do not have effective measurement and tracking in place.

They don’t know where their best leads are coming from, they don’t know what is converting, they have no clue as to where (or why) they are losing their visitors in the conversion process, they don’t know what content engages their customers (or sends them running for the hills), and they have absolutely no idea what the cost or value of a lead is for their business.

Pie chart and graphEvery cent spent on digital marketing should be carefully linked to a clear objective, with a key performance metric. Every tactic that is implemented should be aligned to that objective and should have clear and specific metrics in place that can be measured with the most accurate tools available. Without proper analytics in place, you are marketing with your head in the sand.

10. Basing your digital spend on pure assumptions

This ties into the two points mentioned above. Don’t make any assumptions. Do your research. Take stock of your current digital marketing assets, how each is performing, how your competitors are gaining wins and ultimately where your customers are engaging.

Don’t go into 2015 without having first done your homework. Before drafting your digital marketing strategy, conduct a thorough digital presence audit on all of your digital assets. Without this, you are heading down the road of making the same mistakes as so many other digital marketers.

Do you want to touch the stove-plate and burn before realising it’s dangerous, or will you learn from the experiences of others, avoid the disaster, and have a logical plan to drive success into the New Year?
About Blue Magnet:

Blue Magnet digital is a digital audit and consulting practice that conducts Social Media, SEO, Paid Search, Content & Website Audits. We also assist companies in planning website migrations. Our digital academy provides a range of digital marketing skills to empower agencies and companies with the most practical skills to implement and measure effective digital marketing.

Contact info@bluemagnet.co.za for assistance or more information.