How to Waste Money at Digital Marketing
Just like a drunken bachelor party trip to Las Vegas, people lose a ton of money with their digital marketing.
Some people take the DIY approach and take on marketing tasks that look simple but are far more complex than they realize. Others put their trust in so-called marketing gurus and get burned that way.
The truth is that there are a variety of ways to lite your money on fire and watch it burn.
Below, is a short list of ways we’ve seen it happen in the nearly 20 years of experience we have in the digital marketing industry. In fact, roughly 70%-75% of the people we talk to or walk through the doors of our shop tell us nightmare stories of smoldering marketing budgets with precious little results.
Here’s what we see most often:
A Really Bad Website
Look, it’s no secret that a pretty website is completely subjective. When we say a “bad” website, people often think we’re just talking about ugly.
That’s fair, but it’s far more than that.
Yes, we see a lot of really ugly websites- there are those that make us gasp internally (We’re not monsters!). Some websites are so old that they belong in a museum somewhere. Some were never that attractive to begin with and have aged badly.
Some sites look ok, but are missing critical elements necessary to get the visitors to do what the business owner actually wants. For instance, you’d be amazed at the number of times we review a website with someone and we ask, “So, what do you want your website visitors to do when they arrive at your site?”
They’ll frequently say, “Call me!”
We’ll follow up with, “Then, wouldn’t it be really cool to have the phone number somewhere clear right there on the home page?”
You can see them slap their foreheads- either mentally or right there in front of us.
Not having clear and obvious “calls to action” (CTAs) is something we see a lot.
Sure, there are plenty of websites out there that have a confusing message with their content- poorly written, no clear message or unique selling proposition, etc. Others have odd or inconsistent messages like a picture of a lake and forest on a healthcare website. But, website can be bad in other ways. Some of the other ways include:
Having poor navigation: if the visitor can’t figure out where to go to get what they need, they’ll simply move on
Small font: If your target market includes people 40 or above, we call this the bifocal age. They’ll bounce away to the competition if they have to squint to read your content
Technical Issues: If your site takes too long to load, most of your visitors have the attention span of a goldfish and will move on to something that they can actually see.
No trust: Recent data suggests that you have 6 seconds or less to tell me what you can do for me and that I can trust you. So many websites fail this test.
We could go on and on for 10 more blog posts on this topic alone, but here’s the main point: having a bad website is like operating your business in the creepiest, haunted house you’ve ever seen. Your website is the digital front door of your business, so you can’t afford to scare, confuse, irritate, or bore your website visitors and expect them to do business with you.
One more important thing to take note if you are paying someone to do search engine optimization (SEO), Google Adwords campaign or any social media marketing and you’re using these very valuable tools to drive business to a bad website, guess where all your money is going? Yep, up in flames.
We promise you that a bad website is costing your business serious cash.
DIY Digital Marketing
Without sounding like pure, unadulterated self-promotion, we can count on one hand the number of people we’ve met in nearly two decades who were really good at doing everything necessary to market their own business. We’re sure there are plenty of people out there who are good at it. We just haven’t met all that many.
We get it. You want to save money. You don’t have a big budget, so you try things like Google Adwords yourself. Google makes it super lucrative.
Like a crack dealer, they’ll give you $500 just to try your first hit. What they don’t tell you is that in many industries, $500 worth of Adwords burns up like cheap tissue in a cremation furnace. Poof and it’s gone with no leads to show for it followed by the nagging question of, “How about spending some more?”
There are dozens of ways we see people use their marketing budget as kindling with Google Adwords. While it can be very profitable and certainly, the appeal of seeing your business on the first page of Google is quite a draw to the flame, but Adwords campaigns (Pay Per Click campaigns) can drown you with data and confuse you with metrics that don’t matter.
Mixed metaphors aside, we always suggest that you begin with a serious evaluation of the marketing vehicles available to determine which ones can bring your business the best ROI. Not every business needs to ever experiment with Adwords or even SEO.
The other thing we would tell you is that if you insist on doing it yourself, you’d be wise to either study up ahead of time or pay someone for some consulting time to get you started in the right direction.
Since you’re probably busy actually “doing” the work of your business, your best bet is to hire professionals to market your business. Remember, the goal of marketing is that it should pay for itself. If it doesn’t, then it either isn’t being done correctly or it was never the right aspect of marketing to begin with.
And, this leads us to the last way business owners lose money with their digital marketing.
Investing In The Wrong Marketing Vehicle
Over the years, we’ve had business owners meet with us and tell us they’ve “tried everything” to market their business. They’ll go through the list, and we’ll listen before asking, “How much is your average client worth?”
The answer gives us what we need to start a conversation about which digital marketing component makes the most sense.
For example, we’ve had dozens of T-shirt sellers come to us and say, “I want to be on the first page of Google!” We’ll walk them through the math of how much it costs to buy and print the T-shirt and how much profit they actually make. Then, we’ll walk them through the math of marketing to help them see how upside-down that equation actually is. Even if they make $10 per shirt, the average SEO company charges $1000/month across the country, so you can see how many shirts they have to sell just to break even.
We never suggest that anyone invests in any form of marketing that doesn’t have a solid chance of making money with just a few sales.
For instance, we have an HVAC company that we’re working with that does both residential and commercial HVAC service, repair and installation. One residential installation would pay their marketing bill for a few months. One commercial installation would pay it for a lot longer than that. Clearly, this is part of why the industry is so competitive.
Should this heating and air company invest in social media marketing? You can certainly make an argument for Facebook ads and maybe some on Instagram, but should they invest their time and money on Pinterest? Not at all.
The point here is that spending money and/or time getting your business in front of the wrong audience is another way we end up with the smell of burning money in our nostrils. It’s how business owners become disillusioned with not only various marketing elements but with marketing in general.
Our Simple Approach
First off, we don’t think we’re all that different. In fact, credible, honest, digital marketing firms all basically do the same things- it’s their approach that makes all the difference.
While one digital marketing firm will sell everything they can to anyone with a wallet, we look at everything from the perspective of how can we help you make more money. We look at only taking on projects that we’re confident that we can win. Our business model is simple. If we make you more money, you’re happy and you keep paying us which in turn makes us happier. It’s the very definition of “win-win”.
That’s why we spend exactly zero time trying to sell you and all the time we have with you trying to help you figure out what makes the most sense to your business and your industry. At the end of the day, it’s about your ROI. It’s the only metric that matters.
If you’re tired of losing money with your digital marketing, call the friendly staff at Make It Loud at 678.325.4007. Let us help you move things in the right direction.
Cliff Tillery, MBA is the Chief Operating Officer and SEO Director at Make It Loud which is a digital marketing firm located outside of Atlanta Georgia. More than 14 years ago, he started search engine optimization at this award-winning agency and has taught digital marketing skills to business owners at the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce, the Gwinnett Entrepreneur Center, and other groups.