3 common Marketing practices that are actually ruining your strategy

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Marketing preaches that customers are the driving force behind success, and every business should listen attentively to what they have to say. However, as I am getting deeper into the practical application of Marketing in business, I can’t help but wonder: are we actually listening to customers as we think we do?

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For the last few months, I have been evaluating a huge variety of Marketing and Sales tools in order to choose the ones that best fit the needs of my company. During the whole selection process, I had a lot of interactions with other businesses, and naturally I was a potential customer for them, so they were doing their best in terms of Marketing to get me buying their products. And, let me tell you something: it made me realize how incredibly annoying Marketing can be.

Today, I will talk about 3 common Marketing practices that are actually doing more harm than good in the long run.

  1. Pop-up windows

When a potential customer has started reading your blog post, the last thing he wants is to get an annoying pop-up in the middle of the screen, asking for a newsletter sign up, especially when the pop-up window says: “If you have enjoyed reading this article, sign up to our weekly newsletter!”

I just started reading it a few seconds ago, isn’t it a bit too early for commitment? At least let me finish it!

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My advice: Pop-up windows aren’t necessarily a bad thing. If a person has landed on your webpage, it is already a good sign: it probably means he has found what he was searching for. At this stage of the buying decision process, you are one step ahead of the competition, so avoid being too aggressive, especially when it’s not necessary.

Don’t: never schedule the window to pop-up during the first seconds of the user’s activity on your website. Even if you get users to sign up for your newsletter, you only have one chance to make a good first impression.

Do: if you still want to place a pop-up window on your blog or landing page, schedule it for at least 60 seconds of activity. Companies usually do it in the first 15-20 seconds because they are scared they will miss their opportunity; but in reality, a user who leaves your website after 20 seconds will probably not be a quality lead anyway. You want to focus on quality instead of quantity, and it’s better to target a potential customer who is already interested in what you have to say, instead of generating leads by aggressive actions.

    2. Using Analytics the wrong way

Analytics tools are an outstanding resource of information for improving your business performance and tracking down website traffic. However, even they can be a dangerous weapon if used the wrong way.

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Tools such as Google Analytics are a great way to understand the behavior of your customers. They help you track down active users and pages, traffic sources, where users are coming from, whether they are converting, and a lot more (you can check my article for the full overview of Google Analytics). However, you have to be careful not to creep out your potential customers by showing that you know too much about them.

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A few weeks ago, I was evaluating a business intelligence tool for my company, and I filled out a form requesting pricing information. I got a call the same day, and  I didn’t get the information I asked for – they said it will be tailored to my company’s needs, so first we need to talk about them.

For me, it was really important to get just an approximate estimation of the monthly pricing; which would help me make a decision on whether to choose a cheaper or a more expensive plan. Since I didn’t get what I requested, and I ended up evaluating the tool to be too complex at this stage of our growth, and I moved on to another one.

A few days later, when trying to access another page, I landed on their website by accident, and I left immediately. To my surprise, a couple of hours later they called me, telling me that “they know that I have been browsing their website today, so they wanted to know if I needed any information”. Needless to say, I was speechless. It felt like I was dealing with an over-controlling boyfriend who tracks me down via GPS and knows my exact location at any time (well, the company’s call was not that dramatic, but still a bit creepy).

My advice: it is useful to have this kind of information for analyzing your customers’ behavior, but don’t go further than that. At this stage of the buying decision process, users are slowly approaching you, taking the time to evaluate your products or services on their own before requesting help. Imagine you enter a shop without the intention to buy anything specific, just to spend some time exploring, and someone comes to you insisting on helping you choose a product. The chances are, you will feel annoyed by having your space invaded.

Don’t: try to predict your customer’s next steps. He will take time exploring, maybe he will visit your website various times per month without taking any action, and he will let you know when he has taken a decision or needs help. If he decides to not take advantage of your services, it is probably going to be for reasons that have nothing to do with your assistance, and you wouldn’t have changed his mind anyway.

Do: as hard as it may be, sometimes the best thing you can do is not do anything at all. At this step of the process, take the time to observe, analyze and study your users’ characteristics and behavior before taking any action. Don’t try to predict what your customers’ next steps will be, and don’t try to guess his thoughts on requesting assistance. If he wants more information, he won’t wait for you get it.

    3. Excessive e-mail reminders for free trial expiration, abandoning a shopping cart, or website inactivity

With amazing E-mail Marketing Automation tools like MailChimp, it is extremely tempting to schedule a wild variety of e-mail templates for any kind of situation. However, consider the fact that the average person receives a lot of e-mails on a daily basis, and his saturation with too much information is reaching sensitively high levels.

Disclaimer: I am not claiming that E-mail Marketing Automation doesn’t work. I think it’s a great way for optimizing your e-mail strategy and interacting with your subscribers. However, try to not get too aggressive while doing it – I will explain that in a minute.

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My advice: reminding your subscribers that your free trial is expiring is a must for every E-mail Marketing strategy, especially when you will start charging them automatically after the trial. However, if there are no credit or debit cards involved in the process, try to avoid sending too many reminders, or you might come off as desperate and aggressive. Your subscribers have probably made up their mind about your service, and there is no need to remind them every couple of days as one company did with me. The same goes about weekly reminders regarding shopping cart abandonment or website inactivity.

Don’t: send too many reminder e-mails in a short period of time. If you are planning to send more than one or two reminders with a call-to-action, try to disperse them in regular intervals of time – for example, a reminder every couple of weeks.

Do: analyze your customers’ e-mail metrics (such as click-through rate, bounce rate and conversion rate) to observe their behavior and improve your automation.

These were only 3 of the many popular Marketing practices companies use to generate leads and increase their sales performance without actually considering the customer’s perspective. Unfortunately, there are a lot more, and I will cover in some of my next articles.

By then, when you are designing your Marketing efforts, don’t forget to observe them from an unbiased point of view, and consider what would be the actual impact on your customers. Marketing doesn’t have to be aggressive to be successful!

I hope you enjoyed this article, stay tuned for more!

Ani Miteva

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