17 Pieces of Terrible, Awful, No Good, Very Bad Marketing Advice

    by Ginny Soskey

    Date

    December 9, 2013 at 11:00 AM

    bad_marketing_advice_copyAll of us are trying to get better at our jobs. Whether you're in a brand new gig and trying to hit the ground running or you're a longtime veteran looking to stay at the tippy-top of your marketing game, we're all working to keep up with the latest and greatest trends in marketing. The problem is there's a lot of misleading advice out there. Advice that's well-meaning, but just ... off. But, it's one of the "you-don't-know-until-you-know" conundrums.

    So, how the heck are you supposed to distill the good stuff from the deluge of crap

    To give you a sense of some of the ill-advised guidance shared with marketing pros over the years, we compiled some of the worst advice we've heard and explained why it's bad. Read on -- have you heard any of these "words of wisdom" before? 

    1) Why aren't you on [insert random social media network here]? You need to be on there!

    Don't get me wrong. You should be on some social media platform to make your marketing succeed ... but you don't need to be on every single one. Figure out where your current and future customers are going to be, and stake your social media claim.

    Don't waste your time chasing after shiny social media objects if it's not going to be helpful for your business' bottom line

    2) You only need to be on social media if your customers are on social media. 

    Lots of people object to social media because they say their current customers aren't using it ... which seems like kind of a ridiculous claim when you realize how many people use social media. Chances are, your customers are -- and if they're definitely not, your future customers will be if you're going to be rocking the inbound marketing machine.

    Remember, you don't have to be on every social network, but you should be on ones that can help grow your business. 

    3) Want more exposure on Twitter? Add as many hashtags as you can fit. 

    Okay, so let's say you're on social media already. Awesome! Now, there's some advice floating around there that the best way to get more retweets, favorites, and follows is through hashtagging like caaaaaah-razy. You know those tweets that look like this:

    Yeah ... those. Those tweets are not engaging -- and actually come off as spammy. Data agrees: A report by Salesforce found that tweets with one or two hashtags receive 21% higher engagement than those with three or more hashtags. So use hashtags, but don't overdo it. 

    4) You don't need to be on Pinterest unless you're a B2C brand that sells clothing or food. 

    False! There's lots that B2B brands can do on Pinterest that actually will benefit them. For instance, you can share company photos, favorite infographics, user generated pins, and even lead-generation content.

    Want to figure out how to make Pinterest work for your B2B company? Read our how-to guide for generating leads with Pinterest.

    5) The best way to quickly increase email performance is to buy lists. 

    Yep, buying email lists will get you a lot of email addresses to blast, but I'd bet a pretty hefty amount of money that the lists you're buying won't care at all what you're sending them.

    Sure, they're "IT professionals" and you sell "IT software," but that's not enough to make them interested in what you're selling if the first time they hear of you is through an email pitch. They're not going to get the email and say, "Thank heavens this company emailed me! Now I have a solution to all of my IT software needs." Instead, get your email lists organically -- they’ll take a leeeetle bit longer to generate, but your list will be much more engaged.

    6) Marketing automation will solve all of your email problems. 

    Marketing automation is a great tool to help you solve email nurturing problems -- not all email problems. And even then, marketing automation can't solve every email nurturing problem.

    Take this for example: If you're not having any new leads come into your marketing automation workflow, you're going to have a problem nurturing the workflow. A certain percentage of people will go on to become more interested in your company, and a certain percentage are just going to stay stuck -- and then your funnel will get stuck. Without any fresh contacts coming into your database, your email nurturing will look inefficient -- but the real problem is incoming volume of leads.

    So if you're finding leads aren't converting into customers, take a look at the whole funnel to see if there's a larger issue.

    7) The more personalization, the better!

    There can be too much of a good thing when it comes to personalization. Including a few personalized details in an email can work wonders -- specifically, doing so can make your subscribers trust you because they feel like you know them. But if you personalize too much, you come off like the creepiest company ever.

    So even if you have detailed contact records for a lead or customer, don't creep them out too much by including every last bit of information in your marketing materials. 

    8) You don't actually need to do SEO now that keywords are encrypted. 

    Aye, this piece of advice is a doozy. SEO isn't dead because keywords are encrypted -- the SEO keyword scams that some people like to run are dead. (And have been for some time.) Now, marketers and those concerned about SEO should focus on topics that people are searching for, not those exact match keywords. Search has gotten smarter -- more catered to how people actually search online -- so our content needs to follow suit. 

    9) If you don't use exact keywords at least X times in the body of your page, you won't rank on search. 

    Annnnnnd to hit this point home with another terrible piece of marketing advice, stop worrying about keyword density and how many times keywords appear in the copy of an article you're writing. Obviously, you want to use tools like Google Trends to find topics that are highly searched, but you're not going to need to satisfy crazy keyword conditions to rank. There's lots more that goes into SEO than just keywords. 

    10) If you write it, they will come. 

    This is one of my biggest pet peeves: being told that just writing something and publishing it on the internet will make gobs and gobs of people come to it. And obviously, they'll love it. And then obviously, they'll share it. All you need to do is hit "publish!"

    In short, this is just plain wrong, wrong, wrong! There's tons of crap on the internet, and you have to fight with that crap to get noticed through content promotion.

    11) Only certain people should be blogging in your company. 

    Everyone at your company can create content. While not all may be eloquent writers, I bet you money that there's someone with an eye for design or someone with mad Excel skills or just someone who knows what kind of language your prospects, leads, and customers use when talking. Enlist these folks to help with content creation and you'll be able to churn out much more content in much less time. 

    12) You don't need a mobile-ready site. 

    Don't fall for this advice for a second. Just remember the last time you were on your phone and landed on a site that wasn't mobile-friendly. I dunno about you, but I get enraged (so much so I wrote about it last time it happened to me). I just want to give a site some page views, some clicks, or even my money -- is that too much to ask?

    Without a responsive site, your leads and customers may be feeling the same way. So do them a favor and let them give you their business by having a site that's ready to be viewed on mobile.

    13) Automate all of your social media updates! 

    We're all for social media automation ... until you become robotic about it. If the only updates that appear on your Twitter account are just broadcast posts about your content, you're doing it wrong. There are so many other ways you can engage with your Twitter following.

    You should also be wary of automated tweets during times of crisis -- be aware of the world around you, and hit pause on your automatic updates to avoid a social media crisis for your brand.

    14) If you're a B2B company, you should only send emails on Tuesday at 3 p.m.

    (Or whatever random time people recommend.) I don't know what you're doing on the average day at 3 p.m., but I usually have hit my afternoon stride and am trying to hustle to get a project done before the day ends. The lesson here is to question any data that tells you the *absolute best time hands down no question about it* to send email is at a certain time ... because chances are, your list will react differently.

    If you're a B2B company, try sending emails on the weekend -- I guarantee people are still going to be checking their phone and may just open your email because they don't have a thousand other things going on. Test to see what works best for your audience; don't just take those sending time suggestions at face value. 

    15) X is the best color button for your call-to-action. 

    In the same vein of ignoring data that may not apply to your situation is the whole color-of-your-CTA-button debate. Lots of people are searching for a universal CTA color that'll suddenly solve their conversion problems. Sorry folks -- it's not that simple.

    CTA conversion rates will increase for lots of reasons that may not work for others. Its success depends on a number of things: placement on the page, spacing compared to other elements, color, size, button copy, among other things. So test to see if color makes a difference for your website and your audience instead of taking someone else's A/B test at face value. 

    16) Shorter forms are always better. 

    There's a trade-off on short forms vs. long forms. Short forms make it easier for people to convert to leads -- they have less form field to fill out, so it's not as stressful for the person filling them out. With shorter forms, however, you'll tend to get lower quality leads even if you have more of them.

    Long forms, meanwhile, are the opposite -- because they have more fields, less people fill them out, but those people are most likely more qualified for your sales process.

    So, try to tailor the length of the form to the offer you're trying to get them to download -- a more intensive offer that's closely aligned with the products you sell probably could use a longer form. 

    17) Don't ask for likes, retweets, or clicks. You look desperate. 

    Want likes, retweets, and clicks? Ask for them! It's not desperate -- people may not realize what you would like for them to do once they get an email, see a tweet, or land on a blog post. So remind them to do it! Just like any other call-to-action, it helps to have some sort of directive. Your audience won't mind and your bottom line will thank you for it

    What other horrible marketing advice have you gotten? Share your stories with us in the comments. 

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    Written by Ginny Soskey

    Ginny is the Section Editor for HubSpot's Marketing Blog, which means she spends most of her days editing and writing, and helping others do the same. Say hey to her on Twitter @gsosk.

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