Pretty much all marketers are pressured to do more. Get on more social networks, write more blog posts, send more emails, run more reports, generate more sales ...
And sometimes, doing more works. Blogging more, for example, can increase traffic and leads.
But other times, doing less is actually a much better idea.
Adding more and more and more to your plate can stretch you thin and make your marketing activities less effective. And with only so much time in the day, you've got to figure out how to get more results without actually doing more work.
This means you've got to be ruthless about cutting ineffective tactics from your marketing so you can focus on the effective ones. By not doing what's failing, you're making room to do tasks that actually matter to your business -- and drive real results.
So, what should you cut? While there are probably quite a few things you should think about stopping that are personal to your business, below are some common tactics most marketers should stop doing in the next year (and beyond).
1) Over-Fixating on Real-Time Marketing
Ahh, the famous Oreo tweet during the Super Bowl blackout of 2013. You've heard about it over and over and over again as a shining example of real-time marketing.
Power out? No problem. pic.twitter.com/dnQ7pOgC— Oreo Cookie (@Oreo) February 4, 2013
It was relevant, it was quick, it was witty, and the general public loved it. So many marketers thought that real-time marketing was the next big thing.
But during the past two years, brands have been making fools of themselves with their real-time endeavors. Sometimes, they are wildly insensitive. Other times, they're just off. This year, can we please just stop jumping on random hashtags and topics in the hope of striking marketing gold?
That doesn't mean you shouldn't lose sight of timeliness. We're all for newsjacking relevant industry stories or delivering real-time personalized, dynamic experiences for your website visitors. But the difference between those and the Oreo-esque, real-time marketing is that the former is tailored to serving your audience at the right place and the right time -- the latter is simply an attempt to go viral (often for the wrong reasons).
2) Engaging on Social Networks That Aren't Working
Did you know that the average B2B marketer promotes their content on six social platforms?
Yep. Six. That's a lot of platforms to maintain -- especially if you want to optimize your content for each of them. (As you should.) This year, think about whether you really need to spend time on every one of those six platforms.
Your audience probably doesn't hang out on every single social network, so your social strategy should mirror their consumption habits. Do they spend more time on Facebook and some obscure industry forums, but not so much Twitter? This year, think about dropping your Twitter account and investing the time you would have spent on Twitter on Facebook, that obscure industry forum, or a new platform instead.
Make it your goal to take a look at your metrics to see which platform is underperforming -- and then slowly wean yourself off it.
(Pro tip: If your ultimate goal on social is to generate sales, be sure to investigate the entire funnel before cutting a platform. You may find one network doesn't generate a ton of traffic but does convert that traffic into leads really well, for example. In cases like that, you probably wouldn't want to cut the platform -- instead, cut time from another platform that isn't driving many bottom-line results.)
3) Expecting People to Discover Your Content Just Because It's Great
In 2015, you can't expect to people to find your content just because it's awesome. While that tactic may have worked for some people in the past, it's no longer a smart course for marketers. According to the Content Marketing Institute, 70% of B2B and B2C brands have increased the amount of content they create over the past 12 months -- and are planning to spend even more.
With more content comes more competition, but the solution to beating your competitors isn't just to publish more. To get your content noticed, you've got to figure out how to get people to content you've already created.
So take the some of the time you would have spent creating a piece of content actually promoting it. Devote it to building an email list and regularly notifying them of new and updated content. Or, pitch relevant stories to reporters, influencers, and other trade media writers. You could also try boosting your posts via paid channels like Outbrain. (Click here for more ideas.)
Regardless of how you end up promoting your content, the key here is to make time for it in the first place -- and taking a small portion of time out of your creation schedule could help.
4) Relying on Cheesy Stock Photos
Visual content is all the rage now -- and it's understandably freaked out marketers without many design skills. Suddenly, they have to be able to use visual content in every social media post, blog post, email, and landing page they create.
The quick and easy solution? Buy some stock photos, and slap them on your marketing.
... But that solution doesn't actually work. With the advent of Instagram, Canva, and other easy-to-use design and photography solutions, people can quickly tell when something is fake.
And it can have a big effect on conversion rates. According to their six-month analysis of campaigns from over 15 advertisers, social media agency Laundry Service found regular photos received a 2.35% CTR. Instagram-style photos, on the other hand, received CTRs as high as 8%. And sales mirrored that effect -- conversion rates increased 25%.
This isn't to say that all stock photography is bad -- just the obviously fake ones. Cut those from your marketing, or at least make them non-lame-looking. And if you want more help improving your design skills, download this free crash course in design and check out this blog post for a big list of easy tools to use.
5) Not Optimizing Conversion Paths for Mobile
Most people realize that mobile is one of, if not the biggest trend for marketers right now. Many marketers are investing in redesigns to get responsive or mobile-friendly websites.
... But that's where many stop. They assume that because they're aware that people are on mobile and their website looks great on mobile, their job is done. But it's not -- in fact, it's just the beginning.
This year, more marketers need to think about the usability of their website across the entire conversion path -- from the time someone's a visitor alllll the way until they're a customer.
Here's what this means.
- That blog post you wrote? The image file shouldn't be so large that it slows down your load time.
- That CTA at the end of a blog post to download an ebook? It'd better be large enough for real fingers to tap.
- That landing page form people have to fill out to receive that ebook? It should be easy to fill out on mobile.
- That ebook you put behind that landing page form? It's gotta be easy to read -- and you'll also want to send the person a follow-up email with that ebook so they can access it on another device later on.
- That email? It should be easy to read on a device -- no pinching or scrolling required. And after someone clicks on that email to eventually buy something from you, your site better make it easy to get in touch with your Sales department and/or make a direct purchase.
So this year, take a look at your entire conversion paths to figure out which ones need to be updated, and which ones you're better off ignoring (or even removing).
6) Reporting on Data That Doesn't Matter
When was the last time your CEO asked you about how many Favorites your tweets get?
While seeing those gold stars certainly makes us feel good (hey, we created something people like!), the higher-ups don't care about those fluffy metrics. And if you want to grow your team and earn more budget and resources, you're going to need to work toward and report on the metrics that do matter to them.
To do this, first figure out which metrics are the ones that matter. Chances are, they revolve around revenue generation and sales -- so you want to figure out how you can connect your activities to those bottom-line metrics. How? You'll need to work with Sales to establish an SLA (Service Level Agreement), which is basically an agreement on what Marketing will do for Sales (ex: generate X number of leads) and what Sales will do for Marketing (ex: work X number of leads) to help both teams hit the revenue goals.
From the SLA, you can work backwards to develop marketing-specific metrics. So if your department is responsible for generating 1,000 leads in a month, and your typical visitor-to-lead conversion rate is 10%, you can set a Marketing team-wide goal of 10,000 visits. That way, you get goals your team can actually accomplish and that impact the bottom-line.
This all sounds a little "no-duh" (of course working with the department responsible for generating revenue will help your team), but it works. According to the 2014 State of Inbound report, companies with an SLA tend to have higher marketing budgets.
So this year, be sure to take a hard look at the metrics you're currently using. If they don't line up with bottom-line goals, cut 'em. (Or, at the very least, demote them to be a very small priority for your team.) You don't want to waste time, energy, and resources chasing goals that won't help your team and your company grow.
What else are you planning on cutting from your marketing in 2015? Let us know in the comments below.