We've all had those moments. You know, the ones when you do something completely careless or idiotic, and then quickly follow up with a Ron Burgundy-esque thought like, "I immediately regret this decision" ... or a more classic example, the Homer Simpson "D'OH!"
But how much worse is it when that "D'OH!" moment comes right after you hit "send" on that really, really important marketing email, only to realize there's a big, glaring typo in the subject line? And there's nothing you can do about it. That email is already getting delivered, whether you like it or not. To all 5,000 people.
Truth be told, just like little tweaks can make a big, positive impact on your marketing ROI, there are also a lot of simple, careless mistakes you can make that will do the complete opposite, ruining the effect of your marketing efforts, and oftentimes making you look like a fool along the way. So how do we prevent these silly mistakes from happening? I mean, we're only human, right? There's no secret sauce, but your best bet is to be aware of some common screw-ups, and well ... be more careful.
Here are 30 careless mistakes we've seen marketers make that have the potential to totally mess with the effectiveness of your marketing. In fact, many of these were crowdsourced from my marketing colleagues at HubSpot, many of whom I know were speaking from experience. Remember, marketers: Haste makes waste!
30 Careless Mistakes That Can Totally Mess Up Your Marketing
1) Screwing Up Your Email Personalization Tags
You're experimenting with some dynamic tags to personalize your next email send, eh? Now let's say you want to personalize the email with a greeting that includes the recipient's first name, and the personalization tag you need to use is . Want to know what happens if you send me an email with the tag misspelled -- like ? Instead of getting an email that reads, "Hi Pamela," I get an email that reads, "Hi ." Not ideal, right?
Be very careful with your personalization tags. If you aren't using software like HubSpot's Email tool, which uses drop-down tag options to make it easy not to mess up your personalization tags, double check that your tags are constructed correctly, and be sure to set up default tags just in case you don't have the information you're personalizing with for any given contact.
2) Neglecting to Make Essential Form Fields Required
We all know what those little red asterisks next to form fields mean, right? As site visitors, it means we simply must provide that information if we want to submit the form successfully. No asterisks? Not required. And for a marketer who needs that information in order to properly qualify, score, segment, and then contact a lead, you can imagine how disheartening it'd be for them to realize they forgot to make those essential form fields required, and they now have incomplete lead intelligence for tons and tons of leads, making it nearly impossible for them to effectively segment and target their future lead nurturing campaigns ... and beyond!
3) Emailing the Wrong List
This one provides that you're not already making the BIG mistake of not segmenting your list. (You're segmenting your list, right?) Selecting your list of marketing students (which you labeled "List A") when your email is highly targeted at marketing executives (which you labeled "List B") probably isn't going to make for the most effective email segmentation. Be sure your lists are clearly labeled and indicate exactly who is on that given list. So instead of labeling your list of marketing students, "List A," label it as "Marketing Students," silly.
4) Prematurely Publishing Content
In other words, you're so excited to get that blog post/email/landing page out there, that you completely neglect to have one of your more detail-oriented, editorial-minded colleagues give it a look-see. As a result, you publish something riddled with typos and grammatical errors, undermining the professionalism and credibility of your marketing content. Make sure you have someone proof everything prior to publishing so you can avoid all (or most) of those embarrassing typos.
5) Using Bad/Not Credible/Outdated/Misinterpreted Data
While we're on the topic of undermining your professionalism and credibility, how do you think the use of bad, outdated, or misinterpreted data -- or data from less than credible sources -- looks in your marketing content? This is another one that's easy to avoid but packs a pretty powerful punch. Beware the danger of marketing metrics dependency, and be smart in how you use data your marketing content: pull from reputable sources, make sure your data is fresh, and be careful in how you (and others) interpret it.
6) Not Double Checking the Date and Time of When You Publish
This one applies to any piece of content you can "schedule." Think blog posts, email sends, and social media updates. Accidentally scheduling that tweet meant for your prospects in Europe for 6 p.m. ET, when you really meant to set it for 6 a.m. ET, just means it's going to hit your European friends' Twitter feeds in the middle of the night when they're sound asleep. And considering the fact that your social media updates specifically have a very short shelf life, talk about a lost opportunity!
7) Not Including Unsubscribe Options in Your Email
Let's face it, email marketers: This one's not just careless. It's also illegal. According to the CAN-SPAM Act, every email you send must include a clear and obvious way for recipients to unsubscribe from email communication from you. And don't beat around the bush here either. Include a clear, obvious unsubscribe link in your email, rather than doing something like this email marketer did below. Just make it easy, folks.
8) Forgetting to Include Calls-to-Action (CTAs) in Blog Posts
... or anywhere else, for that matter. CTAs are the gateways to lead generation, and relevant ones should hang out everywhere from on your homepage, to within your email, and on every individual web page and blog post you publish (with the exception of your landing pages). In fact, here's how to pick the perfect CTA for every blog post you publish. And here's how to select the right CTA for every page on your site.
9) Not Citing Sources Properly
Don't care about stealing other people's content on the web? Then go ahead -- don't cite the right source for the stat. In fact, don't cite anything at all! Just claim it as your own! If you think you can pull a fast one on the vast audience that makes up internet users, you're sorely mistaken. Give credit where credit is due, and properly cite your sources for things like data and statistics, visual content, and others' original thoughts and ideas. Not sure how proper source citation is done? This blog post will teach you how.
10) Not Checking to Make Sure You're Even Allowed to Use That Image, Stat, Etc.
Take that last mistake one step further, and you'll achieve careless mistake number 10. That image you're using in your content? Are you sure you're even allowed to use that in the first place? Remember, the internet isn't a free-for-all, and that means not everything is yours for the taking. And this doesn't just go for images. Some research companies, for example, provide data and statistics for a fee. That means citing their data isn't cool unless you're a customer. Before you go around making assumptions about what you can use, do your due diligence and make sure you have the right permissions. Use Creative Commons to find free images to use (and then cite their source), pay for your images using a stock photography service like iStockphoto, and do your homework when you're conducting research.
11) Not Offering a Plain Text or Web Version of Your Emails
I know what you're thinking: "But plain text emails look so ... plain." Yes, but that's the beauty of 'em! Keep in mind that some browsers, email clients, and mobile devices just can't handle HTML emails. Add on the fact that some people actually just prefer it, some email types naturally lend themselves to plain text, spam filters like to see it, and it's safer for transactional messages, and you'll start to understand why plain text can do your emails some good. And we're not saying you have to offer a plain text version in place of your beautifully designed HTML email, either. Most email service providers (ESPs), like HubSpot's Email tool, make it easy to offer a plain text alternative to your HTML email -- and a web version in case they want to check out the HTML in their browser instead -- with just the click of a button!
12) Not Configuring Your Links to Open in a New Window
When someone visits your website, do you want them to A) stick around for a while, clicking through to various pages of your website and consuming more and more of your content so they learn more about you, or B) click on a link to a source you cited in one of your blog posts and get so caught up in someone else's website content they forgot how they even got there in the first place? Scenario A, right? Most web users are multi-tasking, with various tabs opened on their browser at once that can easily distract them. As a best practice, configure the links in your content to open up a brand new window/tab on the user's browser -- not replace the window your website is currently occupying. So if users get a little case of "What was I doing to get here?" they can easily remember that they were checking out the awesome content on your website, and get back to doing just that!
13) Adding Distractions to Your Landing Pages
Speaking of distractions, your landing places are the last places you want your visitors to get click-happy. Remove those friction-creating, distracting elements like your top or side navigation and competing calls-to-action so you can laser-focus your visitors on the desired task at hand: filling out that form and converting ... or re-converting.
14) Placing Your Forms Below the Fold
Eliminating distractions on your landing pages is a great segue into mistake number 13. Always do your best to make at least the top of your forms display above the fold of your web page. In other words, make it so the visitor doesn't have to scroll down on the page in order to see it. This makes it instantly clear what visitors have to do if they want to redeem whatever you're offering, and eliminates any sort of "What do I do next?" confusion.
15) Not Linking Back to Your Website in Social Media Profiles and Updates
If you're building up your social media presence, isn't one of your main goals to drive people back to your website so they can read your content, learn more about you, and you can effectively push them further down the sales and marketing funnel? So the fact that you've totally overlooked adding your website's URL to your social profiles is quite silly, isn't it? Don't make this mistake. Most social networks actually include a designated field in your profile for this information, and if they don't, sneak it into your page's description or 'About' section. And while we're at it, make sure you include links back to your website's content -- like blog articles, landing pages, case studies, etc. -- in your individual tweets, company status updates, and other social posts, too!
16) Overlooking Images and Formatting in Blog Posts
So you've spent hours and hours crafting and perfecting the copy for your latest blog post, and it finally reads like a piece of Shakespeare (actually, that might not be the best thing, but you get the point). It's ready to ship, right? Just like prematurely publishing content without proofing is a careless mistake, so is overlooking visual content elements like eye-catching images and formatting techniques. Not only does this make your content easier on the eyes, but it also makes your content much more shareable and social-ready. Making content visually optimized is only increasing in importance. Consider how photos on Facebook generate 53% more Likes than the average post, and the rise in popularity of visual content social networks like Instagram and Pinterest, and you'll start to get my point here. Make it a part of your final to-do-before-publishing checklist to visually optimize your content. In fact, here are six creative ways to make your content more visual.
17) Not Including the Download Link on Your Thank-You Pages/Emails
Want an easy way to anger your site visitors and prospects? Make them go through all that trouble and personal anxiety of filling out your form with all their personal information, and then neglect to give them what you offered. Seriously, guys ... not cool. But I've seen it happen before. Your landing page and thank-you page are ready and waiting, but you're finalizing the ebook that goes with it at the final hour, and you forget to hyperlink that big, bold "Click here for your ebook" copy on your thank-you page and in your confirmation email. Looking like a schmuck here will not only make you look unprofessional; you might also come off as a sleaze ball.
18) Messing Up the Timing/Scheduling of Your Automated Workflows
Let's say you've set up quite an elaborate series of targeted, automated emails for a given trigger like multiple ebook downloads or a visit to a critical page on your website. You know what's a great way to muck up those emails' effectiveness? Poor judgment in terms of timing and scheduling. This mistake could involve anything from forgetting when your target audience reads email; to time zone details (remember our European prospects we mentioned in number six?); to the length of your sales cycle, which should impact how long you spread out your email sends.
19) Linking Your CTA to the Wrong Landing Page (Or Having a Broken Link in Your CTA)
This is especially impactful when you're sending out a very important dedicated email send to promote one specific offer. Remember, that email is absolutely no good for lead generation if your recipients can't click through on your email to the page on your website where they can register for that webinar you were promoting. This applies to every single text-based and button-based CTA you use in your marketing -- on your web pages, in blog articles, in email marketing, and in social media -- so double and triple check those CTA links, folks!
20) Not Test Sending Your Emails First
You know what's a great way to check to see if those links are in tip-top shape? Testing them from the recipient's point of view! Use that helpful feature your ESP probably provides, and send a test email to you and a few colleagues first just to make sure your links are working, your formatting doesn't look wonky, and you don't miss that glaring subject line typo. Extend this best practice to some of your other content, too. HubSpot's CMS, for example, allows you to preview a web page, landing page, and blog article as it would look published, before it's published. Invite a coworker to help you sanity check these marketing assets before they go live, too.
21) Not Checking to See if the Results of Your A/B Tests Are Statistically Significant
Or, just completely forgetting you have an A/B test running, and neglecting to apply the winner of your test. D'OH! Remember, marketers. Just because you ran an A/B test to determine which CTA button color resonates best with your audience, doesn't mean the results are necessarily statistically significant. And if they're not statistically significant, you'll be choosing a winner and gathering insights based on bad data. Remember, data should help improve your marketing, not mislead it. To make sure your A/B tests are actually yielding legitimate results, here's how to determine if your A/B tests are statistically significant.
22) Neglecting to Write a Solid Meta Description
Meta descriptions have become an oft-overlook web page element ever since search engines indicated they were no longer using them as a ranking factor. But the fact of the matter is, a good, solid meta description does have its place in search engine optimization. It might not help your page rank, per se, but it can make or break whether a searcher decides to click on your results in the SERPs. So take the extra 30 seconds to write a clear, interesting, and brief (keep it fewer than 150 characters) meta description for your web pages, and you might just notice an increased clickthrough rate and more organic search traffic coming your way.
23) Marketing to People Who Have Already Bought
This one is usually a symptom of not defining your site visitors' lifeycycle stages, and then neglecting to suppress them from certain marketing, including things like Smart CTAs and certain email lists to which you send marketing content. It also leads to careless mistakes like sending a customer who just signed up for your services an email offering them a discount coupon on the service they just signed up for. Make sure you have safeguards in place to avoid mishaps like this. Create dynamic lists of your customers, and suppress them from seeing certain parts of your marketing that weren't meant for them using dynamic content.
24) Not Cleaning Up Dead Web Pages and Broken Links
As an inbound marketer who is constantly creating content, it's all too easy to fall into this trap. But having pages that are providing no SEO (or other) benefits just ends up making your website look unprofessional to visitors, and messy to search engines. After all, that page you set up in 2009 with the entry rules for your temporary, short-lived Facebook contest probably isn't providing people with much value any more, is it? Conduct regular audits of your website's pages, and either clean up, update, or delete all those dead pages that are doing nothing for you. And if you end up deleting pages, make sure you clean up any broken internal links that may have been linking to those pages, too.
25) Sending Email to a Rented/Bought List
At HubSpot, we're strong believers that renting or purchasing email lists is never a good idea. For one thing, a lot of reputable ESPs (like HubSpot), won't even allow you to send email to a purchased or rented list. And for good reason. There's no such thing as a good email list that's for sale; the people on these lists don't actually know who you are, and as a result, sending to these lists could actually harm your email deliverability and sender reputation. So just don't do it, and grow your lists organically instead.
26) Not Including Social Sharing and Follow Buttons in Your Content
This includes on your blog, within your marketing offers, throughout your web pages, and in your emails. Including social media follow buttons helps you to grow your reach, and social media sharing buttons enable you to extend the reach of your content. And everyone is already convinced that social media followers are important even if they don't ever buy from you, right? A lot of content management software makes it easy for you to add these buttons to your marketing content (HubSpot included!) with just a click of a button. But if yours doesn't, here's the guide for you!
27) Not Warning/Prepping Your Sales Reps About a New Offer or Campaign
One of the keys to great sales and marketing alignment is communication, and failing to let your sales team know about new offers or campaigns your marketing team is promoting is a sure-fire way to stifle your "SMarketing" efforts. Try sending out a weekly email with all the offers, campaigns, events, etc. that your sales team should know about (at HubSpot, we send one called "This Week in Marketing"), including critical information such as links and talking points so your sales team is armed and ready when they talk to prospects who have engaged with one of these marketing initiatives.
28) Cloning an Email or Landing Page Without Changing Critical Info
Because they're trying to make marketers' lives easier, a lot of marketing software today makes it super simple to clone marketing assets like landing pages and emails so marketers don't have to re-invent the wheel and start from scratch every single time. Unfortunately, this can also end up setting those not-so-detail-oriented marketers up for failure, and careless mistakes like forgetting to change the date/time of a webinar on a landing page, or updating a call-to-action link in an email, can really screw you over. Be careful when you're duplicating assets, and use some other safeguards like test sends and proofreading colleagues to help you check and test before you launch.
29) Forgetting to Add Tracking Tokens
Sometimes you're doing certain types of marketing that, despite how integrated and analytical your marketing software is, just isn't easy to track. Perhaps you're doing some co-marketing, or you want to track the effectiveness of that guest blog post you wrote for someone else's website. Or maybe you want to keep very specific tabs on how a certain campaign or asset performs. This is where tracking tokens come in -- and can be extremely valuable in measuring the effectiveness of your marketing. But a tracking token doesn't do any good if you forget to add it to your links, does it?
30) Not Giving People a Way to Contact You Directly
How frustrating is it to visit a website and spend FO
Originally published Jan 9, 2013 9:44:00 AM, updated June 09 2021