If there’s one thing that I’ve learned in spending 12 years helping more than 500 business master marketing, it’s that there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Despite what so-called gurus and experts might have entrepreneurs believe, each circumstance demands unique situational awareness: Regardless whether they’re working from scratch or following some premade methodology, marketers have to be constantly on their toes.

Fortunately, outreach doesn’t have to be a blind venture into the unwelcoming darkness. Learning from other people’s mistakes can make oversights easier to avoid. Why not use some of these tough-love concepts to make wiser marketing choices?

Amateur Marketing Almost Always Falls Short

Feel like a thrifty business champion for getting a relative or friend to build a free web portal? Think it’s easy to master Google AdWords with no SEO training? DIY digital marketing never functions the way business owners anticipate, and the small amount of cash they save is rarely worth the longterm revenue potential they sacrifice.

Companies work with digital marketing professionals for a good reason: No matter how clear a business owner’s executive vision seems, it takes well-designed, secure, functional sites and brand experiences to convince customers to transact. Companies that settle for anything less suffer because they appear less professional. Tools like AdWords and Google Analytics may be powerful indeed, but when misused, they waste money.

Why not save everyone time by doing things the right way from the start? Although it can be tempting to conserve limited resources as much as humanly possible, smarter marketing expenditures are always more justified than merely trying ideas until something sticks.

Bad Marketers Ignore Their Audience’s Preferences

One of the biggest marketing mistakes that business owners make is assuming they fully understand their target users. Even if they have lots of data, experience or intuition to back up their assertions, these leaders commit the fatal sin of not playing to the audience, and this makes it way harder to get the message out.

How do competent advertisers accommodate their adoring public? These tips might help:

  • Research the audience before each campaign to discover common desires and pain points. When using Facebook, Google and other outreach tools, address individual audience segments with thoughtful, keyword-based content that addresses their unique needs.
  • Use UTM codes, which are little bits of extra text tacked onto the end of URLs, to track how people engage with content online. UTM codes can reveal which sites visitors came from, which advertising campaigns and keyword terms they followed, or which kinds of marketing media they responded to, such as social platforms and blogs.
  • Cater to people’s device preferences. A prospective customer might engage with a site using their laptop or PC before switching to mobile and eventually wandering back to their computer’s browser. Make it easy for them to transition freely by designing a site that offers a uniform cross-platform experience.

The Best Marketing Campaigns Create Interesting Content

Long gone are the dark days of marketing initiatives that succeeded solely on the strength of banner ads and blaring popups. No matter how expertly companies place their keywords on a page or target their social media ads, they can’t win without content that makes web users want to engage with their brands.

Fortunately, there’s no shortage of ways to make outreach content attention-worthy. A company that sells a cool tech product, for example, might publish a series of blogs that go behind the scenes to explain the inner workings of their devices. Firms that want to make waves on social media might post about topics related to their niches and use clever tie-ins to lead people back to their brands. Discover what consumers have already expressed interest in, and respond with well-crafted marketing materials that scratch their collective itch for knowledge.

Marketers Who Talk At People Instead of Conversing With Them Usually Don’t Get Heard

People are more likely to ignore advertisers that shout at, steamroll or talk down to them. Good consumer relationships are a two-way street, so open up a dialogue instead of standing on a soapbox to yell at whoever happens to be within earshot.

It’s also way simpler to keep people focused on the message when it’s packaged in an intriguing story instead of another boring old ad. Whether this takes the form of an ongoing article series or a cross-platform campaign involving alternate reality games and social media influencers, crafting a tale that takes people on a journey is always a worthwhile pursuit.

Marketing Content Shouldn’t Outshine the Main Event

High-impact digital marketing is great, but when the websites that it promotes don’t live up to expectations, brands inevitably suffer. Companies that want to attract attention from users must first ensure that they’re ready to handle it. In other words, website upgrades, SEO audits and redesigns should all be accounted for in the marketing budget.

Don’t think a new site is necessary? Remember that competition is fierce in the digital arena. Companies that want to rise to the top need sites that imbue viewers with a certain level of confidence. Don’t skimp on aesthetics, functionality or third-party integrations.

Effective Targeting Doesn’t Happen By Itself

Marketing campaigns can be overachievers, and this isn’t necessarily a good thing. Ads that only resonate with people who aren’t in the demographic, for instance, usually don’t generate a positive return on investment, or ROI, regardless whether they produce additional views. Even if an ad is highly visible, it does no good if viewers don’t care about what it’s selling.

Focus on marketing content that connects with the most relevant audiences. For instance, when creating an AdWords campaign, business advertisers should use negative keywords to filter out searches that don’t match their target users.

Marketing Campaigns Rarely Come Out Perfect on the First Try

Feeling confused about why a particular campaign isn’t living up to its potential? Outreach, like most other business projects, demands continuous improvement.

Marketers who want their efforts to be fruitful never stop working to refine them. For instance, advertisers can use Google Ads’ Quality Score ratings to get a good idea of how their campaign keywords perform. Facebook’s relevance scoring offers similar information. Audiences are fickle, so it’s vital to take advantage of all available feedback.

Marketers That Track ROI Waste Less and Profit More

From a business perspective, return on investment is probably the most reliable indicator of a campaign’s success. No matter how viral a marketing video goes or how many page hits a social media post gets, ads need to produce sufficient revenue to sustain themselves as well as turn a profit. If they don’t do both, then refine them soon or ditch them.

Getting the Ball Rolling in Real Life

Recognizing that it’s time for a marketing shakeup is just the beginning. Serious firms take it further by putting these principles into action with the help of an expert.

What makes a good marketing agency partner?

People’s experiences with different marketing agencies vary widely. Nonetheless, there are a few common factors worth thinking about while judging the options:

  • All good marketing is founded on market understanding. For small businesses, this often means getting to know the neighborhood or locale where most clients originate. When picking agencies, it’s always a good sign if they have real-world storefronts or physical presences in the target region.
  • Applicable experience trumps all else. Agencies must have proven portfolios of their prior work. In addition to checking out pictures of the ad campaigns and business sites built by each prospect, always take the live versions for a spin. Test out how they function, look and feel to get a more intimate understanding of the agency’s work.
  • Ratings aren’t everything, but they do mean something. Whether they involve SEO audits, social media integrations or rebranding campaigns, digital marketing projects require time, effort and strong business relationships to evolve healthily. Agencies that accommodate different business models and genuinely care about providing a good client experience are a lot easier to work with. Those with the greatest number of 5-star reviews are generally safer bets.

Did these tips help bring successful marketing philosophies into clearer focus? Subscribe for more insightful pointers that could make it easier to reach audiences.