Teach yourself marketing

The 9 biggest mistakes DIY marketers make

A year and a bit ago I knew very little about marketing. It’s just adverts right?

Well there’s a lot to it. So much in fact that a single google search can lead you down a 3 hour rabbit hole faster than you can say ‘where did Alice get to?’

I’ve taught myself a lot over the last year. Working with an entrepreneur starting his business I’ve been given a unique insight into the highs and lows of marketing.

I’ve had the luxury of speaking to experts, going to conferences, learning from courses and then, most importantly, I’ve been able to try it and to see what happens.

Now that I’m starting my own freelance business, working with others who are doing the same, I realise a lot of the key lessons I’ve learned and made my own mistakes with are things that every DIY marketer struggles with.

So if you are starting your own business or just beginning to teach yourself marketing. Start here. Learn from my mistakes and experiences.

  1. Don’t sell from an egotistical perspective

No one cares how long you’ve been in business. No one cares how many awards and partnerships you have. If they want to find out they’ll click on your ‘about us’ page. — yes — you need an ‘about us’ page.

People don’t buy your products, they buy better versions of themselves. (Someone famous said this and I keep it in mind every time I write).

Example. I wrote a bunch of website copy for a lady I work with. She’s in recruitment. So for her home page I wrote all about the hassles and stresses of recruitment and then explained how her product solved those issues and hassles. It was great copy even if I do say so myself.

A week or so later she sent me a link to the website. She’s used my copy but only after two paragraphs of text that explain who she is and what her business is.

I only hope, for her sake, that people are willing to wade through shit they don’t want to know to find out why they need her particular brand of recruitment.

In this day and age you have only a few seconds to catch someone’s attention before they hit the back button.

2. Do not assume traffic based on domain name.

So you scored your favorite domain name. That’s the address people type in to find your website. Well done! Just because yourperfectname.com. Is available doesn't mean people will automatically go there, unless you paid thousands for it.

In marketing, when someone finds your site on a search engine it’s called organic traffic. It’s a little more complicated than that but this simple definition will suffice for our purposes.

Domain names that have high potential organic traffic cost thousands of dollars. That’s how domain selling companies make their money. I did a search the other day for findyourtruth.com — sounds like a great name for what I’m trying to do. It has high organic search numbers so this domain name costs over $2000.

So sure. If I bought this domain name I’d get high potential traffic to begin with. But — if that site isn’t informative, doesn't live up to the name, has bad content and bad HTML markup and meta data then the traffic will go away. Worse still Google will punish me for having bad content and will stop my site appearing high up in the results for all those organic ‘find your truth’ searches.

Your domain name won’t make you rank on google alone. You have to pay attention to SEO and marketing efforts whatever those look like.

3. Do not half ass your content marketing

Content marketing is a bit of a buzz word in the industry right now. Everyone’s doing it. Worse still they’re making it look easy.

It is, as its name suggests, marketing through content. So running a blog on your site. Producing infographics, books, guides, guest posts, videos the list goes on. All these are considered content marketing.

Again. Google isn’t stupid. If you put up a bunch of bad blog posts on your website and no one visits them, Google isn’t going to count them as valuable. You need to produce good quality content if you want your content marketing efforts to work well for you. It’s not a quick fix. It takes time and effort. If you do it wrong your site will appear lower in the search. If you do it right it can more than double your organic traffic.

Just as an aside. Marketers get all hot and sweaty about organic traffic because:

  1. its kinda free, people just turn up at your website
  2. It shows Google that your site is useful and informative for certain searches and so pushes your site higher in the search engine results

4. Build a funnel even if it sounds scary

Omg I said funnel. Don’t worry we’ve all been there. It’s always scary till you know what it is.

A funnel is the essential steps your customer has to take from finding out about you to purchasing your content. There are different types of funnel and they can become complicated. But even a simple one will increase your sales or sign ups.

You can draw fancy diagrams and make spreadsheets if you like, but to begin with just keep it simple.

Write a list of only the essential steps a customer must take to complete what you want them to. Whether that’s signing up, purchasing something or filling in a contact form. That my friends is your funnel.

I asked the lady I’m working with how she plans to get people to buy her product. She says she’ll send an email, send some postcards and then they’ll sign up when they reach the website. This isn’t a funnel as much as throwing information at the world and hoping it sticks.

Her funnel looks like this

  1. create awareness through advertising campaigns
  2. Customers arrive at the site, read the home page
  3. Customers click on the contact page and fill in the form to request a quote

See — simple funnel not so scary.

Now. It’s fine to have a three step funnel. Easy is cool. Buuut if your going to do it that way then each stage needs to be super convincing and educational.

Now for her I know she’s planning on using the website copy I wrote to draft an email and a letter. So steps one and two contain the same information. I also know that step 3 — the sign up page — is just that. A page with a long form.

As a rule in marketing it takes 7 points of contact to get someone to buy or sign up or whatever you want them to do. When someone completes the action you want them to it’s called a conversion.

So here she has three points of contact but she’s not giving them anything new in any of those stages. What a wasted opportunity.

A good simple funnel for her would look like this:

  1. advertising campaigns targeting people who are currently recruiting — sending traffic to…
  2. A dedicated landing page that contains useful tips for less stressful recruitment and an introduction as to how her product solves the issues of recruitment. They can sign up from this page or click onto the home page. The useful tips for less stressful recruitment could be something they have to leave their email for — this will grow her mailing list.
  3. The home page explains how the service works and how to sign up Here they’re encouraged to sign up again
  4. The sign up page should contain info about the next steps, pricing and frequently asked questions make sure your customer knows what they’re getting.

So there’s a 4 step funnel. It’s easy. You have 4 points of contact here. There are ways to expand the funnel.

For instance offering something for free in return for an email address is called a lead magnet. It can be an e-book, a PDF checklist, whatever is right for your business. Using these email addresses for marketing expands the points of contact you have.

(Once you have email addresses, use them. I’m not going to go into how here or the post will go on forever. Google it, there’s tonnes out there on good email strategy).

The funnel can also have re-targeting steps in it. They are important but in all honesty not something I know a tonne about.

You know when you’ve been on amazon looking at furniture, then you go to a different site and see that same furniture from Amazon being advertised to you, that’s called re-targeting. It’s smart when done well.

As an aside, it’s called a funnel because more and more people drop out at each stage. Your adverts might drive 1000 people to your site, of those 600 might look around for one minute 300 will look around for five minutes 30 will sign up — those aren’t real numbers but they aren’t far off the actual truth for most businesses.

So looking at your funnel helps you plan how to get customers on board and identifies missed opportunities in your marketing efforts.

It’s not scary, it’s a simple list of steps. Build one!!!

5. Dont neglect your UX

We all like to have the newest shiniest things but cluttered web pages are a huge turn off. UX simply means user experience but who wouldn’t call it UX it’s a far cooler name!

Anyway this involves just thinking about what your customers are looking for on your site and how easy it is to get that.

For example. If I’m selling trainers my customers won’t want to arrive at a page full of text with no pictures of trainers. There need to be pictures and prices of your most popular trainers. They need to look good, be easy to read and most importantly easy to buy.

If people come to your site to read — like a blog. Then you need to make sure the text is easy to read, easy to find, has plenty of white space. We’ve all clicked off those articles with tiny writing and a million ads.

It doesn't take much to look at your site and experience it as a customer might.

Another thing that has an impact is page loading speed. No one has 10 seconds to watch a page slowly load in. I know that sounds harsh but it’s true. As an aside people tend to be a lot more impatient when they are accessing the web on their smart phones than on desktop.

6. worship mobile

Yup. It’s official. More websites are being served to mobile devices than ever before. We like content better when it’s right in our faces and we can use our thumbs to manipulate it.

This kinda crosses over with my UX point. How will your site look on mobile. If you are using a provider like wix or Squarespace they will usually ensure your page templates etc are optimised for mobile. But if you’re on wordpress.org then you’re gunna have to double check and make tweaks.

There is a chrome plugin you can get that will actually show you what your site looks like on mobile. It’s stupidly easy.

Neglecting this part of your UX will seriously hurt your organic traffic.

7. Keep it simple

When you first start out you’ll be all enthusiastic. You’ll read a tonne of books and articles that tell you to do a million things all at once. Don’t do a million things at once. Not only will you get stressed out but you’ll split your focus and that’s bad.

In the first instance just focus on getting and keeping customers. Once you’ve got that coming steadily then you can start exploring.

8. Never stop learning about your customers

As you grow you’ll end up with more diverse people coming to your site. Understanding their motivations for visiting you and what they are looking for when they get there are key to building a great website.

So keep researching your customers. Use your analytics to find out which pages they visit most often and what their interests are.

Visit google search console to find out what your organic traffic is searching for when they find you.

These are key insights that will give you ideas and allow you to innovate. Both of the tools are free. There are excellent tutorials on how to use them all over the Internet. Use them.

9. Collect social proof early on

And as a bonus tip — collect reviews and case studies. When you are writing for your website use their language and their words to describe your business.

One of the reviews for the company I work full time for said: good old fashioned customer service mixed with modern technology what’s not to love.

That’s something I wouldn’t have come up with. Something I didn’t realise was important to my customers. Something they value.

I’ve actually used those words in sales copy I’ve written.

Customers have an uncanny way of being able to summarise your business in a way that you can not. Use their words to speak to them.

Also, case studies, reviews etc are all called social proof. Displaying reviews from your customers on your website helps give new customers trust, it acts as proof from their peers delivered on a social platform that acts as a vouch for your company — social proof. There are lots of ways to increase trust signals on your website. In the spirit of keeping it simple, start with this one.

So there you have it. Don’t freak out, take one step at a time. Make a plan. Strategise.

Once you’ve got the basics delve in. Learn how to split test your ideas, learn more about analytics.

My name is Kat,

I blog here on a Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday. I’m not always eloquent. You can’t always be certain what I’m writing about. 9 times out of 10 I’m sure people see my posts and think WTF is she talking about that for!?

But your here. You read. You hopefully learned something. Stick around. I may not always make sense but you can bet your sweet bippy I’ll always be honest.

Thanks for reading.

Love Kat