The best marketers are always evolving and adapting to the market.
Looking back on the successes of our clients and for our agency in the last year, we have refined our process and eliminated a lot of tactics that no longer work -- or maybe never worked.
But while we're changing, we still meet new clients and see businesses online that are still doing the same things over and over, that don't produce great results anymore.
Of all the now ineffective inbound marketing tactics, we've narrowed it down to six that we see most often that you should definitely drop in 2017 and until further notice.
1. The Standard "350-500 Word Blog Post"
At its inception, it was completely normal and effective to publish a 350-word blog. If you went above and beyond to 500+ words, you were really delivering big time, but thanks to Google and increased competition, a lot has changed.
People in every audience or target market today have a higher expectation of blog content because the best bloggers and most trusted authority websites tend to go more in-depth, publishing long-form blog posts that start at 1000 words and can even stretch to 5000.
However, a long blog article doesn't automatically mean better. Not only do we need to publish longer posts, but more valuable, high-quality posts that don't leave any questions unanswered.
If that means you end up publishing a lower quantity of blog posts each week to maintain high-quality standards, it's okay.
Quality is more important than quantity.
2. Tweeting Every 15 Minutes
Twitter is a great platform as a personal user and still plays a huge part in our media culture, however for marketers, its ability to drive traffic and leads has fallen off in a big way.
Just check out the downward trend we've seen from Twitter on our end:
For the past few years, Twitter has been going through a bit of a crisis, failing to make a profit and slowly losing daily active users.
Despite "sponsored tweets" and other forms of paid ads, the biggest issue with the platform for marketers is noise.
Part of the micro-blogging site's appeal has always been its "real-time," chronological updates, but with new content appearing every few seconds, it's difficult for brands to truly get their message seen, let alone, have it understood in less than 140 characters.
If you already have a strong following on Twitter, I'd recommend testing the waters by scaling back your efforts to only a few updates a day. Depending on how this efforts your performance, it may smart to reallocate your investments elsewhere.
3. Generic, Boring Offers
Unfortunately, free eBooks aren't as exciting as they used to be.
So many brands and marketers create and promote them, consumers expect them to be free, which makes their perceived value and appeal significantly lower than it was a few years ago.
That's not to say that offering a free eBook is bad or ineffective. They are still great lead magnets and plenty of people, us included, still enjoy them, but, as savvy inbound marketers, we care more about what works best than simply what works.
To stand out from your competition, you must strive to provide "remarkable" offers.
Take a look at this excerpt about what remarkable content looks like to Arjun Moorthy (VP of Business Development & Partner Products at HubSpot):
"[T]he key to Inbound Marketing is "remarkable content". But what is remarkable content?”
In 2016, “perhaps a better definition of "remarkable content" is something you offer for free which others normally charge money for…
This definition helps us realize why the eBook strategy, while still useful from an SEO standpoint, is played out. Everyone publishes eBooks with content and while some of it is still packed with insights, it's less likely that anyone charges for such material so, relatively speaking, such offers no longer seem valuable. It's time for a new type of offer.
Eventually, these strategies will also get played out... but as long as we keep this new simple definition of remarkable content in mind it'll ensure that our marketing offers real value to prospects and customers…”
4. Intrusive Mobile Pop-Ups
Most marketers have a love-hate relationship with pop-ups.
While they can be extremely effective for lead generation on our own websites, they often annoy us when we visit other websites.
As a marketer, pop-ups don't usually bother me much because I get the reasoning behind it, but what does bother me is when a pop-up takes over the entire screen on my phone and I can't get back to the content.
It turns out Google hates it just as much. In August 2016, Google announced they were going to crack down on intrusive mobile pop-ups, and now in February 2017, Google is penalizing sites who didn't heed the warning.
Examples include pop-ups that open up immediately after clicking a link and cover the entire page of content, pop-ups that must be closed before the user gets to the content, and pop-ups keep the content under the fold.
Google won't penalize your site for "small" pop-ups (the exact size is unknown) yet, but if you're currently using a full-screen pop-up on mobile, it's best to shut it off now.
5. The LinkedIn Connect-Sales Pitch
An annoying trend we've seen gain steam in the last several years is sending someone an invitation to connect on LinkedIn, then immediately messaging with a sales promotion. Here's one our Growth Strategist, Kyle received:
Your LinkedIn connections didn't opt-in to being sold to, so, sending messages like this is the equivalent of spamming someone's personal email.
LinkedIn may be the premier B2B social network, but you still have to build trusting relationships like you would in the real business world. It takes more effort than sending a template sales email, but that's also what makes your pitch more valuable when you eventually deliver it.
6. Sending Cold Sales Emails
Frankly, 99% of the time, cold sales emails suck. When you compare the average cold sales email to the contents of your spam folder, it's hard to tell the difference and this is primarily because of how impersonal they are.
The most sophisticated and successful inbound marketing is personalized, which is why generic pitches from people you don't know, not only make them look lazy but come off as unprofessional and out of touch with their audience.
What's most annoying about cold sales emails is that they aren't helpful. In fact, they're often pushy and focused more on what the reader can do for the company rather than what the company can do for them.
Now, don't get me wrong. Email is still as valuable as it ever was. Sales emails still work, but you need to research your prospect beforehand to deliver a personalized pitch that will actually speak to their needs and concerns.
Focus on What Works.
Now that you know what NOT to do in 2017, you can take a look at your data and double down on all of the things that are working best for your business.
This is an exciting time for inbound marketers as new opportunities continue to present themselves and we are always going to be here sharing the most relevant and useful. Stay tuned and most importantly, stay agile -- always ready and willing to change with the industry.
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