10 Common Mistakes Made by New Internet Marketers

Internet marketing is an exciting, yet complex industry. Using search engines, social media and websites to meet business goals while engaging, entertaining and educating a target audience involves an intricate series of interactions and experiences that require an understanding of and appreciation for Internet marketing strategy and tactics.

10 Common Internet Marketing Rookie Mistakes

As with any complicated subject, mistakes are bound to happen. Some are innocent. Some may cause irreparable damage to your company or brand. If you’re new to Internet marketing, you’ll want to read these 10 common mistakes made by new Internet marketers:

1. Tactics Without Strategy

Many of the tools available to Internet marketers are either cheap or free. As a result, many new marketers are tempted to use them all at once. Successful Internet marketers begin with a strategy that identifies the goals of a campaign, the target audience and other key planning elements. Only then do they choose their tactics. Remember: tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.

2. Not Knowing Your Audience

Not knowing your audience is a rookie mistake for marketers. How can you expect to appeal to someone if you don’t know who they are? Really take the time to figure out what your ideal customer or audience looks like. Tools such as Google’s Ad Planner and Microsoft’s adCenter Labs can help you develop a greater understanding of the demographics and psychographics of your ideal customer.

3. Speaking Before Listening

Internet marketing has reduced the cost to publish your thoughts and ideas to the masses to nearly nothing. As a result, some Internet marketers (both new and experienced) launch a website or social media presence without listening to their audience first. What types of questions does your ideal customer have? What problems can you solve for them? Do your homework by using one of the many online listening tools and only then should begin to share your message.

4. Ignoring Web Analytics

Internet marketing has brought an unprecedented level of measurement to marketing efforts. Web analytics tools such as Google Analytics can tell you how many people came to your website, how they got there and what they did to move the needle on your marketing campaign. Ignore your web analytics at your own peril.

5. Chasing Meaningless Numbers

New Internet marketers (and experienced ones, for that matter) who don’t ignore web analytics can also make the mistake of chasing after the wrong metrics within their web analytics tool. Great online marketing campaigns consist of both the proper tactics and the appropriate metrics. Avoid useless web metrics and instead focus on the ones that best measure your campaign.

6. Building on Rented Land

Would you pay money to build a house on land you only rented? Of course not. The same should be true with your Internet marketing efforts. Don’t depend on your Facebook page or free website hosting packages to carry your marketing efforts. At the center of your online brand should be a website hosted on a domain name that you own. Things change quickly on the Internet. Don’t put your entire online marketing strategy at risk investing all your resources into websites and social networks that you don’t own.

7. Thinking in Silos

Although Internet marketing disciplines such as social media, search engine optimization (SEO) and web analytics all come with their own set of strategies and best practices, to think of them as completely separate is missing the big picture. The efforts of search and social are highly inter-related, and you can’t measure either very well without web analytics. New Internet marketers should view online marketing as system of multiple disciplines working in concert to achieve the end result. As a result, you need to have at least a basic understanding of all Internet marketing channels even if one doesn’t pertain to your specific role.

8. Stopping the Learning Process

You’d be hard-pressed to find an industry that is changing as quickly as is Internet marketing. As a result, continuing education is not optional. There are countless blogs, certification courses and even Internet marketing degrees to keep you current on the ever-evolving world of online marketing. The day you stop learning in Internet marketing is the day you should start thinking about a new industry.

9. Missing Out on Testing Opportunities

With Internet marketing comes the power to test your ideas. Why commit to one approach when you can be constantly trying out new ideas and seeing how they perform? Despite best practices, research and even focus groups, you’ll never know for sure unless you test. Usability testing and conversion optimization are two examples of the tests you could be running to prove what works best for your customers. Don't just guess. Test.

10. Failing to Make Social Connections

Mass media may still allow you to reach the largest audience, but television and radio often fail to connect marketers with the most relevant audiences. Take the time to research who the big names and major influences are in social media for your specific area of interest. Creating and fostering relationships with these folks can have a dramatic impact on your Internet marketing efforts as they may end up sending you new leads and customers at a price (your time) far more cost-effective than advertising.

"The industry is evolving too quickly to avoid mistakes."

These are just some of the common mistakes made by marketers, both new and experienced. And while it’s important to avoid mistakes where possible, the industry is simply evolving too quickly to avoid mistakes altogether. On the bright side, Internet marketing allows us to fail faster because all the tracking and analytics offer feedback in near real-time. New Internet marketers should be aware of the mistakes they can avoid and embrace the ones they make as opportunities for growth and learning.

What common Internet marketing mistakes do you see? Are there mistakes made by both experienced and new Internet marketers alike? Feel free to leave your thoughts on these and other common mistakes made by new Internet marketers in the comments below.

Josh Braaten

Josh is an Associate Director of Marketing at Collegis Education. He composes content and oversees the digital marketing strategy of Rasmussen College.

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