Lets face it. When launching a new Startup Company everyone involved is excited and eager to start building their empire. However, many times entrepreneurs get “overwhelmed” when reading blogs or attending marketing conferences which are pushing the latest and greatest in online tools and gadgets that will promise them instant success. Too many times, this approach can be a disaster. In this post, I will discuss at least Ten (10) instances where Entrepreneurs need to be careful about what they hear and what they spend their precious money on.
#1 Marketing Conference Intoxication
Don’t get me wrong, Internet Marketing Conferences are a “No-Brainer” to attend whether your a newbie or seasoned professional. However, entrepreneurs that are new to this space can easily feel overwhelmed with everything from SEO, PPC, Landing Pages, Social Media, Pay-Per Call Services, Analytics, Automation, etc…. and that plethora of information often leads to anxiety of what to focus on first.
Solution: Always focus on SEO, Web Analytics when building your website. Once that has been established, then “fine-tune” your Advertising and Social Media Strategy. Everything else will fall into place.
#2 “Ass-uming” Too Much with Growth Hacking
Growth Hacking is a very popular term with online businesses, especially with Startups because the end goal is to drive traffic/awareness without spending Ad dollars (or too much) However, it can be very easy to “screw up” that strategy because it often create a false sense of expectations.
Solution: When considering growth hacking, first make sure you setup the foundations:
- Setup the Social Media accounts (Twitter. Facebook, Instagram, etc…)
- Develop Content Strategy to not “Over-sell”, but provide FREE advice and recommendations that reference your business
- Work with a copywriter to execute the content in a user-friendly and interactive manner.
- Monetize everything (Google Analytics – phone calls, contact forms, comments, live chats, etc…)
- Organize the Performance Data (compare the performance of specific articles/content in order to help facilitate the next rounds)
#3 Too Many Tools in the Toolbox
Ahh, ever feel like you have signed up for a gazillion different services that offered free trials and not sure which ones to use? Well, that’s not only confusing, but also detrimental to making progress on what matter most: Generating Revenue. The only important tools you really need are the following:
- Solid Strategy
- Accurate Web Analytics
- Ongoing Optimization Schedule
Solution: Before you signup with anyone, don’t focus on the Free Trial, or the awesome “swag” you received from the conference. Do a little research first because you will be surprised what is out there online. Remember, your in Startup Mode and need to squeeze as much as you can within the limited budget. (example: Google offers Website Call Conversions as a cheaper alternative to more expensive Pay-Per-Call 3rd party services)
#4 Case Study Overemphasis
Case Studies are a great source for understanding the successes of a particular experience that allow the reader to adapt to new ideas and strategies. However, you need to be careful not put to put too much emphasis on the successes of these studies because of the substantiated factors which often lead inaccuracy. Here are some examples:
- Geography (Some of these studies reference a specific GEO area and not the wider population)
- Singular view and opinion. Often, these studies are done by a small group of people which may have biased opinions based on data collected.
- Case Studies are often used as a “Toot your own horn” strategy to generate more business. (Google is pretty good at that 🙂
#5 Premature Assumptions of Target Market
I hate to say this, but I have witnessed startup companies that thought they new their audiences and it wasn’t until they spent PPC Dollars and countless Landing Page A/B test to come to that realization. Selling a product or service requires as much research as possible before advertising dollars are spent. Here are some ideas:
- Monthly Budget Trends
- PPC and SEO Keywords
- Top Text Ads
- Their own PPC and SEO Competitors
- Review monthly and seasonality trends
- Compare up to (3) three competitors and see which terms they are all bidding on.
#6 Mistrust of the Online Ad Platforms:
Google is by far the dominant search engine platform known in the world. They are also in a position to find many lucrative ways to get you to spend money with them. (ie.. Throwing $100 coupons to all new accounts). However, if there is one (1) key takeaway from this article, please DO NOT ALLOW Google to create your campaigns for you!! They honestly do not “practice what they preach” when it comes to best practices, (aka. Quality Score).
Solution: Hire a PPC Consultant of Agency to manage your accounts. Understanding and implementing good Quality Score (which is essentially relevancy from the Keyword Level all the way to the Landing Page). Google is notorious for suggesting keywords and increasing budgets to maximize your visibility. However, all Google cares about driving traffic, not qualified conversions.
#7 Big Agency Regurgitation
If you are a Startup that needs “Big Agency Results” from a small budget, hiring a larger agency is not exactly the best alternative. For example, you will need and probably be expecting a daily and sometimes hourly communication within the first couple months of the relationship. Most larger agencies work on a different playing field. Smaller PPC agencies or PPC consultants are structured to meet these expectations. Furthermore, it’s important that the relationship include all of the required phases such as the following:
- and most importantly Education with client
#8 Betting The Farm Prematurely
I have seen too many times when Startups spent too much too early and it completely ruins their chances for sustainable growth. It is important to start out slowly, find ways to generate traffic and awareness through alternative methods such as Social Media, SEO and quite frankly “word of mouth” To prove that this does exist, here are some real screenshots from SpyFu’s Monthly Trend function.
#9 Outside Opinion Overload
I know it’s important to get as much feedback as possible when starting or launching a new company, however getting advice from people who think they know PPC Marketing because they read an article or attended a conference can be a slippery slope. Too many times, outside influence from the top of the corporate chain which trumps those who are experts in their field often leads to failure because they do not understand the online searching behaviors of consumers. Whether it is Landing Pages, Brand vs. Non-Brand, or even simple things such as Promotions and Offers in text ads can have a negative effect on revenue.
Solution: Soak up all of the feedback you can get and label these new ideas as “TEST” Campaigns and analyse the heck out of them.
#10 Forecast Projection Regurgitation
How many times have you seen Marketing Directors simply create excel formulas which magically forecast the future of online marketing revenue based on a single monetary amount. (For example, if we increase our budget from $10,000 to $100,000 we will generate an additional $1 million dollars.) Yeah, I wish that were all true. However, that is not the case. The math may sound great to a Venture Capitalist/Investor, but it’s just not realistic. Take in account the following scenarios:
- Market Saturation Levels
- Seasonality Highs/Lows
- Potential Technical issues
- Search Engine Algorithm changes
- Increased Competitor landscape
#11 Tootsie Pop Syndrome
I have to admit, this is my most creative one so far. I want to reference one of the most popular and creative taglines in the Candy Industry (ie.. How many licks does it take to get to the Tootsie Roll Center of a Tootsie Pop?)
PPC Marketing is not a “set it and forget it” industry. There are as many successes as there are failures from companies all over the world. The biggest mistake in PPC Marketing is setting the wrong expectations with the prospect/client. Too many times I have seen Sales Teams “promise the world” to clients in order for them to get their commissions. This not only sets a bad precedent for referrals, it also “ruffles the feathers” with the PPC management team which is intimately responsible for the results. Bottom line: If it sounds too good to be true, find another company/consultant.
Since starting my PPC Marketing Firm back in 2008, many of my clients have been start ups which needed “Big Agency Results” from a small, boutique firm. The 10 things mentioned in this article are honestly right from real experience. To reinforce this, I am honored to note that one of my past clients BirchBox.com has become one most admired Subscription based Companies in the world. In fact, here is a testimonial from Birchbox on the importance working with a smaller Boutique firm during the infancy stage of their business.
Working with AfterClicks was an excellent experience on a professional and personal level. They were a true partner to our business, helping us conceptualize, launch and optimize many of our initial paid search campaigns. They were dependable in their execution, responsive to our requests and a strategic collaborator in helping us reach key goals in our paid marketing plans. AfterClicks achieved excellent results, with strong ROI, consistent acquisition growth and a dedicated approach to managing our accounts.
– Matthew Field, BirchBox.com