Typewriters, boom boxes, floppy disks. What we thought would never be replaced, well, have been. Technology and media are constantly changing, and inevitably so are customers’ buying behaviors.
We as marketers must avoid stagnation in our own processes, even if that means educating and challenging ourselves to learn new programs, terms, and best practices.
Here are 15 old-school marketing practices of which you might be guilty:
1. Mobile Incompatibility
Today 66% of people own a smartphone, up from 35% in the spring of 2011. Consumers are utilizing digital channels more than ever before to research and make purchases online. And remember Google's 2015 "Mobilegeddon" update? While not as catastrophic as the name implied, it did impact mobile search results. Making your website accessible and functional on mobile platforms improves your SEO as well as visitor experience.
2. Internal Hosting
Unless you are a website company or computer programmer, it is better to have someone else host your business’ site. Companies such as Bluehost, which offers reasonable pricing starting at $3.49 a month, exist specifically to host websites. The benefit of these companies is that if something goes wrong, you have access to professional customer support and aren’t relying on internal resources to fix the problem.
Internet browsing behaviors are changing. Most people do not type full-length URLs anymore to access a website, but rather search using keywords or phrases. The address bar essentially functions as a search box, too. Gone are the days of selecting a .net because your desired URL is taken. In 2016 you should opt for a longer .com URL for better search ranking. If you have an old .net, keep it but set up a redirect to your .com.
4. Printing at Staples
While Staples is a good choice for office supplies, it is not the ideal printing company for high-quality promotional materials. Finding a printing company that you can easily work with and that understands your needs is essential to successful creative.
5. Boring Email Subject Lines
We’re surrounded by noise and clutter everywhere, but especially in email marketing. Marketers have to try harder to get their emails opened and read. Instead of using the more rational label, “quarterly newsletter,” perhaps try using a persuasive call-to-action or interesting fact in the subject line to grab attention.
6. Fax Numbers
Ask yourself: do you use fax on a daily basis? While there might be exceptions in some financial and medical sectors, fax is not regularly used in most industries. When you are creating business cards and email signatures, skip the fax number. Stick to the contact information customers are most likely to need: phone number, email, and web URL.
7. Black Book / Rolodex
Let’s face it, human error is inevitable and we are going to lose things. Scrambling through a little book of contacts or a Rolodex is tedious and outdated. Storing and organizing contacts online using a company-wide CRM system is a more efficient way to keep track of all of your contacts and notes, and it ensures that others in your organization can find the information if you’re not available to provide it.
8. Marketing Emails from Robots
Marketing and sales are about relationships. Some automated emails can be perceived as impersonal and not customer-oriented. In order to leverage your CRM, it’s important that your emails, even automated ones, come from real addresses (email@example.com instead of firstname.lastname@example.org) and are written in a way that feels personal.
9. Four-Paragraph Emails
Reading behavior has changed. We consume language in a concise way, partially due to the brevity used on social media and texting. When planning an email with a lot of information, use bullets or numbers, or express an important action in a standalone line versus a multiple-sentence paragraph.
10. Single-Option Communication
A phone call is not the only way to reach someone today. It’s important to ask your customer what method of communication – whether calling, texting, emailing, online messaging, Skyping or FaceTiming – is most convenient for them. This is especially true on your website. A phone number with “Call Now!” is no longer a sufficient call-to-action.
11. 20th Century Phrases
When does something officially become cliché? Terms like “one-stop-shop” or “state-of-the-art” are the type of 20th century marketing language that keeps your business stuck in the past. Instead, aim for more narrative language that makes it clear what your company actually does and how this helps your customers.
12. Not Utilizing Text Messaging
Sometimes it’s easier to text someone to get a quick response if they’re not at their computer. From our experience, customers prefer that texting be part of our daily communication with them. Though you should establish that this is an acceptable means of communication prior to using it, don’t assume that if your customer is over 40 they don’t text. Professionals of all ages are coming to rely on this efficient means of communication to keep their business running smoothly.
13. Full Print Catalogs
Phone books and lengthy catalogs are used significantly less today. Our search behavior is now focused on online channels, which has allowed for an overall shift away from print. A great alternative to cumbersome collateral is a set of application-specific mini-catalogs. Lower in cost and more environmentally friendly, these mini-catalogs can be sent to customers who specifically ask for a print catalog.
14. Download to Fill Out Forms
Having to download a PDF form, fill it out (sometimes print it, fill it out, and rescan it if it’s not electronically editable), and then send it back results in incredibly high percentages of form abandonment. For successful lead generation, not to mention consumer and company convenience, every form on your site and landing pages should be an online form.
15. “Home” in Website Navigation Bar
Today it is common knowledge that the logo in most website headers link back to the homepage. As long as that logo appears site-wide, visitors can always find their way home, and you have more space in your navigation to highlight specific page links.
Great marketing strategy focuses on the customer. Meeting their needs involves adapting to new tech trends and the different ways buyers interact with your brand.
For more quick tips, watch our Marketing Tip of the Week video series.