10 Common Digital Marketing Mistakes & Solutions
May 23, 2016
Digital marketing – there’s always room for improvement. So here’s 10 common digital marketing mistakes – and solutions to make things better.
1. Lacking Effective Processes for Capturing Data Necessary to Drive Success. Everyone gets all excited about digital marketing because of measurability but then the most common mistake we see are processes that don’t effectively capture the data you need to measure the success or failure of a campaign. It’s a competitive world out there – you need a process that helps you stand achieve your goals and that requires one that effectively captures and stores the data you need to determine if the activity was successful or not. And that’s why recruitment audits, retention audits and mystery shopper research are so important – they help you identify opportunities to improve.
2. Off Target Targeting. Potential students come to you with a variety of wants, needs, expectations and perceptions – so for your digital marketing to work, you need to have messages and offers that are relevant for those wants, needs, expectations and perceptions. Assuming that everyone should get the “…Financial Aid email followed by the Alumni/Student testimonial email and the Student Activities email…” can be costly when the prospective student is interested in [ex] how career services will help them get a job after graduation and how your online courses will ensure them of a quality learning experience. The bottom line is that without market research, segmentation and personas, you are guessing rather than being data driven.
3. Student-centric Focus. Based on our own Mystery Shopper research and the research of others, there’s a widening gap between those that are using personalization, targeting journey mapping and data analysis. Personalization is more than being able to start off every email with their name – it’s about relevant content that addresses their wants, needs, expectations and perceptions. And it’s about making things fast, simple, straight-forward as well as easily understood.
4. Personalization Failure. This one is one of my favorites – because about 50% of commercial communications (mail, email, phone) aimed at me are personalized for “Ms Pat McGraw”. Then there are the misspelled names that can make one wonder if the author is also a Starbucks barista.
5. Mobile? You’re trying to recruit Millennials and, soon, Gen Y – yet you’re not asking for, capturing or utilizing mobile. Heck, how many lack a website that’s optimized for mobile? This is an important area you need to start working on as of yesterday.
6. Email Overkill. In our own studies and observations, there are too many colleges that have forgotten about the phone, face-to-face meetings, direct mail and other channels for communicating. Why? Because “…email is free…” But many colleges are watching their open rates and click rates fall. Mix it up. Keep it fresh.
7. Failing to Test. This list starts off and ends with failing to set objectives and failing to measure – so it makes sense that ‘failing to test’ is in the middle. The reasons we typically hear for the lack of testing is “…we’re too busy…” We understand. But by testing and learning you can work smarter which saves time, effort, resources. Test messages. Test offers. Test design. Test lists. Just test – it’s the best way to improve.
8. Anti-social Social. Pushing out posts thanks to marketing automation sucks the social out of social. Remember, this is a significant decision that is going to cost the student a lot of time and money – and those are the kinds of decisions that are made based on the connection the student makes with the people at your college. Which is why it’s key to have someone responsible for responding to comments from potential/current/former students in as timely a manner as possible. For more on this and other topics, check out our free eBook – Turn Social Media into a Student Recruitment and Retention Powerhouse.
9. Silos. Marketing generates leads, enrollment nurtures leads through the application process to enrollment, then advisers work with students for retention purposes through graduation. Marketing forgets to set up the campaign for tracking in the CRM, enrollment services may or may not capture all interactions within the CRM, and advisers work in the SIS because “…it’s easier…” Ask what campaigns generated the most students – and at many colleges, you will never know.
10. Failing to Measure. Forgetting to set objectives, failing to test and failing to measure results are three of the most surprising and common mistakes in digital marketing. That’s why, in the planning process, we make sure our clients have a clear understanding and agreement on what the objectives are, what data will be captured, by whom, how and stored where so that analysis can occur. We know how much this insight can impact improvement and growth – we want to make sure you benefit from it.
Some might include “…outsourcing digital and social media marketing…” but outsourcing isn’t the problem, process is. For some, outsourcing means “…hire someone, wash my hands and walk away…” which leads to a resource not having access to everything they need to do their job. Treat the outsourced solution like a member of the team – train them, work with them, agree to the strategic and tactical plan that includes a process for testing, creating, developing, reviewing, improving…
Patrick McGraw is VP of Higher Educaton Marketing Services and has more than 25 years experience in market research, competitive intelligence, business intelligence including database marketing and CRM, strategic planning, brand development and management as well as operations/campaign management. His work has consistently helped his clients and employers develop and implement more efficient ways to attract and retain profitable customers, enter new markets and launch new products. His areas of focus include the education, hospitality, travel and tourism, hi-tech, telecommunications, financial services, and retail industries on both the agency and customer sides.