Sometimes people hear online marketing and their common sense flies out the window. They start thinking there won’t be any work (there will), there won’t be any expenses (a lot lower than standard offline advertising, but not zero), and that customers and clients will be magically transported to your business by flying Internet monkeys (that would rock, but sadly, no).
“Don’t take shortcuts, they take too long.” That’s something I say at least once a week, whether it’s to a colleague or one of our brilliant Authority members.
I first said it in the context of smart search engine optimization, where the tricks, games, and tomfoolery of a certain style of SEO have been systematically whacked by Google — leaving site owners to start from scratch.
But that’s not the only aspect of your online marketing efforts you need to watch out for. Here are a few shortcuts that will only slow you down in the long run.
#1: Going with “quick” solutions instead of self-hosted WordPress
I did this. When I first started a blog way back when, I went with a certain platform that rhymes with Striped Dad.
Why? Because I looked at setting up self-hosted WordPress and there were steps I didn’t understand. It seemed tricky. It seemed like it was going to take longer than the 3 minutes it took me to create a Striped Dad account.
To make things worse, instead of using my own domain name, I set it up as SoniaSimoneIsMakingAMistake.StripedDad.com.
I saved an hour or two … and when I finally came to my senses and moved over to my own domain, I lost all of my links and comments from the earliest days of that blog.
Not fatal. But not optimal, either. There was a lot of extra work, content promotion, and networking I needed to do to fix that mistake.
It was a shortcut that took too long.
#2: Thinking that Facebook is a valid content marketing program
I’m not picking on Facebook (this time), it’s just the most visible place people are making this mistake today.
Using Facebook, or whatever social platform you like, is a perfectly excellent addition to your content marketing strategy.
The problem comes when you think that’s your entire content marketing strategy.
Never mind setting up and maintaining your own site … How easy to just put your business identity on Facebook! Or Google+! Or Pinterest or Medium or LinkedIn … you get the idea.
And it is easier. Until the platform changes the rules, yanks your account out from under you, and your content marketing program goes with it.
Which will happen. Because it always happens … whether the platform is Geocities or MySpace or Tumblr.
Platforms come and go. Your domain name — and the high-quality site you build on it — lives on.
(Assuming you remember to keep it renewed. Seriously, don’t forget to do that.)
#3: Buying all of your traffic from one source
Oh, the happy world of venture capital-backed tech startups. So much money! So many Aeron chairs! So much fun!
Until the single source of traffic you were using to show growth dries up, for one of a million possible reasons. And your viral overnight success becomes a sick and tired overnight failure.
VC-backed companies can be forgiven for doing silly things (that’s what they’re good at, right?). But plenty of more sensible businesses make this mistake too. It comes from thinking of traffic (and leads, and prospects) as a faucet you can turn on and off, instead of the result of credibility that you must earn.
Don’t let any one company be the source of all of your traffic, whether it’s a social platform like Facebook or an 800-pound pay-per-click gorilla like AdWords.
And yeah, the SEO thing
You shouldn’t rely on search for all of your traffic either. A smart organic SEO strategy (without silly shortcuts) will usually weather Google’s storms, but you don’t want to bet your business on it.
(Besides, Google always seems to love the sites best that don’t need them at all. Because Google is a mean high school girl.)
Do this instead:
- Cultivate a reputation for caring a whole hell of a lot about customers, and for excellent work.
- Build a solid content hub that demonstrates how well you know your stuff.
- Reach out in a few well-chosen social channels.
- Keep showing up.
- Keep being awesome.
Remember what your 4th grade teacher kept trying to tell you. If you don’t have time to do it right, you don’t have time to do it over.