Online marketing is a lot of fun. You get to flex your creative muscles by coming up with new campaign ideas, testing them and measuring the results. You get to be on the forefront of developing technologies, learning new systems and playing with new apps.
And you get to enjoy the “thrill of the hunt” when it comes to attracting more leads and finding just the right combination of elements that maximizes your conversion rates.
But it isn’t all glorious. Any marketer will tell you that while some tasks come naturally, others are a total pain in the ass. They’re difficult -- because they’re time-consuming, they’re not straightforward or they just aren’t user friendly. And we all wish those tasks were a lot easier:
1. Market research
You can’t launch any type of online marketing strategy unless you’ve done your market research first. But the term “market research” is misleadingly simplistic. There are dozens of variables to consider about your audience.
Who are those people? What do they like? What do they need? What’s their buying cycle like? And not all of the answers can be found from resources like the Census Bureau. There are unlimited potential questions to ask, and because of that, you're just as likely to dig too deep than dig too shallow. The balance is tough to strike, and be forewarned, it’s not a fun process.
2. Topic selection
Most online marketers have a content marketing campaign as one of their foundational branding pillars; but for content marketing to be successful, you need a running stream of new content topics, and all of them have to be both valuable and original.
Coming up with valuable, original topics is hard enough as it is. Keyword targets, a necessary component from SEO, makes the problem more complicated. Add in the fact that you have to come up with them on an ongoing basis, and it’s no wonder that most content creators are pulling their hair out only a few months into their new content generation.
3. Creative brainstorming
I mentioned the creative process as one of the most fun parts of online marketing, and I still mean that -- but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Coming up with new, clever, original ideas is hard work, especially if you have a small team to work with.
Even something simple, like a funny one-liner, can cause a massive roadblock in the marketing department if the ideas aren’t flowing that day. The problem is, you can’t force creativity, so there’s definitely a bit of luck involved when it comes to inspiration.
4. UX testing
Some forms of testing are pretty simple; AB tests, for example, reduce a test down to a simple variable, and usually have one or two metrics that plainly spell out whether that test was successful.
UX testing, on the other hand, is far more complex. You’re dealing with much more qualitative, subjective data, like heat maps and time spent on various pages, and it’s not always easy to find quality volunteers to walk through the process. Still, UX testing is something that needs to be done.
5. Staying up to date
Things are changing all the time in the online marketing world. Sometimes, it’s a new technology that enters the scene and completely changes the way that your users interact with online elements. Other times, it’s a competitor that gets the upper hand on you with a new content campaign.
It’s hard to tell exactly what the day or the week is going to throw at you, but if you want your campaign and brand's success to continue, you need to be ready for anything. It takes a lot of time and willingness to adapt to succeed here (hint: see 10 Marketing Blogs All CMOs Should Read).
6. Data analysis
There’s a renaissance going on in the world of data; we now have so much technology capable of pulling so much data, it’s a marketer’s dream. You can get pieces of data on practically any kind of user behavior or action, but there’s a problem: What do you do with it when you have it?
For starters, we may feel overwhelmed by the data glut. How do you know what questions to ask? Which pieces of data are most significant? There is also a plethora of mistakes you can make, from oversimplifying a problem to falling victim to confirmation bias. Data analysis, at least the thorough, objective kind, is hard.
Sometimes, you have to completely reposition your brand. This might be because your old strategy isn't working; and part of the difficulty here can be the resulting blow to your ego. You have to pick up the pieces of the strategy you thought would work and start all over again.
The other part of the difficulty is that you’re starting from scratch; and that fact forces you to begin again, from the ground up. Still, there’s a certain excitement there: a blue ocean of opportunity waiting; and you'll probably have all the tools you'll need to go explore it.
These tasks aren’t impossible; in fact, most of them can be completed with sheer determination (and a good attitude to keep you sane). Still, they represent some of the more challenging aspects of online marketing.
If you’re new to the game, watch out for these hurdles, so you’re ready for them when they arrive. And if you’re already acquainted with them: Well, at least you know you’re not alone.