5 Outdated Marketing Habits European Entrepreneurs Should Stop Now
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We spend a lot of time helping European businesses upgrade their online presence. Along the way, we’ve seen there are several “habits” that business owners and marketers keep slipping into.
Here are five that I see happening all too often.
1. Going with what’s nearby, but not the best.
There is a tendency for business owners in Germany, France and the Netherlands to play it safe with local technology suppliers, ignoring the sophistication and ease of use of U.S./U.K.-based platforms.
Being based in the U.K., we see certain tools as “standard” and extremely user friendly -- they are made by U.S.-based companies who have developed these with ease-of-use as a priority. Across Europe, many businesses aren’t integrating or using these tools and instead are using clunky, out-of-date versions of software presented in their local languages. It’s worth looking at certain technologies which have rolled out globally:
- WordPress (as the most widely used integrated CMS for websites)
- Buffer and Hootsuite (social media scheduling and management)
- Eventbrite (events)
- Salesforce and Pipedrive (sales)
- MixPanel (user analytics)
- Shopify (ecommerce)
2. Doing nothing with the website -- for years.
Could you call this a “habit”? A habit of negligence! Web browsers change all the time. Social networks evolve and change their interfaces. And let’s not forget the other ever-changing factor -- the expectations, browsing habits and sophistication of your users.
More and more people expect modern interfaces and to access information in one click while on-the-go through mobile devices. Most common examples of this negligence I still see time and time again:
- Websites that aren’t responsive (i.e. not mobile friendly).
- Blogs that haven’t been updated in months or years.
- APIs that are out of date, such as embedded Flash movies -- the use of Flash has dropped significantly. Also Google Maps have recently changed the way its maps feed into websites, and those who haven’t noticed this will have an error on the map of their contact page.
- Social media icons displayed on the website, but leading to social profiles that haven’t been touched in ages.
- Out-of-date and old fashioned design.
- No SSL certificates -- this is obvious in Google Chrome browser with the “not secure” message being shown.
- Confusing typography: spacing too far/too close, too many fonts, things not lining up.
3. Too small here, too big there.
Another “habit” is when business owners stuff their websites with information, complicated language and industry jargon. When it comes to online communication, it’s better to go for a “less is more” and a “little and often” approach.
Less is more: On your website, keep the amount of text on most information pages below two paragraphs, and use images, boxes, headlines, captions and bullet points. Use your blog for long-form written content, with headlines that are designed to catch the eye of your users.
Little and often: Create well designed and concisely written content in the form of branded images, guest articles, videos, photos, infographics and e-books, and share these consistently (with variety so you don’t annoy your audience) on well-managed social networks (Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter).
4. It’s not the same everywhere.
Across different countries in Europe and globally, there are differences and nuances in communications. If you are at all thinking of expanding internationally, study the cultural differences -- you will need to get the help of a professional translator rather than relying on online translation tools, and sometimes you’ll need to create a localized website and social platforms.
For example, there are variations in style within the German language itself -- in some cases using more anglicized words can seem more innovative. Whatever style you use must still match who you are as a business.
5. You can’t be too shy in business.
There is an expectation or understanding that in the U.S., successes should be shouted about online, and people are very “out there” in their self-praise. Europeans often consider this as over the top and pushy, even saying things such as, “Oh that’s too American for my liking.”
However, there are sophisticated and effective ways that you can show your successes and promote your services without being off-putting. A professionally-taken, flattering image; writing in the first person; behind-the-scenes videos shared on-the-fly; and stories written about client projects all help to show success and personality without being salesy or braggy.