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5 Digital-Marketing Tactics to Ditch in 2016 Planning to never update your desktop-only accessible website and continue to avoid Facebook for fear of negative comments in 2016? Really?

By Matt Walker

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


Keeping abreast with what works in digital marketing can be a constant catch-up game. Fickle consumers jump from channel to channel. Google updates its search algorithm. Keeping up with Facebook's monthly changes requires constant education. Because of all of this change, it can be hard to keep on top of which digital tactics still work -- and which are no longer relevant.

Read on to understand which digital-marketing tactics you should consider ditching in 2016.

1. Having a desktop-only accessible website

The mobile website living separately from the desktop website no longer flies with Google. The dominant search engine has made it very clear that a traditional website that doesn't adjust to the user's screen size won't be as visible as one that does.

Google knows its users access their search engine while on the go and wants to serve its users in the best way possible. To make itself look better, it must reward the websites most accommodating to how customers search the web today -- in the car, the Starbucks line and even in the corporate meeting.

Websites must be fluid not only for the user, but for the business owner's convenience as well. Having a mobile website built on a separate platform runs the risk that information from site to site will be inconsistent. Contradictions erode consumer trust. Handling social media and directory updates creates enough extra work. Having to upload new information to additional sites become cost and time ineffective. The bottom line is that the traditional desktop designed website will lose rankings and visibility.

Despite Google's clear messages that websites must be mobile-friendly, many small and medium-sized businesses have not converted their websites to mobile-friendly design. To check if your website is mobile friendly, enter your url into Google's "Mobile Friendly Test Tool." Google will quickly tell you if and why your website does not render in an effective way on tablet or smartphone. Small fonts and links put too closely together are a few factors that make a website impossible to navigate and access on a small screen. Get your website mobile today to keep customers coming in.

2. Not updating your website.

Beyond mobile accessibility, Google also closely watches how often users click and convert on your website. While it was once speculated that Facebook channels would overtake websites, research tells us that consumers return again and again to a company's website for in-depth information on the corporation, product and contact details.

Google takes this habit seriously and wants company websites to serve visitors' needs. Again, like the mobility demand outlined above, Google is laser-focused on delivering quality answers from quality websites.

The place-holding or basic website that acts primarily as a two-dimensional, digital brochure doesn't win higher rankings from the search engines. The site must be attractive, easy to navigate, timely and constantly updated with quality content.

A/B testing can help your site win better user engagement and sales or other conversions. More, Google interprets users quickly bouncing away from your website back to the search results as a signal the site offers content that's irrelevant to the search query. To succeed in digital marketing, make sure your website fulfills a need and constantly addresses that need with timely, relevant content.

3. The spammy link

Google changed the determination of quality in 1999 when it decided that, rather than have an editorial team review websites and make subjective judgments, it would derive value of a website by the number of other websites linking to it. In other words, the digital thumbs up in the form of backlinks provided a more accurate reflection of a site's usefulness.

Unfortunately, business owners and unethical search agencies sullied Google's trust of backlinks as indicators of the authority of a website. These entities gamed Google's system by creating backlinks from artificially created sites with poor-quality content and irrelevant information. Google's strong staff of PhDs and computer engineers rectified this black- hat SEO with the Penguin update, which penalizes websites without authentic backlinks coming from relevant and reputable websites.

Today, Google rewards the quality, robust content that earns backlinks naturally. SEO companies have become big content generators. Keep in mind, too, that in addition to signals from other sites, Google's staff of editors spot-check a website's content to make sure it's relevant to certain search queries. Companies without meaningful and helpful content, products and backlinks drop in the rankings quickly. After all, Google doesn't want to deliver a poor product.

4. The superficial social channel

Social media marketing progressed so quickly, many companies were thrilled to get cover images and some content -- any content -- up over the past few years. They felt convinced having a presence on social media would prove their credibility.

Companies that overlook the opportunities social media provides to connect one on one with customers do so to their detriment. Studies show that social media has become one of the big three of customer support, alongside telephone and email.

But where those emailing a company expect a response within a day or so, a study conducted by Edison Research reveals that 42 percent of those contacting a company through social media expect a response within 60 minutes, and 24 percent expect a response within 30 minutes. Further, consumers expect the social-customer service team to work all night and through the weekend.

Long gone are the days when companies avoided social media for fear of negative comments. We've all learned negative comments happen whether we're there to address them or not. Now, most marketers view criticism as an opportunity to educate customers and showcase a committed, responsive customer-service department.

5. Single display and Facebook ads

Typically just 2 percent or fewer website visitors convert on the first visit. Sales professionals have always known that it takes seven to nine contacts before the sale is closed. If the website is the digital salesperson, shouldn't it have the opportunity to follow up on initial contacts?

Google and Facebook have made this possible through re-targeting -- which Google calls re-marketing. When a visitor lands on a website, a cookie or short piece of JavaScript is placed in their browser. After they leave your site, this cookie pings the re-targeting platform to put certain ads on the next pages the visitor goes to.

That's why, when you spend some time on a hover-board site or when you next go to WebMD or Facebook or your favorite blog, you see an ad for the hover board. It follows you around the web. WebMD, Facebook and some blogs also have a relationship with the re-targeting platform that acts as a clearinghouse or middle man to deliver ads to appropriate publishing platforms. The WebMD page you see won't be the same WebMD page a friend sees even if you use the same URL. Ads served to your friend will be different and based on her previous Internet activity.

When done right, re-targeting helps move the prospect down the sales funnel. It re-engages them after they leave your page. The era of a single display ad that shows up on one blog in the same place every time is coming to an end. Today's technology enables advertisers to target one customer at a time and lure them down the attention, interest and desire path to action -- the sale.

Each digital-marketing tactic a business chooses must depend on the size of the business, its unique selling proposition, its audience demographics and its ideal buyer's journey. No digital-marketing technique is a one-size-fits-all solution, but we're confident that if you avoid these tactics and mistakes, your digital marketing efforts will be improved in 2016.

What are some digital-marketing tactics that you said goodbye to in the last year? What will you be focusing on in 2016?

Matt Walker

CEO and Founder of Main Path, Inc.

Matt Walker is the CEO and founder of Main Path, Inc. Walker leads the company's day-to-day operations and focuses his efforts on providing a best-in-class digital-marketing solution for Main Path's clients. Walker enjoys spending time with his family, golfing and networking with fellow entrepreneurs.

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