6 Very Expensive Marketing Mistakes You Need to Avoid

Advertising is essential for business but has a big potential for backfiring.

learn more about Firas Kittaneh

By Firas Kittaneh

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Every business has a product or service worth promoting, but a prolific marketing presence should not be your main goal. A thoughtfully planned and well-executed campaign can easily outperform lazy, mass-media ad buys.

To save money, time and headaches, entrepreneurs eager to attract an audience and acquire customers at scale need to be wary of poorly-executed campaigns and advertisements done in bad taste that can cause more harm than good.

Examples such as Groupon's 2011 Super Bowl commercial, Sony's white PSP ads and Molson Coors' college drinking campaign earned each company widespread public backlash and will forever haunt these brands. To be more effective at marketing, businesses must be mindful of embarrassing themselves and offending customers. Ultimately, bad marketing can be ruinous for customer loyalty and sales.

1. False promises negatively impact brand affinity.

Companies like Allstate Insurance, Avis Car Rental and RadioShack set themselves up for failure with their alluring taglines but poor service.

While Allstate suggests, "You're in good hands with Allstate," paying customers aren't convinced. On ConsumerAffairs.com, the insurance company receives an average rating of 1.1 out of 5.0. Avis' slogan, "We try harder," is similarly far from believable. It, too, maintains an abysmal rating of 1.2 out of 5.0. Prior to 2014, Radioshack touted, "You've got questions ... We've got answers." Unfortunately, its broken promises have awarded it a customer satisfaction rating of 1.4 out of 5.0.

Although a clever motto can be enough to motivate customers to walk into your store or visit your website, the experience you offer and the value deliver are what matter the most. Make only promises you intend to keep to effectively manage consumer expectations and improve customer satisfaction.

Related: Keep Your Promises and Other Must-Read Business Tips

2. Bad data nets zero ROI for potentially profitable campaigns.

Companies simply cannot afford to operate with bad data. According to Econsultancy, "New research from Experian Data Quality shows that inaccurate data has a direct impact on the bottom line of 88 percent of companies, with the average company losing 12 percent of its revenue."

In advertising, unique creatives are often tested against a control audience. In this instance, clean data might reveal that certain ads drive high engagement and positive ROI while others underperform. With the flip of a switch, data-driven marketers would then turn off the creatives that provide negative ROI and scale up spend on the high-performers. But without these sorts of insights, many marketers find themselves paying a fortune for traffic that does not convert.

3. Inconsistent experiences confuse customers.

Different things make different customers tick. In a world where technology allows us to personalize every marketing touch point with consumers, many brands still fall short. Email blasts include links to products that are no longer available. Ad creatives direct audiences to unrelated pages on your site. At checkout, the coupon that should have automatically been applied to a purchase is nowhere to be found.

Marketers need to regularly walk through the customer acquisition and engagement funnels to spot any errors or inconsistencies which may confuse customers and deter audiences from completing their purchase.

Related: The 5 Worst Twitter Marketing Fails of 2014

4. Aggressive email blasts affect deliverability.

For mid-sized businesses, email marketing offers a 246 percent return on investment. Yet, some marketers forget the importance of proper audience segmentation. An email blast to your entire list of subscribers may cause recipients, in droves, to mark your mail as spam.

Of course, losing subscribers is the least of your worries. If you regularly receive complaints from recipients who mark your email as spam, your email service provider may temporarily disable or permanently delete your account. According to Campaign Monitor, "The industry standard for an acceptable percentage of complaints per email campaign is less than 0.02 percent." Anything above that is cause for concern.

5. Marketers fly blind when they operate in silos.

Marketers sometimes find themselves operating alone and on their own terms inside a bubble instead of interacting with their peers to build a better product and increase overall customer experience. Marketers, for their own purposes, should reach out to their colleagues in finance, sales, customer service, product and engineering for valuable help and guidance.

Marketers operating in a silo may not realize which products customers rave about most, which offerings have the highest (and lowest) markup, and tools or services that are currently experiencing bugs or downtime.

6. Marketing to desktop users neglects a larger, growing audience.

Most advertisements and creatives are built and optimized for a desktop audience. What many marketers forget is they leave money on the table when they fail to optimize their campaigns for mobile users.

In the U.S., consumers spend more time on their mobile devices than they do on desktop computers. The future of marketing is mobile, as audiences have long shifted their attention towards smaller screens with lightening fast Internet connections.

Marketers waste millions each year on desktop-optimized ads that are delivered to mobile audiences. Companies, instead, should prioritize developing mobile-optimized ads first, and worry about desktop traffic later.

Related: 4 Mistakes Your Mobile-Ad Strategy Needs to Avoid

Firas Kittaneh

Serial Entrepreneur • CEO at Amerisleep • CEO at OCLU

Firas Kittaneh is a serial entrepreneur and co-founder of amerisleep. Most recently, he launched OCLU to improve how we record our most memorable moments.

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