Have you noticed the explosion in applications to help you do your own marketing? Most are great tools. In concept they lower costs and make it easier for smaller companies to run big-company marketing programs.
Unfortunately, as things become cheaper and easier to do, they also become more poorly done.
At Clicks ‘n Conversions we see the downside of marketing applications affecting nearly every good company that comes our way. In general, these good companies are heading in the right direction; but they’re learning the marketing equivalent of an engineering truism: a CAD program does not make you a good airplane designer.
Here, in no particular order, is my list of 6 common examples of marketing technology driving mediocrity.
1. Pay-per-click advertising
Google has succeeded in making even the most inexperienced user feel right at home spending tons of money on pay-per-click advertising. Adwords (Google’s pay-per-click program) has a fantastically simple-to-use interface.
But guess what.
As Adwords has become easier to use, performance for marketers in general has tumbled. Costs have gone up and returns on investment have gone down. In reality Google has just made it easier for companies to waste a lot of money.
2. Email marketing
Marketers love email because they see it as nearly free. Hey, for $20 a month you can blast newsletters and spam messages to anyone on your list. As a result it’s become extremely difficult to get real messages through to people who value the content. Wonder why direct mail is gaining in use again?
3. A/B and multivariate testing applications
I applaud the people who are making testing options available to smaller marketers; but without some knowledge of what should be tested and for how long, marketers can waste a lot of time. Does a green button get clicked more often than a red button? Is it worth waiting six months to find out?
4. Website analytics
Like testing capabilities, website analytics can bring game-changing knowledge and good actionable data to marketers of all sizes. The problem is it can also paralyze you with data overload – often in pretty dashboard charts that provide information you don’t really need. How many analytics applications are cranking out weekly reports that no one reads?
5. Desktop Publishing
Desktop publishing is an ancient – but great – example of technology driving mediocrity. Since the day desktop publishing programs hit the market, the developed world has been inundated with really awful brochures, ads and websites. And by “awful” I don’t mean just ugly. At best they are ineffective; at worst they destroy the company’s brand.
6. Automated articles submissions, directory submissions, link building programs, etc.
These applications make it possible to blast an article, website listing, linking invitation or meeting request to hundreds or even thousands of recipients with the click of a button. On the surface it has a pretty good wow factor. But, when you’re sending the same message or content to everyone, quality goes out the window. Humans quickly realize you’re spamming them and unless the recipient of these blasts is another automated system, you’re going to be ignored. These tools can make you lazy.
Proceed with caution
As you may have noticed, my issues with these applications are not with the applications themselves. I think most of them are great. We use nearly all of them.
The danger in these applications is the absence of people who know what they’re doing. It takes some marketing expertise to drive the best results. Smart business owners will either set aside the time to learn the underlying concepts or set aside the money to hire someone who does.
I’m sure my seven are not the only “dangerous” DIY marketing applications. What others have you run across?