If only we had a snopes.com for all the marketing myths that abound on the Internet. It seems like every day we hear a new one. We thought we’d highlight five of the more popular myths and bust them right here.
MYTH #1: Direct mail is an outbound marketing method that doesn’t work. Part of that statement is correct: direct mail is indeed an outbound marketing method. But just because it’s outbound, and not inbound, that doesn’t mean it’s not effective. Like any other marketing strategy you use, however, results can vary for many reasons, such as execution, the offer, and the list, just to name a few items.
You might even have a better chance of standing out in snail mail vs. email. In fact, an article called “Back to Basics: Why Direct Mail is Not Dead” notes that “a study done by the Direct Marketing Association found that the response rate for direct mail to an existing customer averages 3.4 percent, compared to 0.12 percent for email.” The same article also points out that only 45 percent of seniors have Internet service.
In other words, know your audience and understand what resonates with them. If your focus is on the baby boomer crowd, for example, direct mail might make a lot of sense (on the flip side, if you’re trying to reach Millennials, then not so much). An article from Internet marketing expert and blogger Taylor Clark provides three helpful direct mail tips, the most important one being (in our eyes) that you should have realistic expectations about response rates.
If you’re thinking about adding a direct mail campaign into your marketing mix, check out “Every Door Direct Mail” from the United States Postal Service. This program is designed for small businesses focused on marketing locally.
Myth #2: You don’t need to worry about keywords anymore since Google is encrypting all keyword data. Last fall, Google confirmed the news that many marketers feared: that it was indeed encrypting all keyword data, meaning you’ll no longer know what phrases people search on. The problem is, the last part of that sentence isn’t entirely accurate. There are still ways to gauge keyword data using Google’s webmaster tools, reviewing Google Analytics, and researching phrases using Google AdWords (and perhaps testing phrases by running some ads).
Bottom line: Keywords definitely still matter and likely always will since people use these phrases to conduct their searches.
Remember, when it comes to SEO, you should be writing for humans first, search engines second, which means you’re probably already using keyword phrases naturally in your content. Keep doing that and then use some of the other tools we mention above to round out your keyword data.
Myth #3: Forget about guest blogging. Google’s Matt Cutts said you shouldn’t do it anymore. Oh, boy. So Matt Cutts, who is essentially the anti-spam chief at Google, did indeed post his latest views on guest blogging earlier this year. You can read what he said in his own words here (or watch the videos he has posted).
His biggest beef is the way some people use guest blogging to gain inbound links. Many of these so-called “guest posts” are thin on content and heavy on links, which triggers the spam alarms at Google.
His recommendation? Avoid guest blogging if this is how you’ve been doing it in the past. In other words, don’t post crappy content stuffed with spammy links. And be wary of someone wanting to provide a guest post on your blog. Don’t accept it unless it provides value and the person/company wanting to submit the article is legitimate and not interested in building endless links back to their site.
Cutts doesn’t think all guest blogging is shady. He clarified his stance, noting that, “There are still many good reasons to do some guest blogging (exposure, branding, increased reach, community, etc.). Those reasons existed way before Google and they’ll continue into the future.”
His point is that you shouldn’t use guest blogging for optimization purposes anymore. Thought leadership? Yes. SEO? No.
Myth #4: Advertising doesn’t work for small businesses. Um, says who? Just because it hasn’t worked for your business doesn’t mean that it doesn’t work across the board. Some of the keys to successful advertising include:
- Understanding your goals. Advertising that increases awareness is different from advertising that increases sales.
- Understanding how and what to measure. If you’ve developed a campaign to increase awareness, then you shouldn’t measure its effectiveness based on money numbers, right?
- Understanding that different types of advertising might work better for certain businesses than others. For example, a local boutique might have success advertising on Facebook, while the local funeral home probably wouldn’t. Instead, the funeral home might have better luck advertising on the back of bulletins for local churches.
- Understanding that advertising has evolved and there are many more options today. Fifty years ago, we had things like print ads in newspapers and the Yellow Pages. Today, in addition to all the print advertising options, you have digital advertising options: banner ads, pay-per-click, mobile advertising, and so forth. It’s easy to think a print ad in the local newspaper might not result in many sales for your business (an assumption that may or may not be true), but that doesn’t mean other forms of advertising wouldn’t work.
Myth #5: Email marketing is dead. Email has been around forever. Or, at least, it feels that way. The majority of us have been using it for twenty-plus years, so it’s easy to think it might have run its course. But here’s the thing: the death of email marketing has been overly exaggerated. And thanks to smartphones, which means people carry their inbox around with them practically 24/7, email has enjoyed a renaissance.
HubSpot released some interesting email marketing stats late last year, including these two gems:
- 91% of consumers check their email daily
- 74% of consumers prefer to receive commercial communications via email
You can read the case study we put together with real small business owners about their experience with email newsletters. Bottom line: email marketing is alive and well.
What other marketing myths do you encounter? Share in the comments!