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Marketing No-Nos to Stop in 2020

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Most marketers have good intentions at heart, but certain practices can unknowingly cause a breakdown in trust between consumers and your brand. And in today’s era of increasing investment in digital communications, coupled with privacy and data collection concerns, evaluating marketing tactics is critical to make sure we’re leading with trust and empathy.

A new year presents a unique opportunity to refresh the status quo and change course. Here’s a list of 10 marketing no-nos to leave behind in 2020.

1. Failing to deliver a welcoming web experience for all

Meeting web accessibility guidelines is the minimum requirement. In 2021, let’s take things a step further by making everyone, including people with disabilities, non-native English speakers, and BIPOC audiences feel welcome on your site. Items to address include videos with no captions, media files that autoplay with sound, poor navigation, broken links, long forms, and unoptimized popups and overlays.

2. Providing inadequate customer service

Failing to anticipate customer needs and resolve issues in a timely manner will result in negative consequences for your brand. Consumers expect a certain level of attention and prompt resolution across all channels, including social media, chat, and review sites. With good customer service, you can do well even in times of crisis.

3. Forgetting who your audience is

Most failed marketing campaigns share common traits. If you’re not targeting the right personas, sending the right message, or delivering content in the wrong channel, your likelihood for success will diminish. It’s critical to remember who your audience is and create marketing campaigns that are for them. Beware of over promising, overstating, and excessive horn-tooting.

4. Treating contacts like names in a database

Similarly, lack of personalization in your marketing efforts is a no-no to leave behind in 2020. Consumer expectations are changing, and people are evaluating brands based on the extent to which they understand their customers, and if they share a set of core values. It’s time to move towards one-to-one conversations, which is rapidly becoming the new norm.

5. Little knowledge or understanding of current events

Some marketing campaigns are simply launched at the wrong time. Campaigns are oftentimes planned well in advance, so it might be easier than you think to experience a faux pas of your own. Always be mindful of what’s going on in the world—politically, socially, in pop culture—before hitting the publish button. An extra review step might spare you from a big embarrassment.

6. Running low converting social media ads—or none at all

Already this year we’ve seen an increased investment in social media advertising. And now is certainly not the time to “set it and forget it” when it comes to running Facebook or YouTube ads. Continually optimize your paid social media efforts to make sure you’re getting the most bang for your buck. And remember that personalized experiences extend to the ads people see.

7. Trying to do everything

If you’re doing a lot of little things “okay”, but not one thing particularly well, you’ve probably taken on too much. This year, we can expect to see shrinking marketing budgets, so it’s time to show executives the power of digital marketing by creating a clear plan that’s focused on customers, the types of content they prefer, and where they like to consume it.

8. Expecting overnight success

It’s nearly impossible to predict human behavior, so why should we expect our marketing campaigns to run like well-oiled machines, cranking out leads and skyrocketing engagement? The truth is successful marketing requires planning, reasonable expectations, and, above all, constant testing and optimization over time to produce the best results.

9. Lack of diversity in content and content formats

Instead of producing a diverse library of content pieces, some brands stick to only a handful of content topics and formats. In 2021, expand your content horizons and consider publishing white papers, checklists, infographics, case studies, podcasts, live streams, animations, and more. Check back in to see what's performing best, and create more of that.

10. Buying email lists

Buying an email list is a very tempting idea, but, in most cases, it’s too good to be true. Not only can sending unwanted emails degrade trust in your brand, it can hurt your reputation with your service provider (or even get you blacklisted), lead to poor open and click-through rates, and leave you vulnerable to legal issues. Instead, focus on building your email list with engaging content, optimized landing pages, and visible opt-ins on your website.

Wrap Up

2021 is your chance to evaluate the marketing status quo and make conscious choices to get better results this year. And to dive a little deeper, take a look at our seven content marketing and design predictions for 2021. We can't wait to learn about your campaigns!

Last Updated: Jan 19, 2021 11:00 AM

Photo of Laura Rives

Laura Rives
VP of Sales and Marketing


Content Marketing