For me, jumping into Internet marketing was like jumping into the unknown. It was like I was thrown into a dark pit of danger. I was trying to sell a book. I had spent so many years developing it, but I had no idea how to sell it. Making mistakes in Internet marketing was inevitable.
Learning the trade involved so many different jargonistic terms that I didn’t understand, so many fraudulent “gurus” with false promises, and all of that intimidated me. There were so many moments where I felt like giving up. Like so many people do. But I didn’t.
This article will shed a little light on why I didn’t give up, and why you shouldn’t give up either. Also, you will learn about some of the biggest pitfalls to watch out for and Internet marketing mistakes that you can avoid. These will drain your morale and rack your nerves, no matter how deep your willpower is.
The Most Common Internet Marketing Mistakes
1. Attracting Quantity over Quality
Vanity metrics are exactly what they sound like: “vanity” in reference to one’s appearance, and “metrics” pertaining to what is measurable.
Marketing firms typically base their guarantees, contracts, and results on traceable and verifiable analytics. Such as how many followers they have/get. In their efforts to project an image of authority and superiority, many invest thousands of dollars inflating their web presence.
Yet, they attract lifeless followers who neither interact, message, comment, nor otherwise participate in any way within that website’s community.
…but the visual numbers of them look good. They make an impression of what would seem like a large following at first glance.
These firms also promise the same results to unwitting clients…and they will deliver.
But it’s a pity that the unsuspecting client will then pay the firm top dollar for these vanity metrics, not knowing their true value. Which is zero. Yeah, they’ll feel highly satisfied…at first. Maybe even long enough to write a great review about the company.
But then, at some point, they begin to realize that all of those likes and followers aren’t actually buying anything. Because they’re merely what I call “ghost-likes”.
And ghost-likes only ever equate to ghost-sales, which can buy ghost-food to put on your spectral dining room table…but you’re not a ghost are you?
…didn’t think so. And neither is your landlord.
The client comes to the heart-crushing realization that they’ve just wasted thousands of dollars for a service that provided little to no ROI (Return On Investment), and can’t sue or demand a refund…
…because they did get likes. And those likes are verifiable by credible third-party dashboards, such as Facebook and Google Analytics.
This means the firm that they contracted did technically and officially fulfill their end of the contract, in the eyes of a court of law. Therefore, the case would be dismissed. And the fraudulent marketing company would be free to take advantage of others. Meanwhile, these clients would be left bereft of untold amounts of money, time, and emotions.
I highly recommend that you don’t follow this route.
I myself made the very same mistake when I first publish and discovered how easy it is to advertise on Facebook. Only I was the moron who accidentally did it to himself.
2. Targeting Everyone
I didn’t hire a faulty firm. I naively thought to myself: “I’ll advertise my book to everyone! Gain thousands of likes! Then I’ll be as big as J.K. Rowling! Because if every person who likes my page buys my book, then theoretically leave ads up 24/7, 365, and just rake in money automatically, right?”
Though, in theory, I was correct. If everyone who clicked on my ad bought my book, and the proceeds of each sale from each click were higher than the price of each click, then yes, I would have therein discovered an overnight self-perpetual system of money-making.
But the reality isn’t so smooth. In that scenario, I would have been able to just leave the ads up, and watch my bank account multiply in digits…but those kinds of systems are myths.
The stuff of unicorns. Lies. Scams. And anyone promoting those to you, trying to sell that kind of a dream to you, is a fraud.
Get away from them immediately.
3. Not Learning About Internet Marketing
While there are some rare few fortunate people in the world, like some niche Youtube video-gamers, who build their followings from simply uploading videos of themselves doing what they love, like playing popular games, that doesn’t mean that they’re masters of the discipline itself.
They didn’t actually study Internet marketing. They just so happened to have made a video or two about a game for which its keyword was already traffic-heavy. Then, they woke up one day, looked at their account, and realized they had gained several thousand followers overnight somehow.
By repeating the process, they therein repeat those results (and more power to them). But they’re not Internet marketers. They’re Internet personalities, piggy-backing on the trail that the real Internet marketing strategists blazed.
It’s not them that made the game popular; it’s the game that made them popular.
But no one would care or even know about the game if it wasn’t for the team of marketing strategists working behind the scenes.They would have designed and executed the needed strategy, putting in the hours and undertaking the risks, to raise the popularity of the game, to begin with.
Though I acknowledge that it’s not easy being a steady personality either. They also work hard in their own way. Take those same people away from the keywords of the highly trafficked games that they didn’t develop or strategize for, and tell them to repeat those same results, from ground zero, for any other completely unrelated product. Like baby wipes or something.
…yeah, not going to happen. Unless they themselves also dedicate the time and effort it takes to study the craft itself.
Mastering Internet marketing in such a way that you can build a following for any product or service at will is not that easy. There is no secret to Internet marketing other than intelligent strategic thinking, patience, the willingness to work and the courage to invest in calculated risks.
Forget what else you’ve heard. You want proof? You’re reading it right now—the thoughts of a man who could only have been put in such a way from hard-earned experience.
4. Being Afraid Of Taking Risks
An article, written by The Telegraph, claims that the term “Internet marketing” can be confusing.
On the one hand, it refers to the legitimate promotion of products and services on the web as done by thousands of companies every day. However, it also refers to a sprawling unregulated industry that offers to help ordinary people start online enterprises and make money.
In his article, the author also goes on to articulate how only a very small percentage of people actually make real money in Internet marketing. But this is not because Internet marketing is, in itself, a scam. It’s an honorable trade that requires training like any other.
It’s just that Internet marketing is an excruciatingly expensive trade to make mistakes in. Just one mistake (like the one I made when I was a newbie) can cost you thousands of dollars (or more) without any clear explanation of when, where, why, or how you may have screwed up.
This is why legitimately skilled Internet marketing strategists are extremely rare. Because anyone can study the theory of Internet marketing.
But it takes some real guts (or brash stupidity, in my case) to actually put your own money on the line to learn from experience. Especially if you were just a lower-middle-class just-breaking-the-poverty-line veteran college student with debt to pay, such as I was.
This is why so few honest people succeed. They either know what the risks are, but cowardly opt for the fraudulent and expensive quick fixes which ultimately get them nowhere…
Or they make their first real multi-thousand dollar mistake, curse the trade, and quit—instead of holding strong and maintaining their equanimity while focusing on the facts: that almost every website they visit is making money somehow. From the titans like eBay to the small fry blogs.
That is Internet marketing. And that’s not a scam.
Thus there is a way; it’s just neither quick, easy, nor cheap.
In my personal experience (which I’m aware may differ from others): mastering the skill of strategic Internet marketing, the way that I did, can be compared to mastering how to count cards at blackjack.
Blackjack is all about calculated risk-taking, and so is Internet marketing.
Only, in card games, you can teach yourself much within the safety of your own home, investing only a couple dollars for a deck or three of cards, maybe $13 for a book that you can order from Amazon on the different methods of how to do it (like the +1; -1 method), and the time it takes to practice (I know this, because I actually tried. Shh…).
You can fail as many times as your heart desires without fear, but you can relax knowing you’re not going to lose any money unless you actually go to the casino while still incompetent. Ybut you at least have some kind of safe zone to make harmless mistakes in: with friends in your house, or wherever.
True, white hat, Internet marketing, on the other hand, …is an all-in or all-out experience.
Like blackjack, there’s a lot to calculate, but there’s no middle ground. No safe zone. You pay to play, even to practice, and if you lose…you lose. Even if you play from your house.
That’s usually too much for the average person to handle. This is why the average person can’t do it (at least not with high success). This is why I have a job now: consulting people, designing their strategies, and making their calculated decisions for them.
5. Not Knowing Who Their Target Audience Is
When I made my first major mistake with marketing, what ended up happening was that, like an idiot, I winded up blowing a couple thousand dollars in PPC (pay-per-click) ads.
Though, yes: people did like my page. My CTAs were effective. Lots of people liked my page. Over two thousand, in fact, in about a week.
…yet not a single one of them bought my book.
A couple grand. Down the drain. Cast to the wind. Just like that. Poof.
At first, as likes were coming in, I had a huge rush to my ego. I thought, “This is it! It’s working! This isn’t so hard! Anybody can do this!”
But in actuality, I had cast too wide of a metaphorical net in the way that I approached my marketing. I was completely oblivious to the varying perspectives of demographic groups, trust factors, how to go about nurturing leads, etc.
And along with that, I didn’t have any marketing plan, or branding strategy. I thought it was merely as simple as:
- Step 1: publish the book,
- Step 2: advertise the book.
While in a way, that is all there is to it, traditionally speaking. But precisely how to go about doing both 1 and 2 correctly, especially in this day of the information age, actually requires an astronomical amount of thought, a deep understanding of the many demographic groups that exist and how they would react to such advertising.
6. Not Sticking With It Long-Term
In my case, it required years of trial, error, and embarrassment, as well as:
- following and reading the blogs of other legitimate and successful Internet marketers, analyzing what they did to succeed,
- hundreds of hours reading a ton of books in my personal time,
- dedicating my entire GI Bill funding to a college degree majoring in Internet marketing from Full Sail University, as well as
- hiring professional consultants such as Stephen Bateman, the lead content marketing strategist of smartinsights.com (whom I paid nearly $150 per hour to teach me, who still mentors me to this very day that this article was written).
…and I was not rich. Just dedicated. Willing to work, risk, and lose. Willing to take hits, and fall off the horse only to keep on trying.
Remember, this was years before I actually took up Internet marketing as a full profession to build a company off of. I was just a common writer like any other, uncommon only in my willingness to take risks with money.
Most people are afraid to spend a single dime on their business. It can be equally as damning, despite whatever conventional wisdom you may hear.
The trick is to use your head, think for yourself, question both schools of thought, thus enabling you to find what works for you, and you alone. Because there is no single correct path.
The only correct path to take in Internet marketing is the one that works for you.
And I can continue to help you to find that path if you choose. Most web entrepreneurs don’t have the budget and opportunity to go through the learning curve that I went through on their own. Nor do they have the budget to hire an entire professional team to help them avoid making mistakes in their Internet marketing efforts.
Mike Norton is an American award-winning marketing strategist with a BA in Internet marketing from Full Sail University.
He’s also a writer, entrepreneur, and a physicist studying part-time at the University of York who is a veteran of the United States military and the 7-time winner of the USS Dwight Eisenhower award for essays about world peace and respect.
As a mostly self-educated vagabond, he gains inspiration from a myriad of experiences wrought from the adventures of his nomadic lifestyle. He prolifically writes and journals where ever he goes in the world, from one country to the next.