By Mike Wolfe

Popped collar depicting outdated fads

A fad can be defined as any form of behavior that develops among a large population and is collectively followed enthusiastically for a period of time. In the marketing world, professionals often look to each other to see what strategies are popular when it comes to driving new business. So when a marketing trend catches on that appears to be successful, a new marketing fad is born.

Just like fads in fashion or slang, what works for one person may not work for everyone. It's important to understand that before following a fetch marketing strategy that worked for other companies, some consideration needs to be put into whether or not it fits your company's culture, philosophy and mission.

Here are a few marketing fads that are less common than they used to be and, hopefully, are joining "fetch",  double popped collars and extra wide-legged jeans in the gone for good category.

1. Focusing on Vanity Metrics

There is so much data available today to track marketing campaign success. But which metrics simply tell you what you want to hear and which ones give a real, honest look at your progress toward your goals? The metrics that look good at a quick glance, but aren’t directly responsible for driving business are vanity metrics and those that provide a true indication of performance are your actual KPIs. A good example of vanity metrics are social media fans and followers. Of course having a lot is good for exposure, but that exposure in and of itself doesn’t necessarily equal success. Instead, focus on social media engagement - like the number of fans and followers that interact with you, click your links and convert on your landing pages. Are you building and nurturing relationships and converting prospects with your content? If not, consider focusing more on the engagement level and conversion rate of those that follow you.

Before spending valuable time on gathering metrics, think first about which ones are actually moving the needle towards your marketing goals and start your focus there.

2. Keyword Stuffing to Boost SEO

Keyword stuffing is the practice of loading a webpage with excessive mentions  of a particular keyword in an attempt to rank higher in search engine results. While there are plenty of marketers that practice keyword stuffing and other non-recommended “black hat” SEO tactics, Google’s quality guidelines clearly state that this type of activity can hurt your site’s search rankings. The more efficient (and less risky) way to rank higher in search engine results is to write compelling content that your audience will find relevant, interesting and useful. If you use a keyword naturally and keep the contents of the page focused and on topic, the search engines will recognize and reward you for it.

3. Buying Contact Lists

Email marketing can successfully drive traffic to your website and play a key role in your inbound marketing strategy, but sometimes the challenge getting in the way of success is taking the time to build a database of the right contacts that are interested in what you have to say. It's tempting to skip any list building strategies and go straight to purchasing contact names and emails from list providers, but even though these providers will guarantee the recipients have opted-in to receive emails, you never know for sure where the contacts come from and the chances that they'll actually want to read your emails are slim. All this can lead to low open rates, low click through rates and high opt out rates -- not to mention contacts from these lists are more likely to mark your email as SPAM and thus hurt your email metrics and overall sender score.

4. Sending SPAM

The definition of SPAM varies, but ultimately SPAM email is unsolicited email in which recipients have expressed little or no interest in the content. Blasting out unsolicited email in bulk has become less of a successful strategy as SPAM filters are getting more and more sophisticated. Even when unsolicited emails get through to an inbox, the people that often receive unsolicited and unwanted email pay close attention to whether they think it’s a relevant email from a trusted sender or unwanted content that wastes their time. Avoid sending SPAM

5. Relying on Traditional Outbound Methods

Consumers are exposed to millions of ads and outbound marketing campaigns every day. Because of that, they've become pretty good at ignoring them. So, basing your marketing strategy solely on these traditional methods can be risky. Inbound marketing, however, can be much more efficient because it finds, educates and converts consumers based on what they're already interested in. A well-oiled marketing machine balances the right methods cohesively into a successful strategy that generates quality leads. If you’re not doing so already, consider adding some inbound strategies to your traditional plans.  

Marketing fads catch on because they appear to work. But just because companies can generate leads by taking shortcuts like spamming and attempting to trick search engines, is that really a good look for you? Instead of blindly following an annoying and outdated fad, take a look at your target audience and set out to find a strategy that works for you.

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Mike Wolfe

About the author

Mike Wolfe is a consultant at SmartBug Media helping clients find success through inbound marketing. Read more articles by Mike Wolfe.

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