Online marketing is a lot of fun. You get to flex your creative muscles, coming up with new campaign ideas, testing them, and easily measuring the results. You get to be on the forefront of developing technologies, learning new systems, and playing with new apps. And you get a kind of “thrill of the hunt” when it comes to attracting more leads, and finding just the right combination of elements that maximize your conversion rates.
But it isn’t all glorious. Any marketer will tell you that while some tasks come naturally, others are a total pain in the ass. They’re difficult — because they’re time-consuming, because they’re not straightforward, or because they just aren’t user friendly — and we all wish they were a lot easier:
1. Market research. You can’t launch any type of online marketing strategy unless you’ve done your market research first. But the term “market research” is misleadingly simplistic. There are dozens of variables to consider about your audience — who are they? What do they like? What do they need? What’s their buying cycle like? — and not all of these can be found in resources like the Census Bureau. There are unlimited possibilities of questions to ask, and because of that, it’s just as likely to dig too deep than it is to dig too shallow. The balance is tough to strike, and it’s not a fun process to begin with.
2. Topic selection. Most online marketers have a content marketing campaign as one of their foundational branding pillars; but for content marketing to be successful, you need a running stream of new content topics, and all of them have to be both valuable and original. Coming up with valuable, original topics is hard enough as it is. Keyword targets, a necessary component from SEO, makes the problem more complicated. Add in the fact that you have to come up with them on an ongoing basis, and it’s no wonder why most content creators are pulling their hair out after only a few months of new content generation.
3. Creative brainstorming. I mentioned the creative process as one of the most fun parts of online marketing, and I still mean that — but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Coming up with new, clever, original ideas is hard work, especially if you have a small team to work with. Even something simple, like trying to come up with a funny one-liner, can cause a massive roadblock in the marketing department if the ideas aren’t flowing that day. the problem is you can’t force creativity, so there’s definitely a bit of luck involved when it comes to inspiration.
4. UX testing. Some forms of testing are pretty simple; AB tests, for example, reduce a test down to a simple variable, and usually have one or two metrics that plainly spell out whether that test was successful. UX testing, on the other hand, is far more complex. You’re dealing with much more qualitative, subjective data like heat maps and time spent on various pages, and it’s not always easy to find quality volunteers to walk through the process. Still, UX testing is something that needs to be done.
5. Staying up-to-date. Things are changing all the time in the online marketing world. Sometimes, it’s a new technology that enters the scene and completely changes the way that your users interact with online elements. Other times, it’s a competitor that gets the upper hand on you with a new content campaign. It’s hard to tell exactly what the day or the week’s going to throw at you, but if you want your campaign and brand to continue being successful, you need to be ready for anything. It takes a lot of time and willingness to adapt to succeed here.
6. Data analysis. There’s a renaissance in the world of data; we have so much technology capable of pulling so much data, it’s a marketer’s dream. You can get pieces of data on practically any kind of user behavior or action, but there’s a problem — what do you do with it when you have it? For starters, there’s so much data available to us it’s overwhelming. How do you know what questions to ask? Which pieces of data are most significant? There are also a plethora of mistakes you can make, from oversimplifying a problem to falling victim to confirmation bias. Data analysis — at least the thorough, objective kind — is hard.
7. Repositioning. Sometimes, you have to completely reposition your brand. It might be because your old strategy wasn’t working at all; this is difficult because it’s a blow to your ego. You have to pick up the pieces of the strategy you thought would work and start all over again. Or it might be because you’re starting fresh, from scratch; this is difficult because it forces you to begin everything from the ground up. Still, there’s a certain excitement to it — there’s a blue ocean of opportunity waiting for you, and you have all the tools to go explore it.
These tasks aren’t impossible; in fact, most of them can be completed with sheer determination (and a good attitude to keep you sane). Still, they represent some of the more challenging aspects of online marketing. It you’re new to the game, watch out for these hurdles so you’re ready for them when they arrive. And if you’re already acquainted with them — well, at least you can say you’re not alone now.
For more content like this, be sure to check out my podcast, The Entrepreneur Cast!