Keep Your Audience Engaged: Avoid These 7 Marketing No-Nos

How many of my readers here are following a brand on social media? How many of you signed up for a company’s blog updates via email? Are you satisfied with what you’re seeing? Or are you finding issues that strike a nerve or two?

In this post, I share some of the issues I’ve found with the marketing I’ve seen online. It includes seven problems that I’ve heard or known to be annoying or unethical that your audience wants you to stop doing immediately. Please leave a comment with any other things you want companies and organizations to stop doing or do better, even if it’s directed to me! I’d love to hear your input!

Automating all your marketing all the time

While there’s nothing wrong with marketing automation, using it for everything all the time leaves a bad taste in your audience’s mouth. You’re essentially ignoring your audience, and you sound like a robot regardless of the wording you use. Whether you say you don’t have the time or don’t have the staff, it doesn’t matter. Marketing isn’t something you automate full time, especially with social media.

Your audience is reaching out to you. Do you ignore them? Saying excuses doesn’t help you. Social media is meant to be interactive, so you should be encouraging and responding to interaction.

  • Reserve the time you need.
  • Hire the staff you need.
  • Give existing staff more control.
  • Do what you have to do to maintain proper marketing behavior.

Example of social media marketing done right: Buffer on Facebook

Participating in unethical email marketing

  • Did you buy that email list you’re using?
  • Did you get those emails without permission from the owner?

If you answered yes to the above questions, you have a problem. Sending emails without approval from recipients is unethical and destroys your reputation. You kill your chances at building relationships, and your emails to approved addresses are impacted because of all the spam notices.

  • Are you telling people how often you will send out emails at the time they sign up?
  • Are you giving them the option to choose how often?
  • Are you providing value to the audience in each email?
  • Are you sending recipients the content they signed up for?

If you answered yes to these questions, you’re on the right track. People who sign up for your emails need to know what they’re getting themselves into. They want to know if you will be sending emails every day or weekly. They want to have the option to adjust that frequency based on their own needs and interests.

Are your emails sent with the content we signed up for? Blog post emails are great, in my opinion. I love staying up-to-date with what’s being shared by industry leaders. However, when I sign up for blog updates, I did not sign up for webinar and in-person event invites. I live in Philadelphia, not Portland, Oregon. I don’t want your invites for events across the country. I want your blog posts because that’s all I wanted to sign up for when I provided my email address.

Please don’t make us unsubscribe. You’re losing so many great opportunities for sales, donations and word of mouth marketing.

Forgetting to proofread before publishing

First of all, it looks absolutely terrible when you share something on social media without at least checking your spelling. I’ve seen updates that are so terrible that they don’t even make sense or even tell a completely different story than intended. It’s unprofessional and lazy.

  • Check your spelling.
  • Check your grammar.
  • Check your content.

It doesn’t matter if you struggle with the English language. There are tons of services out there to help you. Hemingway is a great one to look into, but manually proofreading is imperative too. Try reading what you write out loud to yourself to hear if it makes sense. Give a draft to others to proofread for you. Don’t trust Microsoft Word. There’s always something spell check misses or gets wrong.

At this point, there really is no excuse for poor grammar and spelling with current technology.

Having an inadequate website

I’ve seen great websites, and I’ve seen awful ones. I’ve seen websites that are clear and easy to navigate, and I’ve seen ones that are overwhelming and confusing. Which one of the above does your website fall under?

  • How many menu items do you have?
  • Do you explain your purpose on the homepage?
  • Is it easy for visitors to find what they’re looking for?
  • How fast do your webpages load?
  • Did you bring visitors in via a landing page that provides a connection to the rest of your website?
  • Where’s your “About” and “Contact” page?
  • Can I view your site on my phone without issue?

I’ve seen websites for organizations that have a great product or service, but they haven’t even invested in their own domain name. When I see websites such as “,” I immediately lose interest. Missing a domain name takes away a lot of your credibility.

A crucial element of a for-profit website where there is an option for online purchases is the secure checkout. Do you have a secure checkout process that you can demonstrate to visitors? I, personally, refuse to purchase online unless I see that secure checkout badge.

Insisting upon the “me, me, me” attitude

I think we all know by now that this (almost) never works out well for the company implementing it. It’s definitely necessary to include a little self-promotion when sharing online, but you need to make sure your audience is not bombarded by it. Follow the 80/20 rule in which 80% of your content is of value to your audience and 20% is self-promotional. Or, choose a percentage balance that works better for your needs, but don’t let self-promotion get too high.

You want to become an industry thought leader where you are known as an expert in your area, such as marketing or IT. You don’t want to be known as needy and self-centered.

Share blog posts you or others wrote about your industry. Share tips and advice that can help your audience, not necessarily your company. The point is that on social media, you’re building relationships, not pitching sales. To focus on sales means to isolate yourself from your audience and potential customers.

Not committing to your work

If you’re going to blog, publish consistently.
If you’re going to have a social media profile, make it active or static.

  • Active means sharing every day.
  • Static means keeping it basic with only contact info and links to your website and any other important sites, such as your blog and other profiles.

If you’re going to be on social media, be prepared to interact with your followers and fans.

  • Answer questions.
  • Thank users for sharing your content.
  • Ask questions to get to know your audience better.

If you do this, you become known as a reliable source for information. You’re looked for and recommended by others. Word of mouth is most effective when you stay in your audience’s mind.

Asking for donations without showing where the money will be going

This applies to those nonprofits out there who push out donation requests too often without giving donors an explanation as to where the money will be going to or where it went. It’s for those nonprofits who don’t share the impact those donations make directly. I donate to the Humane Society of the United States, and they do a great job at explaining how donors are making an impact via their email marketing and social media activity.

I don’t have a million dollars to spend, but donating money monthly is a sacrifice and commitment that I’m willing to make. However, I don’t want to feel like I’m throwing my money away or giving it all to salary. In the past, I ran a brief HSUS fundraising campaign because I know all the money goes directly to the animals.

When asking for donations, give your audience a reason, and you’ll reap the benefits.

What do you think?

  • Are you doing any of these things to your audience?
  • What are you doing to make things better for them?
  • Have you found any other issues with today’s marketing?

Leave a comment below!

Coming up…

  • Social Media Marketing: A Platform Guide
  • The Essential Marketing Toolkit: Be Ready for Anything
  • Is Blogging Right for Your Business? A Curated Analysis


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