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What Doesn't Work When Marketing Online

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The following answers are provided by the Young Entrepreneur Council. Founded by Scott Gerber, the Y.E.C. is a nonprofit organization that provides young entrepreneurs with access to tools, mentorship, community and educational resources that support each stage of their business’s development and growth. The organization promotes entrepreneurship as a solution to youth unemployment and underemployment.

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What online marketing avenues have been the most ineffective for your business and why? Gail of Nashville, TN

No. 1: Display advertising.

Danny Wong of Blank Label Group, Inc. ( http://www.blanklabelgroup.com/ )

The truth is, display advertising, especially on a CPM basis, is really tricky. This is often a branding tactic that works best in well-defined niches and for large businesses, but hardly ever for the small business with a limited marketing budget because 50,000 impressions can be nice, but it won't have much impact compared to 500,000 or 5 million impressions combined with other marketing tactics.

No. 2: Non-marketing through blogging.

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Colin Wright of Exile Lifestyle ( http://exilelifestyle.com/ )

I'm not a big fan of traditional marketing. It's not that it can't be impactful sometimes, but these days potential customers and clients are much more likely to trust and remember messages that are value-based - like those held within a solid blog post - than those contained within text or banner ads.

No. 3: Articles for hire.

Vanessa Van Petten of Science of People

There are many companies that are now offering to place your featured content on a variety of related blogs. These blogs often have low traffic, low Google page rank and can even be punished by Google for not following their paid link guidelines. Be careful not to pay to publish your content on irrelevant or spammy Websites, this will hurt more than help.

No. 4: Poor audience match.

Laura Roeder of LauraRoeder.com

I've seen ineffective results when I've gone for quantity over quality. My business was promoted to an enormous mailing list of people who are looking for get-rich-quick schemes. Sales were dismal. Marketing to 10 people that are the perfect customer match for you is a much better use of time than marketing to 1,000 that are completely wrong for your business. 

No. 5: Lack of engagement.

Erin Blaskie of BSETC

The worst place to advertise is the place where relationships aren't being built. These days, people don't want to just be sold to, they want to buy from people they know, like and trust. Skip the sites where you are just blasting information and focus on creating relationships with your ideal consumer.

No. 6: PPC is not for everyone.

Kwame Kuadey of GiftCardRescue.com

Pay-Per-Click (PPC) marketing has not worked for our business. It took us a while to accept this because our competitors are using it. But after conducting numerous tests, including hiring a third party to run a campaign, we realized the return on investment (ROI) was low, when compared to our other online marketing tools. We therefore invested more in what was working. 

No. 7: Viral video.

Lucas Sommer of Audimated

Creating a cheap video and having it viewed around the world 100,000,000 times would be every online marketers' dream, but it is not that easy. It is nearly impossible to determine what will catch on virally, but I have yet to see a widget company with millions of views. Unless your content and business is funny, entertaining, attractive or fashionable you should probably avoid viral videos. 

No. 8: Social media overload.

Jared O'Toole of Under30Ceo.com

Social media is a great way to market your business, but too much can be awful. You don't need to be on every network and you don't need to be on them day and night. Trying to do to much will hurt other aspects of your business and will burn you out quicker. 

No. 9: Email marketing is king.

Dan Schawbel of Millennial Branding

Despite all the social networking sites out there, the most effective marketing avenue is still email. The reason is because people are trusting you with their name and email address. They are also opting into your newsletter, which means they want to receive information about you and your products.

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