9 Marketing Mistakes That Nearly Killed My Startup


1. I wasted too much time attempting to design a perfect website

Don’t get me wrong – a poorly designed website is not good, and you should not push one that has terrible user experience design or an unpleasant appearance. However, it is extremely easy to get carried away with making an infinite number of tiny tweaks. Don’t let “And another thing…” take control of your life, and instead create a simple, pleasant website that gets that job done. Then, push it live.

This achieves two things: First, it allows your site to start ranking for SEO (more on that later). It also empowers you to begin building your brand and cultivating a loyal audience. Without products, content, services or a website, much of your digital marketing may lack drive, thus hindering any brand loyalty that you could be fostering. The good news? You can (and should!) always be improving your site, so whatever you push live doesn’t have to be the final product – it just has to be usable. Not sure where to start? DesignRush has a list of web design and development agencies that can help.   

2. I didn’t optimize my website for SEO

Piggybacking off of no. 1, search engine optimization (SEO) is the bread and butter for so many sites. Why? Because what people are searching for on the Internet matters, and could lead them directly to you if you play your cards right.

So, don’t skimp on important items such as H1 and H2 titles, meta titles and meta descriptions, breadcrumbs and proper interlinking. Did I lose you? Don’t fret – these terms aren’t as scary and confusing as they sound. Here’s an SEO guide that will get you started.

3. I forgot to implement a content marketing strategy

One of the best ways to boost your SEO and create content for your website AND social media accounts is through content marketing. Now, the content you create may change, depending on your type of business, but the general idea remains the same: provide your consumers with information that is helpful to them.

It’s that simple!

The key to content marketing is consistent and attainable information. Don’t commit to writing 3 blog posts a day when you’re a one-man show. Try two a week until you (or a trusted team) can up your number from there. Quality will always be better than quantity, so write about topics pertaining to your target demographic, optimize for SEO and share throughout your various social media channels and via email marketing.

4. I didn’t cultivate a social media community

Speaking of social media, it turns out that this piece of the pie is more than just scheduling posts, adding a few dollars to boost traffic and praying for the best. From the very get-go, put your mind to work and create a social media marketing campaigns that will speak to your target audience’s interests.

In addition to marketing campaigns, its imperative to engage with your social media audience. Create conversations on Twitter, respond to comments on Instagram, and even stop outside the mainstream social media platforms and engage on sites such as Quora and Reddit. By facilitating a dialogue, you’ll be contributing to the growing affinity customers have for your brand.

5. I dismissed the importance of email marketing

In the age of Snapchat and Instagram Stories, it’s easy to dismiss the early aughts marketing favorite: email. However, email marketing is alive and well – and, in fact, driving more revenue than many forms of digital marketing. According to Email Monday, every $1 spent on email marketing can bring up to $38 dollars in revenue.

Sign. Us. Up.

Find an email marketing provider – such as Emma, Mailchimp or Sailthru – and capture your users’ emails in multiple places on your website AND social media. Even if you aren’t starting any email marketing campaigns right now (although you should…) you’ll be glad to have those contacts the second you start.

6. I spent too much time analyzing my competitors’ marketing tactics

You know how the saying goes: Comparison is the thief of joy. Believe it or not, it’s true! While you should definitely hone your target demographic, determine your competitors and take stock of the tactics they use to drive successful business, ultimately, what works for one company may not work for another.

So, don’t copy a marketing tactic verbatim – it’s cheap, users will see right through it, and it likely won’t work. Instead, take a beat to notice overarching concepts, then personalize them to your business, goals and audience.

7. I didn’t use enough Calls to Action

Whether its capturing email signups, sharing a social media post, commenting on a blog post, or even completing a purchase, sometimes users need to be told what to do many, many times. Enter, the call to action (CTA).

When thinking about where to place a CTA, the answer is, well, everywhere. Don’t let an email go by without one or two. Include them in every social media post. Place newsletter CTAs all over your website. When it comes to consumers completing an action, the more times you tell them what to do (and how to do it) the more likely you’ll get the results you crave.

8. I failed to track and analyze marketing results  

If you aren’t constantly tracking, analyzing and adjusting all of your marketing strategies, there’s no point in having them in the first place. Remember that marketing is fluid – there will always be pivots, changes, unexpected successes and disheartening failures.

Note all of these. Then, look at your specific and overarching marketing goals, and alter where needed. Don’t waste your time and money on tactics that don’t work, and don’t miss out on campaigns or content that will resonate with your users.

9. I didn’t create a marketing strategy

This is the biggest (and first) mistake I made – I went full force ahead on a few tactics without having a real plan in place. Just like a revenue model and business plan, you need to develop a marketing plan, complete with daily, weekly and monthly goals and expectations. Can the plan change? Of course! In fact, it likely will and should (as I mentioned above).

But to properly execute all of your many tasks, track them, and ensure you’re getting the results and traffic you desire, you need to put a specific strategy together and stick to it until the numbers tell you to re-envision the plan.


This list of mistakes can be overwhelming, but if there’s one thing that you should take away from this article, it’s this: You can market your startup successfully. Just remember these main points, and you’re sure to see success:

  • Create a marketing plan, then track and analyze results.
  • Invest in a strong social media community and content marketing.
  • Use calls to action across your website, social media and content.
  • Take stock of your competition, but don’t stress over them.
  • Design a user-friendly website and optimize for SEO. Remember, you can always make changes and add additional functionality later!


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