The Online Marketing Road- Dodge These 3 Potholes!

Online, or digital marketing, is incredibly complex. One that needs a cautious approach, rather than a foot flat on the pedal 200 kilometres an hour kind of approach. There are many things that can quickly go askew and hit you where it hurts the most- your wallet. Having been around the block, and back again, I know!

First though, let’s take a massive step back and talk about what ‘online marketing’ actually is.

You pay money for ads to give your business more exposure. And, as a result, you may see an increase in website traffic, which in turn creates leads, which in turn creates sales. Simple, right? In my twelve years at the helm of the country’s largest digital marketing firm, I’ve seen so many success stories from small companies that invested funds into their online marketing and grew substantially in a relatively short amount of time.

On the flip side, I’ve also seen companies pour money into various forms of marketing only to leave them in a worse off position than where they started. Seeing other’s have success is what tempts people to make mistakes. People want to reap the benefits of online advertising but go at it the wrong way.

So, with that said, let’s take a look at all the things you shouldn’t do when trying to advertise yourself online.

Don’t #1- Expecting Lofty Results

If you run a business and see how effective online advertising has been for the business next door, it’s natural for you to expect the same, and set unobtainable goals for your ads. You might want to increase your web traffic by a defined percentage or want a certain number of leads generated by campaigns end.

This is a bad place to start. For two reasons.

One, because you’ll end up disappointed when you fail to reach these defined goals. And two, it results in you overstretching in an effort to reach them. You’ll end up trying too hard and paying to much for something you’re unrealistically ever going to achieve.

Rather, you need to begin with goals in mind that are attainable. You need to walk before you can run. By setting goals you’re confident in achieving, you avoid overreaching and overspending. Then, once your campaign has finished and you’ve achieved what you set out for initially, you can hope for a bit more on your next campaign. It’s vital you know your limitations.

Don’t #2- Not Incorporating Visuals  

I’m still amazed how many people neglect visual elements online. We’ve all seen an ad online while browsing, but, how many of you have actually clicked on one?

Not many I’m sure as no one likes clicking on any random ad.The ones that do get our attention though will entice us by having something unique about them. They’ll be eye-catching and display the right information to get us to click. If you overlook the significance of how your ad should look and focus only on what the ad offers, then you’re going to miss out.

What you need to do is create the perfect online ad. Easier said than done, I know. Your ad needs to first pull attention to itself, and then you can worry about the message it’s sending.

If you’re pushing a sale on your website than the word SALE should stand out. Let people know how much they’re saving, and how long they have to do it. Or, the main image should be of what you’re selling. The bottom line is the visual appeal of what you’re selling should never be overlooked, so ensure you put the time in to design correctly.

Don’t Number #3- Forgetting About A Landing Page

There are endless approaches to online advertising you can pursue, whether that be with Google Ads or a social media campaign, the choice is yours. One thing remains consistent though, you cannot forget about your landing page, meaning the page people arrive on after they’ve clicked on your ad. A good one makes the user stick around, a bad one the opposite.

I cannot over-emphasise how important landing pages are for converting clicks into something bigger. You can entice people to purchase your advertised product with your landing page, equally, you can make them want to click off your site. The amount of time you’ve spent on designing your ads should be half the time you’ve spent designing your landing pages. They’ll convert the clicks you get, which, essentially is how to benefit from online advertising.

So, there’s a start. At SponsoredLinX we pride ourselves on campaign setup and then management, and we follow the rules we set. However, if you’re a marketer wanting to get started, or a business owner who backs themselves to get the job done, keep these potholes on hand to ensure you avoid them.

Make no mistake about it, when run correctly, an online advertising campaign can result in some incredible growth!


Friday Morning Thoughts

This morning over a cup of much-needed coffee, I was reading an article that resonated with me. It was a story a from a Harvard business professor. He spoke of how they coached an under seven kids’ soccer team, and when they put the ball in the middle of the field what did all the kids do?

“They just followed the ball around the field,”

“But when you become a professional they all have positions on the field, they all have structure. They might pass the ball all the way back to the goalkeeper but eventually, they’d get an opportunity to strike.”

This is a fantastic business analogy. One that I feel is particularly relevant to our business right now. I have seen first-hand in our business where sometimes we have players in assigned positions, yet they’re doing everything but their role, and chasing balls all over the field.

Sometimes, this can be admirable, but it can also be dangerous and lead to inefficiency. It’s the equivalent of everyone on the soccer field running after the ball, which means bumping into each other, and no goals scored.

It’s vital we have clearly defined roles with set out responsibilities in order for our company to function as one. When I started SponsoredLinX, I was the goalkeeper, defence, midfield and attack (with my partner Shannah as the coach).

Now, we’ve got a full team and we’re top of the league, but in order to stay there, sometimes we need to go back to basics and work on our fundamentals. This, I believe, is vital for any business.

Remember where you came from, and keep your eye on the ball going forward.

If I’m the striker, I trust my defence to keep the ball in possession so that I may have a chance to score. Of course, there’ll be times when I need to get back to defend, or when we’re chasing a goal and I need the defence to come up, but essentially we’ve all got our own jobs to do.

And, when we’re all doing those jobs independently, but still operating as a team, there’s no stopping us.


You’ve seen the video by now I’m sure—the one of the beaten and bloodied passenger being dragged from the seat of a United Airlines flight.

As a fellow business owner, I’m sure you can agree that there are PR nightmares (see Pepsi’s Kendall Jenner ad), and then there are full-on PR meltdowns! The United Airlines debacle was definitely the latter—and more specifically, the type that results in huge losses, endless streams of sarcastic memes, and incidents that spread like wildfire online and severely harm your business.

As I watched this gigantic disaster unfold, I couldn’t help but wonder what sort of pre-mortem business analysis United Airlines had in place. After all, I’m sure they didn’t anticipate this sort of result!

united airlines disaster

Pre-Mortem Business Analysis

Before any company enacts a new policy or plan, they should always begin by asking themselves one question, “What is the worst thing that could happen?”

This is essentially the gist of an old technique called Pre-Mortem Analysis (PMA), a method developed by cognitive psychologist Dr Gary Klein to help businesses test out new strategies and identify possible vulnerabilities in their planning. At its core, PMA helps companies to evaluate potential unintended consequences of new procedures and/or policies.

When it comes to United Airlines, their policy is to fly staff to where they need to go, on their own airline. However, problems occur when planes are overbooked and they have to remove passengers from seats they’ve rightfully paid for. Usually, an airline would solve this issue by incentivising people to move (usually by refunding the person and paying for their inconvenience). However, if a passenger refuses to give up their seat despite the incentives…well, this is clearly a scenario United had not planned for! As a result, the airline company is now facing their worst ever PR disaster, and likely millions in lost revenue and lawsuits.

So How Can You Avoid A Similar Disaster?

When putting into place a Pre-Mortem Analysis, consider the following:

  1. Assemble members of your staff who were not involved in developing your new policy/product/procedure and make sure they fully understand what is involved.
  2. Encourage staff to think of all the things that could lead to disaster (let them be creative in their scenarios) and then identify the most probable of these scenarios. Work backwards to pinpoint all the events that have led to this (remember, the devil is in the detail).
  3. Lastly, in light of this investigation, either re-evaluate your procedures or develop contingency plans to ensure these worst case scenarios never become a reality.

Despite what you may think, the chain of events leading to Dr Dao being violently ejected from United Airlines was not the result of employees forgetting procedure—rather, it’s unlikely anyone at United ever anticipated a chain of events such as this!

If only they’d conducted a more comprehensive PMA then there would likely have been less room for surprise and a better contingency plan—saving them millions of dollars (and Dr Dao’s teeth).

Your Staff Don’t Need A Boss – They Need A Leader

It takes a lot of hard work to become a manager, but even more to become a leader.

There’s a saying by Motivational Speaker and Author Brian Tracy: “Become the kind of leader that people would follow voluntarily; even if you had no title or position.”

It’s a powerful statement, because the truth is, management is about more than just directing and managing people. Staff also need someone who will take the time to encourage their strengths and develop their weaknesses; the kind of leadership that makes staff want to work with you to achieve a goal, rather than be pushed to do so.

There’s a great little illustration that’s been doing the rounds on LinkedIn lately; it’s likely you’ve already seen it, but it truly is a powerful reminder of the importance of developing your employees. It takes skill to become the ‘boss’ of a company, but it takes humility, insight and a willingness to work with your staff, to become a great leader.

The difference between a boss or leader

Many times throughout the last decade I’ve been asked about how I motivate my staff, and as I’ve commonly shared, it’s important to show people the value of their work. For example, back when we were in our early years I’d often take the time to just sit down with our sales staff and run them through the process of contacting customers. I did this because I not only wanted them to succeed in their role but to also know that I understood the challenges of their job. After all, when I started SponsoredLinX I was not only the Founder, but also the receptionist and salesperson!.

Anyone can hire just another cog in the machine to get the job done, but do you want robots or motivated employees? Do you want to be the kind of person who barks out orders that fall on deaf ears, or do you want to be a leader?

If you’re struggling to get results from your staff it’s worth taking a look at the bigger picture. You might even want to ask your team (via an anonymous survey) for their true thoughts on the company and what would make them feel more valued. It could be confronting, and maybe even a bit scary…but above all, it’s guaranteed to give you vital feedback on how you can become more than just a boss to your employees.

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”  – John Quincy Adams.


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