Why DIY Marketing Isn’t the Best Approach for Businesses [12 Pitfalls]

Email and social media marketing keep your message in front of past clients and help generate repeat business and referral leads. That’s huge! So why is it that when the budget gets tight, many business owners want to skimp on something so essential to maintaining top-of-mind awareness, and instead opt for DIY marketing?

A quick Google search for DIY marketing provides one possible solution. Countless how-to guides and software options designed to lead you to the promised land of DIY marketing make the entire process look simple and cost-effective. But if you step back and look at the big picture, you’ll see the easy street of DIY marketing is riddled with potholes and unexpected pitfalls that you’ve likely never considered.

Pitfall #1: Loss of Time and Money

First of all, DIY marketing isn’t as cost-effective as you may imagine. It takes a great deal of valuable time and effort to create email content or curate content for social media sharing, and those tasks are just the tip of the iceberg. There’s a reason marketing businesses exist; marketing is a full-time job!

For example, let’s say you’re a real estate agent stealing away a few hours each week to concentrate on DIY marketing instead of focusing on your core responsibilities. This diversion can have a negative impact on other areas of your business, including your sales numbers. Admittedly your expertise is in real estate, so why waste time and money trying to handle marketing when you could hire an expert?

Pitfall #2: Lack of Expertise

Just because someone uses email and social media daily doesn’t mean they’re qualified to successfully market a business across those platforms. And reading a few how-to guides won’t turn anyone into an expert overnight. We’ve already debunked the idea that DIY marketing saves money, so do you really want to spend more of your valuable time trying to educate yourself on the ins and out of DIY marketing when qualified experts are standing by?

Pitfall #3: Inconsistent Email Production

Again, one of the biggest hurdles for DIY marketing is finding time to do it consistently. In fact, 52 percent of B2B marketers say finding time to focus on content marketing is a real challenge. Since marketing isn’t your sole responsibility, you’re basically doing it as time permits. By burning the candle at both ends, you can’t consistently produce quality emails, and they end up rushed if they’re completed at all.

Pitfall #4: Not Knowing What to Write About

Forty-two percent of B2B marketers consider producing engaging content a challenge. How does that impact your feelings about novice DIY marketing? While you may have a few good ideas at first, the well can quickly run dry.

Often a lack of ideas can lead to repeating past topics or leaning heavily on self-promotion, both of which can land you in the spam folder if you’re not careful. For example, an auto repair shop could fall into the trap of promoting their services repeatedly instead of offering valuable content, such as DIY auto maintenance tips designed to save customers on repairs down the line.
Instead of taking your chances with DIY marketing, consider outsourcing to an email marketing service that has the experience and expertise to help you keep the ideas fresh and flowing. An expert can help you wade through the general topic ideas and drill down to something more meaningful and valuable to your clients.

Pitfall #5: Not Knowing How to Optimize Email Subject Lines

Did you know that only 18 to 22 percent of business emails actually get opened? Now consider this: 33 percent of consumers consider the subject line to be the deciding factor for whether or not they open an email. Considering the role subject lines play in open rates, is this really something you want to leave to chance?

Pitfall #6: Not Understanding How to Design/Optimize an Email

With this one, we’re talking about the whole enchilada — logos, formatting, subheadings, links, calls to action (CTAs), fonts, colors — you name it. When you receive an email with a huge logo, eye-crossing colors or too many crazy fonts, it comes off as unprofessional and affects your opinion of the company. Why risk making the same mistakes and damaging your reputation?

Sure, email templates are available (and often at a price), but how do you know they adhere to the latest best practices for email marketing, let alone if they will resonate with your audience? Opting for a marketing automation solution alleviates those worries. A dedicated staff of marketing experts stay abreast of the latest trends and know through research and experience what works best for your industry and audience.

For example, something as simple as a mismatched CTA can drastically undercut the effectiveness of DIY marketing. If an email revolves around home cooling but the CTA abruptly asks readers to download content about furnace maintenance, readers may be left confused and lacking the incentive to click through to the download.

Pitfall #7: Not Sure How to Manage Email Data

Data management is multi-faceted. It involves verifying emails, eliminating bad data, honoring removal requests and maintaining databases over time. When a business neglects these tasks, they often experience high bounce rates and spam reports, and they could end up blacklisted or in violation of the CAN-SPAM Act. It’s also harder to properly segment a list for targeted emails when a database is inaccurate.

When an email marketing service manages your data, they not only keep your data clean and your list compliant, but they also track the results of your campaign so you can measure ROI. With DIY marketing, it’s a lot harder to track metrics like deliverability, email open rates and CTA click-throughs, which makes it tough to adjust your ongoing strategy for optimal success.

Pitfall #8: Underestimating Social Media Marketing’s Level of Difficulty

On the surface, social media marketing may look like a fun, off-the-cuff process of sharing interesting content as you come to it. But there’s more to it than that. To do it right, you need an intelligent strategy that not only provides value to your clients, but also communicates a coherent message and plays into your long-term business goals. A full-service, automated marketing solution has the expertise to help make that happen.

Pitfall #9: Overwhelming Challenge of Finding Social Content

Social media marketing requires consistent content sharing across multiple channels. Not only do you need to find appropriate content for each unique channel, but you also need enough content to keep all of your channels satisfied. In other words, you have to devote a considerable chunk of marketing time to content creation and curation. Keep in mind that 50 percent of B2B marketers consider it a challenge to produce enough content, both in terms of volume and variety.

Pitfall #10: Jack of All Trades, Master of None

While you don’t have to be everywhere at once, you do need to be in the right place at the right time and with the right content. That requires mastering multiple social media channels and understanding how to share content on each in a meaningful way. With so many social media platforms available, it’s getting harder to know how to pick the right content to post, when to post it and where. It’s better to leave it to the experts.

Pitfall #11: Unable to Measure ROI

With DIY marketing, it’s hard to measure social media metrics and ROI, which can be frustrating. Sure, you can count followers, likes and shares, but that doesn’t really give you an in-depth understanding of what’s working and where. That’s where a social media expert comes in, someone who has the tools to properly gauge analytics and figure out where time and effort is best spent.

Pitfall #12: Unresponsive to Social Media

Social media is just that — social. When someone takes the time to engage with you on social media, they actually expect a response, and fast. In fact, 42 percent of consumers expect a response within one hour! Think nights and weekends matter? Nope! Fifty-seven percent still expect the same response time as they’d get during normal business hours. Unless being available 24/7 is in your DIY marketing plan, you might want to consider professional help.

In a Nutshell, Time Is Money and Expertise Matters

Just because you can do it yourself doesn’t mean you should. While DIY marketing isn’t impossible, it’s certainly not for everyone, particularly without ample time and expertise. Why not outsource your marketing efforts to a team that can take your email and social media to the next level?

Updated: 10/26/17; Originally Published: 9/30/15

Travis Balinas
travis@outboundengine.com

Travis is the former Product Marketing Manager at OutboundEngine. He now works in Product Marketing at BigCommerce.