What’s worst digital marketing mistake you can make? 1

This entry is part 1 of 13 in the series Digital Marketing Mistakes

There are a million mistakes a brand can make when doing digital marketing and advertising. Many occur because of ignorance and the will to do it themselves, others happen despite best efforts because digital marketing can be at times complex and complicated.

But what would be the absolute worst mistake to make? Which one mistake trumps them all?

2 names 1 brandUsing 2 names for 1 brand

Does your brand have more than one name?  That shouldn’t be.

Your company can possess many brands, each one with its own name, which is fine. But assigning more than one name to a brand is a capital offense in online marketing.

For starters, it is the surest way to confuse consumers by not having one clear name for your brand. What should I ask for, A or B?

This grave mistake comes in a few variations. Let’s explore three such variations.

Different brand name and domain name

The first version of this error marketers sometimes do is have a domain (URL) which is a different name than their brand name (different from their company name too).  For example, Brand A is a type of lawnmower. Instead of using www.branda.com, some marketers try to be creative and might use www.bestlawnmowers.com. They’d like to two to be associated in their consumer’s mind, but that’s not necessarily so.

Consider this from a purely digital point of view. Consumers will use a wide variety of different social networks, search engines and review sites to discover your brand. Not all of these sites are created equal in their ability to read and interpret the web. Google is smart enough to associate things if it’s encountered them before. However, we can rest assured this is not the case for every other site out there. If you are looking for Brand A’s Facebook page which has been named Best Lawnmowers, you will not find it by search for Brand A.

Long name and acronym

The other situation where marketers make this grave error is predominantly among local businesses in small markets. They, who have the most to gain by doing things right due to smaller budgets, now much spend twice as much to get their message across because it gets confused every which way.

One situation where brands use 2 names is for long names that can also be used in a shorter acronym form. Take for example the FQCC, or “Federation Québécoise de Camping et de Caravaning”. This association for RV enthusiasts in Quebec (thus the French name) uses its abbreviation for its domain (www.fqcc.ca). The name presented on their site is actually both: the short version in bigger letters, with the long form below it.

When Google spiders the web, it detects this and decides one is the same as the other. Search for either version on Google and you will find what you are looking for. However, it’s everywhere else where users will encounter difficulties. If the organisation sometimes used their short name, say to create their Facebook, Twitter and YouTube accounts, and other times used its long form name for Yellow Pages, Yelp and other directory and review websites, consumers will have a very hard time finding them. They’ll either be lucky or use the right version of the name, or won’t be because they used the other. As most brands, particularly local ones, aren’t listed everywhere, consumers will just assume you’re not there and look elsewhere.  They won’t necessarily consider search for you with a different name.

I’ve encountered a ton of these in my work with local businesses. They usually go a little white when they realize the difficulty they’ve just now created for consumers to find them.

Actually using 2 names for your brand

This is the worst of the worst. I assume that companies who’ve committed this mistake did not have the counsel of a real marketer, rather someone who thought they knew.

This is when a small business evolved before it got its branding settled. I’ve encountered a ton of beauty shops, auto dealers and auto repair shops that really have multiple names. For example, in my hometown there’s a beauty shop called “Doris Maltais Soins Esthétiques”. That’s the name in front of the business and the name used in the local (print) directory. I could not find this company online when I searched for it across 10 different sites (search, social, directory and review sites). Wondering if there was a second name used, I search using this company’s phone number and found it under another name in many places: “Clinique Doris Maltais”.

Always remember that Google’s is a smart search engine, it will find what you’re looking for. However sometimes we look for a brand elsewhere, like on Yellow Pages, Yelp, Facebook, TripAvisor and other online resources.

Auto repair shops are the worst because most are independent, yet also part of a buying group. So they have their own name and sometimes a website with their proper URL. They oftentimes also have a second site with a shorter version of their name joined with the buying group’s name. For example, “Pieces d’Autos O. Fontaine” which elsewhere is found as “AutoPartsPlus O. Fontaine” (different site but same coordinates for the same physical location.

I recently did a census of online discoverability for local businesses near me and learned that 3% of businesses have this dual branding problem.

Always remember it’s the brand that needs to bend over backwards to make it easy for consumers to find them and to buy from them. The consumer should not have to jump through hoops just to find you, much less if they actually want to buy something. Make is easy for them.

Do you agree with this being the worst marketing mistake a brand can commit? If not, what would you consider to be the worst marketing mistake?

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