15 Ineffective Areas Where You Might Be Wasting Your Ad Spend

It can sometimes be difficult to discern a clear return on investment with your marketing efforts. So many different activities now fall under the broad umbrella of marketing, and not all of them directly translate to sales.

While some indirect marketing efforts, like social media and blog posts, are worth their weight in brand awareness, other areas are simply a waste of time and money because they don’t resonate with customers. We asked Forbes CommunicationsCouncil members about the least effective advertising strategies. From non-targeted banner ads to vanity metrics, their best answers are below.

1. Offers That Haven’t Been Tested And Verified

Marketers who live by campaign schedules and promotions (as opposed to ongoing brand or inbound marketing) often find themselves burning their media dollars as they work to sell an offer that doesn’t hit home with their audience. Before the ads are bought and the emails are coded, it’s important to test the offer and learn if it’s compelling enough to warrant customer interest. – Clayton Root, XOR Data Exchange

In our extremely time-pressed world, it is helpful to schedule emails, social posts and promotions to deploy like clockwork. This efficiency is both a blessing and a curse. While we can keep communications flowing, we run the risk of becoming rote, not testing or listening to customers adequately and losing spontaneity in our communications. – Janine Robertson, Insect Shield Repellent Technology

3. Messages That Target Too Broad Of An Audience

Instead of focusing on one ad that will appeal to every person likely to use your service, define specific target personas for who you are trying to attract and cater each message to these individuals. Focus on attracting the right people with the right message — not casting a wide net. Targeted ads will help you spend less while driving a higher conversion rate. – Mandy Menaker, Shapr

4. Mass Sampling

Mass sampling is one of the hardest things to measure, as samples are often thrown away before they are ever used by consumers. Sampling is important and can be effective when done through networks that have loyal and engaged consumers who are excited to receive the samples, or through conferences and events. – Sherry Jhawar, Blended Strategy Group

5. Marketing Based Exclusively On Third-Party Data

Many marketers rely on third-party data from market research firms or trend analytics tools to determine what their targeted personas want instead of asking them. Strategically designed surveys that get to the heart of what your audience needs yield exponentially more engagement and conversions. Big data-based insights are unlikely to resonate with niche audiences. – Courtney Dale, ICM Consulting and Media Corporation

6. Non-Targeted Banner Ads

In the age of banner blindness, it’s hard for me to reconcile purchasing non-targeted banner ads, especially when social media channels like Facebook and search behemoths like Google make targeted digital advertising so lucrative — at no additional cost. – Amanda Hinski, Frost Valley YMCA

7. Marketing That Doesn’t Speak To The Customer’s Point Of View

As marketers, it can be easy to think of marketing in terms of the products we are trying to promote and the brands we are trying to build. In a connected world, interrupting customers to tell them all about our brands has become increasingly wasteful. Reaching modern consumers requires approaching them from their point of view — helping them solve their problems and connecting with their interests. – Serge Vartanov, AutoGravity

8. Unmemorable Branding Efforts

If you can put your competitor’s logo in your campaign and it would pass for one of their ads, you are not making the right impact. You need to make your campaign memorable and specific to your brand platform. That way, the brand recognition works harder for your money and not for your competitors. Don’t let your ad be one people can remember by the content but not the brand. – Heather Dueitt, Pescadero Marketing Group

Forbes Communications Council is an invitation-only community for executives in successful public relations, media strategy, creative and advertising agencies. Do I qualify?

9. Vanity Metrics

Many great marketers waste money on ad words that bring impressions but not ideal customers. Vanity metrics based on clicks do not help the bottom line and do not allow companies to understand their ideal customers. Spending less on ads will allow you spend more money on campaigns that resonate with actual buyers. – Jennifer Mellon, Trustify

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