5 Pieces of Terrible Marketing Advice You Shouldn’t Follow

by Jacob McMillen

Last updated on July 27th, 2017

Can you ever read “too much” marketing advice?

Nowadays, there are a hundred different blogs on any given marketing topic, each with a hundred different articles. The advice and tips are never-ending.

Marketers are constantly looking to establish themselves as experts by commenting on trending topics or attacking traditional viewpoints. Some do it well, offering a unique view in a sea of re-posts.

Others fail miserably, offering terrible advice.

Today, we are looking at 5 pieces of terrible marketing advice you shouldn’t follow.

1. Don’t Waste Your Time On SEO.

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This is the equivalent of saying, “don’t waste your time building a foundation for your house.”

While it’s true that black-hat SEO is no longer capable of building your entire house for you, on-page SEO and link-building are still central pieces to any marketing puzzle.

At the end of the day, organic traffic is a huge asset you can’t afford to ignore. Strategies for modern SEO included:

  • Mobile responsiveness
  • Simple, straightforward UX
  • Broader keyword targeting
  • Gear content towards maximum social shares
  • Target high quality backlinks

You aren’t going to hit SERP (Search Engine Results Page) #1 with a grab-bag of tricks, but if you type a term and check the first page, you are still going to see keywords on pages with high backlink counts.

Core SEO practices didn’t simply die, and they won’t for a long time to come.

2. You Should Buy Email Lists.


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Sales is a numbers game. Accordingly, there is a time and place for purchasing lists of business leads.

Email is not that place and now is not that time.

Email marketing is decidedly relational. If you look at the best in the business, you’ll notice a common theme. Subscribers feel like they know the person/brand on a personal level. This is obviously not the case with a bought list.

Even if you take out the personal element, buying lists is still a bad idea (for one it’s illegal!). Email lists tend to perform well based on the psychological principle of consistency. As humans, we want our current actions to be consistent with our past actions. Accordingly, when we say, “yes, I want to hear from you” to a brand, by something as simple as entering our email, we are setting a precedent to say “yes” in the future.

When you buy someone’s email address, you do not own it, in the same way you would if they gave it to you. When you email the address owner, you are intruding. You are contacting them without their request or consent.

3. Email Is Outdated.

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This is a pretty humorous piece of advice, considering over half of all the publications you read make a massive chunk of their revenue through email marketing.

There are some very good reasons you should be in the email marketing game:

  • Email has an average ROI of $38 for every $1 spent.
  • 55% of companies generate over 10% of sales through email marketing.
  • An email list is a permanent asset you can utilize on your own terms.
  • 88% of marketers report positive ROI on their email marketing efforts.
  • 72% of consumers say email is their preferred conduit of communication with businesses.
  • 66% of consumers have made an online purchase as the direct result of a commercial email.

Needless to say. Email marketing is not outdated.

4. You Should Be On ____ Social Media Platform.

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Social media has forever changed the marketing game. No question.

And in truth, new platforms arise every other year that seem to once again change the game, all on their own.

But unlike many channels, social media platforms work very differently for different businesses. There are really no hard and fast rules for which strategies will work for you, or which social media platforms will produce the best ROI for your business.

In other words, there is no fill-in-the-blank advice that applies to all businesses.

If imagery, beauty, or visual creatively have literally nothing to do with your business, you might not see any results on Instagram.

If you are a local business, the strategies and platforms you will use will be vastly different from a national brand or a business seeking to cast a national sales net.

They key is to identify which platforms your audience prefers, and most importantly, HOW they are engaging with that platform, and then determine if you can find a way to meaningfully engage with your audience on that platform.

If not, don’t waste your time.

5. Don’t Ask Customers For ______ (Shares, Optins, Purchases, etc.).

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There seems to be a weird paradox in the business world. People are all too happy to self-promote in certain ways, but seem to back down from self-promotion in other ways.

The point I see a lot of people hesitating with is directly asking readers/customers for something.

I’ve read that this is a baby boomer thing, but I don’t know if that’s the case or not, being a millennial myself (goodness knows we don’t have a problem with self-promotion).

Regardless of the reasoning, this is poor marketing advice. Actually, it’s terrible marketing advice.

If you don’t ask your audience for anything, how will they know to give you what you want? If you don’t tell customers what they are supposed to do in order to benefit from your awesome content/product/service, they will miss out.

You owe it to your audience to ask them for ______.

It could be likes, shares, retweets, opt-ins, sales, up-sales… it doesn’t matter what it is. If you want something, ASK for it.


Don’t make the mistake of following these 5 pieces of terrible marketing advice.

Utilize core SEO practices. Build your email lists the right way, and then use them. Choose social media platforms that are right for you unique business.

And finally, ask your audience to share your discount offer. Ask them to opt-in to your email list. Ask them to buy your product. Ask them to buy another product. Go ahead… ask.

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Jacob McMillen

Jacob McMillen is a website copywriter and content strategist. He helps businesses stop playing around with content marketing and start seeing tangible ROI. Download his free guide: 2 Fail-Proof Marketing Strategies For Businesses On A Budget


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  1. Vaibhav Singh says:
    December 17, 2015 at 3:07 pm

    Thanks for this post, m totally new in SEO world. Your post helped me. thanks a lot.

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