5 Marketing Hacks That Don’t Work Anymore


We’ve all been there. Your site is getting the traffic you expected. You don’t have the number of social followers you’d hoped for. Your product just isn’t selling as well as you’d hoped.

So you open up a new browser tab and search for “marketing tips and tricks” or “how to market my {insert clever product name here} better.”

And lo and behold! There are listicles and blog posts and checklists galore! There are so many things to try and so much stuff to implement and change on your site. This has got to be the answer, for sure.

But hold up. How do you know which ones to try first?

More importantly, how do you know which ones to ignore completely?

Maybe that post was written before Google updated its algorithm (again). Maybe that listicle was created just to increase traffic to a particular site.

Follow along as we discuss some of the marketing hacks that may have worked once upon a time but are better off replaced with a different tool in your content marketing bag of tricks.

Hack 1: Blackhat SEO practices

Search engine optimization hasn’t always had such a bad name. In the beginning, search engines indexed sites based on the keywords in the text. Order was implemented, and all was right with the web.

But before too long, black-hat SEO techniques like keyword stuffing and spammy backlinks became more and more prevalent. There were sites with large blocks of same color text that served no purpose other than to push a site up in the search rankings.


As Google gained search engine superiority, they implemented algorithms that penalized sites for this type of behavior. But the damage to the reputation of SEO had already been done.

“SEO” was now verboten in content marketing circles, having been replaced by practices like larger-scope search engine marketing and pay-per-click advertising.

The lesson: Create better content

Instead of relying on (or trying to beat) the system, create content that will drive users to your site in more natural ways.

Make sure you’re providing an outstanding user experience. Utilize the available social channels to increase engagement and communicate with your customers in ways that they appreciate and enjoy.

Make your content more specific and more focused so that it’s available in the right place at the right time, and out of the way when it’s not.


Hack 2: Spammy email marketing

When we’re talking about marketing mistakes, we have to talk about spam, the result of the “spray and pray” email tactics of the early to mid-1990s.

At its beginning, email was seen by marketers as a quick, low-cost way to deliver a message to an enormous chunk of potential customers in a near-instant.

However, changes that came with the passage of the Can Spam Law in the US (and other laws like it) caused marketers to look for ways around the new filtering rules being put in place by internet service providers.

Marketers also started to recognize that if they didn’t protect their reputations, they could end up on the wrong side of the junk folder.


Along with this came a change in the ways that people were consuming emails and other marketing messages. Creativity played a larger part. With the advent of the smartphone and the rise of social media, marketers realized that they were dealing with shorter attention spans and more competing messages.

Email marketing is now more about the specific needs and wants of the customer as opposed to the mass market approach of the last 20 years. Data gathering and email segmentation is how marketers and companies are approaching email today.

By being more focused and specific with your email, you can increase the return on your investment (whether that’s time, money, or both).

The lesson: Use list segmentation

Instead of sending the same email to every person who signs up for your email list (and don’t forget to use BCC!), use the data at your disposal. Spend the time to understand your email list by digging deep into the analytics and contact profiles.

At Piktochart, we use email segmentation to help with new user onboarding. It wouldn’t make sense to send those emails to everyone, so we look at the information we have and use it to our advantage.

From there, create and target content based on indicated preferences, as well as demographic and psychographic information. Watch the value of each subscriber increase exponentially with incremental effort.


Hack 3: Social media mismanagement

Nothing alters your expectations for something more than the obvious presence of marketing. This is especially true for social media. Networks that were created to bridge the time and space gap between friends and coworkers lose some of their magic when BRANDS enter the picture.

Paid advertising is one thing. From the first Facebook ad in 2005 to Twitter’s promoted tweets and accounts, advertising is a way for these companies to keep the lights on and provide the services we love.

What we’re talking about are the companies that use social media as another place to post sales copy and billboard slogans. Companies are jumping on to platforms like Snapchat without any strategy or forethought because they are “what’s next.”


There are certain actions that are just not acceptable anymore (if they ever were). Don’t set up your Zap or IFTTT recipe to cross-post to all of your platforms. Sharing a great customer photo or appropriate meme between Instagram and Twitter every once-in-a-while is ok; having everything you post show up on every channel all at once is not.

And please, stop sending automated direct messages to your Twitter followers, particularly those “Thanks for the follow! Let’s start a dialogue about {product}” messages.

They don’t serve any real purpose other than to generate a notification, and they’re certainly not starting any meaningful conversations.

The lesson: Connect with ALL of your audiences

Different platforms have different audiences. Just like using the data you have to tailor your emails, you can (and should) do the same with your social networks. Follow the examples of companies like Slack and keep the personal touch on all your messages.

Here at Piktochart, we like to sign our Twitter replies with our names because we want you to know that there’s a person that’s listening to you and wanting your feedback. Social media is about telling a story and connecting with people, not broadcasting to an audience. Be a person, not a BRAND.


Hack 4: Banner advertising

Oh, the much-maligned banner ad. Just like SEO and email marketing, the banner ad is a form of marketing that has not always has such a bad reputation. In fact, the first companies to use banner ads didn’t even know they were out there on the web.

In an article on The Guardian, Joe McCambley of TheWonderfactory recounts his experience writing the first banner ad for

“Doing good was easy in 1994. There were only six advertisers in the entire world that lined up for HotWired. The supply of creative talent far outstripped advertiser demand. For about two years many of us in digital advertising created some of the most amazing experiences of our careers.”

But soon, those experiences would be soured by marketers who were more concerned with quantity than quality. Click-through rates went from as high as 44 percent in the early 1990s to as low as .4 percent today. Most people can’t remember the last banner ad they saw, much less whether or not it was worth clicking.

The lesson: Trust your content and your audience

Instead of paying to advertise your site or product in various places across the internet, concentrate on making content that will essentially advertise itself.

Sites like Tumblr make it easy to share a link to your content and even easier for your audience to re-share that post. Link-share posts on Facebook will automatically grab an image from your page, embed the article’s headline, and allow you to add your own comments.

You can also reach out and ask about guest blogging for sites that might interest the same types of potential users. Our own Daniel Tay has been featured on blogs like iDoneThis, Crazy Egg, and Kikolani because we think that their readers might benefit from hearing about Daniel’s expertise and experiences in visual storytelling.

Hack 5: Misleading lead nurturing

There are some marketing tricks that are old and outdated, and then there are some that are just plain wrong. Lead nurturing is one proven way to increase sales, but there have been times when the practice has been used in less-than-honorable ways.

Signing up for an email list or a product is a commonplace activity these days. We navigate to a site, read some engaging content, and sign up to receive the free bonus material in exchange for our name and email address. Some companies, however, take it a step too far.

At some point down the road, you realize you’ve apparently signed up for something you hadn’t planned on, and now there’s a sales rep calling you to close the deal. They list you on their platform and then tell you that you should finish your registration.

That’s not nurturing a lead; that’s forcing a person into an uncomfortable situation.

The lesson: Be honest and honorable

As a company that prides ourself on being open and honest, we believe that our users should be treated like members of our family. Our lead nurturing is based on user behavior and feedback, not an email list we bought from a sketchy website or “leads” we generated without letting people know.

The best way to nurture those prospective leads is to develop relationships with your customers at every point along the way. Once you have a list of people who may be interested in your product or service, reach out to them in a genuine, honest, and specific way.

Just like with your email marketing strategy, treat your customers as individuals and help them find the content or solutions they need. If you come from a place on honesty and humility, users will appreciate your openness.


Now you’re new and improved

Technologically speaking, things change all the time. Platforms are created (and buried), modes of communication adapt, and the focus shifts to the “next big thing.”

But you can soften the blow if you keep a consistent and honest message. Concentrate on creating high-quality content and strengthening your connections with your users.

What tips and tricks are you using to replace some others that are old and dated? Tweet at us (@piktochart) to let us know, or leave us a comment down below!

Images from Elite Strategies, PexelsUnsplash, and Flickr

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