Is online marketing good, bad or ugly?

If I asked a handful of business owners that question, I bet I would get a few votes for each.  But which answer is correct?

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Have you seen the old Clint Eastwood western movie, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly?

I’ve probably watched it 10 times by now.  It was always on TV when I was growing up and I would instantly get sucked into a ~3 hour movie, along with all those commercials. Like all of his western’s this one includes gunfights, signature one liners from Clint, and some timely, precision tobacco spitting.  My kind of movie. :)

Even if you haven’t watched the movie, you can probably guess there’s a good guy, a bad guy, and an ugly guy.  I’ll spare you the details and jump right into how this relates to online marketing.  In my experience, online marketing plays all 3 of those roles: Good, Bad, and Ugly.

Marketing The Good The Bad The Ugly (1)

The Good

The good is usually what draws businesses to online marketing in the first place: It’s affordable and effective.  In some cases, it’s downright free.  For example, any business looking for local customers can set up and optimize a Google+ Local page and quickly get free exposure in Google’s local business results.  No upfront fees.  No ongoing fees.  No fancy software to learn.  Just free exposure when local customers are searching for you.  Hard to beat free when it comes to driving new business!

Even advertising is usually more affordable online versus offline.  With Google AdWords you only pay per click so there is no big upfront investment like there is with TV, print or radio ads.

Of course, there are many more reasons online marketing is good, but I think that gets the point across just fine.  Now let’s look at the bad…


The Bad

The bad news is that online marketing is always changing!  Just when you think you’ve mastered search engine optimization (SEO), Google will go and change their algorithm.  Or just when you’ve built up a hefty Facebook audience, Zuckerberg decides to tweak the EdgeRank algorithm so you have to pay to get your posts in front of your prospects and customers.

Scroll through this list of Google algorithm changes to see just how frequently the search engine landscape changes.  Trust me, it’s nearly impossible to keep up, and I do this for a living.  There’s just no way a business owner can stay on top of all the trends and best practices without help.

And Google is just the tip of the iceberg… Have you looked at all the options available with online marketing?  Talk about overwhelming.  There’s SEO, search advertising, display advertising, Facebook advertising, email marketing, social media marketing, website conversion optimization, tracking and website analytics.  I could go on and on but you get the point.

To be effective with online marketing, you must constantly stay up-to-date with the trends and best practices.  That’s one of the main reasons we created our Main Street Inner Circle program.

Now, let’s turn to the ugly side of online marketing…


The Ugly

First, there’s the glut of information available.  There are books, blogs, articles, videos, and podcasts published online every single day.  Some of it is sound advice.  Some of it is applicable for certain types of businesses.  And some of it is outdated, or simply inaccurate.  Unfortunately, it’s nearly impossible for a business owner to know who or what to pay attention to, which leads to ugly marketing decisions.

Second, there are many low quality online marketing providers preying on unwary businesses…

For example, my spam folder is full of companies prospecting me and guaranteeing #1 rankings in Google for any keyword.  I can see how tempting that can be if you’re not familiar with search engine optimization (SEO) and how it all works.  However, the reality is that no one can guarantee #1 rankings.  As soon as you see or hear that phrase, run away, hang up, or click delete.  That’s a red flag that you’re not dealing with a reputable company.

Now that you know the good, the bad, and the ugly, it’s time to take action…


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Click here to grab a copy of the Internet Marketing Survival Guide.  In the guide, I walk through the 7 steps to increase your online marketing return on investment (ROI).  Plus, you’ll receive recommended resources to help you get up to speed with online marketing trends and best practices.