How (and Why) Your Business Should Apologize For Its Mistakes

From influencers to major businesses, people seem to have forgotten how to apologize. But if your brand messes up, that’s something you need to remember.

Nobody’s perfect. Everyone from the freshest intern to the highest-paid CEO makes mistakes now and then. Yet many of them seem incapable of what comes next — apologizing and resolving to be better. 

Recently, we’ve begun watching a YouTube channel called Observe.  Hosted by professional body language analyst Logan Portenier, one of the channel’s primary content streams involves analyzing influencers’ apologies for everything from ignoring COVID restrictions to being party to unsavory behavior. Perhaps unsurprisingly, most of these apologies share a common theme.

They’re entirely insincere. 

A BluePrint For An Ineffective Apology

If you’ve spent any time following the recent controversy surrounding YouTuber David Dobrik and his group “The Vlog Squad,” you’ve doubtless seen shades of this. As reported by Mashable, Dobrik has himself posted two separate apology videos. We’re not going to get into what transpired, as in addition to being triggering for victims of assault, it’s not our focus here. 

If you’re interested in learning more, you can read the article we linked above. Instead, we’re going to look at what Dobrik did wrong in both cases. Because together, they form a very effective framework for how not to apologize for a brand crisis.  

In Dobrik’s first video, which fans and critics have widely panned, his mistakes are glaringly evident. 

  • Sweeping it under the rug. The apology was posted to Dobrik’s Podcast channel, Views, rather than his official channel. The former has only 1.7 million subscribers as opposed to the latter’s nearly 20 million. 
  • Dodging the issue. Dobrik never directly addressed the allegations against his brand, instead speaking in vague terms about consent. 
  • No dialog allowed. Despite the video being titled Let’s Talk, Dobrik disabled comments. 
  • A lack of commitment. The total length of the video is only two and a half minutes. Given the seriousness of the allegations against The Vlog Squad, most felt that was nowhere near enough time. 
  • Obligation, not authenticity. Portenier refers to Dobrik’s apology as “hollow,’ noting from his body language that it’s clear Dobrik doesn’t seem to particularly care about rectifying the issue. 

Unsurprisingly, this video was not well-received. After losing over 100,000 subscribers and multiple brand partnerships, Dobrik posted a second video a week later to his main channel. He did a lot of things right this time. 

He owned the fact that he messed up. He at least appeared genuinely remorseful. He asserted that moving forward, he will be implementing checks and balances so that something like this need not happen again and has delisted the videos associated with the controversy.

But he still made mistakes. 

  • Too little, too late.  Instead of getting ahead of the issue, Dobrik waited until he began suffering direct and severe consequences from the controversy. This has led some to assert that the YouTuber isn’t actually sorry that any of this happens, only that it’s directly impacted him. 
  • Poorly-staged. As some have noted, Dobrik went to great lengths to look pitiable, being close to tears, appearing disheveled, and filming his apology from the floor. 

“If [Dobrik] had come out and immediately apologized and immediately went to the people, that would at least show that he [recognized and owned up] to his idiocy,” Portenier notes in his analysis of the second apology. “Dobrik’s apology is genuine [but] perhaps for the wrong reasons.” 

Why Should Your Brand Care About Apologizing?  

In Dobrik’s case, the degree to which he mismanaged his apology has damaged his brand, perhaps irreparably. Just two days after his second video, YouTube demonetized his channels. Insider reports that Dobrik has, as a result of the controversy, lost nearly everything (content warning: SA).  

Per a study published by Science Daily, economists found that people are over twice as likely to forgive a brand that genuinely apologizes.  As reported by The New York Times, when a doctor honestly admitted their mistakes to patients, they were significantly less likely to take legal action. A good apology, in other words, costs nothing. Ignoring a problem or failing to apologize, meanwhile, can cost you everything. 

As for what’s involved in an effective apology, let’s refer back to Dobrik. 

  • Recognize the problem as soon as possible. The sooner you realize you messed up, the better.
  • Don’t try to dodge accountability. Be honest about what went wrong and why. 
  • Show that you genuinely care. Don’t just say you’re sorry. Mean it. 
  • Resolve to be better. Explain what you’ll do to improve in the future, and don’t make promises you can’t keep. 
  • Explanations, not excuses. Don’t try to go into the reasons things went wrong. 

Everyone makes mistakes, even the most prominent brands. The capacity to recognize and apologize for those mistakes can be the difference between repairing one’s reputation or damaging it beyond repair. 

YouTube is Considering Hiding Dislike Counts. Here’s Why That’s a Mistake.

Today on features no one asked for nor wanted, YouTube is thinking of hiding dislikes on its videos. That’s a bad thing.

Interaction is at the core of social media. Reactions on Facebook. Likes and Retweets on Twitter, Likes and Dislikes on YouTube.

It turns out that last one’s due for a change — a change literally nobody wanted.

“In a response to creator feedback around well-being and targeted dislike campaigns, we’re testing a few new designs that don’t show the public dislike count,” YouTube announced on its official Twitter on Wednesday. “If you’re part of this small experiment, you might spot one of these designs in the coming weeks.” 

It’s fortunate for YouTube that Twitter doesn’t have a dislike button. The announcement has been met with almost universal derision from some of YouTube’s top creators, and the only place we’ve seen even the remotest amount of praise for the decision are publications that likely aren’t even on the platform.  We cannot help but wonder who asked for this. 

Because it certainly wasn’t the creators who have for years been YouTube’s bread and butter.

YouTube’s reasoning for the decision, explained in a community forum post, makes very little sense. According to the company, the decision is intended to protect creators from targeted dislike campaigns. Said creators will still see the exact number of likes and dislikes in their studio, but the ratio will otherwise remain invisible to others.

The problem is that this ratio has long been a measure of content quality. Good content — informative, entertaining, fact-based, and valuable — accrues more likes, while bad content trends in the opposite direction. There’s also one other tiny detail YouTube is fecklessly side-stepping with this charade.

Its copyright claim system is utterly broken and has been for years. Even a cursory search brings up countless stories of creators who saw their livelihoods destroyed via fraudulent claims. There are multiple ‘creatives’ who are infamous for this, and BBC reports that extortionists regularly abuse it

The problem is that the entire system puts the onus of proof on the creator. The person filing the claim barely has to prove a thing. And if more than several videos receive copyright strikes, YouTube terminates the channel that uploaded them. 

And all this happens before the channel’s owner even has an opportunity to defend themselves. 

Jim Sterling, a reviewer and journalist with nearly one million subscribers, was subjected to so many fraudulent copyright strikes that Youtube implemented protections against it. Yet, that still didn’t stop a developer from recently attempting to get their channel removed from the platform. They only managed to reinstate themselves by threatening legal action, reports Heavy, and the man responsible is still filing copyright strikes against them.

If YouTube is actually interested in preventing “targeted harassment,” it needs to listen to its creators. It needs to address the actual vehicle through which people are being harassed and abused on its platform. It needs to get rid of ContentID and fix its fundamentally broken copyright system.

Until it does, it doesn’t matter how much it says it wants to protect its creators; it’s just shouting empty words into the void. 

Apple’s App Tracking Transparency Feature Is Only a Bad Thing for Facebook

Apple is releasing an iOS update that will notify users when an app wants to track them. Facebook has spent months rallying against it. But most brands were doing personalization wrong to begin with.

“We believe users should have the choice over the data that is being collected about them and how it’s used,” wrote Apple CEO Tim Cook in a December 2020 Twitter post. “Facebook can continue to track users across apps and websites as before, App Tracking Transparency in iOS 14 will just require that they ask for your permission first.”

For those of you who haven’t been paying attention, that tweet was one recent shot in an ongoing feud between Apple and Facebook about a new feature coming to iOS. Known as App Tracking Transparency (ATT), it explicit consent from users before an app can track details about a user’s device or their activities outside the app. Understandably, Facebook was less than enthralled by this concept.

Per CNBC, the social network late last month launched a new ad campaign titled “Good Ideas Deserve to be Found.” Although company executives claimed the initiative was aimed at supporting small businesses during COVID-19, the real motive of the campaign was immediately clear. It’s another effort by Facebook to undermine Apple’s decision — another thinly-veiled attempt to make it seem like giving people ownership of their personal information is a bad thing. 

Facebook even launched a website on the topic, positioning itself as a champion and Apple as a villain. Because as we all know, if there’s one thing Facebook cares about, it’s small businesses. That’s why it blocked all Australian publications from its platform last month to protest a law it didn’t like

As pointed out by Inc.com’s Jason Aten, Facebook is the only one that stands to lose anything from these changes

As for personalized, paid advertising, for most businesses, it’s utterly ineffective. Not because there’s something wrong with the format, mind you. Because most businesses have no idea how to target their ads.

“The effectiveness of digital ads is wildly oversold,” writes Sinan Aral, Director of the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy. “Brands pay consultants big bucks to “target” their ads at the people most likely to buy their products. But unless the targeting is directed at customers who aren’t already prepped to buy the products, the conversion from click to cash will not generate any new revenue.” 

In other words, most advertising is targeted and personalized towards people who are already likely to purchase a brand’s products — they frequently even have prior awareness of the brand. 

Never mind the fact that, as noted by marketing expert Neil Patel, small businesses generally enjoy the most success from local search engine optimization, not from paid advertising as Facebook seems to suggest. Competing with big businesses on platforms like Adwords is generally a recipe for failure. Focusing on local SEO, creating Google My Business and Facebook Business pages, and uploading your name, address, and phone (NAP) information to relevant directories is a far superior recipe for success. 

Facebook has never cared about user privacy. It has never cared about supporting small business owners or ensuring their success. As the Cambridge Analytica scandal drove home, Facebook only cares about profiting off the backs of its users. 

All the shallow ad campaigns in the world won’t change that fact. 

The 3 Characteristics of an Effective Press Release

Press releases are an often-overlooked means of bringing more attention to your brand. But you have to make sure you’re managing them the right way. Here’s some advice to that end.

If your business has never written a press release, you might be missing out. They’re a powerful tool for brand awareness and maintaining your business’s public image. More importantly, they’re arguably among the best tools for addressing controversies with the potential to break your brand

Don’t just dive in and start writing, though. Press releases aren’t like other content. They require a very specific approach in order to be effective. 

Here are three of the most important characteristics in that regard.  

Newsworthy Content

First and most importantly, make sure you have something important and relevant to say. 

This could be one of your executives offering expert commentary on current events. It could be a newsworthy action by your company, such as the receipt of a major award, the launch of a new product, or the addition of new infrastructure. It could be a survey your company recently commissioned or your response to a controversial incident. 

Regardless of what route you choose to take, your content needs to be current. Basically, you need to make sure that you’re actually writing content that people will be interested in reading. Content that journalists, should they discover your press release, would be interested in covering. 

The most important thing to keep in mind here is that your press release is not marketing copy. Your language needs to be professional and concise. It needs to be focused on the facts, and avoid appeals to emotion or wild assertions. 

An Attention-Grabbing Hook

As with any other content, your header, subhead, and introduction are among the most important components of an effective press release. Write them to be attention-grabbing without being too sensationalist. Ask yourself what someone who reads this press release would be most interested in reading or hearing about, and focus on that. 

Note that you should also include a date and location within the first sentence of your press release, as well as a brief summary of your company and the event that’s taking place. 

Company Boilerplate

Last but certainly not least, a press release must conclude with a boilerplate description of your company, as well as information for anyone who wants to reach out to your media contact. 

As far as boilerplate is concerned, note that it is not an elevator pitch. As with the content itself, you want to avoid using any flashy marketing language or making any inaccurate assertions. Instead, this section should be a summary of the most important and relevant details about your organization, no longer than a paragraph. 

Spread the Word

Provided you’re able to write professional copy and an effective introduction, a press release can be a powerful tool in the right hands.  A mechanism for managing both awareness of your brand and your brand’s public image. As long as you have something to say, press releases are an excellent format in which to say it. 

No, Cookie Walls Do Not Work. No, You Should Never Use Them.

As a result of the GDPR, some websites have begun requiring that users consent to tracking cookies. This does not, nor will it ever, be a feasible tactic. Here’s why.

The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation has been described by some as the death knell for programmatic advertising (via Ad Exchanger). Its strict rules surrounding personal data and consent make learning about and targeting one’s audience with personalized marketing significantly more difficult. Some websites and publications have created a new type of content wall — the cookie wall. 

It’s not as delicious as it sounds. On the contrary, it’s one of the stupidest, most blatant attempts at data harvesting yet. Locking off content until a user agrees to give you their personal information is not consent. 

Per TechCrunch, regulators even confirmed this in 2019, noting that the consent obtained from cookie walls is neither specific, informed, nor freely given. Nor is it consent if a user continues to passively browse your site without hitting ‘accept.’ And no matter how much you claim to respect everyone’s privacy, the use of such a scummy technique demonstrates that you don’t care about your audience.

You’re just interested in harvesting your audience’s data. 

In 2021, that kind of attitude is both archaic and unacceptable. At this point, some of you are probably wondering what alternative even exists. How can you effectively monetize your content and target your advertising without the capacity to collect user data? 

Simple — by being completely transparent with your users about what you’re doing. If you must request customer data, do not block out any of the on-page content. More importantly, give them the option to reject your tracking cookies.

Will that make targeted advertising more difficult? Probably. Will it make market research more challenging? Certainly. 

But the marketing landscape has been moving inexorably away from advertising for decades now. In 2018, reports Forbes, analyst firm The McCarthy Group released research indicating that 84 percent of millennials neither liked nor trusted traditional marketing, though 58 percent don’t mind paid promotions viewed to support their favorite influencers. 

There are other ways to learn about your audience without violating the GDPR, as well: 

  • Offer discount codes/special deals to customers who fill out a survey or consent to ad tracking. Note that you need to explicitly establish what you’re doing and why to ensure consent is informed. 
  • Interact with your customers as people, not leads. Engage with them on websites like Facebook and Twitter. Learn about who they are, what they enjoy, where their interests lay. Instead of using ads to push your products, provide them with an experience. 
  • Collaborate. Find other businesses that cater to your target audience, and reach out to them. Work with them to create marketing partnerships that benefit both parties. 

The GDPR represents the first death knell for traditional data collection and marketing analytics, but this is hardly a bad thing. Advertising has been stagnant for several years now, with agencies skating by on passively-harvested data. We believe that the GDPR and other similar regulations are just the kick in the pants it needs to start genuinely innovating again. 

3 Important Lessons the Games Industry Can Teach Us About Marketing

Gaming is now a multibillion-dollar industry. The unique characteristics of this sector and their associated challenges have the potential to convey some valuable lessons to marketers and advertisers.

According to video game analyst Newzoo, the worldwide gaming market is slated to reach approximately $200 billion by 2023.  For context, the video streaming market — which saw explosive growth during COVID-19 — is predicted by analyst Kenneth Research to reach around $102 billion over this same time period. Video games, in other words, have become a massive global market, a titan of digital entertainment.

Gaming is also unique as entertainment mediums are concerned, with an extremely high level of interactivity and multiple revenue streams and marketing channels that are unavailable in traditional media. This coupled with gaming’s rapid growth over the past several decades can teach us some incredibly valuable lessons about how we shape our own branding and marketing. 

Demographics Can Change, and You Need to Adapt

As noted by industry publication gamesindustry.biz, there is a demonstrably false preconception that video games are exclusively the domain of white, cis-gendered males. At one point in the past, maybe that was true — gaming, like tech, has in the past been markedly hostile towards multiple marginalized groups. But this is no longer the case.

The core demographic of the games industry has changed entirely, and studios need to pull their heads out of the sand and get with the time. Demographics change. Just because your core customer base falls into one category today, that doesn’t mean it always will.

An industry shift can open up a business to an entirely new world, and it’s imperative that you understand that.

The Best Brand in the World Can’t Save a Shoddy Product

For years, Polish game development studio CD Projekt Red (CDPR) was among the most beloved brands in the games industry. They were widely held to be a pro-consumer organization, focused on quality, user rights, and creativity. Then they released Cyberpunk 2077 and completely shattered every illusion we had, setting fire to their brand almost as spectacularly as stock trading app Robin Hood. 

You’ve probably heard echoes of the controversy even if you aren’t involved in gaming, but in case you’re unfamiliar, here’s an overview. 

  • The studio broke multiple promises about the game’s content and capabilities. These included but weren’t limited to mini-games, advanced artificial intelligence, open-world events, player housing/vehicles, and a branching narrative structure. 
  • As reported by Screenrant, CDPR knowingly misrepresented Cyberpunk 2077’s performance issues on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. The game on these platforms was so unplayable that Sony reverted its digital refund policy for the first time in history, allowing players to return their digital copies of the game and de-listing it to prevent future purchases. 
  • CDPR’s marketing of the title was called out multiple times for transphobia and other problematic behavior, running directly counter to the brand’s established identity as a forward-thinking organization.
  • Per Forbes Magazine, the studio was openly mandating 6-day workweeks in the time leading up to launch, despite promising this would not happen. Studio Head Adam Bedowski’s response to reports on this crunch can be described as tone-deaf at best; condescending and openly hostile at worst. 
  • In addition to being riddled with bugs, Bleeping Computer reports that the game launched with a bug that allowed malicious mods to take over people’s PCs, and potentially even gave hackers internal access to CDPR’s systems and data.
  • Most recently, CDPR was hit by a massive cyberattack in which the hacker locked down the company’s entire internal network with ransomware and sold off the source code for its games.

To describe CDPR’s implosion as catastrophic would be putting it lightly. It is quite possibly one of the worst brand disasters of the decade, and it’s still going. The lesson here is simple — no brand, no matter how renowned or beloved, is above reproach. 

And marketing is nothing without solid products/services to back it up. 

Influencer Marketing Is Incredibly Powerful

Released in June 2018, Among Us enjoyed several years of modest success, with a small and dedicated following on PC and mobile. Then a few influencers began playing it on video streaming service Twitch. As reported by CNBC, the title’s growth was both explosive and immediate, and it was downloaded nearly 126 million times in the first half of September alone

Influencers have always had a special relationship with video games. The medium lends itself incredibly well to a unique breed of performance on platforms like Twitch and YouTube known as Let’s Plays. Some of the most successful content creators, such as Felix “PewDiePie” Kjellberg, have adopted this format with great success. 

Even being featured on one of these channels can create an enormous surge in demand for a title. And although influencer marketing may not have quite the sway elsewhere as it does in gaming, it’s still an extremely valuable tool in your arsenal. You’d do well to leverage it. 

Game On

The games industry has come a long way from its humble roots. And as the pandemic wears on, there’s little doubt that it will continue to grow. You’d do well to pay attention to that growth — and not just because of the lessons it can teach you about marketing. 

What Does 2021 Look Like for SEO?

With 2020 finally behind us, let’s talk about the trends that might impact the SEO space in the coming months.

We finally made it. Somehow. Against all odds.

It’s no exaggeration to say that for many of us, 2020 felt more like an entire millennium than a single year. Nor would it be inaccurate to suggest that many of us are still exhausted from the ordeal, and likely will be for some months to come. Just as it had a marked impact on us, it also changed the course of multiple industries.

Search engine optimization (SEO) was no exception. There is not a single industry that was not disrupted or in some way impacted by the novel coronavirus. Like it or not, SEO felt the aftershocks of that disruption. 

We’re now a few weeks into 2021. As is the tradition in January, let’s take a look forward. Here are a few of the major trends that will define the SEO space this year. 

  • COVID-19 is still here.  It’s not as if someone flipped a switch on New Year’s Eve and eradicated the coronavirus pandemic. Although a vaccine has been developed, the virus is still very much present. That means all the shifts and disruptions it created in 2020 still exist, and your marketing and SEO need to take that into account. 
  • The importance of intent. We’ve known for a while that Google is very interested in helping its algorithms understand user intent. We’ll see that trend continue in the New Year, meaning you’ll need to pay attention to it as well. You need to not only know who your audience is, but what they want, why they want it, and how to give that to them. 
  • User experience takes center stage. As of November 2020, user experience metrics are officially ranking factors in Google’s algorithms. Load time and general performance were already metrics you’d needed to consider, but add interactivity and visual stability to the pot. Expect to see ranking penalties applied to websites that can’t quite get it right. 
  • The power of artificial intelligence. Google has made great strides by applying AI to its algorithms. It stands to reason, then, that SEO professionals can do the same thing. Through machine learning and automation, you can glean insights that allow you to create more compelling content and fully optimize your customer relationship management.  
  • Voice search and conversational queries. As with previous years, 2020 saw voice search continue its steady climb to prominence. Focusing on conversational queries with your research. 
  • Schema supreme. With Google’s intense focus on context, understanding, and user intent, it stands to reason that 2021 will see structured data become immensely more valuable from an SEO standpoint. Best familiarize yourself with it now, so you can prepare for that trend.   

The above represents only what we believe is likely to happen. If the last year taught us anything, it’s that we live in an era where it’s next to impossible to predict the future with any degree of accuracy. We’d still advise readying yourself with the above in mind, but above all, the best advice we can give you is to expect the unexpected. 

What Is Outrage Marketing, and Should You Use It?

Few things are more effective at generating buzz than anger. Outrage marketing leverages just that. But is that a good thing?

These days, it seems like everyone on social media is angry about something. Like we’re all constantly on the lookout for the next thing to be outraged about. Buzzing with fury as we seek the next opportunity for an angry rant. 

But it also speaks to a negative tendency many of us possess. We gain a sort of perverse joy in outrage. We bask in shared anger and seek to spread that to as many people as possible. 

It’s why high-profile blunders by brands so frequently go viral. Why arguments on Facebook have become so common. Why there always seems to be an angry mob on Twitter that’s one tweet away from pouncing on someone. 

Anger, notes Dr. Jean Kim in an article published in Psychology Today, can be addictive. It feels good, giving us a rush that boosts our ego and triggers the reward centers of the brain. And for some people, it’s comfortable and familiar.

Outrage tends to be even more insidious. 

“Outrage is contagious…one of those emotions (such as anger) that feed and get fat on themselves,” Dr. Terri Apter, Ph.D. writes in Psychology Today. “Yet it is different from anger, which is more personal, corrosive, and painful.  In the grip of outrage, we shiver with disapproval and revulsion—but at the same time outrage produces a narcissistic frisson…Outrage assures us of our moral superiority.”

As you might expect, outrage can often be leveraged to do tangible good. 

It helps ferret out corruption. It helps bring criminals to justice they may otherwise never face. It calls attention to the misdeeds and moral failings of powerful people and groups. 

Some people even hold that it can act as the foundation of a new tactic known as outrage marketing. No, we’re not talking about the chaos that ensues when a brand unintentionally releases an utterly tone-deaf advertisement, as recently occurred with Chinese beauty company Purcotton (via Yahoo!). Nor are we talking about businesses that generate outrage by taking a moral or social stance. 

Outrage marketing is much more manipulative than that. It represents a conscious effort by a brand to shock and upset large groups of people — usually those opposite your target demographic. It plays off sociopolitical divisions, leveraging them in order to sell a product.

If that sounds reprehensible to you, that’s because it is. At best, you’re cynically exploiting actual causes for the express purpose of generating buzz. At worst, you’re being actively harmful and destructive, toying with people’s emotions and creating conflict.

Moreover, after the dumpster fire that was 2020, people are exhausted. It was an entire year of things going from bad to worse, an entire year of anger and frustration and fear and anxiety. Trying to manipulate people and deliberately sow dissent at this point in time is the height of moral bankruptcy. 

Outrage marketing is not something reputable brands engage in. There are better ways to generate brand awareness, better ways to bring in traffic and sales. Find them, because trying to leverage outrage simply isn’t worth the cost.

What Most Brands Get Wrong About Marketing to Millennials

If your marketing is geared towards millennials, then you should know how to connect with them. Because most brands don’t.

Millennial. 

It’s as much a pejorative as a descriptor these days. A buzzword used by marketers who seek to leverage the vast purchasing power of this golden demographic. There’s just one problem. 

Most brands have no idea what they’re doing where millennials are concerned. Sure, they manage to generate a few sales, bring in a few new customers. Sure, they might connect with some millennials. 

But for the majority, their marketing efforts amount to little beyond white noise. 

The problem here is multifaceted, but it ultimately boils down to one thing. These brands do not understand millennials. Many of them try to market to millennials the way they’d like to be marketed to.

Certainly, there are exceptions. Marketing agencies that have rid themselves of the old guard. Professionals who’ve taken the time to do their homework and generate audience profiles. 

But in most cases, they make a bevy of mistakes, including, but not limited to: 

Treating Millennials as a Monolith 

Millennials are among the most diverse demographics in the world, and the up-and-coming generation Z is geared to be even more diverse. You cannot simply go into your marketing campaign with the vague idea that you want to ‘engage with millennials’ and expect to have any degree of success.  While there are certainly common threads amongst millennials, you still need to be specific.

Ask yourself a few of the following questions: 

  • What are they interested in? 
  • What do they value? 
  • Why would they engage with your brand in the first place? What need are they seeking to fulfill? 
  • What demographic details define them beyond ‘millennial’? Examples could be income level, gender, cultural background, etc. 

Going Overboard Trying to Sell

As we said, there are a few common traits shared not just between millennials, but between millennials and generation Z. Generally speaking, they do not like being sold to. They’re interested in engaging with a brand that quietly understands and fulfills their needs.

That means blog posts that aren’t solely focused on driving sales. Social feeds filled with content that’s interesting, educational, or entertaining. They’ll still know you’re trying to sell to them, of course —but because you’re doing it in a way that’s not overbearing, most won’t mind.

It also means toning down the emails. Nothing is more annoying than purchasing a product from a brand only to have your inbox inundated with several emails a day. Sending a newsletter when there’s a new deal is one thing, but if you flood people’s inboxes with irrelevant nonsense, they’ll start tuning you out. 

Not Putting the Customer First

How’s your return policy look? What about your checkout process? Shipping and handling? Customer support? 

For a millennial demographic, these need to be as seamless as possible. Don’t shove popups in people’s faces, and make sure your checkout process is both simple and transparent in terms of shipping costs. Perhaps more importantly, make sure you have a concrete, generous return policy.

Too many brands operate on a purely selfish, money-first basis. While that might work for the older generation of consumers, for everyone born after the early 80s it’s incredibly aggravating. If you make it clear to your audience that you’re prioritizing their wants and needs, they’ll reward you with far deeper loyalty.

The Millennial Puzzle

Marketing to millennials is neither as difficult nor as complex as you might think. Provided you understand them as a demographic and do your homework, you’ll do just fine. And as an added bonus, you’ll distinguish yourself from the countless brands that simply cannot be bothered.  

How To Protect Your Website From SEO Spam Attacks

Whether or not spamdexing actually works, it can cause serious problems for your website and audience. Here’s what you can do to protect yourself.

It’s a tactic that’s arguably as old as search engine optimization (SEO) itself.

SEO spam, often referred to as spamdexing, basically has the same core goal as any other black hat tactic. Rather than working to gradually build up one’s web presence and generate revenue organically, it attempts to take a fast-tracked shortcut to make money — using someone else’s website to promote content that wouldn’t appear on the search engine results page otherwise. 

As you might expect, this has the potential to destroy both your website and your brand. 

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you’re safe from SEO spam injection if you’re a smaller business, either.  If anything, the fact that you’re a smaller entity makes you a more attractive target, as smaller organizations are likely to have a careless attitude or lack a proper security budget. To make matters worse, since attacks of this nature are difficult to detect, they can remain hidden in plain sight for a long time, causing exponentially more damage as time goes on.

First, by knowing the signs of spamdexing: 

  • A sudden, unexpected decrease or increase in user traffic with no clear source
  • Unexpected ads or unusual anchor text showing up on your website
  • New, spammy content appearing on your website
  • Spam being sent via your email server
  • Unexpected warnings or penalties in the Google Search Console
  • Crawl errors on your website

Note that in addition to looking for the above signs manually, you can use a tool such as Ahrefs to check your backlink profile, or a third-party scanner designed to detect the presence of SEO spam. Either way, once you’ve determined you’re the victim of spamdexing, the next step is to figure out how it happened. How did hackers gain access to your site? 

Generally speaking, it’s because of poor security. Failing to keep things updated, using weak passwords or credentials, and so on. The good news is that this means protecting yourself from SEO spam isn’t actually that difficult.

  • Audit your passwords. Ensure every user with administrative privileges uses strong login credentials. You might also consider adding brute force protection. 
  • Use a firewall. This is just basic cybersecurity. You should also use antimalware and antispam software on your website. 
  • Keep everything up to date. We cannot stress this enough. Do not slack on installing patches and updates. Failing to keep your website updated effectively means you’re leaving the door open to hackers.
  • Assign user permissions with care. No user should have permissions they don’t absolutely need. Otherwise, there’s the potential for a hacker to gain unfettered access to your site, at which point they can essentially go wild.

Maintaining your reputation and trust is more important than ever before. Spamdexing, although it’s not as dangerous a tactic as it was five years ago, can still damage both. It’s therefore critical that you’re proactive with your website’s security — because that is, and always will be the best way to keep yourself safe from SEO spam.