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The 4 Marketing Tactics to Stop Using in 2019

Pam Neely

​Most marketers have a long list of new things they want to try in 2019, but everyone has a limit. Here’s what top marketers say they’ll stop doing in 2019.​​

Marketers tend to focus on more: More leads, more content, more website traffic, more engagement. We have to adapt quickly as digital marketing evolves, but there comes a point where you give up certain tactics. You aren’t still doing fax marketing, are you?

Rather than add to your ever-lengthening to-do list for 2019, I created a list of what your fellow marketers plan to stop doing or to do less of this year. The answers come from about 40 marketers who responded to an informal poll in late December 2018. B2B marketers made up more than half of the respondents. 

The answers below are ranked in order of how often specific tactics were mentioned. Remember that what has stopped working for one person might just be ramping up for another. But some of these suggestions might be right for your marketing strategy, too. Who couldn’t use one less thing to do?

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1 Facebook Advertising

If you happen to own any Facebook stock, this change might give you pause. But the most common answer from marketers in the survey is that they plan to do less Facebook advertising in 2019. This was far and away the most-mentioned tactic that marketers plan to stop or do less of.

Although Facebook’s privacy missteps are a concern, that’s not why marketers are backing off the platform: Facebook ads just don’t work as well as they used to. Marketers are practical people—when something stops working, they tend to move on. 

Two marketers mentioned one metric specifically: The cost of acquisition for leads is rising. Another mentioned that the marketing qualified leads from Facebook are increasingly bad. Many other marketers didn’t cite specific metrics, but said that the Facebook advertising platform in general is getting more expensive and competitive. 

2 Cold Outreach

Cold outreach is an umbrella term covering LinkedIn Inmails (two marketers mentioned Inmails expressly), cold emails and cold calls. The dreaded sales pitch that comes immediately after connecting on social media was also mentioned several times. Most survey respondents did not say they planned to stop doing instant sales pitches themselves because it’s not a tactic any of them have ever found to be useful, they just wish other people would stop doing it. 

It’s a nice wish, but don’t hold your breath. Most of us are still getting two to three of these auto-reply sales pitches every week. The response rates are probably abysmal, but because these messages can be automated and take little effort to send, the offenders may just keep sending them—even if it annoys the rest of us.

Kevin Thomas Tully, North America senior vice president at Creation Agency, has some advice for people who want to use cold outreach: “Would you respond to the email you just sent if it appeared in your inbox? Would you even open it? If the answer is a resounding ‘No!’ it’s time to start over.”

I’ve got one more suggestion for you, too: If you must use cold emails, at least use a signature with links to more information about you. People often click the links in those signatures to check out who you are. If they like what they see, they might reply. 

As Gail Gartner, a small business marketing strategist, says, “I like to vet the people who contact me via email. The ones wise enough to include their LinkedIn or other method of contact outside of email are far more likely to get a reply.”

3 Social Media

This isn’t something people intend to quit so much as they plan to scale back on. Consultant Sophia Le spoke for a lot of our respondents when she described the situation this way: “Social media is heading toward a phase where less is more.”

Facebook takes a hit here, too, with marketers naming it as the No. 1 social media platform they plan to scale back on. 

Four marketers said they were scaling back specifically on Facebook posts, either for their clients or for their own companies. This is consistent with cutting back on Facebook ads, too: Organic reach is mostly gone, so if you’re trying to make organic content work on Facebook, you’re probably using advertising to amplify successful posts. 

The disillusion with Facebook is tipping into Instagram as well. About half of the people who said they were stepping back from Facebook tactics also said they were going to cut back on Instagram. 

Then there’s the issue of video on Facebook. Social Media Examiner cut back their Facebook video efforts recently, to much ado, and they’re not the only ones: Conversion optimization consultant Nils Kattau said he plans to step back from Facebook’s live streaming in 2019. As he explains it, “The reach got killed by the platform. Where I used to have up to 10-50,000 views, I now get like 2,000, although 20 people share the stream.”

There were also a few marketers who said they’ll tweet less often in 2019, although two B2B marketers said they’d be refocusing their social media efforts on Twitter and LinkedIn. 

One person mentioned cutting back on Google+, which is clearly not worth investing in going forward, at least not until Google decides what to do with it. Shaheen Adibi, president of Web Upon, hopes Google will turn Google+ “into a social platform on a local level,” especially now that Google Local posts aren’t effective anymore. 

LinkedIn isn’t safe from the chopping block, either. No one said they planned to stop using it entirely, but they did plan to cut specific tactics. Most notably, LinkedIn expert Brynne Tillman said, “I have stopped using LinkedIn Groups. While these were at one time one of the best ways to find and engage a targeted audience, the new redesign has done away with all that was good about Groups.”

None of the marketers I spoke with mentioned SlideShare specifically, but other sources have noted that it has gone out of vogue. 

4 Blogging (Mostly on Third-Party Sites)

Three people mentioned cutting back on various types of blogging. The most interesting comment came from Kathryn Aragon, a content marketing pro who says she plans to do “less blogging and a lot less social media. Trying to keep the focus on tasks with a higher return.” 

Cheval John, founder and CEO of Vallano Media, said he’ll stop guest posting and put more content on his own site. Speaker and author Matt Sweetwood says he’ll stop writing articles for LinkedIn Pulse: “They have (made) the algorithm so restrictive, essentially no one sees your articles. Publish on your own blog and promote instead.”

One Last Thing…

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that 20% of respondents specifically said they don’t plan to discontinue any tactics, but that’s only one in five people. Eighty percent said they plan to stop doing at least one thing.

Are there any specific marketing tactics you plan to step back from in 2019? 

Pam Neely has been in digital marketing for 20 years. She’s a serial entrepreneur and content marketing enthusiast with a background in publishing and journalism, receiving a New York Press Award and a Hermes Creative Award for blogging. She has a master’s degree in direct and interactive marketing from New York University.