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Content Marketing Mistakes: Three Ways M&Ms Went Off the Rails

M&Ms marketing failM&Ms marketing fail

I bought a bag of M&M’s this week and I was shocked.

No, not by the fact that Walgreen’s was selling Christmas-themed candy at full price in January. Rather, I was shocked by the recipe on the back of the bag.

M&Ms marketing fail
M&Ms marketing fail

This “giant gingerbread boy” recipe conveniently offers a downloadable cookie pattern, which you can find at http://brightideas.com/christmas/family/f_1471_1.jsp.

M&Ms spends (at minimum) hundreds of millions on television advertising every year. You’d think they could spend a fraction – maybe .008 percent – of that money on a link that is going to be printed on thousands of packets of candy.

Problem #1 – The Link Doesn’t Work

If you haven’t already clicked the link above, go ahead and do it. Do you see a gingerbread man template? Me either.

This isn’t an old link, Christmas was less than a month ago. The link simply redirects you to a Facebook page which contains M&Ms baking recipes but does not include the elusive gingerbread man template.

I wasn’t the only one who noticed, as you can see from the comments below.

They have also inadvertently ended up giving traffic away to other sites, as disappointed customers share links where a template can actually be found.

M&Ms facebook fail

Problem #2 – URL is Way Too Long

This URL is insane. Do you expect a grandma to type all of that in? A URL shortener, such as bit.ly, could have made this URL much easier to enter correctly.

Even better, a custom URL shortener like bit.do will allow you to create something like http://bit.do/gingerbreadman.

They haven’t even paid attention to the file name of the pattern, which is currently a random series of letters and numbers. Simply naming the printable file gingerbread would have created a better URL (http://brightideas.com/christmas/family/gingerbread.jsp).

Problem #3 – Missed Opportunity to Drive Traffic to Their Website

I don’t know what brightideas.com is or was. I’m not sure if the website ever existed or if it was always just a redirect URL to the Facebook recipe page, which is a neglected (hasn’t been updated in more than a year) subset of the main M&M Facebook page.

M&Ms website has a domain authority of 60 – that’s pretty low for a brand that has this level of public awareness.

Their website sure could benefit from some linkable content, like recipes and downloadable cookie patterns. So, why aren’t they housing this great baking content inside their site? Why give that traffic to Facebook?

The strategy doesn’t make a lot of sense. Speaking of not making sense, why does a candy website (which is down at the time of this writing) have an age gateway?

Make It Easy to Find Your Content

M&Ms have neglected to make their content easy and accessible, and are making some major content marketing mistakes.

1) Make sure that links work, both on your site and when you put them into print.

2) Make print URLs short and easy to enter manually.

3) Use content to drive traffic back to your site. M&Ms is giving traffic away.

4) Create good experiences for your users. Don’t confuse them with redirects and broken websites.

Don’t be like M&Ms. They are spending millions on marketing and missing simple fixes. Start with the small stuff, and make sure that everything works. That’s what really generates good word of mouth and makes users happy.

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