While online marketing presents some extremely great opportunities for small businesses today, many of them have yet to reap the rewards.
Consumers today spend a lot of time online, so the internet is an extremely powerful way to get in front of your local target market and generate more leads, sales, and profits.
However, some companies are going about the whole process the wrong way. Whether they are attempting to handle all of their online marketing themselves, or not really engaging in it at all, there are some critical mistakes that should be avoided.
In this report, we will discuss some of the most popular online marketing mistakes that business owners today are making. Not only are these mistakes completely avoidable, but some of them could actually be detrimental to the success of your local business.
Mistake #1: Not Keeping Your Existing Customers Coming Back
Did you know that, generally speaking, 80% of business comes from “existing” customers while 20% comes from “new” customers? Failing to market to your existing customers could have an extremely negative impact on your profits; while you wonder why you’re struggling to meet your goals.
Generating repeat sales is so much easier than bringing brand new customers through the door. However, many businesses still ignore this fact and spend all of their time, money and efforts going after brand new business.
While actively seeking new business is definitely a good thing, ignoring your existing customers is the worst costly mistake you could make.
Several online marketing methods work very well for generating repeat business, such as social media, email marketing, text message marketing, video marketing, local search engine optimization, and others.
These tools help you stay in front of your existing customers, as well as build long-lasting, trusting relationships with them; this ultimately means more repeat sales and an increased ROI. However, many companies fail to utilize them.
In order to truly stay connected with their customers, businesses should seriously implement some of these powerful online strategies into their marketing funnels.
Mistake #2: Not Targeting Your Efforts
Many business owners go online in a “broad” manner to tell the world about their products or services. However, “targeting” your marketing efforts is the better route to go if you really want to get results – especially online.
Learn “who” your online audience is, figure out what they want and need, then give it to them in the form of your product or service.
If you only want to generate business from local consumers, be sure your online marketing strategies include location-based content and keywords in order to pull in that particular audience.
The great thing about online marketing is that you can target your efforts as narrow or as wide as you want. Split testing and tracking different marketing angles is the best way to fine-tune your efforts. It is easy and affordable, unlike more expensive forms of advertising such as newspapers, magazines, TV ads, direct mail, YellowPage books, etc.
Mistake #3: Relying on “One” Method
Many online marketing strategies work together to bring businesses more local visibility and exposure. Therefore, small businesses should try to incorporate more than one method and tie them together for better results.
For instance, if you have a website, don’t stop at just having a website. There are many other methods that should be implemented into your website to boost effectiveness.
If you have social media pages, make sure they are linked on your website. If you do email marketing, make sure you have an opt-in form on your website.
Otherwise, you will miss numerous opportunities to get more eyes on your products or services.
Mistake #4: Losing Focus
While you should not fully rely on “one” particular online method, it is important that you do not lose focus and become a victim of “shiny object syndrome.”
Although there are many different online marketing methods around today, some businesses simply try to do too much too fast. Of course, all of these tools are tempting and exciting when you think about the traffic they could send to your business.
However, you should start with just a few clearly-planned strategies and build from there instead of jumping into everything with both feet. If you delve into too many things at once, it will become complicated, which could turn you off from the entire process.
Keep it simple for the best results and move forward from there. This way, you can learn the processes as you go and really get a feel for which methods can work best for your type of business.
Mistake #5: Only Using “Paid” Online Methods
Companies are naturally used to paying for advertising – it’s been one of the most dominate ways to get more customers for decades. Therefore, many business owners jump into “online advertising” methods, but ignore “online marketing” methods. Yes, there is a difference.
Online advertising consists of paid online methods such as pay-per-click, banners, Facebook ads, and others.
Online marketing consists of different campaigns that are created to inform, educate, and build relationships with your local audience. It also includes methods that help put your business in front of your target market without spending a lot of money, such as social media, search engine optimization, email marketing, and video marketing.
While these services may have initial setup costs, once you’ve established a strong presence using them, your costs will go down – while your exposure, sales, and profits should go up.
Mistake #6: Not Paying Attention to Your Competitors Online
Do you know what your competitors are doing as far as online marketing? If not, how do you know what you should be doing to “out-perform” them when it comes to getting more local consumers into your establishment?
Competitor analysis has always been a key focus for most companies. However, many businesses today have no clue what their competitors are doing “online.”
The internet makes it easy to spy on your competition, so your business should take advantage of this opportunity. Having some insight about what your competitors are doing online can help you determine some potential missing pieces in your own business.
While it is not a good idea to copy exactly what your competitors are doing, it is important that you know what they’re up to so you can plan your own strategies accordingly.
Otherwise, you turn a blind eye while they steal your customers and lose profits.
Mistake #7: No Customer Interaction Online
The internet allows you to easily build relationships with your target market, but many business owners do not communicate with their customers online at all.
Today’s internet world is all about “socialization” and “relationship-building,” so businesses are finding that they have to become more engaging in order to keep their customers’ attention.
Tools such as email marketing, text message marketing, local directory listings, and social media (just to name a few) present the perfect way for you to interact with your customers, as well as potential customers.
The internet is the perfect way to build interaction and engagement with your target audience in your local market; however, many businesses still fail to use it to its full potential.
Mistake #8: Not Analyzing Your Online Efforts
Many small businesses are doing a good job as far as expanding their online marketing efforts. However, some of them do not pay attention to how well these strategies are working for them.
Some businesses simply implement online methods and do not re-visit them – ever. For instance, a lot of companies send out email offers to their customers, but do not track open rates, click-through rates, and other statistics. So they have no idea how well their emails are really performing.
They’re not using any analytic tools, which could show them what’s working well and what’s not working at all. Without this information, they could potentially be throwing money away and leaving some massive opportunities on the table.
Mistake #9: Not Using Viral Marketing
The internet has laid the foundation for consumers to share information, products, and services they love with their friends, family, and associates. In other words, it is the new form of “word of mouth” marketing.
With many of the social media sharing tools available today, consumers can easily forward information they like to others.
However, many business owners are not taking advantage of this; they don’t have sharing tools built into their online properties and they don’t have calls-to-action telling their customers to spread the word.
So they miss out on this major ability to get more “hands-free” exposure without any additional work or money being spent on their part.
Mistake #10: Not Taking the Time to Learn About Online Marketing
Online marketing is a beast – there’s a lot to it. However, it should not deter businesses from tapping into its power to help them boost their bottom line.
Many business owners become confused by the different types of online marketing available to them, so they avoid it all together. Then, there are those business owners who have others doing their online marketing for them, but they’re blind to the entire process. Both of these are huge mistakes.
As a business owner, by no means should you struggle try to become an internet marketing expert yourself. But as with any other type of marketing vehicle, it is important that you understand at least the basics of the different online marketing tools available to you.
This way, you will have some understanding about how things should work, what you can expect, and how long it will take you to see results. Otherwise, you are simply leaving the ball in someone else’s court – with your business at their mercy.
Mistake #11: Trying the “Do-it-Yourself” Approach
While they may not be fully there yet, some business owners do understand the benefits that online marketing bring to their success. They understand that as times change, their marketing and advertising strategies must change as well if they want to flourish.
However, some of them tend to think they can take care of their online marketing themselves – all while running their business at the same time. Honestly, there are not enough hours in a day for business owners to effectively learn and implement online marketing all by themselves while running a business too.
While it is important for you to learn and understand the fundamentals of different online techniques, the actual work should be left to the professionals if you want to get results.
Building a website, managing and engaging in social media, gaining higher search engine rankings, creating and distributing online videos, and other marketing tasks take a lot of time to plan, implement, and monitor. So if you want it done right, hire qualified specialists who can help you get the job done.
Mistake #12: Not Having a Strong, Clear Call-to-Action
Many businesses are actively communicating with consumers via online methods, but they’re making one huge mistake that is probably costing them thousands of dollars in potential profits – not including a call-to-action.
No matter what type of communication or online marketing method you’re using, you should include strong calls-to-action that tell your audience to “do something.”
For instance, your website should have a call-to-action posted on all pages, but especially the home page. Not only that, but your email newsletters, coupon offers, Tweets, Facebook posts, should all have a clear, short call-to-action built in to help your audience take action.
Mistake #13: Failing to Update Your Online Information
Some businesses make the critical mistake of establishing an online presence, but fail to keep it up to date. For instance, many businesses put up a website years ago and have not touched it since.
They haven’t updated the look and feel. They haven’t updated the content. They haven’t updated the images. They haven’t done any on-page optimization.
The internet world is ever-changing and stagnant websites are being left behind in the dust. The search engines love fresh, unique content and so do your website visitors.
But the worst case scenario is the business that moves to a different address or get a new phone number, but fails to even update that information. Some of them think there’s no need to update the information because “no one is going to their site anyway.”
The fact is that many of them are not totally sure how many people are hitting their site because they’re not tracking it.
Not only that, but let’s say ONE potential customers stumbles across your site, but can’t connect with you because your phone number is outdated as well as your address… that could hurt your credibility and potentially result in lost revenue.
Any way you look at it, outdated information is simply bad for business because it essentially “blocks” new business.
Mistake #14: Using the “Set It and Forget It” Approach
This simply does not work for online marketing methods. The internet is constantly changing and evolving
Most online strategies require on-going improvement and updates if you really want to connect with local consumers. For instance, some businesses put up a Facebook or Twitter page, but never go back to engage with their followers.
However, without the proper maintenance, you will lose any followers you obtained, which ends up being a waste of your time.
Mistake #15: Using “Robotic” Content
While some things can be automated online, the last thing you want is for everyone to “know” it’s automated. Therefore, if you’re using some type of automation techniques to updates to your social media profiles, sending out emails, or writing blog posts, try to incorporate some personality into them instead of sounding …well… “robotic.”
Engaging, helpful content is more exciting and will produce greater results as many consumers are turned off to boring, systematic content.
Mistake #16: Not Using Social Media
Social media is one of the most cost-effective ways for businesses today to generate new leads and customers. However, many businesses still avoid it for some reason.
Consumers today spend an extreme amount of time online – especially on various social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+ and others.
So it only makes sense that you try to establish a presence on these networks in order to truly connect with your target local audience.
Mistake #17: Not Using Video Marketing
People today are watching millions of hours of online videos. In fact, online video views are growing at astonishing rates with no signs of slowing down.
Videos allow businesses to showcase their products and services, as well as build trust with their viewers – all on auto-pilot. Once your videos are created, published, and distributed, there’s really nothing left to do but let them work to generate more leads to your business.
Unfortunately, there are many business owners out there who still do not see the value in online videos and how they can help them excel.
Mistake #18: Not Using Email Marketing
Email usage has been one of the main activities on the internet since it was invented. It’s easy, fast and cost-effective. In fact, it’s a great way to generate repeat sales and loyal customers.
However, many business owners are still not using this powerful tool to stay connected with their customers and potential customers.
Email marketing is proven to help companies build relationships with their customers and keep them coming back to spend more money.
Mistake #19: Not Posting Satisfied Customer Reviews and Testimonials
Social proof is one of the biggest selling tools any company can have; people simply place a lot of value on what other consumers say about a product, service, or business. However, many business owners still do not make a point to showcase what they’re “satisfied” customers are saying about them.
Not only do testimonials let potential customers know that you have satisfied customers, but they can also get some details about “why” your customers are so happy with you.
Customer reviews and testimonials can be added to your website, social media pages, and you can even have your customers submit video testimonials.
When it comes to the internet, the more “positive” content there is about your company floating around, the easier it will be for you to convert potential customers into paying, long-term customers.
Mistake #20: Not Utilizing Free Local Business Directories, Profiles, and Review Sites
Speaking of customer reviews, local business directories are extremely influential in what your potential customers see first about your company.
When consumers perform searches online for local products, services, and businesses, they are usually presented with local directory listings, paid listings, and organic listings.
You’ve probably heard of Google+ Local, Yelp, Yahoo Local and similar sites.
Local directory listings receive a lot of attention because they usually contain information about the business such as phone number, address, directions/map, and reviews from other customers.
Before choosing a business, many consumers go through these reviews with a fine tooth comb and generally decide to go with those that have a nice amount of positive reviews.
However, many businesses are not claiming their local directory profiles; they also are not paying attention to the feedback being left on these sites, which can be detrimental to their ability to generate new customers.
Worst of all, many still do not ask their customers to go online to leave reviews for them.
Mistake #21: Not Managing and Monitoring Your Online Reputation
Imagine one of your angry customers going online to tell the world how much they hate your product or service…
Now imagine one of your potential customers coming across this negative review… What about THREE potential customers? Or even TWENTY potential customers? What could this do to your business?
That’s right… it could HURT a lot.
But if you don’t know about it, what can you do about it?
Consumers today flock to several online platforms such as social media and local directories such as Yelp, Citysearch, and Google+ Local to tell the world what they think about local companies in their areas – both good and bad – although, it seems like more “bad” is commented on than the “good.”
However, if you do not take the time to figure out what is being said about your business, you have no chance of addressing it. Without addressing it, you are simply hurting your ability to generate new sales.
Studies show that consumers fully trust the comments and reviews made by other consumers – whether what they read is true or not. So any business that is not monitoring and managing their online reputation could suffer some extremely risky outcomes that may be hard to repair.
Is this a chance your business can afford to take?
Mistake #22: Ignoring Mobile Users
How many of your customers do you see glued to their mobile phones on a daily basis? Most of us do not let our phones out of our sight. Therefore, these mini billboards are the perfect way to connect – and stay connected – with your local customers and potential customers.
One of the top mobile web activities is using the internet. However, many companies still not have mobile-friendly websites. So their mobile website visitors end up stuck on a site that takes forever to load – if it even loads at all.
This is extremely frustrating to mobile users who are actively looking for your type of product or service, which means you are missing out on sales.
Many companies have not thought about implementing text message marketing either, which can be very profitable as well. Consumers love to receive mobile coupons and offers from businesses that they’ve opted-in to receive text message from.
Ignoring your mobile audience is like leaving money on the table – and it will only get worse as mobile usage continues to grow and extremely high rates over the next few years.
Mistake #23: Being Impatient
Online marketing methods take time to get results – that’s just the way it is. There are no magical tricks that can instantly send a tsunami of traffic through your doors – that just doesn’t exist.
Some business owners believe that there is an “internet secret code” they need to crack to really get a rush of local consumers calling and visiting their establishments.
But the reality is that any internet marketing method will take time, so patience is a must. Whether you are building a strong social media marketing campaign or doing search engine optimization, do not expect to see a change overnight.
However, being patient is worth the wait because once things really start to take off, there’s nowhere to go but “up” from there as long as you stay consistent.
Mistake #24: Not Providing Online Customer Service
Since consumers today are so “internet-oriented,” many of them prefer to go online to contact businesses if they have a customer service issue. This could be via a contact form on your website, your email address, your social media page, or any other online platform where the company has a presence.
However, many business owners still make the huge mistake of neglecting to acknowledge and respond to customer services inquiries made online.
If you are serious about establishing a positive online presence, you have to respond to your online customers. In other words, customers who choose to contact you online should not be treated any differently than those who actually come into your establishment or call you up on the phone.
Because the internet is so “viral” in nature, neglecting to respond to customer service issues could result in a tarred reputation for your company, which is the last thing you want.
Therefore, business owners should implement procedures that ensure that online customer service issues are identified promptly and handled within an appropriate amount of time.
Mistake #25: Giving Up on Online Marketing and Going Back to Traditional Methods
Some business owners have tried to add online marketing into their mix. But for some reason or another, they did not stick with it long enough to really see how it could impact their success.
This is a huge mistake because online marketing takes focus, time, and dedication in order for it to work properly. Some business owners are a little impatient with the process; so if they do not see any results within a small time-frame, they move on to the next thing.
Many are afraid of online marketing because, in their world, it’s the “unknown.” While it does take time to understand and implement various online marketing techniques, there’s nothing to be afraid of. In fact, if you work with it long enough, you could eventually see some astonishing results.
Traditional advertising methods cost a lot more money than online marketing methods. However, a “higher cost” does not mean “more effective.” In fact, you could be throwing your money right down the drain if you’re still heavily invested in these older methods that do not generate the responses they once did.
For instance, how many people do you know who still pull out their YellowPages book to find local business? Sure, we use them as booster-seats nowadays… but not for finding local businesses.
How many people still actually purchase newspapers to stay on top of the latest news? Yes, some people can’t let go of their favorite newspapers, but on a large-scale, newspapers are quickly losing ground when it comes getting news.
And have you seen the newspaper classified sections lately? They’re like a ghost town.
How many people still watch TV commercials? With the invention of TiVo and other digital recording mechanisms available today, people have the option to watch their favorite TV shows and fast forward right through the commercials.
So not only are traditional advertising methods more costly, but they fail to generate the same type of return that you may have been once used to.
The Internet moves fast; what worked last year or even last month may not work today. With all of the new online tools and methods being available to businesses today, many of them get lost in the shuffle.
However, with any methods you choose, consistency is the key. As long as you continuously monitor and improve your efforts, you should get the results you expect and the ROI you deserve.
I help local businesses in the area analyze their online marketing efforts, as well as develop plans to help them continuously manage and improve them going forward.