Online marketing is a fantastic too for small businesses, but like everything it needs to be done properly to reap results. Find out how online marketing can help you – and read five mistakes you need to avoid.
Gone are the days when marketing your business meant trudging around the local area with leaflets or buying costly newspaper or radio advertising. Of course, these options are still available to you, but there are also many more exciting ways to market your business online, which (if done well) are often cheaper and more effective.
Marketing expert Erica Douglas reveals five online marketing mistakes you need to avoid – and how you can combat them.
What is online marketing?
‘Online marketing’ is a broad term that includes, but is not limited to:
- Email marketing.
- Search engine optimisation.
- Sponsored content and newsletters.
- Social media marketing.
- PPC and other online advertising.
The benefits of online marketing
Online marketing isn’t free, but it is low cost in comparison to traditional forms of advertising. Getting a basic website online costs as little as a few hundred pounds (or less if you do it yourself). Accounts on sites like Facebook and Twitter are free, and a small budget of £50 or less will get you started purchasing ads on Google or Facebook.
You’re able to easily reach global markets through online marketing, meaning the pool from which you can attract customers is vast. And once you’ve established a presence you can build your audience and your client base steadily over time.
Online marketing is also highly interactive. Unlike many offline forms of marketing and advertising, it puts you directly in contact with potential customers. If you’ve ever pondered the question ‘What do my clients really want from me?’ now you can just ask them!
It’s also easy to target very niche demographics, and connect you to your exact target market, where and when they need your product or service the most.
No matter what your business, there is an online strategy that will help you grow. But, as with any opportunity, there are mistakes you need to avoid if you want to create a successful online marketing campaign.
The five online marketing mistakes to avoid
To help you make the most of online marketing, here are five mistakes you need to avoid – and suggestions of how you can combat them.
1) Lack of control
Modern marketing methods have created an opportunity for small businesses to promote themselves more widely. There is the chance of your content going viral and positive reviews can be shared with hundreds of friends and colleagues at the click of a button.
The downside is that when something goes wrong with a client, negative feedback can also go viral very quickly, and this can be very damaging if you don’t learn to manage it effectively.
How to combat it: Be honest when you’ve done something wrong. Be ethical. Above all be available to answer queries and complaints in a timely manner. Keep an open communication with your online audience.
There is always the opportunity to turn a negative client experience into a positive. Every business makes mistakes, how you deal with it speaks volumes and if a situation is handled well it can even enhance your reputation to those watching it play out.
2) Thinking it’s free
A common belief is that many online marketing methods are ‘free’. Many of the sites and services you use, such as social media, may well be free, but it takes time to deliver an effective online marketing strategy and that time needs to be paid for.
How to combat it: Create your online strategy carefully. Set a budget and work within that. Having a budget will restrict the amount of time you can spend on online marketing, and this in turn will force you to prioritise and focus on the activities that are high value. Don’t fall down the social media rabbit hole!
3) Not building trust
Many consumers still worry about security when buying online – especially from a brand they don’t know well. So it’s essential to use your marketing to build trust.
How to combat it: Use secure payment methods. Have a Terms and Conditions section on your website. Consider a money back guarantee if it’s appropriate to your product or service. (Read more about building trust in your business.)
4) Expecting short term results
Online marketing is a long-term strategy. Many online marketing methods, especially the low cost sustainable methods, take time to reap significant results, as at the core it comes down to building relationships, which often can’t be rushed.
How to combat it: Automate using online tools like Networked Blogs and Tweetdeck – do this sparingly though, you can’t automate relationship building entirely. Focus on one or two social media sites to get maximum results. Speed up results using highly effective strategies such as Facebook advertising. You can run promote your page, boost your posts and create campaigns to improve conversions on your website.
5) Not measuring your ROI
It can be difficult to gauge the return on investment (ROI) of your online marketing efforts. However, there are lots of tools to help you, and more are being created every day.
How to combat it: The simplest method of tracking your success is to ask buyers how they found your business. You can use Google Analytics to track website traffic, and Facebook conversion pixels will track traffic and sales on your website.
Start reaping the rewards of online marketing
Many small business owners have been waiting for the online marketing ‘phase’ to pass. But I think that the chance of it being just a phase is well behind us, and if you haven’t embraced it yet then you’re being left behind.
My advice? Find someone that can help you create an online strategy and support you to get your online marketing system in place. It really is a lot of fun once you get started!
If you need help with your online marketing strategy, join Erica’s free 7 week ecourse.Hannah Martin