Online marketing can be a mystery to many small business owners and it’s even more difficult when so called “experts” are giving them conflicting information. Who should they believe? How do they know which strategy is the right one for their business?
My heart goes out to so many small business owners who struggle to wrap their arms around the online marketing game. It is constantly changing and as the old saying goes, “there’s more than one way to skin a cat”. So it isn’t surprising that they can talk to three different marketing agencies and come back with three different strategies.
It’s no wonder some small businesses struggle with their online marketing strategy. We’ve compiled a list of ways that local small businesses fail with their online marketing and how they can avoid these mistakes.
1. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket – Don’t focus exclusively on internet marketing. Given that this article is about internet marketing, this item may seem out of place. But it is important to note that although the internet is a powerful source for driving new business and building your brand, it shouldn’t be the only marketing strategy in your arsenal.
2. Marketing budget is too low – If you consider the national average for businesses of all sizes, the average marketing budget is about 10% of the entire budget. Now if you compare that to the local small business owner, 56% spend less than 3% of their total budget on all of their marketing. Unless you or someone in your business has the skills needed to develop a strong online marketing program, you should be investing in your online strategy.
3. Outdated or poorly optimized website – When it comes to marketing online your website becomes your central point for sales. All your social platforms, online ads and videos should lead consumers back to your website. Having a website that make a strong first impression is important. Make sure contact information stands out and that the site is easy to navigate. Your visitors should be able to easily find the information they are looking for.
4. Don’t forget about the power of email marketing – We recently sat down with one of our landscaping clients who was getting ready for their busy season. Instead of spending marketing dollars on ads for sprinkler startup and aeration, we suggested they create an email campaign to reach out to previous customers who used these services in the past. It doesn’t cost anything but a few hours of their time and will get them off to a fast start this season.
5. Capture the low hanging fruit – Leverage local search to be found by consumers who are ready to buy right now. Smart phones are everywhere and the number of mobile searches for local intent has surpassed desktop searches. Consumers searching via a mobile device will make a purchase within 3 days more than 50% of the time. Mobile users search for everything from shopping and restaurants to home services.
6. Don’t try to do it all by yourself – Marketing online is complex and ever changing so unless you have an in house specialist, it will too challenging to keep up with. It’s true that some online marketing can be expensive but you don’t have to do it all at once. Figure out what your budget is and start with something small. As sales increase your marketing budget should follow.
“Business success is all about finding the right outside service providers and using them wisely. You can’t do it all yourself.” ~ Anita Campbell, Founder of Small Business Trends.
7. Hire the “right” marketing agency – Small business owners are experts in their business but they don’t know what they don’t know when it comes to marketing online. This becomes a Catch 22 – how do you hire a good agency when you don’t know what to look for. Part of this will be following your gut but it should also include asking a lot of questions and asking for referrals. Also, if you’re unsure about an agency start off with a smaller project that doesn’t take too long. This way you can see how the agency works and if they follow through with your expectations.
Last but not least….
Do something! Procrastinating and waiting for the right moment is a sure fire way to fail. Put together your online marketing strategy with timeframes and budget. Having something in writing will give you a blueprint for success. Make changes to your blueprint as things change.
If you would like help with your marketing strategy, schedule a free no-obligation 30 minute consultation.