Every decision small business owner makes impacts the overall success or failure of the company, from hiring through marketing. Often small business owners are operating in the dark when it comes to building and growing an online presence for their company.
A successful online presence starts with a good understanding of the internet industry, today’s trends and online market.
At the very least you need to avoid the following internet marketing mistakes small business owners make because of the lack of understanding, budget or leadership.
Mistake #1 – Not having a website
People check the internet before making any purchasing decisions – that is the fact in today’s world. Without a website you are simply missing out. Your website is a reflection on you, it is your best advertising tool and the most important part of your internet marketing strategy. A quality website will not only bring in customers but build trust and authority.
Mistake #2 – Having a poor quality website
This may sound like a sales pitch but you need to invest in quality web design/development. Skimp on web design and you might get a poorly coded, unusable and not much of a search search friendly website that not only poorly reflects on your brand but downright costs you money. Only hire a professional designer/developer who understand at least the basics of usability, SEO & internet marketing principles.
Mistake #3 – Not hosting a blog on your own domain
I’ve recently had a conversation with a small business owner who had a great idea for a new business blog. Unfortunately, she decided to build/host it on someone else platform “for now”, simply because she didn’t want to invest in the design. If you want to be taken seriously, reap SEO benefits from having a blog and have full control, you must host it on your own domain. Blogger or Posterous is great, just not necessarily for a business blog.
Mistake #4 – Not promoting your website
I see it all the time: you invest in quality web design, get your awesome website up and… wait for customers. It is not that simple. There are billions of websites out there and you have to do more then just exist in order to get noticed. If you haven’t optimized your website for search engines, then do so. Proper on-page SEO is the backbone of a successful online presence. Next, you need to promote your website through the various internet marketing channels: blogging (guest blogging if you don’t have a blog), obtaining quality backlinks from reputable sites, being active on social networks, PR, directory submission, etc.
Mistake #5 – Not running a localized marketing campaign
This is especially important for businesses catering to local customers, but don’t discount the power of localized marketing even you are serving a global clientele (Hello, Google’s localization and personalization). Local marketing starts with localized on page SEO. So many businesses fail to get their business listed in Google Maps, Yahoo & MSN Local – don’t be one of them. Take it one step further and get your website listed with sites offering local search, such as BOTW Local, CitySearch, Localeze, Local.com, Insider Pages, CitySquares or Yelp to name just a few. Also, your business mentions, even those that do not include your URL, matter (they’re called citations).
Mistake #6 – Not investing in social media marketing
Social media is the new way to build your brand and reputation online. It’s a great, low cost marketing tool with a huge potential. With Facebook surpassing Google as the most visited site on the web it’s hard not to notice the change. 2010 is certainly the year of social media and we’ll see social media marketing play a major role in the marketing world this decade. Investing it in now will definitely bring in results down the road.
Mistake #7 – Not monitoring & analyzing results
Not only should you analyze your website traffic but you need monitor & measure your marketing efforts in order to be able to tell what works and what doesn’t. Learning about your website performance will tell you what need to be improved, which parts of your website are most popular and which pages convert customers best. Similarly, when you take the time to learn which marketing tactics are giving you the best ROI you can concentrate on those and not waste time on fruitless efforts you thought were great.
It’s a Wrap
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to internet marketing but there are tried and true methods that will pave the way to online success. Don’t let the mistakes stop you in your tracks!