Online marketing can be a nightmare for the inexperienced business owner. Where do you begin, how much should I invest, and if I should bother with social, are some of the common questions that first time marketers ask themselves. Getting a full grasp of the entire online marketing world can take years and is an ongoing process. I believe that there is a minimum that online store owners should do from day one and if done correctly, will get the ball rolling. In this post I cover 10 of the most common mistakes that most small-medium store owners make when first starting their online businesses. The more items you can dismiss from my list the better but do keep in mind that this list is very general and might not apply to every online business. Lets get started.
1. You aren’t accepting the reality
The reality is that building an online business that will make even a few thousand dollars a month is extremely difficult and requires much more time and effort than most individuals are willing to invest. I know this sounds very depressing but this is the reality and in order to beat the odds you need to first accept the reality. The Internet is by far the most competitive marketplace in the world and changes at a much faster pace than the “real” world which makes it an even tougher battle ground for businesses. Now that you have accepted these realities lets move on.
2. You aren’t leveraging social channels
Marketing is story telling, it’s about reach and it’s about eye balls. Free social media channels like Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter can provide you with access to many eye balls, can help you reach more and more people without much of an investment and allows you to tell your store, so why would you choose to not use these channels? Over 90% of small business owners use social media which means that your competition is reaching your potential customers and you aren’t doing anything about it. I recommend small business owners start with Facebook and Twitter and start building a strong community and when possible adopt new social networks and move forward at a slow but steady pace.
3. You’re spreading yourself too thin
This mistake is very common among small business owners and it comes out of the desire to be everywhere on the social web. Every business would love to be active on every single social network but the reality is that your resources are limited and by spreading yourself too thin, across too many social media platforms, you end up doing things poorly. Stick with no more than two social networks when you first start out.
4. You don’t engage with your online communities and target market
Congratulations. You have decided to adopt social media as part of your online marketing strategy and have just reached your thousandth fan. Can you put the champagne glass down and explain to me why there are questions, comments, tweets and other social engagements which you have left in the dark or as freebies for your competition. Leave no engagement left behind is now your social media mantra. Say it to yourself ten times and then move onto number 5.
5. You aren’t spending any money
Now this “mistake” can be seen as controversial and might not be relevant to all businesses but very often spending money can save you money, especially when it comes to marketing. Let me give a few examples.
Example #1: Instead of spending 6-10 hours a week on social marketing activities, invest in a pro account with Buffer ($10 a month) and a social media management tool like Hootsuite (starts at $8.99 a month) and drop your time down to 1-2 hours a week. That’s a saving of up to 8 hours each week. If you value your time at $25 an hour that’s a potential gain of $781 a month. More on automating your marketing later in the article.
Example #2: Instead of working hard for every visitor to your store, invest $50-$100 in StumbleUpon, Facebook or Twitter ads to drive target traffic to your site. Generally speaking PPC campaigns are getting less and less profitable but certain businesses can thrive on PPC and if done smartly and through numerous small tests can be a great source of traffic to your store. The bottom line is that all possible channels should be tested and some can’t be without a financial investment.
Example #3: Instead of using one of the basic designs that your eCommerce platform provides, buy a license to a professionally designed theme which fits your branding and niche. It may be worth the investment to pay a designer to look at a few different themes that you picked out and let the designer help you pick the best design for your brand and market.
6. You don’t monitor the marketing activities of your competition
Business is war and it’s tough to win a war without gathering intelligence. Now I don’t expect you to combine massive excel files with every piece of data imaginable on all 300,000 competitors in your market but I do expect is that you have a general idea of the current marketing activities that others in your space are adopting. A good tip is to watch the established and growing businesses in your space to identify the marketing channels which they invest in. There is a good chance theses channels are very profitable and by doing this, you can save you a lot of time and money in having to prove this for yourself. There is a great quote which you should keep in mind. “I not only use all the brains that I have, but all that I can borrow, by Woodrow Wilson.”
7. You aren’t automating certain aspects of your marketing
Online marketing activities of online store owners that just launched their store should include the following activities:
- Posting high quality, relevant content to their social profiles
- Collecting leads via email, a blog, social media, or during the shopping experience
- Optimizing conversion funnels with the help of Google Analytics, Clicktale, Kissmetrics or some other web analytics tool
- Engaging with existing social communities and with potential leads in forums, Facebook groups, on Twitter and in other online communities
- Contacting bloggers for coverage or for getting guest posts published
- etc etc etc
I know what you’re thinking. How can one person handle all this? One of the ways to handle this list and anything else that can be added is by working smart with the help of a number of services, some nifty tricks and actively looking for ways to automate your online marketing. I recommend checking out my post on how to automate your social marekting and the embedded YouTube video. I have written extensively on online marketing automation and in the post I’ve linked to above you can see the video of a webinar that I ran on the topic.
If you can avoid the seven marketing mistakes that I have listed above you will be moving in the right direction and will not only be more productive but will feel more confident with your activities and all this together should help turn things around for you and your online business.
How many of these mistakes are you making? Let me know in the comments section below and you might be chosen for a special program we are launching soon to help you make more money with your online business.