12 Basic Digital Marketing Mistakes that Small Businesses Make

  • February 17, 2020
  • Online Marketing
  • SEO
  • Social Media
  • Website

It’s easy to slip up.

Establishing and growing a small business can be tough. Trust us: we’ve been a small business for about ten years, and we’ve helped hundreds of other ones grow in size and revenue.

Marketing is trickier than most people anticipate, and there are a few common errors that a lot of businesses make when they first start marketing themselves. Is your small business making one of these basic mistakes?

1. Not picking clear targets

Far too many people try to take a ‘spray-and-pray’ approach to marketing: that is, they blast their brand and advertisements to anyone and everyone who will see, which is just plain wasteful and not likely to give you a good ROI. In the iconic words of author Mal Pancoast, “The odds of hitting your target go up dramatically when you aim at it.”

Digital marketing gives you the option to target your advertising, so your ads will only reach people who are likely to want your offerings. There’s no need to waste your resources on dead leads, so why bother?

2. Not making a marketing plan

Deciding on a target audience is a great start, but it’ll be difficult to achieve your marketing goals if you don’t have a plan to get there. Your marketing plan will help detail the steps you need to take and create the targets you need to maximise your efficiency and keep you on track for success in the different areas of your campaign.

Not setting goals doesn’t just make it more difficult to coordinate your marketing venture, it can cost you. Your marketing plan will help you to target the right demographics in the right ways to maximise returns and avoid wasting resources in the wrong areas. Going ahead without it is a risk.

3. Limiting their communication outlets

The internet is a wonderful place, and it offers thousands of outlets for your brand messages. It’s not realistic to expect that you can use all of them effectively (especially if you’re a small business), but that doesn’t mean you should limit yourself.

Having an email marketing or social media campaign alone is great, but don’t forget to talk to your potential consumer base through other outreach methods. Often, different channels reach different demographics, and you could be sacrificing one at the expense of another.

You can even delve into niche communities on platforms like Reddit, Tumblr, and Amino. The advertising competition is much lower here and can be tailored to specific audiences, but beware: users can spot an obvious marketing post and it won’t spread far. They’re better off for content marketing.

4. Relying too heavily on their socials

Social media is amazing. It gives you access to an audience of millions, but it’s important to remember that your social channels aren’t foolproof. They’re built on platforms that can change their rules at a moment’s notice and potentially impact your reach and investment (like what happened when Tumblr was bought by Verizon and millions of blogs were heavily censored).

There’s a very simple way to protect yourself from a similar fate: don’t dedicate all your resources into putting content on your social media. That’s what your site is for! Use your social media to accentuate your site’s best features and to advertise, but remember to keep it somewhat separate and link back to your website for the important things.

5. Having no USP

Your Unique Selling Position is what sets you apart from your competitors, but far too many small businesses fail to identify one and stick to generic marketing. When you’re a small business, developing an edge to pull ahead of your bigger competitors is a must, and it needs to be something concrete. Vague phrases like ‘better’ and ‘top service’ don’t count: break it down, you need to offer something more.

Do you offer a unique product or service to your competitors? Market it. Are your prices consistently lower? Market it! Do you support a charity or raise funds for an important cause? Market it! Anything that makes you unique or could convince someone to choose you can be an asset, so make use of it. There’s no excuse for being the same as everyone else. If you don’t have a USP, make one.

6. Forgetting calls-to-action

Raising your visibility is great, but it’s important to tell your potential customers what’s next once they get to your site. Providing a call-to-action (something as simple as a ‘book now’ button on the website) puts you ahead of the 70% of small B2B marketing agencies which don’t have a call-to-action on their website’s home page, and can increase your conversion rate.

Remember: not everyone is going to know exactly what to do with your site. Some people need a gentle nudge in the right direction before they can convert to a sale.

7. Focusing on the wrong elements of their website

It’s important to make your website look good. A good-looking website makes your business look more professional, and can help your potential clientele find more about your services. But your website might as well just be a blank page if it’s not functional first.

Your website shouldn’t just be a billboard, it should be a one-stop shop for everything a potential lead needs to convert. It needs to give easy to access and relevant information on what you do (some great copy will help here), have clear calls-to-action, interesting and useful copy, and will benefit a lot from having facilities to confirm a purchase (like a booking page or shopping function). Remember to keep your website focussed on function and relevance, not just aesthetics.

8. Having a ‘set-and-forget’ approach to their site

It’s something we see far too often: a website full of great information which doesn’t attract traffic. Google places a lot of value on good content for its SEO. If that’s the case, then it should boost that site full of great content straight to the top of the search results, right? Well, not necessarily.

Google likes to see content that appears regularly. If your site is full of amazing and valuable information but hasn’t had any updates in years, it’ll start to slide to the bottom of the search engine results page.

Luckily, keeping your site updated doesn’t have to be painful. You don’t need to add new services or features to your business. All you need is to set aside some time to write some interesting posts about subjects your audience will be interested in.

9. Not optimizing for mobile

In 2019, over 50% of Google searches came from mobile devices, and it’s not the first year in which this has happened. That’s why Google has been penalising websites with slow mobile speeds by lowering their rankings. If you want to get the most out of your site, mobile optimisation is simply a must have.

Not sure if your site is up to speed? Google offers a free website speed testing tool to see how you measure up, and we offer a free website audit to help you see how you can improve.

10. Not correctly handling enquiries and leads

A Harvard Business study found that out of 2,241 US companies, the average response time for a web-generated lead was 42 hours – shocking, since the best time to contact a lead is within an hour of receiving it (when you’re 7x more likely to convert it than those who respond after 2 hours, and 60x more likely than those who waited 24 hours or longer).

This would be completely unacceptable in the physical world. Imagine if you asked a salesman about a car, only to have him walk off and endeavour to contact you while you’re at work the next day. You likely wouldn’t have the desire to buy anymore, and you may have even test driven a few other vehicles since then at other car dealerships. By this point, he’s most likely lost your business.

It also found that 23% of the businesses never responded to the online lead at all. This is a huge turnoff. Even if a lead is unlikely to convert if it’s chased after time has passed, it’s infinitely more likely to convert than the lead which isn’t followed at all. Your marketing strategy should involve chasing your leads as soon as possible after you receive them.

11. Not tracking their results

If you aren’t recording your results, you’re not just missing out on the sense of accomplishment that comes when your goals are met: you’re missing out on valuable insights into your marketing which could help reduce unnecessary spending and maximise your ROI.

Your clicks, calls, and other goal completions can do far more than just move your customers down the acquisition funnel. They can be used to tailor and create a marketing plan which grows with your business, but only if they’re measured and carefully evaluated. If you’re not using your conversions to gain insight into what’s best for your future, it’s time to start.

12. Not putting the client at the centre

This one can be a little tough to hear, but it’s something you need to recognise in your marketing: people don’t care about your product or business, they care about how your product or business can help them. So much so that the average highly customer-centric business is around 60% more profitable than one which isn’t.

It’s important to let your audience know about your features, but don’t forget to let them know what’s in it for them. Don’t rely on them being able to draw conclusions, tell them what to think! A great way to do this is by using the tried-and-true FFB format for marketing: let your customers know about your product’s (F)eatures, (F)unctions, and the (B)enefit it will give them.


Consult a professional

While it’s definitely possible to run a successful marketing campaign on your own, you’re much more likely to succeed if you consult experts. We’ve been in the business a lot of years, so you can rest assured that we know the ins and outs of digital marketing and can help you make the most out of your next marketing venture. Get in touch today to get started with a complimentary website and digital marketing review.

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