The new frontier for marketing is no longer traditional media of print and television, more and more people are moving online in attempts to the next new thing online. Unlike traditional marketing the barrier to entry online are very small, start-ups often take this route as it is much more cost-effective and really the new in thing. There are many different strategies that you can follow for a successful marketing campaign depending on your niche, budget, and time frame but there are some universal truths that you need to follow.
Marketing is about creativity and figuring out new and exciting ways to get your message across. What we are trying to do here is help you avoid the most common and typical mistakes people make. Internet Marketing is constantly evolving but one thing that you need to know it is marketing, which mean the basic principles of marketing are the same. The only difference is that the internet has provided such a different channel in which your company can express itself that sometimes people consider a whole different discipline. What this article is about are the 10 basic mistakes internet marketers need to avoid, be they newbies or veterans they need to take heed and follow this advice. Some may seem obvious but that doesn’t mean that people follow it so let’s start with number 1:
Mistake #1: Excessive Humility
Being humble is fine if you are a monk or teacher but it is a definite no-no if you are in sales. At the end of the day Internet Marketing is all about sales, and great sales people are not humble. Perhaps you are one of those people who don’t really like to announce to the world that you are the best or that your product is number one and think that the product will sell on its own merits. Well, you need to find someone to be your cheerleader.
As someone who owns their own company they need to live and breathe their product. They need to be their own best advocates or their product apostles. Marketing is all about self-promotion and promoting yourself is the heart of internet marketing. Now that we have the right attitude we can look at different ways of self promotion later in this article. The average customer might not even know about your product so aggressive marketing is all about telling everyone about yourself.
Mistake #2: Having no vision and mission
Most big companies have a mission and vision statement. It clearly states the goal of the company, for example this one from Apple Computers “Apple is committed to bringing the best personal computing experience to students, educators, creative professionals and consumers around the world through its innovative hardware, software and Internet offerings.” Apple’s innovations such as the IPhone and IPAD make use of this particular statement as the driving force behind their success.
No you probably think your small company isn’t nearly the size of Apple. You have to remember that even Apple was just an operation in Steve Job’s garage at some point in time. So best to start things right by making a strong mission and vision statement.. You need to have a strong foundation in order to grow. You probably asking how this helps with your online strategy and marketing, well if you got the right vision than it sets the right foundation that you can build around, if you don’t have this you will have a very hard time fixing the next 18 mistakes.
Mistake #3: The Pay Wall
What is a pay wall? Well it is when you can’t access content unless you pay. An example of this is the Financial Times, they give you a short preview of the article and if you want to continue reading it you will have to pay an amount for access to the website. Now, a company like the financial times can get away with that kind of marketing can but an average internet start-up can’t. This kind of strategy will really slow down the adoption of your product and technology and only really works with already established and powerful brands.
A better strategy would be to allow limited access. Some companies like Google’s Gmail and Facebook use add revenue and sell targeted advertising. The gist of the message is that people are used to everything on the internet being free or at least partly free and doing the whole pay before you try will not work unless your brand is already established.
So take a look at your customer acquisition strategy, and how you are currently positioned in the market. Take a look at your revenue streams and see if you really do make a lot of money from subscriptions or what not. The Pay Wall might be preventing you from getting more people to adopt your product and because of this you are not able to take off and attain the critical mass needed to succeed.
Mistake #4: Not understanding SEO
What is SEO? SEO is search engine optimization a crazy arms race between the website owner and the search engine algorithms. The SEO’s goal is to ensure that you come out on top in the search field of your particular key word. Problem is that the algorithm is also adapting to make sure you cannot take advantage of any loop-holes. So should you just ignore the whole problem? Not care about SEO at all?
That would be a disaster! SEO is all about optimizing your website. So how will the SEO benefit you? The SEO will optimize your website so that when the search engine web crawlers come along and search your website they will do so on a perfectly optimized site. Gone are the days that you could use a 250 page article and the magic of SEO to bump up your website to the number one hit on a particular keyword. These days it all about content, so you could actually say content is king!
You also need to understand and utilize keywords. This touches back on mistake number 1. If you don’t tell people about them won’t know about your product. However it’s important on how you tell people about it and that is where the SEO is able to help you. So consider this, how much more traffic can you generate if you are the number one hit on your chosen key word. Googling something is almost second nature and the average person will only take a look at the first couple of links. So not investing in a SEO person is a mistake, if you can’t afford one consider becoming one yourself.
Mistake #5: Not blogging about your business
“Well I already have a website so why do I need to blog about my product?” Blogs are an extension of someone’s influence on-line. Some blogs can make and break products because of their reviews. Some blogs like Perez Hilton and Huffington Post have made internet celebrities out of their creators. So do not discount the power of the blog.
When someone is looking for what’s in and what’s not in fashion they read the fashion blog. When people want to know where the new hot destination is they read a travel blog. If they want to see what the hottest new mobile phone is they read a tech blog. In fact, they probably look at your website first than when they see a product they like they look at the blogs to see the reviews. So you need to get your voice heard, you need to be the advocate and push the message you want out to everyone. My product is here and one of the best platforms to do that is through your blog. In the blog you can become one of the influencers out there.
However make sure you do a few things first, make sure that your blog is hosted on the same site as your domain. That way they know it is an official blog. If you are blogging about a certain niche like technology you cannot sound like one big advertisement what you need to do is really spend time writing about things that people want to hear about. You also need to interact with your bloggers so when they comment make sure that you respond to them. That means that you need to respond to both negative and positive comments. Often you will get internet trolls who do nothing but bash your product on your comments but what you need to realize that it will be even more damaging than engaging and responding maturely.
Mistake #6: Lacking the personal touch
What is the personal touch? Well have you noticed that Google and Facebook are now able to target people by very specific criteria? That means that they can target you by your sex, age, location and even by your likes and dislikes. This may seem quite creepy but you can use this to your advantage by targeting your audience at the local level. This is one of the reasons that spam doesn’t really work, if you try a scatter shot strategy you might end up damaging the reputation of your website and then the reputation of your product.
Don’t forget to make sure that you focus on a local search. Which means that if you have a restaurant in Coral Gables make sure when people search for restaurants in Coral Gables that your name shows up in the results? This is especially appropriate if you business is located in the mall. This means that if you are in the mall that you will benefit from the traffic and search of the location that you are located in. So what does this mean? It means that local business can leverage the internet to get their products act there with a personal touch, so that the locals can find their way there.
Sending out personalized emails or even actually corresponding to customers can help you build loyalty. Some of the biggest complaints out there is that in some companies it’s impossible to talk to a real person. So be that real person and add the personal touch to the company.
Mistake #7: Not being social enough
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and Google + are all social networks which are great places to do your marketing. Some people feel that Social Networks are a waste of company time when they think of social media they are thinking of ways to block it and increase worker productivity. What you can do is tap social media to rapidly expand your internet footprint without spending too much money.
It’s important to invest in good social marketing as they can be a big driver of traffic to your site. Some of the more savvy companies have started to even address their customer service concerns on social media sites. Creating an online community where people who enjoy your product can come together is also a big win. Creating fan pages, linked in accounts or even tweeting on a regular basis shows that you are connected to your clientele and that you are hip and modern company.
The best part about this is it is mostly free, none of the major social media sites will charge you to create a site even if it is commercial in nature. You can also build your profile quickly with a minimum of investment and even use graphics that you have already created for you website. What you would have to budget is having the social media sites drive traffic to your fan page or company profile. This is a relatively new development and something that companies should definitely incorporate into their marketing strategies.
One of the downsides is that you need to invest on staff to monitor your social media as you cannot really just leave it alone like a static website. On top of that you also need to ensure that your staff is up to date with the new developments in the company as this where people will often go looking for news. Consider creating a corporate communications function and depending on the size of your company make it a department or a single person.
Often you have to address concerns on the social media sites and it is also a good place to check on feedback for your company. So learn to use social media to gauge where you are in the market and what do people really think about your company. Social media is one of the hot new trends of 2014 along with mobile computing so this is not something that you can afford to ignore. So if you don’t already have a person doing it at least make sure that you read up on the topic.
Mistake #8: Not cross promoting with other sites
Once you have built up a reputation for yourself or one of your staff has done it for you than you should really take a look at into cross posting or guest authoring with another blog with a similar related product. Remember that your reputation is a resource and that cross pollinating ideas is a good way to grow your network. Sites that may not be your direct competitor but is in the same industry would be a good target. Also review sites or blogs that might be on your area of expertise might also be a good option. But whatever the case it’s important that you utilize this opportunity.
One thing that this helps develop is name recognition not only of your product but also of yourself. So you should always consider your knowledge as a resource and make sure that you share it with as many people as possible.
Another benefit is that you can link back to your site which also increases the relevance and reputation of your site especially if the site that linked to you is older or more established than your website. The downside to this is that you actually have to be a pretty good writer and write about relevant things. So you can’t just pump out a 250 word article that just summarizes other articles. Most reputable site wouldn’t take them and those that do will give very little benefit to your marketing strategy. It might even have a negative effect and should be avoided.
Mistake #9: Not creating customer advocates
There are happy customers and there are customer advocates. Can you make a customer so happy that they will be an advocate? What is an advocate? It’s a customer who generates excitement and sales for your company. This is probably one of the most single important transformations you can have in a customer, instead of having him just happy you actually have him out there doing your job for you and pushing your product.
The best way to do this is a testimonial page on your blog or website. It’s a perfect opportunity for the company to leverage on the good will of the customers by having them post their good experience on your website. Even better is that they submit positive reviews on your business on third party sites. For example, someone is so happy with your product that they put a 5 star rating on Amazon. What this means is that whoever sees that becomes curious and might even try your product.
These customer advocates might even create blogs about your products and create a loyal following. Customers who love your product are the best ambassadors as they will refer their friends and family to your product. The most important thing about this is that they are doing this because they are truly happy about their product and they are doing it for free. So make sure that you create more customer advocates, as they are free and there word will really help convince people to visit your site and try your product. But the question is where all these customer advocates come from. That means that at one point in time they were all “Newbies”.
Mistake #10: Not paying enough attention to the “Newbies”
Some companies try to cultivate an elitist mentality. Perhaps your company is selling software and your blog and website are overly technical and can only be understood by engineers. Elitism is often used as a marketing strategy because they feel that the masses will follow the elite. Of course this can work in certain situations especially with the designer fashion houses. What we need to take a look at is the grass roots growth of your customer base. Your website should have articles or blogs about introduction to your product or industry. It’s important that you cultivate and grow your customer base as that is the only way to really drive traffic and people to your site. Consider creating “How to” articles so that people interested in things like programming will end up at your site. After explaining the basics you can then sell them related products.
Making your site more beginner friendly would be a great help. Even building a welcoming online community through a message board or forum would be great. These small steps would help people that might be intimidated into joining your product community.
It is also important to remember that a lot of these newbies might become your customer advocates. Developing and maintaining your customers is important in creating a strong marketing strategy.
It’s just the beginning
Marketing can be hard work, it can cost money, it can take a lot of time. However, if you avoid these potential pit-falls you it doesn’t have to be hard nor does it have to be expensive. What you need to have is the drive, the inspiration, and the creativity to think outside the box and create something new that people flock to. Your business cannot succeed without marketing, so it is important that you invest time and money. Products just don’t become huge hits, it may seem that way but behind every big success was an even more successful marketing campaign.
Every year technology advances and things change and marketing has to adjust. Just make sure that you keep your head on straight and that you follow common sense. Make sure you avoid the obvious pit-falls. There are a lot of hidden pit-falls which you need which time and experience will help you avoid. Remember marketing needs to be done; it needs to be done well so take out your thinking hat and start thinking of what your next marketing plan is.