Online Marketing

7 Ways That Small Businesses Fail at Online Marketing

Set of Flat Design Icons. Mobile Phones, Tablet PC, Marketing Te
Written by Gary Musler

You finally did it.

You realized your business needed digital marketing so you spent time and money getting your business online and ramping up your marketing efforts.

Then… crickets.

If you aren’t getting the results you had hoped for, it is likely that you are making some mistakes that could be diminishing the value and reach of your online marketing efforts.

Here are some of the biggest mistakes that small businesses make when it comes to their online marketing.

1. They Have an Outdated or Useless Website

First thing first…

If you are going to start focusing on online marketing, you have to start at square one — with your website.

If you have an outdated website that was created with design and SEO best practices from five, three, or even two years ago, you need to evaluate your site.

  • Is your site mobile-responsive? (Does it adapt to various screen sizes and look good on mobile devices?)
  • Is it clean, modern, and easy to read and navigate?
  • Do you have a clear call-to-action on the homepage?

If you said no to any of these questions, you need to start your online marketing efforts with a website redesign.

There is no reason to send traffic to your site if it is unappealing and unclear to viewers.

2. They Aren’t Building an Email List

If you are in business, you must be building and growing an email list.

Stop putting it off and overlooking its value. An email list is direct line to your potential and existing customers making it one of the most valuable marketing assets a business can have.

You may think you don’t need an email list because you have a strong social media following.

But relying on social media as a way to connect with your audience is NOT a good strategy.

The communities that you build on social media do not belong to you, and the way you connect with your audience through those platforms can change at any time. (As was the case when Facebook started charging page owners to get their messages in front of their followers.)

Email is the most direct and reliable way to contact your network because you own and control your list. So, start building yours right away.

3. They Are Stingy

You may feel like you can’t afford to give your audience something for free or at a discount.

But in reality, you can’t afford not to.

Giving something valuable to your audience — such as a free resource, deep discount, or complimentary service — is the fastest way to make introductions with new clients and grow your email list. 

Use your free offer as a way to show customers why you are an expert in your industry, why your products are the best, or why they can’t miss out on doing business with you.

Keep in mind — if you give anything away for free or at a discount, you must always ask your customer for an email address in return.

4. They Publish Blog Posts But Don’t Promote Them

You probably already know that publishing fresh content on your site is a good idea.

But your work isn’t over when you hit publish. You need to make sure that you promote your post so that it can grab attention and pull traffic back to your website. 

Be sure to promote your posts after publishing by:

  • sharing via your social media networks
  • creating visuals that relate to your article and sharing those graphics via social media
  • notifying any brands or influencers that are mentioned in the post (in hopes that they share it with their audience)
  • submitting the post to link round-ups related to your industry
  • sending the post to your email list

Also, make sure that it is easy for others to share your content. Include links and buttons on the post so that others can share with a simple click.

5. They Have a Poorly Planned Adwords Strategy

Paid search is a great way to allocate digital marketing dollars as it can drive traffic and lead an interested audience to your website.

But it’s a big waste of money when there isn’t a thoughtful strategy behind the campaign.

Publishing a Google Ad won’t magically attract new business. You need a clear plan for the ad and the landing page in order to collect valuable leads and generate business.

The ad copy must include a clear benefit and call-to-action. Many businesses fail here because they use generic copy that doesn’t differentiate the business or tell the user what to do next.

The landing page must include an offer that the audience can’t refuse. This goes back to the principle of not being stingy. Rather that send the user to a generic landing page that explains your product or service, utilize a landing page that includes an offer that will drive the user to submit their email address.

This strategy will help you collect interested leads that you can cultivate into paying customers.

6. They Ignore the Power of Facebook Marketing

Facebook provides a great platform for engaging with you community and sharing your content.

But it’s much more than that.

The real power of Facebook lies in the opportunity to advertise to an extremely targeted and specific audience.

While the other items in this post are quick fixes, setting up your Facebook marketing strategy will require some work and effort – but it will be worth it.

Learn how to or hire someone to set up a Facebook ad that use demographics to connect with your specific audience. Then target that audience by delivering them an offer they can’t refuse (seeing a pattern here?).

Like the Google Ad, the idea is to generate leads that you know are interested in your products or services. Facebook targeted options are extremely powerful and may even lead to a better result than a well-planned Google ad.

7. They Stop Trying

Online marketing isn’t a one-time setup process. You can’t set it, forget it, and expect it to keep returning results.

It’s a practice that requires testing, patience, and creativity.

So if you aren’t seeing results right away, don’t give up.

Ensure you aren’t making any big mistakes, make adjustments, and keep your eyes out for new strategies that can help your business get the most out of its digital marketing efforts.

About the author

Gary Musler

Gary has been marketing online since the 14.4k modem was released, you do the math. Since that time, he has earned millions marketing online for himself and his clients. His Marketing skills have landed him and his clients in Newsweek magazine features, the WSJ and a profile of success in Progress Magazine (just to name a few publications).