1. Failing to create a plan
Ever heard that saying, ‘Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail’?
There’s a lot of truth to this in the realm of online marketing. Without starting with a thoughtful, strategy-driven plan, marketing efforts can easily fall flat. What typically happens is a lot of random tactics and efforts get executed that aren’t working together, and most fall short of their true potential or miss the mark completely. Effective online marketing starts with goal setting and solid planning. Through this, you can ensure that every tactic has a specific purpose and works in collaboration with all other efforts being executed. This creates an omnichannel approach that provides a seamless experience for your customers and prospects and drives better overall effectiveness through each channel.
Questions you should ask to develop your plan
- What are the top-level goals you want to achieve? (Examples include growing sales, growing your customer base, launching new products/services, growing market share, increasing brand awareness, etc.)
- Who is your target or ideal customer? What are their needs or pain points and what solutions do you provide?
- Where do your target customers spend most of their time? Which marketing channels will reach them most effectively and therefore deserve more time and attention?
- How much profit do you make from a new customer? What is the lifetime value of a customer? Based on this, how much can you spend to attract and acquire customers?
- How will each of your planned tactics support your top-level goals?
- What internal staff and/or external resources will you need to effectively execute your plan?
2. Lack of good content
If you’ve read anything on search engine optimization, you’ve probably heard that Google loves content. Although there are many factors that go into ranking a particular page in search engine results, we do know from recent studies that the average content length for pages that show up on page 1 of search results is just shy of 1900 words. Content provides context, and when Google better understands your context it can do a better job of showing your site for relevant searches.
But you know who else loves content? Website visitors!
Quality content with useful information provides a valuable experience for people who come to your site and also gives people a reason to come back. It answers questions, helps guide their decisions, teaches them something new, or engages their interests. As digital marketer Wil Reynolds once challenged: ‘If all of your content disappeared from the web tomorrow, would anyone care?’ Make the kind of content that people care about. Create content that would be missed. With so many reasons to focus on content, make sure you don’t put it last on your priority list.
How to create quality content
You already have excellent resources at your fingertips. Start with what you have available now, and build from there.
- Look to your customers and write about their most frequently asked questions
- Lean on your staff who interact with customers, handle sales and customer services, or answer the phone
- Use Google Analytics and Google Search Console to know in real-time what interests people and what they’re searching for, and write to them
- Use Google alerts to listen to what others in your industry are creating for content
- Use social media to engage and crowdsource content
3. No calls to action
Conversions are the holy grail all marketers are after, whether it be lead generation submissions, eCommerce transactions, or sales. It’s why we do what we do! But sometimes we get so caught up in making beautiful, informative websites or high-quality content that we forget to ask for the conversion. Have you ever read a fantastic piece of content online, and when you were done you simply closed the window or hit your back button? It may be because you weren’t encouraged to take some sort of action. Top salespeople know to ask for the sale because you don’t get what you don’t ask for. We have to do the same in online marketing!
Give users some direction
In every online experience, be sure to use strong calls to action to tell people exactly what you want them to do, and then make it easy to do it. Using clear, visible calls to action will help generate conversion activities and encourage people to take the next step to move from visitor to lead or customer. Remember that no page on your site should be a dead-end.
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4. Little to no legitimacy or social proof
Most people are a bit wary of the unknown. Trust, but verify, right? We read reviews, from complete strangers, before buying items online. We ask friends for recommendations before choosing a service provider. We ‘Google people’ or investigate through social media before hiring someone. But what if there’s no info to be found? What if nothing comes up on Google, or you can’t find them on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn? What if your competitors have 150 different 5-star reviews and you have none?
Now more than ever, your online reputation can play a big role in your online and offline success. As people head online to research products, people, and services, it’s important that you have a solid and consistent presence to appear reputable. Often companies are finding that what others say about you through reviews and the like is just as important as what you say about yourself in your online marketing. Ensuring you have accurate online listings through Google My Business and various directories is one area of focus. Having some level of active social media presence also helps give legitimacy to your business or organization as well as providing more opportunities to get found. But some of the real ‘gold’ lies in getting positive online reviews and customer testimonials to add credibility and trust to your online presence.
How do you get more reviews?
Gaining reviews is a process. You might ask 10 people and get none or you might get two. You won’t get 10. Once you start asking you will get some reviews. Don’t get discouraged. They add up over time.
- Ask! The next time you’re interacting with a customer, mention it in conversation. ‘Thank you for doing business with us. I’d appreciate your feedback in the form of a Google review online.’
- Add ‘Please leave us a Google review’ to the bottom of your current newsletter, email footer, phone message or other correspondence.
- Create a follow-up email process thanking customers for their business and asking for a review.
- Share the value of reviews with your team who interacts with clients. If you all ask, your success rate will be higher.
- Place simple posters as visual reminders where visitors will see them. ‘You’re feedback is valuable. We would love to see your review on…”
5. No point of differentiation
Unless you are a completely unique solution with no competitors or alternative solutions, differentiation is vital to your success. Without any unique position, you leave yourself open to compete on price alone or worse. Don’t be a ‘me too’ – tell people why they should work with you instead of any other option out there and make sure it’s something that’s actually different than what your competitors promote about themselves. If all of your competitors claim to have the best customer service, what makes yours different?
Go ahead and use statistics and customer quotes
Good differentiation makes if clear why you’re the best choice. If someone doesn’t work with or buy from you, what will the negative consequence be? What will they miss? And don’t forget to provide some proof to back up what you say. If you have the highest quality, what data do you have to support it? Are there guarantees or warranties to back it up? Do you have social proof by way of reviews or testimonials to support it?
Whatever makes you different, don’t make people guess or figure it out for themselves, make it clear, and back it up.