In the dozens of presentations and classes I have given this year, there is a common theme to the questions I get. There is a lot of conflicting information out there. No one has all the right answers, but some have the right questions! That question is, “Is spending all that time really worth it?”… and my answer usually is “Well that depends. Are you trying to build an audience or make money? Unless you know what your are trying to achieve, you may just hemorrhaging time or money.”
What follows is what I consider to be five common mistakes or problems that challenge most small business owners with websites and internet marketing:
Things on the internet change quickly, but it continues to amaze how people play possum with online marketing. Those people become subject to the ‘Soup DuJour' mentality of online market peeps. They get sold things like… “We can do a new website that will get you found better.”, “SEO (search engine optimization) will drive more traffic to your website.” or, “Our Phone Book has a website that gets millions of hits a day and we get Google ads at a discount.” OK, two out of three of those things are not so bad… but getting hits to your website is not the same thing as creating business.
Having set up and trained hundreds of people and companies to use Google Analytics, I find a few of them check it regularly, while some can't even remember how to sign in. If you have no concept of what's happening with your website, what people do once they get there, or what you expect them to do… then why would getting more traffic be so important? Don't get me wrong, my whole business is built on driving more traffic to a website, so I'm a HUGE proponent. But having a plan of how to drive traffic, and measuring what works (or what is not working), gives you the power to make your website work better for you!
2) Set It And Forget It With Your Website
Stores change inventory every quarter… some every week. So tell me why someone would want to visit your website again? If you have a blog on the website then you give them a reason to visit it every day or week (depending on how much you blog). If not, then what are you doing to keep it fresh and interesting?
I have a reminder in my calendar to “Update Website” every Saturday morning at 9am. That is a time I am certain not to have to be dealing with too many client requests. I don't completely revamp the entire website every week, but I may update a page or change an element or two. One of the biggest changes made recently was changing the website be a responsive design. This allows it to change how they respond (display) on phones, tablets, computers and so on!
Is your website staying up with the times technologically? What do you offer repeat visitors that would make them want to come back again?
3) Relying Too Much On SEO
I am a fan of SEO as long as it's only 25% of what you spend your time or budget on. That's all that search engines care about it. The other 75% is about reciprocal links, social media, and ways that attract users back to your website and visa versa. More traffic is a desirable result, but is the cost worth the results?
Here is my challenge to all the SEO Experts emails and calls I get. If you can GUARANTEE me 3 times the investment that I spend with you, I will gladly give you money. They have to sign a contract that says they will make up the difference if I cannot. I have not had one single taker, and I would not expect them to. You control what happens when people actually get to your website. All the traffic in the world cannot guarantee success. If you get 100 or 1,000 people to your website and only make one sale is that how you measure success? What happens if you only get 1 or 10 and make the same sale? Getting more traffic is good… making more sales is better!
4) Social Networking Without Really Networking
Put the shoe on the other foot for a second. You get a request to connect on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter from someone you have never met. Then they start to send you invites to meetings, requests to introduce them to others, or offers to sell you something you have no interest in. Then they request you forward it to all your friends? You LOVE THAT right? That's because you have nothing better to do than promote someone else's business?
Social = It always refers to the interaction of organisms with other organisms and to their collective co-existence. Networking = Business networking is a socioeconomic activity by which groups of like-minded business people recognize, create, or act upon business opportunities. – Wikipedia
Getting people to KNOW, LIKE and TRUST you begins with the KNOW! Some people try to circumvent the KNOW and LIKE parts and just jump to the TRUST. That is Advertising… but NEVER Social Networking. Social = People… Networking = Meeting People. Create relationships!
Talk about the fox guarding the hen house. Google knows that calling people who have Google accounts and telling them they can help them manage Adwords is a sure way to grow business. That is about the only way you will ever get a phone number from someone at Google. What you REALLY get is them helping you buy as many Adwords a possible (making Google more money). Ask about their money back guarantee and return on investment challenge and watch them squirm!
Adwords are a great way to grow your traffic, and they help you with your Google rankings, but refer back to points 1 and 2 about not having a plan and what happens when people actually get to your website. They may be able to get more traffic to your website… but at what cost, and does that actually translate to sales?
Bonus – Doing Nothing
The best or worst thing you can do… is NOTHING! You may think that what has worked in that past will continue to work or, this has nothing to do with MY BUSINESS. You can say that my clients care less about Social Networking, Google, Websites or what ever. Reality can come up to bite you in the tush!
That train has left the station. People are searching in their mobile phone for your business, and those who do, are researching you there. Then they are Tweeting, Facebook-ing, or LinkedIn-ing their friends, colleagues and networking peeps about the products and services they love. If you want to attract their friends, neighbors, clients, vendors and all their kids… you better be at the next train station, to start to learn and grow with the changes!
The marketing landscape is changing so fast, that it's a challenge for those who make a living doing it (not to mention those who actually have something to market). Does this resonate or irritate? I would love to hear your thoughts?