What I love the most about my job is being able to help businesses market more effectively even when they aren’t my client. Not much else is more satisfying to me than helping a small business owner keep the doors open. Often times I see budding entrepreneurs and seasoned business owners make the same mistakes when managing their web presence. It usually revolves around not taking advantage of the systems and tools that are available to us for free or very low cost. Here are the most common mistakes I see non-tech savvy businesses make.
Not posting regularly on social media.
We live in a world where we have an insane amount of free advertising opportunities at our fingertips. We can literally make an infomercial on our cell phone and broadcast it on Facebook for free with the power of live video. Think about that for a minute. It’s kind of baffling how few local businesses I see taking advantage of this feature. Even if you’re not a fan of live video, you still should be posting engaging updates on your social media pages. If you’re not posting regularly, your social media presence looks abandoned. Consumers today feel a direct correlation between social media and customer service. If a consumer feels you are not taking care of your social media, they may feel that you don’t take care of other aspects of your business. Vacant social media = lost opportunities. Does this mean you have to devote hours of your day or hire a social media manager? Not necessarily. Whether you want to self-manage your social media, or delegate to an employee, be sure to automate the process. We use Buffer for our social media management. Hootsuite and Edgar are other options as well.
Relying only on social media as a web presence.
Okay, so I know I just sang the praises of social media. However, it is not a good idea to focus solely on social media when you’re marketing your business online. Would you ever build your home on borrowed land? Well you shouldn’t build your web presence on Facebook ( or Twitter or Instagram or Pinterest) either. It’s important to keep in mind that you are at the mercy of that company’s corporate decisions and algorithms. Basically, they choose what your followers will see and won’t see. They can also close up shop at any moment. Your website and mailing list are the only two things you actually have control over on the web.
Not building an email list.
Ever wonder why chain restaurants will give you a $13 appetizer simply for joining their mailing list? That’s because your email address is likely worth 10x the cost of that appetizer to them. Once they have your email address (their ideal customer) they can market to you over and over again. Email marketing has shown to have an average 4300% return on investment. So sign up for an email marketing platform (we love ConvertKit) and start building your email list. Seriously.
Using a free Gmail, Yahoo, AOL, etc. email address for business.
Business email accounts should always be on your own website domain. For example, my email address for work is [email protected] I do have a free Gmail email address where I direct all my personal emails and junk mail. Utilizing your website domain for email is absolutely crucial to establishing credibility for your business. We use Google Apps for our own business and clients. It gives you the Gmail interface but is catered for business. The cost is only $5 per user and well worth it.
Lack of website promotion.
Often times business owners have a “set it and forget it” mentality when it comes to their website. You will not find success in the search engines with that approach. What good is your website if no one finds it? Search engine optimization is not magic. Update your website regularly, post engaging new content often, and link to your website at every opportunity.
Not knowing how much traffic their website receives.
You should never, ever run a website without analytics integration, Knowing how many people are visiting your website along with how they found your website is crucial to your website’s success. With this information, you’ll be able to better fine tune your online marketing strategy. There are so many cool (nerdy) things you can do with analytics but at least start with the basics.
Using images they don’t own.
No, you cannot just take any image from google search and use it on your website or social media. That’s a big no-no and stock photo companies love to get their legal team involved with even the smallest businesses.
Here’s what you can use:
- Graphics that you have created yourself or commissioned a designer to create for you.
- Photographs that you have taken yourself.
- Stock photos or graphics that you have purchased rights to use.
- Public domain images.
We’ve added more information about finding photos for your website and social media posts.
Not utilizing online scheduling.
If you offer appointment based services you’re truly missing out if you don’t utilize online scheduling. Many people (like myself) would rather search for 10 minutes for somewhere that offers online scheduling than pick up a phone and schedule an appointment. For Borlandia, we use Acuity Scheduling. This allows potential clients to schedule a call without the back and forth of finding a good time to talk for both of the parties. The $19 a month plan includes text message alerts and online payments. Customers can also purchase products and gift certificates if you so choose. This is one portion that you can automate which saves time and can help you bring in more customers.
Neglecting their Google listing.
Your Google business listing is what shows up on the right side of the search results. It shows your contact information, hours of operation, and Google reviews. This is the first thing someone will see when searching for your business. I’ve seen lots of business listings that were inaccurate or marked “permanently closed” in error. Be sure to keep tabs on your listing.
Not responding to online reviews or comments.
There’s not much that validates someone’s negative review or comment about a business more than lack of response from the business. Not only that, it does give off the vibe that the business does not really care that someone had a bad experience. It is an unfortunate reality that people like to complain more than compliment and fake reviews are pretty common as well. Responding to each negative review or comment gives you the opportunity to rectify the situation or at least put your other customers at ease. Responding to positive reviews is a great way to stay connected with your loyal customers as well!