If you’re one of the 47% of small business owners who run marketing completely on their own, it’s likely this function is one of the many hats you wear. And chances are unless you’re running a marketing business yourself, you don’t have a professional marketing background. This means there are probably a few things you’re doing — or not doing — in your marketing efforts that could be holding your business back.
Common small business marketing mistakes to avoid
Here are five marketing mistakes small businesses tend to make plus some tips on how to fix them.
1. Doing the writing yourself
Considering the cost of professional copywriting services, it’s no wonder why a lot of small business owners try to avoid this step by doing the writing themselves. But when they do, it shows.
“Copywriters don’t just ‘write copy,’ the copywriting professionals at Coopman Creative explain. “Our skills and expertise go well beyond that, encompassing brand management, the art of persuasion, understanding nuanced audiences and channels, a genuine flair for language crafting and creative writing, and borderline-obsessive grammar knowledge.”
Unless you’re a trained copywriter, it’s best to leave it to the professionals. An experienced copywriter can offer an outside perspective to your business, help you shape your value proposition so that you stand out from competitors, and create polished copy that’s certain to sell. If you’re looking for a way to differentiate your business in your space, expertly written copy is the way to do it. And if you invest wisely in a copywriter who really knows their stuff, you’ll likely quickly earn your money back with higher conversion rates and overall marketing ROI.
2. Neglecting your website
Your website is the digital face of your business. It reflects your brick-and-mortar experience, if you have one, and sets the tone for what customers should expect when doing business with you. When you neglect your website, you not only run the risk of driving away potential customers who might think your business is no longer open or poorly operated, but you also hurt your SEO, which means you’ll drive less traffic from search engines over time.
According to Search Engine Journal— “Taking proactive steps to keep your site clean and running smoothly can help buffer against external factors, supporting your long-term goals for your site and marketing strategy.” They call this process “SEO hygiene” — essentially, the routine performance of checks and tasks to make sure your website is looking and performing at its best.
Here are some best practices from Search Engine Journal for good SEO hygiene that small businesses can apply:
- Keep your website code clean.
- Make sure your website is mobile-friendly.
- Handle any redirect issues.
You’ll also want to make sure your page load time is minimal to keep users on your site and ensure high SEO performance.
If you’re managing your website on your own, make it a point to set aside some time at least every month to check for broken links and update website copy such as your contact information and hours of operation if needed. Hire an SEO professional to help you check for technical SEO issues on a regular basis — at least every six months — and make it a point to update your branding, imagery, and messaging on an annual basis to keep your site feeling fresh.
3. Fatiguing your audience
While a lot of small business owners, given their time and budget constraints, tend to not publish enough content, others can be guilty of publishing too much — and usually on the same channel.
Without a robust marketing team, it’s understandable that you would want to focus on the one or two channels you know best, such as email or Facebook. But while it’s great to get your message out there and build brand awareness, you definitely want to avoid overwhelming your audience — because they will leave. According to a GoodFirms survey, 42% of users unfollow brands that excessively publish content.
“To occupy enough of their mind space to get a deal down the line, you have to constantly remind contacts and connections of your value. But you have to do it in a way that doesn’t ‘fatigue’ them,” the marketing experts at The Paperless Agent explain. “To prevent that fatigue, good marketers use multiple channels of communication to stay connected with their audiences.”
Make sure you’re taking a multichannel approach to staying in touch with customers — via email, SMS, Facebook, and your company newsletter, for example — and don’t overdo it on any single channel.
4. Not tracking your results
Another common mistake that business owners make is not tracking the results of their marketing efforts. And despite this lack of data, they’ll continue to invest in marketing practices without knowing whether or not they’re effective.
Without metrics in place to tell you what’s working and what’s not, you could be throwing your marketing dollars down the drain and missing out on opportunities that could significantly improve your results. Furthermore, metrics help you continually refine and improve your marketing over time.
Tim Fitzpatrick at Rialto Marketing highlights a few reasons why some business owners neglect marketing metrics:
Lack of time
Some owners think they are too busy to look at data analytics or review performance reports. However, if you have time to do marketing, you have time to review your efforts. Once you get it down, it can take only a few minutes.
Lack of technology
It’s a common misconception that business owners need certain tools or software systems to look at metrics. Google Analytics is free and many social channels have their own reporting pages.
Lack of knowledge
Some people don’t know what they should be measuring, but all it takes is a little online research to determine the best KPIs (key performance indicators) for each channel.
Focus on what’s important
You don’t have to track a ton of metrics — in fact, you shouldn’t — in order to keep your pulse on your marketing campaigns. To start, carve out an afternoon to review your marketing channels, come up with a few metrics in each one to start tracking, and set up a simple spreadsheet that tracks these along with your marketing spend for each channel. If you haven’t yet, set up a Google Analytics account as well to help you analyze your web metrics. Lastly, make sure you’re asking every new customer how they heard about you and log this valuable information.
Set aside an hour or two a month to update your spreadsheet and review the data. Or, with all the money you’re going to start saving by tracking your marketing ROI, consider hiring a marketing consultant or virtual assistant to take care of this for you.
5. Not speaking to your target audience
Are your marketing and advertising campaigns failing to deliver the result you were hoping for? “More often than not, the problem is a disconnect between you — the content creator — and your audience,” the business experts at Cox Business explain. “When a piece of writing (or any other form of creative content, really) fails to resonate, it’s usually because it’s not what the audience was looking for.”
Knowing who you’re talking to is a must when it comes to creating relevant content that converts. After all, how can you convince your prospects that you’re the perfect solution for their needs if you don’t understand what they are?
Great content starts with audience research. Call up your best customers and spend some time getting to know them. Ask them for the following information:
- Their age bracket, generation, or stage of life
- Where they live (if they’re not local)
- Culture and preferred languages
- Hobbies, interests, and affiliations
- Their favorite content they like to consume and share
- Their biggest pain points
- What they’re typing into Google to solve their challenges
- Their favorite social media channels and websites
- Anything else that will help you speak to them more directly in your marketing
Use your answers to inform your marketing copy moving forward and you’ll be amazed at the improvement in your results.
Work smarter, not harder
It’s hard work generating qualified leads and pushing prospects through the conversion funnel, especially when you have the rest of your business to worry about. But it doesn’t have to take a lot of time as long as you’re strategic in your approach. A great place to start is by avoiding these marketing mistakes above. Even if this requires investing a little more than usual in your marketing upfront, you’ll find these efforts will pay for themselves in the long run.