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03 May 2010

10 Deadly Internet Marketing Mistakes Small Business Owners Must Avoid

If you run a small business, the odds are already against you. You can’t afford to make any mistakes that will further jeopardize your potential for success.

Here are 10 internet marketing mistakes you need to avoid like the plague. 
1.    Not having a self-hosted blog. No one is going to take you seriously if your blog is on a Blogger or WordPress.com domain. That’s like creating a Geocities website for your business back in the 90s. It’s just unprofessional, and it limits your opportunity for growth. Get your own domain (e.g. www.yourcompanyname.com), and host your blog on that domain.
2.    Not having a professionally designed website. Website visitors start judging you the moment they land on your website. And while it’s nice to think that we don’t “judge a book by its cover”, that’s just not true. First impressions are everything, and if your website has a bad design and poor usability, it reflects badly on your brand. So, don’t let your nephew who “knows a little web design” build your website. Leave it to the pros.
3.    After getting a website up, doing nothing else. The Field of Dreams approach of “If you build it, they will come” doesn’t work for websites. The internet has billions of websites, so the chances of yours receiving traffic just because it’s there are slim to none. You have to promote your website properly through SEO and other internet marketing techniques. That’s how you’ll start to attract traffic…and not just any traffic, targeted traffic consisting of interested customers.
4.    Attempting to save money by going with the cheapest vendor. Look, small businesses don’t have a lot of money to spend. I get it. Your budget is tight, but trying to save money by going cheap almost never works out. Whether you’re hiring an SEO provider or a copywriter, you have to be willing to spend some money if you want quality service that gets results. Remember, there’s always some truth to the statement “You get what you pay for.”
5.    Not having a clear call to action placed above the fold. This is a two-part tip. First, whenever someone visits your website, you need to have an action that you want them to take. Whether that action is to place an order now or to call you for a free consultation, there needs to be something that takes the visitor to the next step toward becoming a customer. And you need to clearly define that action on your website. Also, you should place your call to action above the fold so visitors instantly recognize what they should do.
6.    Not seeking professional help. There are some tasks you may be able to do on your own, but more than likely, you’re not an expert in every facet of internet marketing. So, rather than trying to learn as you go, hire a professional to do the job right for you. You’ll have a stronger online presence, and you’ll be able to use that extra time for other important business tasks.
7.    Not knowing what the competition is doing. Competition analysis is a critical part of building an online presence. You need to look at the internet marketing of all your competitors to identify their strengths and weaknesses. This helps you build a plan of attack for surpassing them and increasing your market share.
8.    Not using website analytics. If you aren’t using analytics on your website (preferably Google Analytics), there’s no way to know how much traffic you’re getting, where the traffic is coming from, and what pages on your website are causing you to lose visitors. With analytics, you can tweak your website to attract and convert more customers.
9.    Having a confusing checkout process. There’s no worse feeling than getting a visitor to proceed to checkout only to lose them just before they complete their purchase. Shopping cart abandonment is a serious issue for many website owners, and a lot of times, the reason for the problem is a confusing checkout process. You need to make it as easy as possible for someone to buy your products. Reduce the number of steps in the checkout process, and provide clear steps that guide the buyer along the way.
10.  Giving up too soon. Internet marketing takes time to work. Even the best SEO strategy may not show results for several weeks or months. So, don’t throw in the towel too early. Be patient, and if you do the right things, you’ll start to see the benefits.  
What are some other internet marketing mistakes you’ve seen small businesses make? Leave a comment with your experiences.

 

geraldweberAbout the Author:
Gerald Weber is an internet entrepreneur from Houston Texas. He founded sem-group.net in Dec. 2005 
and more recently co-founder viralcontentbuzz.com follow Gerald on to learn more.