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03 May 2010

10 Deadly Internet Marketing Mistakes Small Business Owners Must Avoid

May 03, 2010Business

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.

30 Comments

  • Andy @ FirstFound May 04, 2010

    I'd suggest an addendum to number two:

    When you finally approach a professional designer, don't insist your nephew has the right of veto. It doesn't matter that he thinks lime green comic sans is cool – your customers will hate it.

  • annsmarty May 04, 2010

    Giving up too soon is probably the widest-spread mistake of all. I remember working online for one year before I actually started to earn anything. Not many people can actually continue working without seeing any benefit / result.

  • Gerald Weber May 04, 2010

    I agree with you about having a plan. Good point. If you don't have a plan along with goals then you have no way to measure progress.

  • Gerald Weber May 04, 2010

    Very good point. We can add to this addendum the customers nephew, neighbor, dog, parrot etc. should not have the right of veto.

  • kevinrice May 04, 2010

    Not having a clearly defined plan with specific goals, and more importantly, deliverables to attain those goals, is the worst mistake anyone can make. It is crucial to build in metrics to measure success so you can see tangible results.

  • dhirajch May 04, 2010

    Mos of the mistakes i did…..:( Generally people tend to give up very easily that's biggest hurdles.

  • Maciej @ SEO Noobie May 05, 2010

    All valid points. I like the last one, giving up too soon. Anything worth fighting for takes a great deal of time and patience so you have to really stick it out and continue to market yourself.

  • Jason Hobbs May 05, 2010

    An Addition to point 2 perhaps…”Not having a professionally optimised site”.

    You can have the most beautifully designed site in existence but it means nothing if it's slow to load…Why? Because people are impatient.

    Make sure the server configuration has been done properly, optimise your media, consider RSS by a 3rd party (e.g. Feedburner) and look into reducing the number of requests from a single page serve.

    Broadband is pretty much ubiquitous, but it doesn't mean we can be lazy. Optimise properly and you can shave seconds off load times…and for high-traffic site, ensure your server doesn't go down because of the strain.

  • Gail from GrowMap May 06, 2010

    The largest issue I see for businesses is that they fail to realize the complexity involved. No one person can learn and stay current with everything necessary to succeed online.

    The first priority they have is deciding who can be trusted, stop reading everything else (because there is simply not enough time!) and listen to and APPLY what TRULY works.

  • Felipe Huicochea May 08, 2010

    Another common mistake is assuming that the website is a computer “thing”. It's not about the technology, it's about the message.

  • Sandra Newton May 08, 2010

    How about not understanding your target audiences search behaviors ie keyword phrases they use at each phase of the buying cycle, which guides how you write your content and your SEO campaigns.
    I could also add not knowing your unique selling proposition – not specific to internet (as opposed to offline) marketing, but it sure makes it hard!

  • A Samuel May 14, 2010

    Planning is important….you have got to know what your are trying to acheieve and why, that way you can work out how to achieve your goals.

  • Affiliate Recruiting Jun 05, 2010

    Great suggestions and examples, especially for a newbie like myself who lacks a natural sense of web design.

  • Recruiting Affiliate Jun 11, 2010

    Excellent article! I have looked at many sites and not come across such a site as yours that tells you what you really need to know about online marketing.

  • Affiliate Recruiter Jul 24, 2010

    I am just starting to promote my site and these infos widened my knowledge. It will really help me as an affiliate marketer. Please continue posting informative blogs like this. Thanks.

  • Robert Wright Sep 22, 2010

    I like this article, And don't forget (this has worked real well for me and my clients ofver the years) research, rehabilitate, research, optimize, research, promote, research, refine…

    Robert

  • Robert Wright Sep 22, 2010

    Whats the saying? “Plan your work and work your plan!”

    Robert

  • Stacey Acevero Sep 27, 2010

    You made some really excellent points in this article — no matter how small your business may be, it is important to keep your internet presence as professional, easy, and targeted as possible.

  • Gloson Sep 28, 2010

    Point 1 and 10 are my favorites. Most wannabe bloggers start a free blog on blogspot, which looks unprofessional. I think blogspot blogs are more suitable for personal blogs. The reason most bloggers use blogspot is because they don’t want to pay. You must invest! – and it will make you more money.

  • Jessedictor Sep 29, 2010

    Of course all of this is useless unless we understand the scope and the point of each individual business.

  • nepaltrekking. Nov 12, 2010

    great tips. i get very good information form your article. i didnt know about google analytic but after reading i learn about it and i analyze my web site and i improve some thing in my web site. thank you very much for creating this blog and sharing information

    best regard
    Nepal Trekking

  • Leonardus Nov 14, 2010

    Thank you for the article, really help me to manage my site.

  • online marketing Jan 25, 2011

    Internet marketing are really depending on websites and blogs. All the tips provided seems pretty good. One of the things that are important is that as a small business owner how much one can spend the money for seo or sem. Some time competitions are such tough it take time and money to get to top. Not many owners are expert of this techniques. So how it can be solved?

  • search engine optimization specialist May 04, 2011

    knowing what the competition does is the most important step in any business or in any situation in life :)

    thanks

  • Lance Lovelady Aug 25, 2011

    If people dont want to pay for a blog then it really has to be because you are very poor. Most Blogs can be setup on a hosting site for about $10 a month. With the onset of free plugins and templates you can have a reasonably good blog setup that will be able to get your message across.

    At the end of the day it is the information that people come back for and will want to learn more about the person and what they do or are about,

    As for Internet mistakes – my one is thinking that traffic is free. There is no free traffic it will always cost in time or money or effort and you need to follow all of the steps to get a result. There is no silver bullet that you can sell to solve all problems.

    Like everything in life small steps make the journey and gets you there…

  • miami foreclosure defense Sep 12, 2011

    great tips…very valid points where made and taken into account. Thank you everyone.

  • andy Oct 03, 2011

    First impressions are everything in capturing attention on line. Consistently produce new content to keep your visitors coming back for more. Thanks for reinforcing this topic

  • Jonas Storm Halvorsen Dec 27, 2011

    Great post and valid insights.

    My concerns with these tips for small business owners is exactly that. They (or I for that matter) are SMALL business owners. I have found it difficult to balance how much time we should spend on improving our presense on the web, compared to creating value through product creation and actually being out selling the products.

    Being from Norway, with 5 million people, the market is quite narrow no matter what field you’re in. And the web is simply not generating enough leads no matter how good you are. It is easier to go out and get them the old fashion way.

    My two cents. :)

  • Surminga Jan 27, 2012

    Agree, having no plan is where everything fails.