As a business owner, you may love the thought that there are thousands of potential customers out there, waiting to hear about your product or service and spend good money to acquire it. The way to reach them is by having a solid marketing plan.
Marketing is challenging in that there is no single ‘right’ way to promote a business. What works for your brand might not be as useful to another. Mistakes are different: they tend to apply across the board. Here are five marketing mistakes that small businesses frequently made in 2015, and what we can learn from them.
Mistake No.1: Forgetting to say thank you
Even in commerce, no one enjoys the sense of being in a one-way relationship. If your customers start to feel like they are always giving yet never receiving, watch out.
Thanks to social media recommendations and Google’s Local Search feature, consumers have more choice than ever before. Unfortunately, in 2015 many small business owners treated patronage as a right, not a privilege, and took no extra steps to make customers feel like their support was valued. Don’t make that mistake.
The simplest way to show appreciation to your customers is to thank them regularly for their business and loyalty. Give away free product samples or offer trial runs of new services. Not only will your clientele love these complimentary extras, there’s a good chance they will turn into strong advocates of your brand. That’s marketing gold that money really can’t buy.
Mistake No.2: Not communicating enough
Social media has revolutionised the way that people communicate with one another. It’s an integral part of any good marketing plan, but in 2015 a lot of small businesses did not employ it to its full potential.
These companies used Facebook and Twitter to announce new products or alert their followers to upcoming sales, but this is simply the Internet version of a direct mail campaign. To fully harness the power of social media, make each post or tweet into a catalyst for conversation with your customers. Real communication, not one-sided broadcasts, is what social media users want from the businesses they support.
Mistake No.3: The business website was not mobile responsive
Having a responsive website is not just good practice any more: it’s a requirement for SEO success. Mobile Internet usage has now exceeded desktop traffic, and the proliferation of smartphones and tablets ensures that the gap will only widen from here on.
Mobile users have confirmed in polls that they expect websites to be optimised for their device, and they won’t return to a site that is not mobile-friendly. On April 21st 2015, Google announced that compatibility with mobile devices would now be a factor in a site’s search engine ranking.
Not all small business owners heeded the call in 2015. Citing a limited budget, lack of time, or both, many of them failed to adapt their site to meet the requirements of their customers and the search engines. Predictably, their online visibility receded.
Mistake No.4: Neglected SEO
Everyone with a business website should understand the importance of correct SEO, but a surprising amount do not if last year’s output is any indication. Disregarding key parts of the process results in subpar search engine rankings and a weak online presence.
Commonly overlooked / neglected steps include:
- Inbound links
- Optimised tags and URLs
- Relevant internal linking
- Optimising pages for relevant, localised keywords
In today’s digital era, bad SEO is like a billboard typo: it reflects badly on the business and can lose sales.
Mistake No.5: Not asking for enough reviews
No amount of advertising or direct mailing can sway potential customers the way a well-written and objective peer review can. In the era of social media, it’s not what an owner says about their business that matters; it’s what others say about it.
Despite their marketing power, many small business owners do not ask satisfied clients to leave reviews on their Google business listing. Don’t make this mistake. To encourage reviews, make it easy for customers to do so. Put direct links to your company’s Google business listing in thank you and / or follow-up emails, along with the reminder that their opinion matters. If they’re fans of your product or service, they’ll usually be happy to spread the word.
Over time, these five mistakes can take your business out of the competition. Marketing is an ongoing process that increases your visibility and creates demand for your product, so inattention to any aspect is a direct contraindication to success.