We all make mistakes with our online marketing. It’s a part of the learning process. Some are pretty easy to fix while others are going to take some time and a good bit of education to improve the situation. Here are 9 online marketing mistakes and how you can start fixing them.
1. You’re trying to do it all for free.
Yes, a few people have managed to build a successful online business using nothing but free hosting and other free resources. They’re the exception. If you want the best chance at succeeding with your online business, you need to spend a bit of money. Just be careful about it.
My first recommendation is to pay for hosting and your own domain name. The trouble with free sites is that someone else owns the space and can delete all your work at will. That’s not going to help your business very much, and it’s not a risk worth taking. A2 Hosting is a great place to host your websites, reliable and very affordable.
It’s also smart to spend money on resources that will help you build your business, but this should be done very carefully. Don’t buy just because the sales letter told you how easy it would be to make money with their system. Do some research and find out what others think of it.
Be picky about the reviews you trust. If the review is an affiliate of the product, you hope they’re honest, but they may not be. The best reviews not only note what’s great about the product, but what isn’t so great. They may even warn you not to buy if the product isn’t good enough.
2. You don’t know your target audience.
So you decided to start a website on an interest of yours, but you really don’t know how to find people interested in what you have to offer. You know they’re out there, now how do you get them to your site?
The simplest way to do this is to start researching your competition. Figure out who’s selling to your target audience successfully and figure out what they’re doing that you need to do. They don’t have to be exact competition, and may even be somewhat complementary to what you’re doing.
If you’re selling dog training videos, for example, you can look at other websites selling products related to dogs. You should also look at forums about dogs and seeing what kinds of questions people are asking when they’re having trouble training their dogs. Those people are your exact target audience, after all, and you need to know what questions they’re asking if you’re going to attract them.
Don’t ever assume that everyone is a potential customer, no matter how broad the appeal of your product. Even grocery stores consider their target markets, and we all need food! But they know that some people do more of the grocery shopping than others and that they shop in a certain way. Knowing your target audience like that is a huge help.
3. Spelling and grammar mistakes are all over your site.
Maybe you thought at first that spelling and grammar don’t matter online. You look at how your target audience posts on forums and social networking sites, and they don’t seem to care that much about typos.
They do care, actually. Not necessarily for themselves, but they’d rather buy from someone who can maintain a professional appearance online, and that means few to no mistakes in spelling or grammar on your site or in your ads, as well as any other time you’re representing your business online.
There are a lot of great tools to help you catch such mistakes. They aren’t perfect, but they can help.
I like Grammarly and the Hemingway app. The basic versions are free to use. You won’t always agree with corrections they suggest, but they can help you think about what you’ve written. They may even give you suggestions that are completely wrong. But most of what they suggest will be accurate and useful. The basic versions are free to use.
4. You don’t know anything about your conversion rates.
You’ve gotten people to your site and that’s all you know about it. No idea where they’re coming from or how often they’re converting into sales.
While you don’t want to obsess over statistics to the exclusion of all else, you do need to know what’s working for you and make sure that you’re making a profit. That’s especially true with paid advertising, as you want to keep the ads that bring in more than they cost going, and to improve them over time. You can’t do that if you don’t know how they convert.
You should be constantly testing your ad copy to make it convert as well as possible. To do that you need to know what your goals are. It’s not always to make a sale right off. You might want people to get on your newsletter list first, so you can sell other things to them later.
Some kinds of testing are easier than others. You can usually have more than one ad running at a time in your pay per click campaigns, and they’ll be rotated, giving you some solid data on which is generating the most clicks. Just make sure that the clicks translate to income, as you don’t want to pay for extra clicks that aren’t going anywhere. Even changing one word in an ad can make a difference.
Testing website copy is more effort, but it can be worth it. Move things around, change what you’re saying, figure out the best colors and overall design.
5. You never work on marketing for your website.
The internet is a really big place. Especially when you start out, you need to work on marketing your website so that your target audience can find you.
Backlink building is a good place to start. A well placed backlink isn’t just about search engines; it’s about making your site visible to your target audience.
You can build backlinks with blog comments, guest posting, content syndication and more. A mix is often a good idea.
Social media marketing is a good idea too. It takes time to build a good audience on social media, but it can be well worth the effort. Some websites get far more traffic from social media than from any other source. Take the time to learn to market on the right social media sites for your target audience.
Paid advertising can go well too, but is by its nature more financially risky. You can buy ads on appropriate websites or do pay per click campaigns through the search engines, but be careful about how you spend your money. Many paid campaigns won’t bring in nearly as much as they cost. Keep tweaking things until you get it right or you decide to try something else. Don’t spend more than you can afford to risk.
6. You don’t understand how online business is different from brick and mortar.
Running an online business is very different from running one anywhere else. Online, your competition is often just a click or two away, and attention spans are usually short. If you don’t do something to catch your visitors’ attention, you’re probably going to lose them.
This leads to competition working rather differently. A person can be in only one brick and mortar store at a time, but they can have multiple tabs open at once online, and compare what you offer directly with your competition. So not only do you have to catch their attention, you have to keep it by being better.
An advantage you have online is that your site operates 24/7/365, which few brick and mortar businesses can handle. If you’re sleeping, your website can still be generating income. When things go right, this can be amazing.
7. You have a lot of traffic, but you aren’t earning much from it.
You’re doing enough right that you’re getting visitors, but they aren’t converting. It’s really frustrating, so what should you do? Traffic that isn’t converting can have a number of causes.
It may be that you aren’t targeting the right audience, and so your visitors have no interest in what you have to offer. In that case, you need to figure out what part of your marketing is bringing in the wrong sort of visitor and fix it, either by tweaking it or by dropping that part of your marketing.
It could also be that your site isn’t doing what it takes to make people buy. Do you have a call to action? Can visitors find it easily on every page of your site? Is there something about your site that’s driving them away?
A lot of traffic coming to your site is nice for your ego, but unless the visitors are doing what you’d like them to do, what’s really the point?
8. You aren’t building a list.
There’s a saying about how it takes about seven exposures to a product to get people to buy. That is, of course, an average, but it brings up a very good point. You shouldn’t rely just on getting sales from people who happen to come to your site. You should try to get their email addresses so that you can send them more information and give them more chances to buy from you.
You should not email pure ads to your list with no useful information. That’s a great way to train people to not open your emails, make them want to unsubscribe or to even hit the spam button. You want your subscribers to look forward to the information you’re sending them. That way they’ll eventually trust you enough to buy from you.
9. You’re sending all kinds of offers to your list, but no one’s buying.
You built a list because you heard that’s where the money is. But that hasn’t been true for you. Matter of fact, it seems like when you send out an offer, either no one opens your email at all or you get a bunch of unsubscribe requests. You don’t feel as though your list is worth the trouble.
You have to keep things relevant to your list. Keeping with the dog training theme, you should be sending out other offers related to dog care. You should also be sending quality information about training and caring for dogs to keep people interested in opening your emails. Most people don’t like reading constant ads.
Don’t let these mistakes ruin your online business. It’s super easy to make online marketing mistakes. What matters most is how you recover from them and learn from them. You can do better if you give yourself a chance.