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The 5 Biggest Reasons Your Online Marketing Sucks and How to Fix It

Online MarketingThe 5 Biggest Reasons Your Online Marketing Sucks and How to Fix It

Online marketing is an ever-evolving field. New websites, apps, and tools spring up every day. While online marketing is a must for any small business, the fact is that most small businesses aren’t doing a very good job with their online marketing. The chances are that you aren’t doing a great job either – in fact, your online marketing probably sucks.

Offended? Don’t be. Instead, read on to learn about the five biggest reasons your online marketing isn’t getting the job done – and specific steps you can take to remedy the mistakes you’re making.

Optimizing your WebsiteReason #1: You’re Not Optimizing Your Website Properly

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is complicated business. You might think that you have done everything you can to optimize your website, but I’m willing to bet that you haven’t. Here are some things you can do to change that:

  1. Pick the right keywords. A lot of small businesses try to optimize for head keywords. These are short, general keywords, and there tends to be a lot of competition for them. You should be aiming for medium-tail or long-tail keywords.
  2. Think about keywords in the right way. A keyword isn’t just a word – it’s a question. When a potential customer goes to Google and types in a keyword, he’s looking for information. He’s asking a question, even if he isn’t wording it like one.
  3. Don’t just include keywords in your content. Make sure to make use of H1 tags, image tags, and any other opportunity you have to use your keywords.
  4. Don’t overdo it with keywords. You need to use them, but the context in which you use them matters as much as the frequency.

Analyzing ResultsReason #2: You’re Not Analyzing Your Results

A lot of small businesses put up a website and use social media, but they never bother to look at how their marketing efforts are performing. There’s no excuse not to be reviewing that data. Google Analytics provides detailed information showing how people are getting to your site, whether it’s by clicking an ad, finding you on social media, or doing an organic search. Facebook provides detailed analytics too. Here’s what you should be doing:

  1. Look at your Google Analytics data to figure out which pages are attracting the most traffic and where people are bouncing (clicking away) from your website.
  2. Review your Facebook page performance and identify the types of content that get the most views and shares.
  3. Check the open rates and response rates for marketing emails to determine how well they are engaging customers.
  4. Don’t overdo it with keywords. You need to use them, but the context in which you use them matters as much as the frequency.

Testing and Refining your PageReason #3: You’re Not Testing and Refining Your Page Based on the Data

Reviewing the data from Google Analytics and other sources is important, but it won’t help you unless you do something with the data you collect. When you have information about how customers are finding your website, when they’re bouncing away from it, and how engaged they are with your email and social media posts, you can use it to improve your marketing campaigns. Here are some suggestions:

  1. If a page on your website has a high bounce rate, do some A/B testing to see if you can fix the problems customers are having.
  2. Make sure to test only one element at a time. For example, if you think your call to action is the problem, do a test to see how the old one performs against a new version.
  3. Revamp your social media strategy to increase customer engagement. If you see that photographs you post are getting a much higher engagement rate than written posts, you can increase the number of photographs you share. The same goes for checking out engagement based on days of the week or times of day.
  4. Rewrite and split test emails to improve your open and reply rates.

Creating ContentReason #4: You’re Not Creating Enough Content

In the early days of the internet, Bill Gates famously declared that “Content is king.” His statement was a remarkably prescient one. Today, creating great content is the core of any successful online marketing strategy – yet many small companies drop the ball on this very important task. You can get back on track by:

  1. Starting a blog. Blogging is still very popular, and it’s a great way to engage your customers on a regular basis. Each blog post should offer something of value to your customers, whether it’s a product explanation, some practical advice regarding a topic relevant to your industry, or a how-to video.
  2. Setting up – and sticking to – a social media schedule. Not all of the content you share has to be original. The important thing is that it is (a) relevant to your industry, (b) useful to your customers, and (c) entertaining. To find content, you can follow industry publications and related pages and share their content. Facebook has an automatic scheduling option for businesses, or you can use an online tool to manage all of your social activity at once.
  3. Set aside money in your budget to create videos. Videos are hugely popular and highly shareable, which makes them a great choice for any business.

Engaging CustomersReason #5: You’re Not Engaging Customers

Having a Facebook page is great – as far as it goes. However, if your business is forgetting the “social” in social media, then you’re not getting the most out of your pages.

Here are some tips that can help you increase customer engagement and loyalty:

  1. Make sure to monitor your page and reply to comments on a regular basis. Your comments don’t need to be long – sometimes a quick “Thank you” is fine. Customers like to feel that the brands they follow value their presence, and replying to comments is a good way to demonstrate that you do.
  2. Don’t overreact to negative comments and complaints. Sometimes customers take to social media to register a complaint about a product or service. Instead of getting defensive, be grateful for the opportunity to turn a customer’s experience around. Reply quickly and professionally. Other people will see the way you respond, and a courteous and useful response can help win you some new customers.
  3. Give customers a reason to comment. Asking customers to share stories about your product, or asking their opinions about something, is a great way to drive engagement and get customers involved. The more comments you get, the more likely it is that additional people will see your post.

Do these five mistakes sound familiar to you? I’m willing to bet that they do. The good news is that now you know about them, and you’re in the perfect position to revamp your online marketing so that it gets the results you want.

To App or Not to AppTo App or Not to App: Should Your Business Have One?

Today, it seems like there’s a mobile app for just about anything you could possibly want to do or buy. You might think that having an app for your business is a must, but that might not be the case.

How can you determine whether designing and promoting an app makes sense for your business? There are a few important things to consider when you are making your decision:

  1. Who are your customers? If you know that the majority of your customers use smartphones based on your web analytics, then having a mobile app might be a good idea. If the majority of your customers are finding your business on desktop computers, on the other hand, you might want to save your money and invest it elsewhere.
  2. Can you afford the development costs? If you’ve got a background in software development you may be able to develop a great app on your own. But if you don’t, you’re going to have to hire someone to do the work, and those costs can add up.
  3. Is there a way for you to monetize your app? Some apps are aimed at making things easier for customers, and the financial benefits of having one might be difficult to quantify. However, if you can have in-app purchasing then it might be very easy for you to recoup your development expenses.
  4. Does your business lend itself to having an app? Apps are popular and a lot of businesses have them, but that doesn’t mean you should automatically jump on the bandwagon. Sometimes there’s a clear use for an app. For example, a lot of restaurants that deliver food have apps to make it easy for customers to order from them.

The last question is arguably the most important one. Developing and promoting an app is only worthwhile if your customers are going to use it. That means that your app needs to cater to your customers’ needs.

Offering Value of CustomersOffering Value to Customers

Even if your initial response is to think that your business doesn’t lend itself to having a mobile app, it’s worth taking a few minutes to think about apps in a big picture kind of way. What does a mobile app need to accomplish to be useful to customers? Any one of the following things might do in terms of offering value to your customers:

  1. Increase customer engagement. Some companies offer apps that make suggestions about how to use products. For example, a food manufacturer might offer an app that features recipes, social sharing, and an occasional coupon or promotion.
  2. Improve customers’ experience. If a lot of your customers are mobile users, it might make sense to offer them a convenient way to make purchases or schedule services from their phones. The Dominos app that allows customers to order pizza using their phones is one good example. You might have a mobile site already, but an app can make purchasing even easier.
  3. Make customers’ lives easier. A lot of banks and credit unions now offer customers a way to deposit checks using their smartphones. Not only are apps that allow deposits great for customer service, they legitimately make their customers’ lives less hectic. Once they would have had to drive to the bank to make a deposit – now they can do it from the comfort of their own homes.
  4. Give customers a reason to visit your store. Some apps use GPS to send out coupons and promotional codes when customers are close to a store.

I hope you get the idea. If you can conceptualize an app that will meet one or more of the above criteria, then it probably makes sense for you to spend the time and money to develop an app for your business.

Ideas for AppsIdeas for Apps

If you have decided that your business could benefit from having a mobile app, the next step is coming up with a concept for the app. In this section, I’ll give you some ideas for apps that might work well in various industries:

  1. Retail. Retails stores tend to do very well with monetized apps. Here are a few suggestions for how to use them:
  • Send out coupons and promotional codes. Everyone loves to get a deal, and when you send a coupon you give customers a reason to come to your store.
  • Give suggestions on how to use your product. For example, an apparel retailer might add images of items they sell to an app and let customers play mix and match with their merchandise.
  • Enable in-app purchases. Building on the above idea, a great idea for a clothing store would be to let customers mix and match clothing, and then give them an option at the end to buy the ensemble they created.
  1. Service industry. If you are a service provider and not a retailer, you might think that you don’t need a mobile app. However, there are plenty of ways to offer customers value by selling a mobile app. For example:
  • Combine fun and scheduling. A hair salon might offer an app that lets customers “try on” different hair styles, and then makes it possible for them to schedule an appointment when they’re done.
  • Give service reminders. There are plenty of services that require repeat appointments, such as dental cleanings and oil changes. One feature to include with an app might be a reminder to customers to schedule their next appointment and an in-app feature that lets them schedule it from their phone.

Offer related information. Informational apps can be very useful in some instances. For example, an insurance agent might offer an app that lets customers calculate their insurance needs and then request a quote.

  1. Membership services. What if you own a gym or other membership service? Your app options might appear to be limited, but here are a couple of suggestions:
  • Create an app that sends out daily tips and suggestions on a topic that’s relevant to your members.
  • Offer a related service. For example, a gym might offer an app that provided a calorie counter or some healthy recipes.

Some businesses don’t need to have a mobile app to be successful. However, if you have a good idea for an app that offers value and convenience to your customers – and a chance for you to make money – then it’s probably worth the up-front investment it will take to create and market an app of your own.