Marketing has always been an important consideration for small businesses fighting to establish themselves and cultivate a loyal (and growing) clientele. But in the current climate, business’ marketing spending is inflected with a new sense of urgency.
Most small businesses are only now coming back to life after months of inactivity. Their cash flow has been decimated, their employees are nervous, and their customers are more judicious than ever when it comes to how they spend their money.
For most small businesses at present, it seems like every new sale is hard won and every repeat customer is a gift that should be cherished. As competitors scramble to engage the same consumer base, small business owners are desperate to position themselves ahead of the competition, and build lasting relationships with consumer.
Inevitably, that means investing their time, effort and capital in digital marketing.
Digital marketing is generally viewed by small businesses as a reliable spend where ROI is concerned. By rule of thumb, marketing tends to generate more money than it costs. Nonetheless, that doesn’t mean that the money businesses spend on advertising as revenue-in-progress. Where and how that money is spent will play a pivotal role in determining its ROI.
And when businesses commit these cardinal sins of marketing, they might as throwing money out the window….
Failing to Copy Test Your Ads
One of the things that makes marketing such a fun endeavor is the fact that it lies at the interstice between art and science. It allows entrepreneurs the chance to scratch a creative itch that they might not be able to sate in other aspects of their operations.
And while this is entirely admirable, they need to understand that effective marketing copy is about more than creative whimsy. Of course, it needs to encapsulate the tone, personality and identity that they associate with their brand. But it also needs to resonate with audiences. Otherwise, what’s the point?
Copy testing is absolutely essential to ensure that your marketing copy has the desired effect on members of your target audience. This is where customers and members of your target audience get an early look at your marketing copy and get to share their feedback in ways that can make it more effective.
Of course, it shouldn’t take the place of A/B testing different variants of your copy and making changes based on the data gleaned, but it should be used to inform and shape your creative vision before your ads are subject to public scrutiny.
Otherwise you could unknowingly put out copy that either falls flat or leads to more embarrassing outcomes. Even the biggest brands have been found guilty of ill-conceived marketing gaffes in the court of public opinion.
Relying Too Heavily on PPC
Growing a following organically can be a long and painstaking process. And in the current climate, you may grow frustrated trying to cultivate a growing customer base quickly using organic means.
Pay Per Click (PPC) ads on social platforms can be extremely helpful in this regard. They can supplement your organic marketing efforts by driving a surge of interest towards your brand, which you can capitalize upon using organic strategies like content marketing (more on that shortly).
However, PPC can easily become a black hole when you rely on it too heavily or fail to use Pay per click reports to see how ads are performing.
The insights gleaned from reporting can help you maximize your paid ad spend’s ROI, and they can help you to identify what kind of people are alighting on your website and / or landing pages. The more information you have on this, the better positioned you are to tailor your content for maximum impact. Which brings us to…
Confusing Quality for Quantity in Content Marketing
Content marketing should be considered an essential weapon in your marketing arsenal, no matter what your business does and who your target audience may be.
Creating regular content like blog posts, videos, tutorials and “how to” guides, infographics and other useful resources can establish your value proposition to new prospects and earn the trust that can help prospects to create a lasting relationship with your brand. However, content can actually create problems as well as solving them.
If you’re thinking about digital marketing, you’re also invariably thinking about Search Engine Optimization (SEO). And, as many entrepreneurs are aware, a website that’s regularly updated with fresh, high-quality new content ticks a lot of the right boxes for search engines. New content means that your website gets bigger. It also increases time on page and scroll depth.
Furthermore, it gets users moving around your website. All of which indicates to search engines that your website is trustworthy and of good quality. And that’s what matters the most to them.
However, in your desire to fill your website with content, don’t fall into the trap of sacrificing quality at the altar of quantity. If your copy is outsourced to high volume, low quality overseas content farms, it’s unlikely to be useful to readers. And as such, you can expect visitors to bounce away from your posts and pages quickly, or not even bother clicking on them in the first place.
Quality takes time and effort to achieve… but without it you’ll never get the results you’re looking for.
Being Tempted by Black Hat SEO
As tempted as businesses may be in the current climate to try anything for the sake of quick results, we cannot overstate the importance of avoiding Black Hat SEO techniques. While they may hold the allure of fast results, one thing that they’ll never be able to offer is sustainable results.
In fact, there’s every chance that search engines will look upon your content less favorably and even ban your content from appearing on Search Engine Results Pages. As such, you should avoid using any of the following;
- Using invisible text for keyword stuffing.
- Duplicating content from other website.
- Spinning content from other websites (copying and pasting it with only minor changes)
- Linking to sites with irrelevant, suspicious or low-quality content.
- Misleading links.
- Cloaked redirects that take users to another site or page.
If a fight is worth winning, it’s worth winning the right way. Don’t let your zeal to top search pages lead you to habits that will damage your online reputation.