Top 5 Web Marketing Mistakes

Written: 7-Oct-2007 | Last modified: 01-March-2008 | Filed under: Online Marketing

Inspired by this article from Go To Market Strategies, here’s my list of the top five mistakes small companies (and some not-so-small companies) often make with their web marketing:

#1: Failure to set goals and make a plan.

Too many companies jump online without any real idea of what they expect to accomplish. No goals, no focus, no plan.

They want to “make money online,” but have no idea how to get started beyond simply creating a website. They bounce from one “strategy” to another without any real understanding of what they’re doing — or more importantly, why they’re doing it.

A realistic plan keeps you focused and on track, helps you avoid getting sidetracked by the latest “fad du jour” and helps maintain motivation when (as inevitably happens) progress temporarily slows from time to time.

#2 Not focusing on their audience.

Way too many companies write their web copy and organize their websites in ways that make sense to them. Which is fine, as long as you yourself are the audience for your site.

In my experience, though, you make more money selling to someone other than yourself.

Get to know your audience — your customers, your clients and prospects. Speak to them using their language, not your own internal company jargon. Organize the presentation of your products and services in a way that makes it easier for you customers to find what they’re looking for, whether or not it matches your internal departments and divisions.

Focus on your customers and you can’t go wrong.

#3 Not following through with effective sales pages.

You can have the greatest ad campaign in the world, but if the landing pages behind the ads are lame, you’re wasting your efforts.

Your marketing campaigns get people interested. It’s your landing pages that generate the leads or make the sale. A weak landing page is just a waste of your marketing and advertising budget.

Test, re-test and test again to find out what works best. You can find some great information in the archives at Marketing Experiments about how and what to test.

#4 Overhyping and underdelivering.

Perhaps you’ve had the same experience as I have. Even knowing the “tricks” of hard-sell copywriting, occasionally I get sucked in by a particularly persuasive sales letter and end up buying some ebook that promises to “skyrocket my sales” or some such overblown hype.

The problem is, of course, the product seldom (well, okay, so far never) lives up to the promises made in the sales letter.

Why is this an issue? If you don’t care about repeat customers, I guess there might not be one. But few wise business people ignore the potential of repeat customers.

See, it’s much less expensive to retain a customer than it is to acquire a customer. Companies that get good repeat business are usually more profitable in the long run.

If you’re going to make grandiose claims about what you sell, better make sure the products or services actually live up to the hype.

#5 Putting all their marketing eggs in one basket.

It happens every time there’s a major change in the algorithm. Desperate site owners turn up on the forums, complaining about how “Google hates them” and how their business is going to go under if they don’t get their rankings back.

The problem is not their loss of rankings. Their problem is they allowed their business to become dependent on the organic rankings. They put all their eggs in one basket — and an unpredictable, uncontrollable basket, at that.

It doesn’t matter how well a marketing or advertising channel is working for you, whether it’s PPC, organic SEO, traditional advertising or whatever. No smart business person will be comfortable depending on a single channel with no backup in the event of a problem.

It’s prudent to back up your hard drive to avoid data loss in the event of a virus or a crash. It’s wise to have some cash set aside in the event of an emergency. And it’s smart to have more than one marketing channel working to keep new business flowing in.

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