Digital Marketing is now part of every business. Even the smallest of companies now has a website and social media presence, whilst a strong and comprehensive digital presence is essential for big brands and growing businesses.
But, there are errors which any size of business could be making when it comes to their digital marketing.
As an expert provider of digital marketing for companies who target other businesses (B2B), we thought we’d share some advice on how to avoid the most common mistakes many make with digital marketing:
1. Under or over estimating digital marketing’s importance
There are three questions companies should ask themselves when investing in digital marketing:
a. How big is your potential opportunity to grow through digital marketing?
If customers already find your business online – or your competitors successfully use digital marketing – the chances are the opportunity is significant.
You may have a product or service which translates well online. By investing in digital marketing, you could quickly increase your customers and market share.
Fortunately, the internet makes it easy to see the level of customers looking for your product or service. Resources such as Google Trends mean you can research the potential of digital marketing before committing your time, money and hopes.
b. How realistically can you capitalise on this opportunity?
Imagine a local business insurance broker. It could undoubtedly grow its business online but it will be up against some serious competition from major national players, intent on dominating the online market. It would require a major investment.
Alternatively, consider a specialist engineering company which creates customers through word-of-mouth, despite people actively searching online for similar services. Low-cost digital marketing could tap into a significant opportunity to grow.
Whilst digital marketing makes it possible for almost any type of business to reach greater heights, you need to understand the commitment required to achieve it.
c. Is digital marketing the right use of your time and resources?
Take social media marketing – it’s a method even the smallest businesses can try. For many, creating posts and tweets is more fun than networking and less expensive than advertising!
However, whilst it can be a quick and low-cost way to grow many businesses, it can be time consuming and unproductive for others. Spending time each day could be a distraction when direct marketing, content marketing, advertising or events might create a greater return.
As every business has finite resources, it’s important to understand the potential and implications of digital marketing before committing.
2. Not integrating digital and non-digital marketing
Businesses often regard their digital marketing as somehow separate from any other strategic, offline or traditional marketing they deliver.
In the modern world, online and offline marketing create greater results when combined. Direct mail may drive traffic to your social media. Online advertising can encourage people to attend your event. A press release could increase visitors to your website.
Marketing is always most effective when it’s consistent. No matter how customers are exposed to your brand and message, it needs to look and sound the same.
Digital marketing is simply another way of reaching customers. For the best results it needs to be fully integrated with your entire marketing strategy.
3. Building a website and hoping customers will simply find it
“If you build it, they will come” are the much misquoted words from Kevin Costner’s Field Of Dreams. Unfortunately, this is not always the case with websites.
Many of us have heard businesses say they will simply ‘get a website’ to sell their latest idea or product. In the early years of this century, this was possible. Google was relatively unsophisticated, business websites were still the exception and everyone accessed the internet through a desktop PC. Simply being online was often enough to generate business.
However, much has changed and many websites are now born only to be rarely seen in the depths of the internet. Google has become highly focused on quality and competition has become fierce, even for niche local markets.
Firstly, websites must be well designed to ensure that search engines understand and value them. With so many companies competing for our online attention, big brands can dominate search results, social media and online advertising. However, smaller businesses can level the playing field by understanding the rules.
Secondly, even a well-built website, needs to be promoted and optimised. As online competition continually increases, even a successful website needs developing and protecting. However, this need not be expensive.
Digital marketing provides many businesses with an unrivalled opportunity for growth but it rarely happens without the right strategy and investment.
4. Spending money on low-quality SEO
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) has been seen by some as the holy grail of marketing. If you can ensure your business’s website naturally tops Google for your product or service, it will provide a seemingly endless stream of free customers.
Unfortunately, many unscrupulous digital marketing agencies have seen this as an opportunity – promising to elevate business’s websites to the top of Google in short order.
SEO relies on a mixture of ‘on-page’ and ‘off-page’ factors. It’s rarely something which can be passively improved simply by paying a third-party!
The primary on-page factor is relevance. This is how well the content of your website satisfies a user’s search query. It is typically optimised through lots of thorough, fresh and unique content, including landing pages, blogs and other resources. However, it needs to be of genuinely high quality as Google is wise to ‘keyword stuffing’ and other manipulation.
The primary off-page SEO factor is authority. This is how respected a website is as a source of quality information. If Google sees that your website has inbound links from highly-respected websites (appropriate to your sector) it will likely recognise your authority.
However, if Google sees links from unrelated websites – which themselves have low authority – it may down rank your website. Beware, as providing links is often one of the benefits which low-quality SEO agencies sell!
5. Dipping into social media
Social media marketing is arguably even more productive for small-to-medium businesses than big brands. As social media is about being part of a social network, it works well for companies and their customers who share a location or interest in common.
But, how do you ensure the time you spend on social media results in customers?
You need to ensure your posts create customers. For most users, social media is a source of recreation – even LinkedIn. Posts need to be engaging, interesting, varied and of value. Whilst you may ultimately want to use social media to sell your product or service, repetitive sales posts can quickly turn social media users off. Businesses have to be creative and shape their message into something users want to receive.
Building your personal connections and sharing your company updates are important tactics. However, you may need to invest money to increase the number of people who see your posts.
Fortunately, social media advertising is highly targeted and – particularly with B2B marketing – many of the decision makers you may wish to reach are active on LinkedIn.
6. Having a website which just looks nice
Many small businesses select their website – and website design agency – based on how their new website will look. It’s perfectly understandable. Websites are a visual thing and we all want to be proud of our own.
Having a visually appealing website is important. It’s the first thing that customers experience. But large images, inspirational slogans and clever navigation are rarely the first thing our potential customers are looking for.
Within a matter of seconds, new customers want to know who you are, what you deliver and how you can help them. Returning customers are even more focused on gaining the information they need.
Business websites are becoming cleaner, simpler and more immediate. With more competition, less time and smaller (smartphone) screens, customer’s needs are becoming ever more urgent.
Regardless of your size or industry, your website needs to quickly give customers what they want and demonstrate your strengths.
Its ability to turn visitors into customers – either through online sales, creating enquires or encouraging them to seek out your product – depends on its content, ease of navigation and call-to-actions.
7. Not building landing pages
A business owner in Cambridge types ‘help reducing my corporation tax’ into Google. He is presented with the top two results.
Clicking on the first takes him to the website of a nearby accountancy. Landing on the homepage, he understands they’re accountants but needs to navigate around the website to see if they can provide the help he needs.
The second search result takes him to a specific landing page’ for a different local company, entitled ‘Corporation Tax Advice in Cambridge’. He still needs to read the content but he’s more confident he has found a local company who can deliver the help he needs. He contacts them.
In reality, both the customer and Google will favour the latter. The more specific the page your customers land upon, the more likely it is to appear high up in search results and turn them into a customer.
Establishing focused pages on your website for each area of what you do, what you provide and who you serve, will improve your Google ranking (SEO), help reduce online advertising (PPC) costs by improving relevance and convince more time-poor visitors you deliver what they need.
8. Not maximising your quality score
When you advertise online, your ads are given a quality score.
Though the name and criteria differ across platforms, it’s based upon the relevancy of your advert, the content of the landing page it leads to and how customers react when they click-through.
Where your adverts appear (e.g. in search results) and what they cost – per click or impression – is highly dependent on this quality score.
Unfortunately, many businesses (and digital marketing companies) establish online and social media advertising campaigns without paying attention to their quality scores. As such, they pay over the odds and are less effective at creating sales.
9. Not tracking & testing
The internet is perhaps the most closely monitored environment in the world. Whilst this might make us feel uncomfortable, it provides businesses with a huge amount of valuable data their customers, their competitors and themselves.
There are very few aspects of digital marketing which cannot be improved with greater knowledge.
Websites can be optimised so they rank higher, receive more visitors and create more customers. Online advertising can be better targeted, more effective and lower cost. Social media can reach more people, drive more website traffic and create more enquiries. You can identify the profitable gaps in your own market, understand competitor’s weaknesses and capitalise on opportunities before others.
Many tools are available. To start with, Google provides a whole suite including Google Analytics, Google Ads (which can be used for research as well as advertising), Google Search Console (Webmaster Tools) and Google Trends.
Digital marketing is important to every business, especially in B2B sectors. It’s absolutely critical to many – but can also distract from more effective marketing for others.
If you need help with your digital marketing – getting your strategy right and benefiting from effective web design, social media, content marketing, SEO or PPC – we’re East Anglia’s leading B2B marketing agency.
Find out more and get in touch here