Online marketing has evolved from a basic website just marginally better than a newspaper advertisement, into a sophisticated and exciting vehicle for showcasing a business and increasing revenue.
Tools such as search engine optimization, browser advertising e.g. Google Adwords and Adsense, affiliate marketing, Facebook advertising and a host of other techniques have created a science around online marketing and advertisers are scrambling to keep up with them.
Is it possible to get online marketing wrong? Most certainly, and if that happens, the business will not only have wasted time and money; it could just be the difference between thriving and surviving. Here are a few absolute no-nos when marketing a business online:
Leaving online marketing out of the Marketing Plan
Online marketing is a part of business. It must be included in any marketing strategy. A business that treats online marketing as a fad, or as inferior to other methods of marketing, does not have a clear vision of the bigger picture.
Not defining the purpose of the website
Many businesses, especially small operators, create “one-size-fits-all” websites just to say they have a website! By not defining what the website is supposed to achieve, the business ends up with an on-line version of a traditional advertisement. Questions need to be asked and decisions made before just slapping together any website.
Ignoring SEO and social networks
SEO has been around a while and is the method by which web pages are optimized to rank highly in search engines. If this is understood and done well, the business can save substantially on advertising costs. The use of social networks is an emerging marketing area which business needs to understand to take advantage of.
Leaving the website unchanged for months
People typically visit the same websites over time, and look for new content and graphics. By neglecting this, the business is not attractive to customers – like a retail outlet that needs a coat of paint.
Not monitoring website visitors
Websites need to be monitored to provide statistics such as the number of visitors to the site, how long they are staying, which pages they are reading, and a host of other information that is easily obtainable from the web host. This information helps to improve the website and target the marketing resources.
Treating your online customers poorly
What’s the difference between an online customer and one who walks into a shop? None – both are buying a product or service and should be treated equally well. Auto responders (computer programs that automatically send acknowledgement emails to customers) are just one tool available to make an on-line customer feel important to the business.
These are just some of the mistakes of online marketing that can tarnish reputations and spoil customer relationships. There are many others. What must be recognised is that once a business goes on-line, that website is the brand and face of the business, and to neglect will have dire consequences for business survival.