Digital platforms have transformed the way most of us operate our businesses and certainly how we reach and engage with clients and customers.
But with so many channels, tools and tactics at our disposal when it comes to digital marketing, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and tricky to gauge what will work best for you.
Here we take a look at some of the most common mistakes small business owners make when tackling digital marketing and how you can avoid them.
1: Too much too soon
Many small business owners feel tempted (or pressured) to use every social media and digital marketing platform available to them. But by spreading your focus across too many platforms, you’re likely to end up overwhelmed and unlikely to be using any of the channels to their full potential.
The solution: When you’re starting out, focus on just one channel and take the time to learn the tool, develop strong content, build an audience and understand their needs. Once you’re confident with one core platform you can start adding other relevant tools to your digital marketing approach.
2: Jumping on the bandwagon
With new social media channels emerging at pace, it can feel like you need to be everywhere to be noticed or that the latest popular platform will be the solution for you because it seems to be working for other people. But your digital marketing efforts will be wasted if you’re using a channel that isn’t right for your business, doesn’t appeal to the audience you’re trying to reach or doesn’t speak to their needs.
The solution: Your digital marketing strategy needs to be driven by your business and target audiences’ needs, not by trends in social media. Spend some time defining and researching the audiences you’re reaching or would like to reach to help you decide what digital platforms will be most effective.
3: All your eggs in one basket
While starting with just one digital marketing platform is great at the outset, sticking with just one in the long term also be a risk. Changes to the way social media channels work (e.g. Facebook algorithms) means that what’s working for you one week might not work the next.
The solution: Once you’re comfortable with one core digital marketing platform for your business, start experimenting with new ones. Try one new channel at a time so you don’t get overwhelmed.
4: Lack of audience focus
Not understanding who you want to or are speaking to through your digital marketing efforts is one of the most common mistakes I see. When you don’t know who your audience is, you default to talking about yourself (your product or your business) which doesn’t add value or interest for the audience you’re trying to talk to and isn’t likely to drive the results you’re after.
The solution: Get to know your audience (your tribe!). When I started Craftsposure, I spent a lot of time researching people who followed me on Instagram and realised that most were creative business owners (not just admirers of handmade goods). Creating content more geared towards them got a great response, and helped grow my business.
5: Content for content’s sake
Digital marketing channels can feel like hungry beasts that needs to be fed with a constant stream of content. But posting or sharing content that’s not valuable or interesting to your audience – posting for posting’s sake – is ineffective.
The solution: Remember that it’s quality over quantity when it comes to digital marketing. Develop a digital marketing or social media calendar to help you get into a rhythm and revisit what your goals are to help you create content geared towards that.
6: Losing patience
I see a lot of people who dive straight into digital marketing only to give up or switch to other channels when they’re not seeing immediate results.
The solution: Patience is a virtue when it comes to digital marketing. Take your time building your community/audience and connecting with like-minded businesses. Creating a social media and digital marketing schedule can help make these activities routine and create some momentum and consistency, both of which are important in effective digital marketing.
7: Looking at the wrong numbers
Obsessing over page likes and followers and how you can get more. You might be focusing on the wrong measures and missing opportunities to build a loyal and engaged audience.
The solution: Remember that a small but engaged audience is far more valuable than a large but passive one. Anyone can buy followers but you can’t buy genuine engagement. Revisit your strategy (and if you don’t have one, create one!) and confirm what you’re aiming to achieve with digital marketing.
8: Unnecessary comparison
One mistake I see many make (and that I make myself) is obsessing over what competitors are doing in the digital marketing sphere. But the endless comparison means you’re wasting energy on them instead of focusing on your own business.
The solution: While it’s good to be informed, when you stop comparing you can start creating your own original and valuable content. Focus on your audience and their needs instead of your competitor and theirs.
9: Same old
While consistency and routine is important in digital marketing, letting your content become stale or repetitive is a risk (and isn’t much fun for you or your audience!).
The solution: Once you’ve set up a strong foundation for your digital marketing efforts, remember to keep testing and experimenting with new channels, content and ideas. It keeps things fresh and will teach you more about your business and audience.
10: Thinking social media = sales
Treating social media as a sales platform isn’t likely to get you far. Research shows us that social media users don’t want to be sold things, they then try to learn things, be inspired or find something useful.
The solution: Remember that the digital market – and social media in particular – is about relationship building. So while driving sales might be an ultimate goal of your digital marketing efforts, you need to think about it from a funnel marketing perspective. By engaging your audience with interesting, relevant content you can build an engaged community and work to move them from awareness to consideration to purchase.
Kochie's Business Builders first published this article - visit kochiesbusinessbuilders.com.au for all the latest on small business and to sign up to their inspirational newsletter here.