When you’re just starting out as an entrepreneur, the digital marketing landscape can be a little overwhelming. The process of building a site and a social presence, gaining new customers, and learning advertising techniques without throwing away precious startup dollars isn’t always a matter of common sense when it comes to starting a business. Most new businesspeople have many questions as they begin to pick their way through this new terrain.
The five pitfalls below by no means cover every issue you might encounter when you’re starting out, but they are common pain points many entrepreneurs face when they’re learning the ropes.
1. Disregarding Social Media Strategy
It’s easy to feel like you have to meet certain expectations with your social media marketing, but don’t get hung up on ticking items off a list rather than being organic and strategic.
Did you tweet something? Check.
Did you Instagram a picture of the office dog? Check.
Focus on the platforms that make sense – both for you and your audience – instead of establishing a presence on every channel for the sake of being there. If you can’t think of something compelling to post, don’t post. Otherwise, you risk alienating followers with your constant stream of mediocre content – and that doesn’t ultimately help your business.
2. Lack of Content Marketing Strategy
Content without strategy is nothing more than Internet landfill. Don’t think that if you just crank out tons of content, you’re doing your job. You can spend hundreds of hours – or thousands of dollars – creating content that won’t bring you qualified leads.
Don’t pick keywords without keyword research to see if people actually search for those things, and don’t create articles that are intended for robots, not people. Think about what your readers really want, brainstorm ways to keep them coming back for more, and then start building your content plan. Relevancy and storytelling are commonsense ways to keep your readers involved.
If you think blogging is right for your business, it’s a good idea to get started as soon as possible. Maybe you feel you haven’t nailed your brand yet, or perhaps you just have a million other things to do and blogging is last on your list. But many entrepreneurs fret over the idea of blogging and then say they wish they had started earlier than they did. Blogging helps your search engine ranking, it builds brand expertise, and it helps shape your personal brand. So create a solid blogging strategy, and then get started.
3. Not Creating Customer Personas
It’s not uncommon for new entrepreneurs to answer the question “What’s your demographic?” with one broad word: “Everyone!” Ideally, you want to narrow in on your ideal customers with laser focus, rather than throwing everything at the wall to see what happens to stick.
If you haven’t created personas – detailed, semi-fictional narratives describing your ideal customers – do so. This marketing research will ensure you’re always speaking to the people who want what you have to offer. When you are able to focus on the right customers, you can target all your other efforts toward them as well – your design aesthetic, your copywriting, even your actual products and services. Ultimately, this helps you to experiment less and succeed more.
4. Not Hitting the Target with Paid Advertising
Paid advertising is a great addition to many marketing plans, but spending money on ads that don’t speak to your target audience won’t actually help you. Say you run a business that sells cookbooks for new moms. What images will speak to your customer? A happy-looking mother with her young family or a frazzled mom looking at her kitchen in despair? Will a member of your demographic relate to a picture of a well-coiffed glamour girl in evening wear? Not in the context of figuring out what to make for dinner.
When you’re creating your ads, be sure to think about who your customer is, and produce creative content that speaks to their pain points. Clicks will follow.
5. Not Measuring and Evaluating Data
If you’re not measuring data on your site – and then spending the time to evaluate that data – you’re losing out on valuable information that can help you shape crucial business decisions.
Google Analytics is a great tool to help you do so. It enables you to look at which content is being viewed, who’s referring traffic to your site, where your viewers live, what devices they use, and what they’re searching for when they find you. Analytics allows you to set up custom reports to show how people are moving through your site.
All this information helps form a more focused picture of your users and their behavior, and aids you in understanding if your efforts are working as intended.
There’s no way to avoid every pitfall that comes with being a new entrepreneur – learning what works is part of the process. But these tips should help you sidestep a few of the big online marketing mistakes that trip up many new business-owners.