As digital marketers, we spend so much time worrying about things like link building techniques and on-site optimization best practices that we seem to forget that running a business online is about much more than technical website performance. Whenever products, services, or ideas are being sold online, there’s a certain amount of traditional marketing that must be present as well!
So today, I don’t want to talk about how you should be split testing different elements of your website or working on improving your site’s conversion rate optimization plan. While both of those things are true, they’re only part of the puzzle. Instead, it’s just as important that you carry out basic marketing techniques by ensuring you steer clear of the three following bad habits.
Mistake #1: Failing to network with people in the real world
As a result of the digital revolution, we can do more online than ever before. We can meet new people using services like LinkedIn, we can connect with supply chain partners around the world and we can even run entire businesses without the overhead requirements needed by companies just 20 years ago.
But unfortunately, along with this unprecedented opportunity, comes the natural inclination to retreat entirely into the online world. Just because we don’t need to interact directly with people in person doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t. In fact, failing to do so represents a huge business mistake.
I can’t tell you how many times the connections I’ve forged in person have led to new customers and new opportunities. Maybe it’s new contact I met at an industry conference passing new business my way, or maybe it’s that the guy I grabbed a beer with last week helping me to secure a backlink I’ve been working on for a while. Whatever the case may be, these interactions simply couldn’t happen if I limited my networking activities to the Internet.
So, if you’re feeling a bit cooped up in your home office, or if you’re concerned that your online networking activities might be leading to diminished business opportunities, give any of the following activities a try:
- Attend an industry conference or training (and actually go to the participant networking activities).
- Find a local business networking group in your area.
- Invite industry bloggers in your area out for coffee.
- Use Meetup.com to find business or personal groups nearby.
- Head to the bar and chat up whomever you meet.
Really, it doesn’t matter which specific opportunity you take advantage of—just get out there and meet people! You never know who you’ll run into or how these new connections can advance your business until you get out into the real world and try it.
Mistake #2: Ignoring the power of business blogging
Next up, another huge mistake your organization could be making is to fail to recognize the power that a business blog has.
I know, I know. When blogging first got started, it was primarily the domain of overly emotional teenagers and other saps that couldn’t wait to pour out their innermost thoughts online. But times have changed! Business blogging is now a legitimate pursuit that offers all of the following advantages to companies that are smart enough to take advantage of this technique:
Business blogs improve customer loyalty.
On the “touchy feely” side of things, running a business blog helps you to better connect with your customers by giving them a behind the scenes look at your organization’s personality and operations.
Blogging helps to turn your company into something more than another nameless, faceless corporation, and as you expand your business’s personal side in this way, it’s not uncommon to see customers reward you with increased loyalty and referrals.
Business blogs provide potent SEO benefits.
Still not convinced that business blogging is a good move for your business? Think about your site’s SEO! Having more content on your website gives the search engines more content to index (not to mention more opportunities to build content around a range of target keywords), which increases the likelihood that your business’s website will appear in the natural search results.
Also, given how strict Google has been about quality content lately (and given how likely this trend is to continue in the future), sharing high-value articles on your business blog can be a great way to protect your brand from future algorithm changes and search penalties.
Business blogs give you powerful market research information.
Beyond the sales and SEO benefits, business blogging can provide you with additional insight into the minds of your target consumers. Not only can you check your website’s analytics program to find out which pieces of content have been read most often (and thus, which subjects are most interesting to your readers), you can also use posts and their comments sections to solicit feedback from readers on future product lines or product changes. It’s a great way to tap into your customers’ mindsets without paying for expensive market research data!
As an added bonus, blogging is cheap and easy to get started with. Simply install a blogging platform like WordPress on your website and fill your editorial calendar with the types of interesting, relevant, and quality posts that are likely to engage your customers and help your company benefit from the power of business blogging.
Mistake #3: Avoiding social networking websites
Finally, while the failure to seize the benefits of business blogging is at least somewhat understandable (given how much time and effort can go into publishing good content), avoiding social networking altogether is completely inexcusable.
First of all, social media marketing offers many of the same advantages listed above in the case of business blogging. Not only does it increase customer loyalty by allowing your company to form connections directly with potential customers, it’s also a great source of consumer information that can be used to inform future changes to your company’s product or service offerings.
However, what many business owners aren’t aware of is the power social media marketing holds for a website’s SEO. Google and Bing both confirmed that social signals play a role in a website’s natural search result rankings as early as December 2010. And while the exact mechanisms by which this occurs aren’t known, they also don’t matter.
If your business is committed to building up an engaged, valuable social profile, you’ll likely secure whatever specific metrics are used to quantify social performance within the ranking algorithms.
So, to summarize, social networking can improve your relationship with your customers, your ability to connect them with the products and/or services they want to buy and your odds of ranking highly in the natural search results. With that in mind, why wouldn’t you want to incorporate social media marketing into your website’s promotional plan?!
There’s been plenty written about creating a social media strategy before, so I won’t repeat myself here. But what I do want to make clear is that social media marketing isn’t as simple as creating a Twitter profile or Facebook Page and then calling it a day.
If you really want to experience the benefits listed above, you’ve got to be willing to put in the daily commitment needed to build an audience and keep them engaged over the long haul. Anything less simply won’t cut it!
Now, I want to hear from you. Are you engaging in any of these marketing mistakes? If so, how do you plan to realign your marketing investments in order to capitalize on the potential each strategy offers? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!
Photo credit: Bad Marketing Habits – Fotolia
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