Today our real world lives are increasingly entwined with our digital lives. We share photos, keep in touch, schedule events, get news, research products, and get entertainment online. As consumers, we increasingly turn first online. We expect to find the information we are looking for, to get answers to our questions, and to make it easier or more convenient to go about our daily lives.
Why do we then expect, as business owners, that our online presence is something separate from our real life business? Why do we think we don’t have to do anything differently than we have been doing, or that we don’t have enough time for this online stuff? It’s true that you don’t have enough time if your online presence is a digital silo. The key is to make the web work for you online and in real life. Avoid these five common online mistakes that cost business.
1. You don’t update your website
Do you treat your website as a brochure that might get updated occasionally? Search is the most common way to get found on the web, but the search engine only knows what is put out there about your business. If the information is a couple of years old with no updates, search engines will rank the site lower. They may not be sure you are still in business.
If someone is searching for your business, does your website contain the phrases they are searching for? I often see businesses describing themselves in their industry jargon which may be technically correct, but search engines won’t show your site if potential customers use different words to look for you.
Even when someone gets referred to you, one of the first things they do is Google your business name for more information. Have you done this? What do potential customers find when they search for you? Would you take the next step towards becoming a customer based on what you find?
Have you visited your website on a mobile device? Is it usable? Can someone click your phone number to call you? Over 58% of US cell phone users now have smartphones. Did you know that about one third of mobile internet users use their mobile device as their primary source of internet access? Studies have shown that they spend more in-store as well.
We are starting to see 25 – 33% mobile traffic across a variety of our customer websites. This is double from a year ago. Search rankings are also starting to take into account whether or not you work well on mobile. This may be because Google concludes from a new study that non-mobile friendly sites actually damage a company’s reputation: 36% of respondents said they felt like they’ve wasted their time by visiting those sites, and 52% of users said that a bad mobile experience made them less likely to engage with a company. Almost half felt that a site that works poorly on a smartphone indicates a company that does not care about their business
You don’t need a separate mobile website or a mobile app. If your website uses responsive design it will automatically adjust so desktop, tablet, or mobile viewers each have an optimized experience. Read more about how to make your website mobile.
If you don’t have a website that works well on mobile devices, and that you can EASILY update on a regular basis, stop reading now and get to work on this. It is that important. I’ll be glad to help if you don’t know where to start.
2. You don’t build citations
One of the most important indicators in search for local businesses is location. When you search for “pizza” you won’t see pizza restaurants in California in the results if you are located in Pennsylvania. Citations are the internet equivalent of the phone book. There are a number of citation sources, which in turn are used by the search engines to verify your basic business location information like name, address and phone number (NAP) as well as what products and services you offer. The more consistent and available this information is, the easier it will be to rank well in the search engines and get found by your customers.
You will want to claim your business listing on the most important citation sources and update your listings with correct information. The most important one to claim is your Google Local Places page. Google accounts for two-thirds of searches in the US.
3. You don’t get e-mail addresses from your current or prospective customers
For most businesses, it is harder to obtain new customers than to keep existing customers. After all, your customers love you and want to work with you, right? (If they don’t, make sure you address that mistake while you are correcting these!) Are you keeping in contact with your customers, or do you wait for them to contact you again? When you get a lead, how are you moving them along to convert to a customer?
Keep in regular contact with your mailing list. Don’t SPAM them, but provide valuable information to keep your company top of mind. A recent survey found 66% of online Americans say they have made a purchase as a result of an email from a brand. Read some tips on creating effective email newsletters.
4. You don’t tell your story
Why should someone do business with you? How will you get that message across? Information is not scarce, we have a fire hose (some would say water cannon) of information available to us each and every day. But information without meaning and connection is noise.
How can you connect and resonate with your customers? Tell your story. Consumers ultimately buy from those they like and trust. If they don’t know you, if your brand has no personality how will they relate to you? Tell your story through your website, your email marketing and social media.
Social media for business is not about posting what you had for breakfast this morning. It’s about developing relationships with your customers just like you do in real life. For more information, read how to develop the right social media strategy for your business.
5. You don’t add value
It’s not all about you. This is one of most common mistakes I see companies making when they want to expand their online presence. Post after post about their sales and offers. Consumers are online for information and entertainment. No one likes to feel sold or spammed. To correct this mistake look at things from your customer’s perspective. Consider also what your expectations as a customer are. It’s all about the customer experience. You must provide something of value.
What is that value? Tips for making the most of your product or service, product education, pre- or post-sales questions, and customer support are good examples of value you can provide. I often tell people, if you find yourself telling the same information to more than two people that is a great blog post! Then share that blog post on social media and drive traffic back to your website. Now you become a resource to help someone solve a problem. That is the essence of some of the hottest concepts in marketing today: content marketing and its related buzzwords: inbound marketing and engagement marketing.
We are going through a truly disruptive time for many industries. Standing still is not an option. It also means there are opportunities to grow business as well. At Delos, we help companies plan and implement an online presence. We understand the challenges many businesses face in making this transition. We make the web work for you.