A sound, multi-faceted digital marketing strategy is necessary for today’s small businesses to compete for online real estate in local search results. But this rapidly-changing field often leaves business owners confused and unsure of exactly how to market their companies online effectively. Many small business owners — or people in other positions tasked with managing marketing — have misconceptions that can spell danger for their online marketing strategies.
Understanding these misconceptions and managing expectations around digital marketing and its results can help small businesses build effective online marketing campaigns no matter what niche they’re in. Here are 5 digital marketing misconceptions and how to overcome them with the help of the veteran digital marketing professionals at Surefire Local.
Digital Marketing Misconceptions: Expectations vs. Reality
1. Your Reputation
Expectation: Customers will automatically start leaving reviews once you set up your Google Business Profile, Yelp Business Page, Facebook Business Page, and other online profiles.
Reality: Customers will most likely write reviews for one of two reasons: They have a bad experience or they are asked to write a review. If you do not have a strategy to solicit reviews from happy customers, your online reputation will most likely remain stagnant.
What You Can Do
Let customers know that you have a Google Business Profile or other profile and ask them to leave a review. You can do this in a number of different ways, such as including a note on the customer’s receipt, putting a sign on your door, or advertising it on social media. Ideally, you should encourage your customers to leave reviews of your business on multiple platforms. However, make sure you keep in mind your target audience and what is most likely to resonate with them.
Meet your target audience where they are. Older generations may respond better to a mailer or a Facebook ad, while younger customers might engage more with a quick text. Make it as easy as possible for customers to leave you a review. Give the website URL or directions on how to find your profile, and be sure to thank them, whether they leave a review or not. Remember that you cannot encourage customers to leave a positive review. You may only ask that they provide their true and honest feedback.
2. Your ROI
Expectation: Any digital marketing strategy will generate a better return on investment than alternative advertising methods. You only need to post regularly and be active online to generate revenue with a digital marketing strategy.
Reality: Your small business needs the right digital marketing strategy. You will only get enough ROI to justify your marketing costs and turn a profit with a comprehensive and competitive advertising strategy.
What You Can Do
In the early days of digital marketing, activity was almost all that was necessary to gain website traffic. If you posted it, people would come. Today, the digital marketing landscape is overwhelmingly more competitive and there’s much more that brands need to do to target their ideal audience and bring them into the fold.
You should be optimizing your marketing strategy at every level for your target customer. Not only should you be blogging about topics of interest to your audience, but you should also be promoting them on social media and offering valuable, meaningful solutions to problems your audience has. Not only should you be optimizing your title tags and meta descriptions for keywords in your niche, but you should also ensure these small bits of content are engaging and attention-grabbing.
It’s difficult to know what strategies will be the most successful in advance. One of the core parts of the digital marketing process is launching an ad or asset, measuring its performance, and making strategic changes to find what performs best.
3. Your Marketing Strategy
Expectation: Automation allows you to get results without putting in any extra effort outside of setup.
Reality: Automation is an excellent tool to help you execute lower-level marketing tasks so you can attend to high-level marketing endeavors. Good digital marketing requires you to repeat an ongoing process of making changes and assessing the results, continually aiming to push the needle further forward.
What You Can Do
Automation has made digital marketing endeavors easier than ever before. But they’re not a replacement for good, old-fashioned skilled advertising methods. They only augment a comprehensive digital marketing strategy by automating menial tasks, like posting to social media. Instead of logging in to each platform you have every day to post new content, you can use applications like the Surefire Local platform, Buffer or Hootsuite to schedule social media posts ahead of time. RSS feeds notify followers of new content and other automation tools eliminate tedious, time-consuming tasks.
Good marketing requires constant monitoring and attention to detail. While a social media publisher may post your content in advance, you should still be watching your channels for engagement opportunities and moderation needs. You still need to be reviewing your analytics and monitoring your search engine rankings on a regular basis. What you don’t want to do is assume everything is working according to plan only to log into your analytics later and discover your rankings or engagement has tanked. If you see your stats trending downward, you want to have plenty of time to make adjustments to prevent them from dipping further.
4. Your Ads
Expectation: If you pay for PPC ads (like Google Ads or Facebook Ads), you’ll begin generating a profit instantly.
Reality: Pay-per-click ads are an investment that takes time to generate results depending on your business goals. You can certainly generate more leads quickly, but maybe not at an optimal cost-per-lead (CPL) you’d like to see. You will need to test a wide variety of ad formats to figure out what works best for your target audience and what doesn’t to maximize your budget. As you continue to refine your ads, you will discover which tactics get the most results.
What You Can Do
Pay-per-click advertising is another part of digital marketing that requires constant testing, making changes, and testing again to see what works and what doesn’t. For example, say you launch two Google Ads campaigns, both worded slightly differently. The first ad does much better than the second. You could drop the second ad, make a small change to the first ad and then test those two ads against each other to see if the change garners even better results.
This process is repeated over and over for each ad that you run, and for each component of the ad, from its title and description to keywords used and even to the design of the landing page the ad points to. PPC can be frustrating for some small businesses that expect to see a financial return immediately after paying for ad space and clicks. More often than not, there’s a period of investment where your business is paying for multiple ads to test them against each other and find what generates the best results in your niche.
5. Your Visibility
Expectation: Expanding your brand awareness and gaining visibility online will automatically increase conversions.
Reality: There’s a phrase in digital marketing that says “you can’t eat likes for breakfast.” Online exposure, likes, and shares are all necessary for your business to be successful in the online sphere, but they will not directly generate revenue. A good digital marketing plan will have content in place that nurtures potential leads through each stage of the buyer’s journey, which is where conversions happen.
What You Can Do
Understand that digital marketing can be a long game that doesn’t ever really have a “finish line.” You’ll never be “done” with digital marketing so long as you are in business; there will always be another step to take or another change you can make to see if you can increase your traffic, boost engagement, or rank higher in search engines.
This is why it’s helpful for many small businesses to work with a digital marketing firm that can help them formulate and execute a solid strategy, overseeing the results and making changes as necessary. Doing this while trying to manage the other parts of running your business, like customer service, sales and accounting, can be impossible even for businesses with just a few employees. You should have a dedicated marketing & advertising budget set aside that allows you to delegate important digital marketing tasks to professionals that can help you get the most ROI for your money.
Manage Digital Marketing Misconceptions With Surefire Local
Even the savviest small businesses can get tripped up by common digital marketing misconceptions. You can benefit from working with an experienced web marketing professional that understands the digital landscape and how to garner the best possible results from each action. At Surefire Local, we know that it takes a lot of work to run a small business and digital marketing is just a small part of that. But it’s also one of the most important parts because, without a solid online advertising strategy, your business could end up a sitting duck. Contact us today to learn more about digital marketing misconceptions you might need to manage or to hear about how we can help you grow your brand’s online presence over time.