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6 Common Mistakes Businesses Make Online and How to Fix Them

By: Joe Hupp, VP of Strategy and Marketing at Marketecture

BluePay is pleased to bring you this valuable information from our new partner, Marketecture. With almost 20 years of experience, Marketecture is a one-stop technology company that helps small business owners create, manage and grow their online presence using feature-rich software that provides tools for website creation, SEO, social media, e-commerce, and more. To learn more about the BluePay and Marketecture partnership, visit Marketecture’s partner page on our site.

If you haven’t realized it yet, the Yellow Pages are dead, and it’s time you moved your business online. Whether you’re brand new to the world of online marketing or a seasoned pro, if you’re making any of these 6 mistakes, your competitors are stealing your customers right out from underneath you and you probably don’t even realize it. Our company has helped over 400,000 businesses grow their business online and we’ve seen and heard it all and now we want to help you avoid the most common mistakes businesses make when trying to “move” their business online.

Mistake #1: No Website 

I know this one seems pretty obvious, that if you want to grow your business online you at least need to start with a website, but you’d be surprised. Shockingly, over 50 percent of SMB businesses still don’t have a website!

What? Are you kidding me? Are you as shocked by this number as I am? If you spend five minutes in a room with several SMB owners you’ll understand why this is such a problem. At least five times a day I hear a small business owner tell me a horror story about their brother’s sister-in-law’s best friend’s neighbor who charged them $10,000 to build a website only to have it look like a website built as a fifth grade school project.

It’s sad, but with so many horror stories floating around, it’s understandable why businesses are hesitant to get a website: they’re afraid of the outcome.

So, the quick answer is you absolutely need a website for your business. Your website should be a profit center for your business, whether it’s through lead generation or closed sales on the site. A website is 100 percent necessary.

With all the horror stories though, how can you make sure you get a website that’s a lead gen machine and not an eyesore? That’s the eternal question…and here’s the answer; ask yourself these questions before you start the process of having a website built or if you already have a website, make sure you have these items taken care of.

  1. Will it break the bank?
    You’ve heard the old adage, “you get what you pay for.” And while that is somewhat true with regards to websites, you also don’t want to overpay. Unfortunately, there are companies that will prey on your lack of knowledge of the industry and charge exorbitant prices for a mediocre website.

    Right now the average price for a good SMB website ranges from $2,500 - $5,000, however, there are more and more economical solutions popping up all the time, so budget accordingly.

     

  2. Will I be held hostage?
    This is another one I hear all the time. A business has a website built for them for “cheap” and then when they want to make changes in the future, they realize that they can’t make any of their own changes and have to pay their programmer $100s per hour to make any updates.

    You want to have control over making frequent changes to your website and not have to pay out the nose for those changes. At least you should find out before you start what the ongoing charges for changes will be.

     

  3. Is the company I’m working with designers, conversion rate experts, or both?
    A website is great, but if it doesn’t generate either leads or revenue then you have a glorified business card. There are some extremely talented web designers out there that can make your website talk, move, and do magic. But does that translate to revenue?

    Most of the time the answer is no! While you want to have a website that looks professional, more importantly you want to have it be a profit center, and that requires more than web design skills. So before you build a website, talk with your web designer and find out his or her background with online conversion rate optimization.
     

  4. Do I get more tools on my platform besides just a website builder?
    Let’s face it, website building tools are a dime a dozen and everyone claims to be the best. So before you take the plunge, look hard at what other tools your website platform offers. To be successful online there are several tools that you really should have, and if you end up having to pay for them individually, it can add up quickly.

    Look for tools like Marketecture’s Free Business Center Tool that offers several of the tools you’ll need all in one place, for one price.
     

  5. Does my website look good on all devices?

    We’ll talk more about this one in a little bit, but realize that more and more people are searching for your business on their smartphone or tablet and if your website doesn’t work well on any of those devices, you’re going to lose that business.          

Mistake #2: Poor Search Engine Visibility

If you’re still advertising your business in the Yellow Pages, stop! The last time I used a phone book was to prop up my Christmas tree a few years ago. In fact, I can’t even remember the last time I had a Yellow Pages delivered to my house. 85 percent of consumers use the Internet to search for a business and which search engine do you think they’re using? That’s right, Google.

Google is by far the biggest, and if you want business you need to have your website show up well in their SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages). And by well, I mean at least the first page since 75 percent of visitors don’t go past the first page.

What’s worse is that over half of SMB websites have no keyword meta info on their websites, which is one of the factors Google uses to determine where you show up in their SERPs.

If you want to rank, here’s what you do. Google looks at three core factors to determine who shows up on their first page. They look at on-page factors, off-page factors, and social signals. In order to rank well you’ll need to ensure that you’ve given them what they’re looking for.

Furthermore, if you’re a local business you’ll want to ensure that you have localized keywords on your website, build citations (submissions to local business directories) with NAP (Name Address Phone number) consistency, and garner as many positive reviews as possible in order to show up in the places results for a given search.

Mistake #3: No Clear Call(s) to Action

What’s the purpose of your website or webpage? You need to make it clear what you want your visitor to do or they won’t do it. Surprisingly, your visitor wants to be told what to do and by simply creating a clear call to action you’ll see your conversions, leads generated, etc. increase.

I like to classify SMB websites into 4 core actions; call-in traffic, walk-in traffic, lead generation, or online sale. You need to figure out first what you want your visitor to do, then design the page so it accomplishes that task. Here’s a breakdown of the different actions you could have your visitors take.

Call-In Traffic - When you want your visitor to call you so you can get them on the phone and either sell your service or set an appointment, then you’ll want to advertise your phone number front and center on your webpage. Using verbiage like, “Call for a free…” or “Free phone consultation,” etc. will likely increase your call-in rates. Keep testing to find the best message to entice your visitors to call in.

Walk-In Traffic - If you’ve got a local business and want your potential customers to visit your store, make sure your address, as well as a map, is clearly displayed on your website. Make it very easy for them to find you. Also you may need to give them an incentive to walk into your store. Try offering them a special coupon if they come into your location. You’ll want to give them the ability to either print it, have it emailed to them, or allow them to show you their mobile device to claim the coupon. Either way, it will provide that extra push that gets them into your store.

Lead Generation - This type of action could refer to a variety of different actions. You may want to offer a free consultation, a contact form, a simple email address, setting an appointment, or a free download in exchange for their personal information. Good marketers are good testers, so make sure you test different “offers” in order to find the best method for attracting new leads for your business.

Online Sale - Not all businesses will sell something on their website, but when you do, it’s important you make the process of purchasing from your website very easy. Remember that when someone puts their personal information on a website they're putting their trust that you’ll keep their information safe, so you’ll need to reassure them that your website is secure.

Regardless of what action you want them to take, make sure you know what you want them to do and then design the entire page around that one action and apply these basic principles.

KISS Principle - Keep it Simple Sweetheart (we’ll do the clean version here). Do not make your action overcomplicated or you’ll turn most visitors off and they’ll go to your competitors.

Tell Them What To Do - As mentioned above, your visitors want to be told what to do, they don’t want to have to guess. Make it clear what you want them to do and surprisingly, they’ll do it.

Communicate Value - You need to remember the WIIFM principle. WIIFM stands for What’s In It For Me. Your potential customers will be asking that very question. If I go to their location, what do I get or if I call what’s in it for me, etc. Make sure you tell them the benefit of completing the action you want them to complete.

Create Urgency - You don’t want your visitors dragging their feet, you want them to take action now. In order for that to take place you’ll need to create urgency as to why they need to do it now. If you offer a coupon for visiting your store, say something like, “first 25 people in the store today,” or something along those lines that show your special offer expires. Also by saying “first 25 people” you’re giving social proof that others will be taking you up on the offer, and people don’t like to lose.

Mistake #4: Website Shows Poorly on Mobile Devices

60 percent of consumers search for a local business on their smartphone yet 93 percent of SMB websites are not mobile compatible. That’s a problem. This trend isn’t going to stop either. More and more people are turning to their smartphone or tablet to search the web and it’s imperative that your website looks good on any size screen.

You have two options for mobile compatibility; first, make your website mobile responsive, and second, make a mobile version of your website. Let me just clear up the confusion regarding mobile compatibility. While we don’t build our websites for Google (we build them for the user), we still have to consider Google’s feelings on the matter, and they’ve said they prefer a mobile responsive website over a mobile version of a website.

What’s the difference you ask? Let me explain. Mobile responsive means that your website is smart enough to respond to the size of the device that is being used to view your website. A mobile version is technically a different website hosted on a sub-domain of your website, something like mobile.domainname.com. The reason why this is bad is because if you duplicate content on each version, Google views this as two websites, both with the same content or in other words, duplicate content, which is a no-no in Google’s eyes. Make sure you’re using a mobile responsive website and not a mobile version.

Mistake #5: Poor Online Reputation

Would you buy from someone you don’t trust? Of course not, and neither do people online. Reviews can make or break your business even if those reviews come from perfect strangers. 72 percent of consumers said they trust online reviews as much as feedback from a personal friend.

In order to maintain a good reputation online you need to be proactive. Here are a few suggestions to help you be proactive with your reputation management:

  • Have a system for gathering customer reviews
  • Incentivize your customers to post positive reviews online ($5 off your carpet cleaning today if you post a positive review on Yelp or Google+, etc.)
  • Give excellent service
  • Use SocialMention.com to know what people are saying about your business online

Mistake #6: Weak Social Media Presence

Social Media is here to stay and it’s a gold mine for finding new customers. The problem is that most businesses don’t allocate any time or budget to social media. Big mistake. In a recent survey, 77 percent of those surveyed said they are more likely to buy from a company if it uses social media.

Your customers are engaging with businesses online across many different channels, and social media is one of the top ways they connect with a business. If you want to engage and attract new customers using social media, try these techniques:

  • Figure out which social networks your customers are using and what they’re using them for
  • Post regularly to engage your audience (at least 2 - 3 times per week).
  • Dale Carnegie said, “List first, sell second.” What he meant was become a resource to your customers and you’ll build trust with them and they’ll want to buy anything you ask them to.
  • Remember time ROI. Don’t overdo it on social media. It would be very easy to spend all your time posting and tweeting, but you need to make sure you have a well-rounded marketing campaign.
  • Try and automate as much as possible without sounding like a robot.

Conclusion

If you're in business and you’re not online yet, follow these tips to ensure you succeed online. If you’re already online, but not seeing the success you want, use this as a checklist to see how you’re doing. Either way, by avoiding these 6 mistakes, you’ll be ahead of the game and on your way to online success.

About Marketecture

Marketecture (www.marketecture.com) is the trusted advisor to the small business owner. Their goal is to empower every small business with big company resources to affordably succeed online. Marketecture’s Business Center is the only all-in-one online business platform for SMBs. Combined with their all-inclusive small business services and their second-to-none software, Marketecture allows the small business owner to do what they do best, they take care of the rest!

Topics: Small Business Tips

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