Creating a digital marketing strategy for your Lorain County business is an important step toward online success. Rarely does anything in business succeed without a plan, and Internet initiatives are no exception. Be sure to avoid these 5 mistakes when crafting your plan.
Mistake #1: Creating content that doesn’t educate
Yes, you are trying to sell products, but people are bombarded by ads all day long. Creating what amounts to another ad in people’s lives just means your message is probably going to be ignored. Instead, focus on educating the reader on how to understand their problem or what makes you different. If your product or service solves a problem, focus on educating the consumer about the problem so they understand it, which will help your solution make a lot more sense.
If you are a restaurant or similar destination business, focus on the experience and provide lots of photos so people can see what the food and atmosphere looks like. Consider panoramas (these are like Google Streetview but inside your business) to give the full effect. Disney doesn’t try to sell you theme park tickets; it tries to sell you an experience -- learn from their example.
When you provide education and focus on the experience, you are building trust and enticing people to learn more, which will be much more effective than creating yet another ad for people to ignore.
Mistake #2 Picking the wrong channels
Social media and other online tools give you the power to reach thousands of people across multiple demographics in every part of the globe. But that doesn’t mean you should use all of them. Why? Because your audience isn’t in all of them, so don’t waste your time with channels that don’t have your audience.
Part of your digital strategy needs to focus on who your customers are and where you can find them. Do they use Facebook? What about Twitter? Email newsletters? LinkedIn? Maybe a blog post would be more effective. The point is, focus your efforts on where your customers are. Posting to LinkedIn if your customers are mainly retirees is probably not a good time investment.
You can find out where your potential customers are by asking your existing customers where they get their information. Put social media buttons on your site and see which ones get the most interest. And just because it’s social media doesn’t mean people will know automatically know about it. When you’re creating social media messages, remember to avoid mistake #1.
Mistake #3 Not having defined goals
Lorain County may not be Silicon Valley, but you still need to have defined goals for your digital marketing strategy. “Post more on Facebook” is not a defined goal. “Post our daily specials on Facebook each day” is better. “Post our daily specials on Facebook and measure the impact on sales over the next 90 days” is best. The more you can measure, the more you’ll know what’s working the best, allowing you to focus your limited time. If posting the daily specials had no measurable impact on sales and was generating no customer feedback, then maybe your time would be better spent on something else. That doesn’t mean Facebook won’t work for you, it just might mean you need a different kind of content for that channel.
Some goals might have targets that are hard to measure. For example, if you are launching a blog to educate people about the problems your business can solve, it can be difficult to draw a direct correlation between that content and an eventual sale. Someone might have found your site because of the increased search ranking blogs can provide, and then spent several visits learning more about their problem before finally deciding to call you to schedule an appointment. If you ask, they would probably just say “I found you on Google,” but that doesn’t take into account the effect your educational blog really had on the sales process.
For hard-to-measure items, a simpler goal of “write two educational blog posts per week” is fine, because it is proven that search engines reward fresh content with higher search results, so you are definitely getting something out of your efforts.
Mistake #4 Not having a plan to deal with digital leads
When you finally start seeing results from your digital marketing efforts, are you prepared to deal with them? Does everyone on your team know what to do if a customer takes a particular action? For example, if you get an inquiry about one of your educational articles via Facebook, does the person monitoring Facebook (and hopefully if you are using social media, you have someone assigned to pay attention to it) know what to do next? All of your content marketing efforts can go for naught if someone on your team immediately starts trying to sell them something instead of continuing the education process.
For each digital channel (Facebook, blogs, email newsletters etc.,) you are using, you should have a plan of not only what you want to accomplish, but how any inquiries that come through those channels will be handled. Even if they are people that are ready to buy, you still want to know what channel got them to that point. So unless you are handling all the inquiries yourself, it’s imperative that your whole team knows how to properly respond to each query and how to track where the lead came from.
Mistake #5 Having unrealistic expectations
Just because you are marketing on the Internet does not mean the world will suddenly want to buy what you’re selling. Like other forms of marketing and advertising, results can be hit or miss, and tactics need to be adjusted as you find out more about where your customers are and what’s resonating with them. Just because you don’t get 1,000 Facebook followers in your first month or your blogs are slow to draw traffic, doesn’t mean you should give up on that specific tactic or on digital marketing completely.
If you avoid making the mistakes above, you’ll position your business for success in Lorain County and beyond.
Todd Shryock is the director of content for Emerge Inc. If you have questions about digital marketing, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.