Skip links

7 Mistakes Small Business Owners Make With Digital Marketing

two small business owners having a meeting

When small business owners get started with their new endeavor, their primary focus, most often, is to get as many customers through the door as possible. Sometimes, they think that simply offering an excellent product or service will be enough to get the word out. While this certainly is important (and not a bad start, either), there’s something else that small business owners can’t neglect: digital marketing. And through the years, it has transitioned from just another way to market goods and services to becoming an integral part of businesses.

Digital marketing offers a lot of benefits, especially to small and medium enterprises. It allows you to get hyper-specific when identifying your target audience and reach people where they spend time and money the most. It enables you to compete in a global marketplace with a smaller budget, to interact and know more about your customers, and to keep watch of what your competitors are doing.

More importantly, it allows you to track your campaigns easily, so you can adjust and optimize your efforts for better results.

Unfortunately, many still look at digital marketing the wrong way and thus are unable to take advantage of its full potential. If you’re one of them, we’re here to help you out.

Stay with us — we’re going to uncover seven common mistakes small business owners make with digital marketing, and how to correct them.

man working on computer at desk

7 Mistakes Small Business Owners Make With Digital Marketing

1. They Only Look at Likes and Follower Count, Not Conversions

Sure, having thousands (or tens of thousands) of followers can seem attractive at first. It helps to make you look popular and desirable. But follower count isn’t everything. It also doesn’t automatically mean that you’ll have a successful brand. That’s why it’s better to focus on increasing your conversion rate.

Conversions are positive actions that get people closer to making a purchase through your website or social media pages. These include page visitors filling out contact forms, setting meeting appointments, calling your support team, or making inquiries or requests.

Apart from offering quality products or valuable services, here are other ways to boost your conversion rates:

  • Use effective calls-to-action (CTA)
  • Create relevant posts with high-quality images and videos
  • Make your content mobile-friendly
  • Track your metrics diligently

2. Small Business Owners Rely on Organic Traffic and Don’t Play With Paid Ads

Organic traffic is a good indicator of the quality of content you have. This gauges how users are able to visit your page from the search engine’s organic results, which means your posts cater to what they’re specifically looking for.

However, this is not enough if you want your company to succeed. As with everything in business, you need to make wise investments – and this includes paid ads.

For small business owners, paid ads help bring in more qualified and relevant leads as you’re able to target the specific consumers you want to be interested in your brand. Similarly, they provide measurable results – like impressions, clicks, and conversion — allowing you to make better budget decisions and improve your results over time.

Moreover, you have complete control over how you want to reach your customers and when you want to scale. From keywords and placements to ad budgets and bids, you choose what to spend and how to optimize your ads even while they’re already running.  

Furthermore, don’t forget that for Facebook especially, organic traffic is very low. We’re talking almost non-existent. If you rely solely on organic traffic, you’re not going to get very far. You almost have to pay to play. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. All of it just means that you can’t neglect paid promotion.

Essentially, paid ads are essential to your digital marketing efforts because they drive valuable traffic, bring in more revenue, and get you close to your business goals.

3. They Don’t Know Their Audience

As we mentioned earlier, one of the best things about digital marketing is that you can easily target your ideal audience. However, this will only work if you know who you’re targeting.

open sign on door

Before starting any digital campaign, make sure you take time to research, know, and understand your target market – from demographics, interests, and online habits, to their wants, needs, and purchase journey. Build a buyer persona and create a clear image of who you intend to reach with your efforts. This way, you’ll know exactly who to create your content and campaigns for.

Similarly, avoid trying to sell to everyone. Why? Simple. “Everyone” is not your target market. While you may be offering products and services to a broad audience, your digital marketing should be narrowed down to a specific group. This will help you align your messaging and strategies that will be effective in reaching them directly.

At the same time, don’t be blind to the customers you actually have just because you’re focused on who your intended clients are. Be proactive and assess where (and who) your sales are truly coming from. Be open to adjusting your targeting as you see fit so you can cater to the right audience. Sometimes, you’ll be surprised by who your target market really is.

This is something that might adapt and evolve over time.

4. They Spread Themselves Too Thin on Many Platforms

While being on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest, and all other online networks seems exciting, doing so will be a waste of your time and resources. You can’t (and shouldn’t) select a platform just because other people are using it.

As small business owners, it’s better to know where your leads and customers are, rather than posting all platforms and playing your chances on where results will come in. It’s important that you know and understand your audience, so you can choose the right channels that will best capture them. This will also help you optimize your social profiles, create quality content, and engage with your community to help you achieve your business goals.

Also, select only the channels that you can effectively manage. Remember if you prioritize everything, you end up prioritizing nothing.

All of this means that if you’re seeing a lot of traction on Pinterest but none at all on Twitter, you might want to stop investing time in Twitter and put that toward Pinterest.

5. They Don’t Have a Concrete, Specific, Actionable Plan

Just like big businesses, small business owners need also need detailed marketing plans that guide their business decisions. Having a written out plan will enable you to create effective and relevant campaigns, with specific plans and strategies that will increase your chances for success.

Here are some things to consider when creating your marketing plan:

  • What do you want people to know about your business?
  • Who do you want to talk to?
  • What platforms will be most effective for reaching them?
  • How much will you need to successfully reach them?
  • Why is your business different from your competitors?

Ultimately, your plan should be three things: specific, concrete, and actionable. “Increase sales” isn’t a plan. Increase sales to what? How? By when? Now we’re talking!

Remember, just as the saying goes, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”

two men working at a coffee shop

6. They Pay Too Little or Too Much Attention to Competition

While you want to differentiate your business from others, there’s a lot that you can learn from your competitors. That’s why it’s useful that you know what efforts they’re investing in online, including their strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities that they may not be addressing. Doing competitive research will give you insights on what works and what doesn’t, and how you can scale up and beat the competition.

However, this doesn’t mean that you’ll just mirror what they’re doing. It’s highly possible that what you’re seeing them do is only a part of their overall plan. You might be missing out on other important things that are working well for them. They may be running on a different business model, lower costs, or higher profit margins – and all these may not be applicable to you right now.

Keep in mind that no one approach fits all. You have to pay attention, just enough attention, and use what you learn to set yourself apart from the competition. Just remember to stay true to your own brand voice.

7. They Don’t Track and Measure Results

Even when many small business owners begin to transition to digital marketing, they unfortunately tend to forget to track how their new strategies are performing.

If you don’t track your numbers, you can’t know what’s working and what needs to be optimized. If you’re not paying attention to your metrics – whether it’s page traffic, paid ads results, leads, or conversions – you might end up wasting or losing money. Worst of all, you miss out on the opportunity to learn from your errors or to improve your strategies.

bar chart

Through consistent monitoring and measuring of data, you’ll be able to identify the most effective marketing methods for your business. It’s only with hard facts (and adjusting your process as you see fit) that you will be able to succeed in your digital marketing campaigns.

Small Business Owners and Their Digital Marketing Efforts

For small business owners, digital marketing is vital – crucial, even.

However, it’s important that you shift your focus toward the right things, so as not to waste time, energy, and money. Remember that more than the increase of your follower count, it’s better to keep an eye on how to boost your conversion rate. It’s essential that you invest in paid ads that will help bring in qualified leads and relevant traffic. It’s a must that you know and understand who your intended audience is, so you can thoughtfully identify which channels to use. Pay adequate attention to your competitors and their efforts to know how to set yourself apart. Make sure you have a plan in place to guide you when making decisions. Above all, make sure you know how to track your results so that you can gauge what to continue doing and what to improve on.

If you haven’t yet, now is the best time to consider investing in digital marketing. And if you have already, be sure to avoid these seven common mistakes to get the most out of its potential benefits.

What other mistakes have you encountered with your digital marketing efforts and how did you address them? We would love to hear from you. Let us know in the comments below.