There are an overwhelming number of factors to consider when setting up a small business; from annual strategies to daily communications; it can be difficult to know where to start.
As there is so much to consider, it is more important than that you decide which tasks should be prioritised and which are optional. Putting the effort in from the beginning is guaranteed to make your life easier and your business more successful in the future.
Every small business owner knows that the key to success is belief, dedication and a clear aim. We’ve come up with a list of 22 fatal mistakes to avoid when presenting your small business online. Make sure you’re not committing any of these mistakes to give your business the best chance of success in the future.
1. Not being unique
We’ve all heard the saying “there’s a gap in the market for this”. While it may be cliché, it is an appropriate mantra for new small businesses; if there isn’t demand for your product or service then chances are that your business won’t get off to the best start. Establishing an original business idea or selling point ensures that you won’t be overwhelmed with competition from the start.
“To work out what your USP is speak to friends, family, customers & ask them what sets you apart..something will ring true!” #InspireSeries
— SmallBizSatUK (@SmallBizSatUK) April 21, 2015
2. Not having a focussed message
As well as ensuring that your business idea is unique you must also ensure that it is focussed. If the goal is not concise from the beginning your focus is likely to fracture. Make sure that your business is completely unified so that any potential clients know exactly what to expect when they hire or buy from you.
3. Not writing an online marketing strategy
It is always best to start as you mean to go on: getting organised and setting out an online marketing strategy will ensure that all of your marketing plans are in order from the very beginning. From email marketing to AdWords campaigns it’s important to know how best to market your small business, who to market it to, and when to market it. It’s a good idea to establish a calendar of communications outlining when you plan to complete certain objectives by. Another vital aspect of this step is the establishment of an online advertising budget for your business’ first year. Once this has been established you are free to start putting these plans into practice.
4. Underestimating the amount of work involved
Establishing your own business is an immense commitment. Unless you can afford to employ a few members of staff from the beginning it is likely that you will be in complete control. If you’re leaving full time employment to begin your own business you may expect to be moving onto a similar commitment: think again! You’ll be trading regular hours for working around the clock, but if you put the effort in, the benefits are sure to outweigh the effort.
5. Trying to do everything on the cheap
With all of the expenses surrounding running a business it can be tempting to cut a few corners. While this may save you a few pounds in the short term, you could be unwittingly damaging your business in the long term. Budget web designers and SEO agencies or DIY solutions may advertise appealing prices, but when you sign up but the quality of the service you receive is likely to reflect their fee. Invest in your business now to reap the rewards in the future.
6. Building a DIY website
Entrusting a technical cowboy with your website design and build is almost as bad as taking the task on yourself; while the amateurs are likely to make a mess of the job so too are you! It may be tempting to save a chunk of your budget and build the website yourself, but with the stress incurred and damage control needed along the way it just isn’t worth it. Our Essential Websites package provides the ideal solution to this problem. We design, build and write content for small businesses websites at an affordable website.
7. Not optimising the website for conversions
While your internet marketing strategy may encourage potential clients to visit your website, it won’t necessarily convert this traffic into sales or enquiries. Make sure that your website is designed and optimised for conversions by including strong calls to action and making your contact details stand out. Another great method is to display appealing offers or discounts on your homepage to entice potential clients further into your website. We recently published an infographic that outlines the features of a successful website and allows you to rate your own website using our comprehensive checklist.
8. Not having a responsive website
While it’s important for websites to look and function well on computers it is becoming increasingly important for them to be mobile-friendly too. A responsive website is one which is designed to adapt to suit the electronic device that it is being viewed on. Whether this is a desktop, laptop, tablet or mobile phone, whichever device your website is viewed on it should look great. Google’s latest update to the algorithm that they use to rank websites favoured sites with mobile-friendly designs. They have also recently introduced mobile-friendly labelling in search results which will put non-responsive websites at a disadvantage. You can check if your website is mobile-friendly using Google’s own mobile-friendly test tool.
— Twitter UK&I SME (@TwitterUKI_SME) April 21, 2015
9. No ‘About’ or ‘Contact’ pages
When potential clients visit your website they expect to be able to effortlessly find out more information about your company, products or services before making a purchase. This information is usually located on pages titled ‘about us’ and ‘contact’ (or something similar). If visitors aren’t provided with clear and transparent information about your business then they may deem you to not be trustworthy, professional or established and feel uncomfortable buying from you. Equally, if they can’t easily locate your contact details to get in touch then they’re likely to get bored or frustrated and look elsewhere.
10. Not branding the website properly
We may not realise it but we are all affected by the power of branding on a daily basis. Branding can have a huge influence over our buying decisions. Make sure that once your company logo and related paraphernalia have been designed, your website is designed with these colours and designs in mind. Clever branding is one of the most powerful tools at any business’ disposal: use yours wisely.
11. Not getting the balance of content quite right
It used to be the case that when it came to content the more keywords you could cram in the better. However, over the last few years Google’s algorithms have become exceedingly sophisticated and they can now identify if you’re trying to force in too many keywords and will penalise websites for trying to cheat the system in this way.
If you want to win Google’s support now you should concentrate on writing high quality, relevant content for your website. This will be beneficial to your customers, reputation and conversion rates, as well as your search engine ranking.
Image source: http://synergizeonline.net
If you’re struggling to get the balance of content quite right our SEO packages could provide the answer you’re looking for.
12. Poorly presented products
Humans, especially when searching for products or services, are extremely visual beings. Just imagine shopping online and not being able to see pictures of the products you wish to buy: if your website doesn’t contain high quality, professional pictures of your products then potential clients aren’t likely to put an order in. It’s worth investing in a professional photographer to shoot your products to ensure that the images are visually appealing, in-line with your branding, and consistent in the way that they’re presented.
Similarly, if you offer a manual or creative service, ensure that you feature good pictures of your finished projects or pieces to encourage clients to get in touch.
13. Having unrealistic expectations
One thing that can stop a small business in its tracks before it has even got going is unrealistic expectations. Make sure that you have things in perspective from the beginning: your small business is unlikely to become a success overnight. Once you’ve taken this pressure off yourself and your business you’ll be able to enjoy the small victories and take note of the true successes.
14. Not paying to advertise online
In addition to free promotional opportunities you must also make use of your online advertising budget. Think about your demographic, and people who may be interested in your products or services and where they may be active online. From placing an advert on Facebook to establishing a Google AdWords campaign online, paid advertising opportunities are plentiful. Our Add Clicks package, for example, makes use of specialist software to provide small businesses with tailored AdWords services, ensuring that the most website traffic possible is wrung out of tight advertising budgets.
15. Not having an SEO strategy
Another fatal mistake is to neglect your business’ SEO strategy. From the moment you decide to set up a website online you should start thinking about which keywords and phrases are most relevant to your business. These keywords should be kept at the forefront of your mind when building a website and writing your website’s content. As well as on-page SEO there are plenty of off-page aspects to a successful SEO strategy too, from directory listings to blogging and social media accounts; if you require help with your SEO we’re sure to have the package to suit you.
16. Having a weak social media presence
Billions of people use social media every day: if you can encourage a following from your target demographic you’ll be able to regularly communicate with and market to potential clients for free. While it may not feel like a productive way to spend your business hours, having just one or two active social media accounts is a fantastic way to promote your business for free and really help to strengthen your online presence. Whether you think your business is most suited to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Google+ or any other platform, sign up for a business account and get posting. Read our blog ‘The Business Guide To Posting On Social Media‘ for help getting started.
17. Not managing online reputations
All businesses should make a habit of regularly monitoring their online reputation. Not only is it important to build a positive online presence for your business, it is also important to ensure that there is nothing contributing towards a negative one.
One of the simplest ways to manage your business’ online reputation is to search for your company name on Google. If any undesirable results appear it’s best to know about them so that you can act accordingly. Depending on the nature of the bad results you may wish to respond to negative reviews, request inappropriate content is removed, or produce more positive content to try to ‘bury’ undesirable results that you are unable to remove. Nipping these issues in the bud can help to strengthen the foundations of your new business.
Similiarly, if you get positive reviews from your customers take the time to respond to them, they’ll appreciate the personal touch and it shows that you are engaged with your customers.
18. Not checking competitors out
One of the best ways to guarantee success is to learn from someone with experience. Keeping an eye on the competition not only allows you to stay ahead of the game, it also provides you with an opportunity to learn what works and what doesn’t. If one of your competitors’ marketing campaigns seems particularly successful or unsuccessful learn from it and reflect the preferences of your shared demographic into your strategies.
19. Not engaging with potential customers
Most clients and customers respond well to the personal approach; whether this comes from the chatty content of your emails, or your responses to them on Facebook it is important to keep them in the loop. Twitter provides a great platform for business-client interaction as it’s fast-paced and instant. Keep up to date with your loyal followers and respond to any Tweets directed at you; if you don’t your social media standing will plummet, and if you do it will benefit your business greatly.
Tip: Forget the hard-sell on social media. IT DOES NOT WORK. Instead, engage with your leads/customers. Great for long-term profitability.
— Ingenious Britain (@ingeniousbrit) July 1, 2013
20. Failing to be persistent with marketing efforts
Anyone who tells you that starting a business is easy is a liar: it’s a hard slog and takes belief and dedication. Keep this in mind when it comes to your marketing efforts. When you begin marketing your business online there will inevitably be some trial and error involved at first. You will need to test targeting different demographics and different messages, not to mention when and where to market to your potential customers. Don’t expect fantastic results straight away, it’s important to stick at it, be persistent and constantly analyse and learn from your results to optimise future campaigns.
You could have the best website, SEO strategy, and products in your industry, but if you’re not persistent with your marketing efforts how will anyone know about them?
21. Not keeping your website’s content fresh
As has already been discussed, good quality website content is vital to the success of a business’ online reputation. In addition to this, it is important to ensure that this content is regularly updated and kept relevant. Not only does this keep potential and existing clients interested each time they visit, it also shows search engines that your website is active and up-to-date. A great way to do this is by installing a blog on your business’ website; you can update it with relevant news and information to help establish yourself as an authoritative voice in your industry.
22. Not learning from Google Analytics
Finally, one of the best ways to ensure the success of your online venture is by looking at the way customers are interacting with your website and using this data to constantly improve your website’s performance and your customers’ experiences.
Make sure that you have Google Analytics installed on your website to get access to in-depth insights on how your website and marketing efforts are performing. Whilst many of the previous points rely on public opinion, Google Analytics provides data and facts. You can use Analytics to find out all sorts of useful information about website activity and then use this information to better market and optimise your website for improved customer experience and conversion rates in the future.
If you follow our advice your small business should be prepared for a healthy online conception. If you fall guilty of making one of these fatal mistakes it could end up causing greater issues and less success further down the line. You wouldn’t build a house on rocky foundations, so make sure you give your small business the solid start it deserves too.
If you’d like a FREE review of your business website or advice about marketing or advertising your business online then please fill out the contact form at the top of this blog, email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org, or give us a call on: 0161 924 2173, we look forward to speak to you.Business & Finance Articles on Business 2 Community