In this article, I want to describe the most common digital marketing mistakes small businesses should avoid. We don’t have a lot of money to spare, and every dollar we invest in advertising should work to the fullest.
It always hurts my feelings to see how people wasted thousands of dollars by doing simple things wrong. So I decided I will list the mistakes that we observe daily to help our fellow entrepreneurs.
How do we know it was a mistake?
Let’s define what a mistake in digital marketing means. Sometimes we don’t even know that something is off because we don’t have any benchmarks in our heads. How do we know what reasonable ROI looks like? How long should we wait till we hit a target? We never know what we don’t know.
Let’s set the right expectations:
Organic traffic/SEO/Content writing
The super-long tactic that requires at least 6-8 MONTHS of waiting until you start getting ANY results. By results, I mean traffic. Only a small percentage of businesses successfully implement this tactic and can generate business from it alone. You can expect to start generating actual clients/sales only after ONE YEAR of active SEO + Content creation efforts. Depending on your niche if you don’t see any organic traffic started coming in after 6 months of SEO something is off. If you haven’t generated any business results (sales) after one year of doing SEO something is also off and you have to change your approach. Organic traffic requires TONS OF EFFORTS. The most common mistake is underestimating the amount of effort that is required.
Lead Generation/Sales/Conversion focused campaigns
A lot of entrepreneurs ask how long they should wait till advertising kicks in. Every platform needs some time to gather performance data and optimize itself to reach your target audience and desired outcome. Sometimes we need some time to test a few audiences before we focus on the most successful one. Generally speaking, you can start evaluation results after 3 WEEKS of running campaigns. Then depending on your profit margins you can calculate ROI and decide whether it’s a success or not. The beauty of these tactics that they give you an instant return on your investment. We always suggest small entrepreneurs start with simple result-driven campaigns.
Long term and quite an expensive tactic that requires 3-4 MONTHS till we start getting any results. Never drives sales/leads directly but instead works as a supportive mechanism. You can use social media and website traffic and/or engagement as a success measure of branding campaigns. The purpose of this tactic is to WARM UP YOUR AUDIENCE, introduce your brand to potential clients before you make an offer to them.
The whole purpose of remarketing campaigns is to drive conversion (sale/lead/submission). We have to follow-up with a potential client multiple times to convert them. The result should be immediate. We rarely expect any long term results from these type of campaigns. You should expect a return within the FIRST WEEK of running remarketing. The exception is B2B or Real Estate where marketing funnels are long.
Social Media Organic
A super important part of an overall digital strategy but rarely brings results on its own or directly impact sales/leads without any budget behind it. The main goal of posting on LinkedIn/Instagram/Facebook/TikTok is to create VALUE for your clients we always suggest to focus on engagement rather than the number of subscribers/followers. Engagement – See how often people read/comment on your posts. Shows the legitimacy of your business online, creates authority and trust.
Note: When I say rarely bring any results, it doesn’t mean never. It simply means you have to be great at it and be really invested in a platform to make it your sales driver.
If you’re not receiving the results listed above within the given time frames you likely to make one of the mistakes listed below:
Digital Mistakes Summary
- Broad targeting
- Wrong optimization goal
- Wrong advertising channel
- Small budget
- Poor ad quality
- Creative doesn’t match your audience
Digital marketing mistake #1 – Broad targeting
Broad targeting is simply too expensive and inefficient for small businesses. Keep in mind more precise targetting costs more in advertising. Test different audiences to find a good balance between price and precision. Create multiple campaigns with more precise targeting rather than one for everyone if it’s essential for your business to target a lot of people. Then you can compare how different audiences perform against each other.
Targeting options to consider:
- Location – most important for small businesses
- Consumer behaviour
Digital marketing mistake #2 – Wrong optimization goal
Every platform offers a variety of optimization options to choose from. These advertising objectives make A LOT OF DIFFERENCE. All people behave differently on the internet, and a platform will be fetching users according to your optimization objectives.
The biggest mistake is to set the wrong objectives for your campaigns. For example, you choose traffic objective but in reality, you expect sales, that won’t work. Let me explain the purpose of each objective so you can avoid wasting your money.
Common objectives to choose from:
As it says in the title is meant to be for branding campaigns where the platform will reach people that are most likely match your brand or services/products that you offer. Often used a supportive tactic. Work best when you have some content to offer. Can be display and video campaigns.
Rarely used by small businesses. Mostly used by big corporations that can offer services/products to a wide range of people. The idea is to reach as many people as possible. Unfortunately, most of these people won’t pay too much attention to your brand unless you have a big budget to spend. These campaigns are long term and never drive results for entrepreneurs. I suggest avoiding this objective.
Very similar to reach campaigns. These objectives will drive cheap traffic to your website. I don’t suggest to use this goal if your budget is limited. The exception is when you want to check/test the interface on your website. As well as reach campaigns can be successfully used by companies that offer services to a wide variety of products, something that can be used by practically anyone. Grammarly is a good example of a company that might use these campaigns. Who wouldn’t want to have spellchecking software on their computer?
These are very powerful campaigns for social media. You create them when you really want people to read/watch your message. Create a meaningful discussion between you and a target audience. Make sure you create something that your potential client can engage with otherwise this object won’t work.
My favourite objective where the whole purpose of these campaigns is to drive the desired action on a website/social media platform. You basically telling a platform that you want people to submit a form, make a purchase, visit x number of pages (can be creative)
Available on multiple platforms. The best type of campaign when you need to bring customers to a store. Works for businesses that have an offline location
Digital marketing mistake #3 – Wrong advertising channel
It’s not a secret that every advertising channel has it’s own audience and good for different purposes. The biggest mistake is to spend money on a platform without any return on investment. I’d say typically you shouldn’t try to advertise on a platform for more than 1 month without returns. Try a few campaigns with different audiences. Move to the next platform if something seems off.
Most common advertising platform these days:
- Google – 2 trillion Google searches per day in 2020 (Online Google Search meter)
- Bing (slowly dying) – 6 billion monthly searches
- Facebook – 2.7 billion MAUs (monthly active users)
- Instagram – 1 billion MAUs
- YouTube – 2 billion MAU
- LinkedIn – 260 million MAU
- Twitter – 330 million MAU
- TikTok – 850 million MAU
- Snapchat – 381.5 MAU
Interesting article where we compare most common lead generation platforms
Digital marketing mistake #4 – Small budget
Very common mistake but fortunately is easy to fix. I see a lot of scenarios where the budget isn’t enough to create a minimum ad frequency to get any results. Generally speaking, it isn’t enough to show your ad once, your campaign should be able to show ads at least a few times before it shows any return. More competitive industries – more showings. Don’t target broad audiences with a small budget if you’re in a competitive industry, you will quickly burn your budget. I saw some examples where people create 5-10 campaigns with a $10 – $50 advertising budget each, don’t do that, it won’t bring you any significant results. I’d rather create 2 campaigns with a $250 budget for each.
Digital marketing mistake #5 – Poor ad quality
Obvious one but still very common mistake among entrepreneurs. Image quality does make A LOT of difference. In so many cases simple image change lead to 80% performance growth.
|Poor ad||Good ad|
Poor quality ad – quality seems decent from a first glance – unfortunately, the purple background takes attention away from the ad. Overall this picture “doesn’t sell”
Good quality ad – No background, sharp, clean, attention focused on the fridge.
Even small changes make big difference, test different images/video to figure out what your audience like/care about.
Digital marketing mistake #6 – Creative doesn’t match your audience
I’ve mentioned the importance of your audience knowledge a couple of times in this article. Any business has at least 2-3 audiences to work with. Unfortunately, a lot of entrepreneurs don’t leverage this knowledge to the fullest.
Let’s assume you run a small e-commerce store where you sell some niche sports items. Most likely you have a couple of major audiences, depending on how granular you want to be. I suggest being as granular as possible.
Let’s assume you have 2 audiences and want potential client be aware of your store:
- Teenagers (not necessary they wear hoodies to the gym, they might wear it to the school age: 18-22, interests: fashion, value-shoppers)
- Crossfit enthusiasts (age:37-37, 70% male/ 30% female, interests:crossfit, health, sport)
The key here is to use high quality pictures that meet customer expectations, create a great picture of what they would look like. A lot of businesses run ads that don’t :suit” their target market. Ads that don’t match the audience it’s run against always receive lower engagement and ROI.
It’s impossible to avoid mistakes in business. We have to make mistakes to progress, the internet allows us to make them fast without devastating financial ramifications. Don’t wait for too long to shut down not performing advertising campaigns. Always test multiple campaigns/tactics/platforms before heavily investing in one.