10 Dumb Mistakes Businesses Make Online - SendGrowth Blog

10 Dumb Mistakes Businesses Make Online

1. They don’t spend enough time listening

For small businesses, genuinely listening is the easiest way to find success or failure online.

If you are lucky enough to have someone talking or giving feedback about your business, that is your opportunity to listen then react. Lots of businesses chose to either ignore this phase, or don’t have time for it. Unfortunately, it’s imperative to your success online– because not listening to your ecosystem (or market), and having any expectations for your online efforts is pointless.

It’s like eating a donut on a treadmill and getting angry you’re not losing weight.

Tip: Practice listening over preaching in a 3:1 ratio, every day.

2. Not expending the right kind of energy

It’s easy to get sidetracked.. but I’m a pretty optimistic person, so I see that as a sign of you trying to better yourself (it’s better than not trying). It’s not easy to decipher between what’s the right information to be absorbing. Hint: it’s about surrounding yourself with the people or businesses that you want to be surrounded by.

That is a piece of life that translate from offline to online well. You can see it in every level of society, age group, and all over the world. For offline it means to surround yourself with good people who can support you and hold you accountable. Online, it means the same. Surround yourself with businesses that you admire and want to be like, and customers you whom problems you have solutions to.

Focus on listening to the people who you want to listen to, because it aligns with who you want to be as a business. Sometimes business owners have a hard time identifying that, and thats where information overload can happen. Spending too much time reading/listening might be the easiest way to ignore some fundamental steps of building a solid business. Where do you want to be in a year? 5 years? 10 years? Everything from your website design to your social media marketing needs to be on the same page with the fundamentals.

Tip: Consider the Pareto Principle when tracking your time

3. Trying to directly copy content or strategy ideas

Sometimes the hardest part of a marketing strategy is the content creation stage. This is what a lot of businesses stumble on when trying to achieve some sort of measurable success. If you are already looking at your competitions social media marketing, website, and technology.. Thats good! You must be aware of your competition, at least to some degree. Focusing too much on exactly the type of content they put out is what’s wrong.

As outsiders, we have no idea what their strategy is, or what their goals are. You need stop focusing so much on the exact type of content they put out, instead try to shift your focus to noticing other things: how often they post, what “type” of content they post, how much engagement they stur, how much they interact back.. These are the types of things that you can start to notice and “steal”. Copying content (blog, design ideas, marketing campaigns) is not a good idea in a noisy world. You have to at least try to stand out, if you want to be noticed.

Tip: If you are stuck in the planning mode: create first, think second.

4. Expecting social media to fix a bad product or service

Great marketing is the fastest way to kill a bad product. There is only so much that your extra efforts will produce, if you have a bad product or service.

One bit of advice: having feedback loops in your systems are key. Even negative feedback is at least a sign of your efforts, it means you aren’t being overlooked… But, is that what you want to be known for? Standing out, drawing negative feedback? Of course not, you want to be part of this new wave of businesses using word-of-mouth online as a way to directly grow your business.

Everything from sales, to design, and marketing all have an easier job with a good product. The sales process shortens up, design can become more of apriority, and your marketing can build upon a good thing (as opposed to a bad one). Sounds pretty dumb, but it’s the truth. A lot of businesses expect a great website or 5,000 likes to fix a bad product.

Tip: Be honest with yourself, your customers, and your product. Do everything you can do improve it– FIRST.

5. Expecting advertising to fix a bad product

This one is pretty similar to the above. Some business owners swear they will never spend another dime on online ads again! And that’s fine. You don’t have to.. But most of those business owners don’t have a product or service that is good enough to sell with ads.. Or they had the wrong person setting their ads up.

But, a common misconception from some business owners is they think that just having a “good enough product” and trying Google AdWords or Facebook Ads will be a s breeze.. Wrong. That’s an easy way to burn through your advertising budget pretty quickly. Do you know how well your product converts on cold traffic vs targeted traffic? Start there, advertising itchy business owners.

Tip: Get a base understanding of how well your offers are converting, before you spend money on advertising.

6. Not understanding when to engage

Engagement is a tricky thing. This is an error that a lot of businesses make in their website design as well as their social media marketing. Do you know the right time to spur a conversation with your customers? Think of your favorite physical brick-and-mortar store, and where the “contact” points of engagement occur. Is it a constant barrage of employees, asking you if you need help? Or is it impossible to find an employee when you need one? You’ve probably had both of those experiences, and they both suck. You want to know when is the best time to be there for your customers, for your product/service. No one business is exactly alike.

Figuring out where to put the contact forms, the social media share buttons, the “Buy Now!” button– all things that small business owners will probably overlook in the customer experience.

Tip: Meet your customer on their terms and comfort level, not yours.

7. Not understanding how to engage

Not every social network is suited for every business. Not every piece of technology needs to be implemented into every kind of business. There is a breed of business owners who like to try to stuff in a much “engagement” as possible without really understanding what they are tying to grow. Understanding how to talk to your customers is just as important as knowing when to talk to them.

Being scared to try new things is also another way that business owners can slip up, when it comes to engaging properly online. Don’t be afraid to start discussions, and be vulnerable. Being too shy or nervous to try something that your audience or customers may enjoy is a shame. You didn’t get to where you are by being risk avoidance– and sometimes trying new things is risky. It can pay off big though.

Tip: Some ideas for new ways to engage: Vine/Instagram Videos, Webinars, Live Hangouts, Q&A sessions, video testimonials, hashtag contests or campaigns..

8. Focusing on too many people

This goes back to a basic fundamental pillar of your business: understanding your customer. If you are trying to build a brand online, you have to know who your talking to. It’s a very common mistake, one I’ve made myself and one I see many businesses making every day online. When you are putting together anything for your business, from design, the website, marketing materials, if you don’t have a specific “customer archetype” in your mind when crafting, you are likely missing out on some things.

Sometimes it’s all too obvious which companies hire professionals to do their marketing or they try to do it themselves. When writing content or considering new designs, sometimes it’s easy to try and encompass something that “everyone” will like. That’s a surefire way to make sure no one can relate or find value through your business.

This blog post is obviously intended for those business owners who attempt to “do things” themselves. Do you think I did well in my focus? Let me know in the comments if you agree or disagree!

Tip: Align your intended audience with every single word you say, action you take, and heart you break. Don’t be afraid to make enemies with your customers enemies.

9. Not having a “Sharing Mindset”

Do you business selfie? If you have happy customers, chances are they would love to get to know you better.

If you don’t like taking selfies, or are out of touch with “those kinds of people who do” you might be missing out on what I like to call “The Sharing Mindset”. These people aren’t as vain as you might think, it’s just their sharing brains are wired to using these new tools we all have. Businesses need to develop a sharing mindset, and align it with their idea customer and the rest of the marketing efforts.

It’s not about literally taking selfies.. it’s about the way a selfie communicates to the world. They are sharing their personalities.

If you are too hesitant, shy, unsure, indecisive, un-confident.. It’s not easy to have that mindset, unless you really force yourself to believe in this new way of being (at least for the sake of your business!). Take “Business Selfies”– share happenings of your daily job that encompass your culture, personality, products or services. Start to think of your work as opportunities for sharing.

Tip: How many times a day do you think the top content creators see opportunity for content? Answer: All day, every day.

10. Drinking from the wrong hose

Information overload is one thing, but listening to stale or bad information is another.

With the amount of content that is put online, and the amount of ways it can reach your eyeballs, it’s no wonder that people have a hard time knowing where to get the best information from. If you are running a business online, having a vision of how advertising works, social media marketing should work, and being up-to-standard with your brand and website design is really a big part of the success.

Align your information sources with your goals, and do your best judgement call. It’s not an easy thing to do- and the best metaphor I can think of for it would be this:

Have you ever had that friend who you knew was trouble? Maybe they just were too reckless, careless, or whatever. Your parents, teachers, or society didn’t approve.. But you couldn’t help hanging out with them.

It’s up to you and your good judgement to decide whether this person is in your best interest to be friends with. Sometimes it is, and you need to make a stand for your friend. Good friends stick with each other through thick and thin. But other times, you can be real with yourself and know that this friend is doing toxic things. Maybe they wouldn’t stick their neck out for you, for example.

Tip: Deciphering the right information for your business is a lot like that. If you are interested in getting into some trouble together, subscribe to the newsletter below