Why most businesses fail at Internet marketing

Kevin Getch

New media presents new challenges

As if the pressures of wearing multiple hats while dealing with the complexities of online search weren’t enough, you now have new media to worry about such as mobile marketing, social media marketing and email marketing just to name a few. So if you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed you’re not alone. Most small business owners feel like the world is moving faster than they are. They know they need to change with the times or risk going extinct, but most don’t know where to start. Some suffer from paralysis of analysis and do nothing, while others try to do it themselves until they finally burn out.

Those are the two most common situations clients are in when they pick up the phone and call us. A third scenario we find people in is when they have hired an SEO or internet marketing company to help grow their business but have failed to see the results.

Chances are you fall into one of those three categories. You’re either hoping this “digital thing” is a passing fad, a DIY kind of owner or someone who prefers to hire the experts. If you’re like most business owners, you’re not getting the results you want from your internet marketing efforts. So let’s consider the common mistakes each type makes and how you can avoid them. (I’m going to skip the first type – those who assume this digital thing is a fad. If that’s you, the only advice I can give is to stop reading because what I’m going to share is only going to make you mad. And that doesn’t help anybody.)

The DIY business owners

I have a soft spot in my heart for the DIY business owner because that’s who I am naturally. When I launched Webfor four years ago I did everything. I was the web designer, SEO specialist, social media marketer, copywriter, bookkeeper, salesman, accountant, etc. Fortunately, I quickly discovered this wasn’t scalable. Once I realized I could employ the efforts of people who were better than me in these areas I was free to focus on my passion which is helping businesses grow through online marketing.

As someone with a “if you want something done right you have to do it yourself” mindset, it wasn’t easy to transition from working in my business to working on my business. But once I saw how delegating and outsourcing low leverage activities freed me to grow the business and focus on just SEO, I was a believer.

Action plan: In order to transition from being a DIY business owner you must stop doing everything yourself. I know, shocking right? So here’s how to get started. First assess how you’re spending your time and ask yourself if those activities are high leverage activities or low leverage activities. Another way to look at it: could you pay someone $15/hr to do that job? If the answer is yes, then why are you doing it? Start delegating, outsourcing and eliminating all low leverage activities.

Using the wrong vendor

Using the wrong vendor can be a costly mistake. And I’m not going to belabor the point here. If you’ve ever hired an online marketing company who promised you the moon but failed to deliver results you know how frustrating this can be. Not only do they waste your money, they cause a lot of opportunity cost – time you could have spent with higher search engine rankings. There are plenty of great web design and digital marketing companies out there. But for every quality company there are 20 other less than reputable companies who make claims they don’t live up to.

Action plan: If you want to avoid using the wrong online marketing company it’s important to ask them a few direct questions and then listen closely to their responses. By doing this you’ll come across as someone who is online marketing savvy and you’ll also scare the sharks away because they know you can’t be suckered. Here is a list of questions you’ll want to ask:

  • What do you know about the recent algorithm changes by Google
  • Who would be assigned to my account and what are their responsibilities?
  • Do you have three or four clients that have been with you for more than a year that I can talk to?
  • Do you follow Google’s Webmaster Guidelines?
  • Do you handle all aspects of SEO or just a certain portion?
  • Are you also going to work on improving user experience and load time of my website?
  • Do you have full-time copywriters?
  • Do you leverage social media?
  • Does your team do PR/outreach on our behalf?
  • What is your philosophy on link building?
  • How do you measure success?
  • How do you report your progress?

Take action, be decisive

Successful business owners are decisive. And if you want to succeed with your online marketing efforts then you need to take action. Whether you simply outsource or delegate a few of these marketing activities to someone more capable or you hire an online marketing agency, it’s important you do something. This “digital thing” is not going away anytime soon so either change with the times or get left behind.

 Kevin Getch is the president of Webfor, a Vancouver-based a web design and SEO firm. He can be reached at 360.747.7794.

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