The US Small Business Administration reports that there were 30.2 million small businesses in operation during 2018, representing roughly 99.9 percent of all businesses in the United States. All businesses — but especially small businesses — rely on marketing methods to develop viable sales leads.
Unfortunately, failure to generate the right kinds of leads (or any leads at all) can have dire consequences. The SBA states that one in 12 businesses close every year, with low sales being among the top reasons for closure. If your marketing techniques are lacking, you may not be able to survive in a crowded marketplace. Let’s take a closer look at some of the most common marketing mistakes that could be killing your sales leads before they ever get a chance to mature.
Your website isn’t optimized
SEO, or search engine optimization, isn’t a passing fad. It’s consistently among the most effective ways to ensure that customers can find your business without having to run ads or rely on standard methods of promotion. It’s a much more organic and relevant means of providing assistance to web users and ensuring that Google knows what your business is all about.
Your website should contain high-quality and helpful content, pertinent keywords, and an overall superior user experience. A bad website will make potential leads click that “back” button in their browser in a matter of seconds, while an unoptimized website will never even get potential leads to find you in the first place.
In today’s world, organic lead generation is incredibly valuable. By showing up near the top of the search engine results, you can bring traffic to your site. From there, you can convert these leads based on an offer. Someone who finds their way to your site due to the valuable information you supply will be more likely to sign up for your mailing list.
But you won’t have access to those leads if you don’t provide them with something of value. Therefore, SEO is a marketing component you can’t afford to ignore.
You’re still cold calling
Outbound marketing was once the way to go. Although there are some outbound marketing techniques (like email blasts) that can be effective, inbound marketing has definitely taken over in the digital age. Today’s customers don’t want to feel like they’re being sold to or courted. Instead, they want to work with businesses that provide them with a solution for a problem they’re having and that have values that align with their own.
Keep in mind that consumers are being constantly bombarded with information and sales pitches throughout the day. Spam emails accounted for 53.5 percent of email traffic worldwide in 2018, while there were nearly 48 billion robocalls made that same year.
Ultimately, that means that most consumers have neither the time nor the patience to deal with legitimate sales calls and emails. If you choose to go this route, you might very well end up being seen as an annoyance. And no one wants to do business with an organization that’s seen as out-of-touch or obnoxious.
HootSuite reports that 90 percent of top decision-makers never respond to cold calls. Basically, consumers (and even other businesses) are doing everything they can to make sure they aren’t bothered. Rather than casting a wide net and hoping to catch something, you should provide the bait and see for yourself the nibbles that will ensue. Stop wasting precious resources on cold calling and devote more of your marketing budget to inbound strategies that attract, engage, and delight potential leads.
You’ve created subpar social media ads
Embracing social media is a must in today’s digitally driven environment. And often, these platforms can be a great way to drive viable leads for your business. But if you don’t know what you’re doing, you could end up wasting a lot of time and money on leads that won’t ever pan out.
On Facebook, for example, you can easily run an ad to target potential customers. But while there are some customers who are willing to buy a product from an ad you run, many of these ads are the modern equivalent of the infomercial. It’s far more effective to create a conversation and an actual community that supports your brand, rather than to perform a hard sell that pushes products or services.
What’s more, you could be targeting a totally irrelevant audience who won’t be inclined to even click on your ad, much less make a purchase or supply their information to learn more. You might also have an unrealistic budget and see no results or use poor quality images that won’t bring any interest from leads.
In the end, you may not really know why your ad didn’t work. In this scenario, many brands blame the medium, rather than their own lack of knowledge. Whether you decide to outsource to an expert or devote some time to do some major research, you shouldn’t go into it blind. Otherwise, you won’t get the quality or the quantity of ads you want.
Small business owners can’t take a risk by ignoring digital marketing techniques, nor should they attempt to embrace them without doing their homework. In either scenario, you’ll probably become frustrated over your inability to generate leads. But if you steer clear of these mistakes, you’ll be in a much better position to compete in 2019.