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Tips, advice, and information for South African business owners

18 Aug

Five Fables Of Online Marketing In Small Business

Having worked with 1,000+ small business owners, we’ve heard some “interesting” beliefs about online marketing. Here’s a selection of my favourite false fables and why they’re dangerous, especially for SMEs.

1. I don’t sell online, so I don’t need to be online (much)

Nothing chases away customers like a website with irrelevant content that doesn’t answer their questions. Increasingly, online research is a key tool customers turn to when looking to buy across many industries, so keep your online presence up to date and informative. See also fable #5.

2. I don’t use email because it’s spam

No, not all email is spam. Your concern for respecting your customers’ trust and attention is laudable, but email is only spam if you email people who’ve asked you not to. Even the Protection Of Personal Information Act (POPI) – not yet passed into law – allows certain types of email contact to be initiated with prospective customers.

Generating leads is just one of many reasons for investing in email marketing. Welcoming new customers, nurturing those who are not yet ready to buy, building goodwill with newsletters and other free resources, and conducting research through surveys and review requests are just some of the other benefits. In most industries, including B2B, email is by far the preferred channel.

3. A suite of online channels is only for big business

This may have been true in the mid-1990s when the world wide web took off, but no longer. Employing multiple channels (e.g. email, social media, instant messaging) has become increasingly essential and simultaneously inexpensive.

Different channels serve specific purposes throughout your sales cycle. For example, YouTube is good for building credibility by answering “how to” questions, while FaceBook keeps your loyal supporters engaged with news or promotions. Ignore multiple channels at your peril.

4. Plunging into social media because “we need to be everywhere.”

Perhaps swinging the pendulum too far after fable #3, this misbelief is built around the assumption that “the more people on a platform, the more customers we can get.”

For starters, your target market won’t be evenly distributed across all channels. Maintaining your presence on even one channel could be a full-time job, so rather focus your efforts on the one or two channels your customers prefer. Integrate this with your marketing stage or purpose described in #3.

5. My website is good enough; I don’t need a responsive design for mobile users

As far back as 2013, three-quarters of searches using a mobile device lead to offline purchases. To further dispel fable #1, the most popular content searched for are product lists, opening hours, prices, and contact data. Be sure that your website adapts to the small screen of mobile devices to avoid illegible text and clunky user interface unsuited to touch screen use.

There are plenty of other false beliefs about online marketing, but if you want to get more customers and make more sales, overcoming these fables would be a good place to start!

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