Chapter 3 – The Most Common Mistakes

The Most Common Mistakes

  1. Gimmicks, false advertising, and other manufactured word-of-mouth tactics. Though lying is easy and gimmicks are cute, neither one of these represents a successful advertising strategy for your online marketing business. Remember the Taco Bell Chihuahua? You may have thought he was cute—or annoying—but did he make you want to rush out and buy tacos? That particular campaign proved a huge waste of advertising money for Taco Bell. The only way to generate true word-of-mouth sales is the original way: give people a product or service that is worth talking about. Once word gets out, you will gain long-term repeat business as well as short-term sales.
  2. Setting sale terms based on your needs (instead of your customers). It may be easier for you to design your website according to your template or the “style you have always used”, but that does not necessarily mean it will be easier for your customers to navigate. Every aspect of your website should be designed with your customers in mind. You must be able to think like a customer instead of a business owner, and decide how people would most logically look around your website. Remember, if they can’t find what they’re looking for within three clicks, they won’t waste much more time in finding another website where they can.
  3. Using the same marketing methods that worked before the Internet came along. Though some people may not like to believe it, the Internet has changed the face of business forever. More traditional businesses are losing customers to the convenience and the choices that are available online. If you don’t take advantage of the opportunities offered by the so-called Information Superhighway, your competitors will—and they will get your customers’ business. Remember, too, that getting your message “out there” is not enough. You need relevance and honesty to succeed online.
  4. Believing the Internet is a “one-size-fits-all” environment. Nothing could be further from the truth. No matter how compelling or wide-reaching your marketing practices are, you will not be able to reach every single Internet user out there (and yes, there are still some people online who have never heard of Google or Amazon!). Diversification is good for your business. One example of this is multiple e-mail accounts, which can give the impression that your business is larger than it seems. Another is multiple websites. If you have more than one product or service, creating a separate website for each one allows more exposure to different segments and market demographics.
  5. Following “best practice” marketing techniques on faith alone. When it comes to the Internet, there are no established “best practices.” This medium is still a relative infant compared to other advertising and business venues. What is best today may not be best tomorrow! The only “best practice” you should religiously subscribe to is the realization that the Internet is changing constantly, and you should be ready to adapt. Keep an eye on current trends and technological developments, and keep an open mind when it comes to marketing practices.
  6. Traffic does not mean success. This has been mentioned before: you can have thousands, or even millions, of website “hits” and still not have a successful online marketing business. Many online business owners make the mistake of “buying” traffic through programs that promise tens of thousands of visitors for one low price, but these visitors are not interested in your website. Many of them are clicking through a series of links in order to earn credit they can exchange for traffic to their own websites, or for “free” merchandise promised by the company hosting the traffic program. They don’t want to stop and buy your products or services. You need targeted traffic arriving at a website that is engineered to convert visitors to buyers.
  7. Settling for less than the best results. In any advertising campaign, the savvy business person will attempt to determine the percentage of people who actually made purchases as a result of viewing the advertisement. This number is called a “return.” The rate of return varies among different types of media. For example, a 2 percent return in direct mail marketing—that’s two out every hundred people who received a mail flyer and then made a purchase—is considered fantastic. When it comes to online sales, marketers typically measure rates of return on conversions: visitors to sales. That number should average from 2.4 to 2.6 percent if you want success. Unfortunately, even that low a percentage is difficult to maintain.
  8. Equating elaborate website design with favorable customer impressions. A busy, confusing website is one of the biggest mistakes online marketers make. Loading your website with multiple products, links, reviews, and sales fluff will only convince visitors that you’re trying too hard to substantiate a second-rate offering. Don’t make it hard for visitors to find what they’re looking for, and keep each website you maintain dedicated to one or two specific products.