It’s not just about money, but also about time and resources that could be used in a better way. Marketing budgets are often tight, and you just can’t afford to spend them on strategies or things that don’t work.
To help you cut waste and make your marketing strategy more effective, I’ve created a list of six most common ways small and medium sized businesses lose their budgets online. Here’s how to stop overspending time and money, and turn those losses into gains.
1. Using “Guaranteed SEO Services”
SEO is not an exact science and getting results overnight is a myth. Google’s algorithm has become smarter and smarter in the last years and there are no easy shortcuts. It’s commonly known that Google uses hundreds of ranking factors, but the truth is that no one knows precisely what all of those are. With time, you get to learn what techniques work better, but anyone that offers guarantees to rank a site on the 1st position for a particular keyword is a scammer.
Google warns people not to buy SEO services from companies or freelancers that guarantee to rank 1st for any given keyword. Here’s Google’s take on guaranteed SEO:
If you are not experienced, you might be tempted to choose an SEO company that guarantees you’ll rank first for your main keywords over a company that doesn’t offer this guarantee. Makes sense, right? But it doesn’t.
The SEO companies that offer such guarantees are commonly formed by black hat SEOs that are not fully committed to making your website successful. They are just fine with taking your money for 3 or 6 months, and don’t care so much that eventually you’ll leave disappointed. That’s because at least 1000 of potential new clients search in Google each month for “Guaranteed SEO”. They can easily find another naive person to sell them guaranteed SEO services and replace your contract.
Be very picky and skeptical when choosing an SEO firm. If you don’t know where to start, Moz has a list of recommended SEO companies.
2. Buying Social Media Followers
The number of followers you have on social media is simply pointless. What matters is the engagement and how many real users see your posts. It’s not like in your childhood when it mattered if you or your brother had a bigger portion of goodies. Many fall into the trap of believing that the more followers their business has, the more trusted and reputable it will be.
You should never buy social media followers. Neither on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or whatever social media platform you choose to use for your sites. Bought “followers” are fake and besides being a waste of money, you can alsoend up having your account suspended.
3. Not Measuring The Success And ROI For Your Marketing Campaigns
All businesses and industries are different and therefore what works great for some, might not work as good for others. For example, social media can be a golden nugget for sites in the entertainment or technology industry, but for a business that sells forklifts will not be as important. Just because a channel works great for most sites doesn’t mean that you should block your resources on something that’s not suitable for your type of business.
To succeed with online marketing, you have to analyze and measure the success of all your campaigns and then focus most of your attention on the channels that give the best return of investment. Use an analytics tool like Kissmetrics to see where your site traffic is coming from and check how the visitors are funneling through your website.
It’s critical to measure how well your marketing campaigns are performing and know what you should prioritize for the future. If social media doesn’t work well for your site, you can focus more on creating quality content, or maybe launch a better advertisement campaign.
The most common mistake marketers tend to do is not to measure their campaigns and sources of conversions on a regular basis. It’s not enough to check what works best for your site once and then take decisions upon what you’ve discovered on that analysis. Each week, marketers should check what worked best and how the conversions are going for each channel. Marketers can do all of this within Kissmetrics.
4. Content Marketing Done Wrong
The interest for content marketing has grown to unexpected levels in the last years. It’s estimated that the whole industry is worth roughly $190 billion and it will grow to $300 billion by 2019.
Content marketing is about creating content in the form of videos, articles, infographics, images, slideshows, etc. With the industry growing so quickly, the competition is also becoming stronger and stronger. Quality is the differentiator between a good and a bad content marketing campaign.
The main reasons why most of your content marketing campaigns fail is because:
- You don’t write about topics that people are really interested in. Sure, it’s your blog and you can write about whatever you want, but if you are aiming to get more visitors, you have to research your topics. With the help ofBuzzSumo, bloggers can find what content from other sites is performing great on social media. It’s a simply way to finding what works best for your competitors and what gets the most shares. The tool gives you access to an endless resource of topic ideas. It’s also a good idea to check what key phrases people use to do searches in Google. For that, Google’s keyword tool can be very handy.
- You don’t promote the content campaigns you have created. It’s not enough to write an article, video or build a great infographic and then move on. Just because you’ve clicked the “publish” button, it doesn’t mean that your job is over. Not even close. You can’t just create some content, and hope that it will go viral. Things don’t work that way. Chances are nobody will ever find your new piece of content, unless you try to promote it. Do outreach and try topromote the content through influencers.
- You content marketing campaign has no value. You see low-quality content marketing campaigns everywhere. If the content you’ve created doesn’t bring value to the reader, don’t bother publishing it. Instead of posting 10 useless articles or videos, try to make one that will stand out as the best in the niche.It’s the same with guest blogging. There’s no point to write for sites that have no authority and no one has heard about them. Don’t spend your time and budget to write for several low-quality sites, but instead aim to be a contributor on the big sites in your industry.
5. Not taking backlinks seriously
Backlinks are important not just for SEO, but they can also send relevant referring traffic, help you build partnerships, bring you customers, and measure the success of your online marketing campaigns. Sadly, many tend to ignore backlinks and rarely check the ones of their site.
If you are running a content marketing campaign or simply doing outreach to promote your website, besides checking analytics, it’s also important to check your site’s backlinks. That’s so you can know whenever a site links back to you and see how successful was your outreach campaign. If your content marketing campaigns are not generating quality links, you might have to reconsider your strategy.
Here are several reasons why everyone should pay more attention to backlinks:
- Backlinks are the main ranking factor for Google and Bing and they will continue to be for the coming years. A site that has good backlinks will rank higher for more related keywords and get more traffic from search engines.
- Bad backlinks acquired naturally or because someone has built them to your site can drag your site down in the SERPs. It’s important to know whenever your site gets new backlinks or otherwise all your SEO efforts will be pointless and you’ll end up wasting time and money.
- Backlinks can tell you when a blogger sends a link to your site. You can thank them for recommending your site, and perhaps build a partnership with them.
- Backlinks can show what websites are referring the most traffic to you, and you can try to get more of the same.
- If you are buying ads through banners, it’s important to know if the advertiser removes the backlink.
To be up to date with all your site’s backlinks, you can use the SEO Tool Monitor Backlinks, which sends you an email whenever your earn or lose links. Besides the email alerts, the tool shows more than 15 different metrics for each backlink, to help you easily see in a glance their SEO quality. Another useful feature is the warning sign that is showed for links that have questionable metrics.
To prevent organic traffic loss, it’s advisable to often check your site’s backlinks. SEO is one of the best online marketing channels that can generate traffic, even if you are in a boring niche. If you’ve hired someone to do SEO for you, you still have to check your site’s backlinks. Don’t sit back and think that everything will be alright. Your business responsibility is still in your hands and you are the only one that’s going to lose in case something goes wrong.
One of the worst mistakes people tend to do about backlinks is thinking that they need hundreds or thousands of links to rank high in Google. All that matters is QUALITY. The number of links you have is not important and you shouldn’t be obsessed about it. It’s best to have 10 quality links rather than 1000 backlinks from unknown sites.
6. Outsourcing To Bad Companies
As your online business starts to grow, you can start to consider outsourcing some of the tasks to a specialized company. You can outsource social media, content marketing, SEO, advertising management, etc. Whatever you outsource, don’t forget that you are still in charge and you can take over if the results are not the ones you expect.
There are numerous cases where companies are outsourcing services to a bad content marketing or SEO firm. However, they keep using their services. That’s because when outsourcing, companies tend to rely solely on the reporting provided by the outsourcing firm.
If your results are not close to your expectations, and you have a feeling that your money is being wasted, take action before it’s too late.
It’s hard to succeed with online marketing without measuring all your channels correctly. Set your KPIs and don’t be afraid to change or stop working on a channel that’s consuming too much financial and time resources.
Be very doubtful when choosing to work with an outsourcing company and continue to use your own tools to measure the success of their campaigns.