We love Internet marketing because it’s often faster, easier, and more affordable to implement and test than other media. I always recommend that small businesses invest in online marketing and make it a key component of their marketing.

Unfortunately, it’s also really easy to lose money, too. Here are what I consider to be the top 3 costly mistakes to avoid.

Mistake #1: You’re Relying Too Much on SEO

Perhaps the biggest mistake business owners make is relying too much on search engine optimization (SEO) – helping your website show up in search engines like Google when people are searching for the services you offer.

Now, we’re obviously big fans of SEO. We’ve developed many profitable SEO campaigns for ourselves and clients over the years. But the reality is that if SEO is your main internet marketing strategy, you’re putting yourself in a very unstable position where Google basically controls your destiny.

And here’s another problem: You can get ranked on the 1st page of Google for a bunch of keywords and still lose money. Did you realize that? That’s one of the little-known risks of SEO.

When most people think of the risks of an SEO campaign, they think about whether or not a particular strategy will help them achieve rankings. But if you want to grow your business, you need more than rankings.

In order for your SEO campaign to be profitable, you need your prospective customer to do the following:
1) She sees your website in the search results
2) She clicks to visit your website
3) She contacts you
4) She become your customer

You see, getting rankings is just the first step – and rankings alone don’t’ guarantee the other steps will happen. As a result, you could invest months of time and thousands of dollars to achieve rankings and not acquire any new customers.

One way to limit this risk is to “pre-test” your SEO campaign with PPC advertising for your desired keywords. This will help you project how much money you could be making from SEO before you invest months and thousands of dollars in achieving rankings.

Mistake #2: You’re Not Tracking Your Advertising Properly

Lots of business owners have at least experimented with pay per click (PPC) advertising such as Google AdWords.

The fact is it’s really easy to lose a lot of money quickly with PPC. One reason is because the clicks are getting more expensive all the time. In many different markets each click in Google AdWords cost $5, $10 or more. I was doing some research the other day and saw that New York City personal injury lawyers pay $52.14 per click!

And if you’re not tracking your advertising properly, you’re basically flying blind. You could be wasting money because you’re investing in keywords that don’t turn into prospects and customers. On the other hand, if you’re making some money, but not tracking, you could be missing out on big potential profits.

What do I mean by tracking?

First, you want to know whether the people who visit your website from advertising end up contacting you, either via the phone or via your website. And then you want to know whether these people actually become paying customers, so you can determine your return on investment (ROI) from advertising. And then, you want to track these sales back to specific keywords, so you can see whether those clicks are actually profitable for you. If you do that, you’ll know which keywords to keep investing in and which to cut from your campaigns.

Now, if your business has an “offline sale” then you may think it’s difficult or impossible to track your online advertising to this level of detail, but we’ve developed several methods for effectively tracking offline sales.

Mistake #3: You’re Not Building a System

Right now you may already be getting some results from online marketing. People may be contacting you because of your website – but it’s just not predictable, and it’s not nearly as profitable and successful as you would like it to be.

To get the full benefits from online marketing, you need to create a marketing system that can largely run without you and attracts new customers every month. And one of the key components of a profitable small business online marketing system is email marketing.

Used the right way, email marketing can help you:

  • Turn more website visitors into prospects and customers
  • Turn one-time customers into repeat customers
  • Stimulate referrals

If you organize all the pieces of your online marketing (SEO, PPC, email, social media, and tracking/analytics) in just the right way, you’ll not only minimize your risk, you’ll create a system that generates reliable results for you month after month.

You may be just a few key ingredients short of having this kind of a marketing system up and running for your business.


Questions? Comments?

What did we miss? Are there other big mistakes to avoid when marketing a small business online? Post them in the comments section below.

Also, post your questions about online marketing and we’ll reply to them.