Online marketing is seen by many as the goose that lays the golden sales eggs. After all, everyone can easily create a social media profile or an AdWords account, making many business owners very hands-on when it comes to online marketing. With the platforms being so accessible one might be tempted to think they’re extremely easy to successfully navigate, providing even the lamest business with an easy ticket to earning enough money to fill Scrooge McDuck’s roomy vault. Let’s look at some problems marketing simply can’t fix and avoid spreading your resources too thin and, of course, a gaping hole in your budget.
Add value to your product
Marketing, online and offline, is a lot like an extended hand, from your product towards the consumer it’s meant for. Its goal is to effectively display the value of the product and how the customer will benefit by using it. Consumers compare products online much more than they do offline. Therefore, if your business sells regular tissue paper, at a regular price, on a mundane website, with discounts and promotions that everyone else has, don’t expect people to flock to your checkout anymore than they’re racing to your competitor’s stores. From the consumer’s point of view, it doesn’t matter which store he’s buying from, they’re all the same; and in this context, they really are.
If your product is unremarkable, throwing money at the problem isn’t going to help. In fact, in many cases, investing big budgets into marketing products with very little value will, in fact, only work towards devaluing it further. Instead, invest in rethinking your product and assign the bulk of your resources into coming up with a useful, relevant, valuable product that the market actually wants.
Solve your customer support issues
Inadequate customer support costs businesses billions every year, making it not just an essential component of your business’ success but a fantastic opportunity to build loyalty among your consumers. Including social media in your customer support strategy is important but transitioning your customer support entirely on social media is a tad bit impractical.
Some people use one platform, while others use more and some use none. Yes, there are still people out there who don’t use social media at all. By focusing solely on this type of platform, you’ve pretty much excluded any means for them to get in touch with you for help. What’s more, unless you’re running a huge business with a budget that could put a small country’s GDP to shame, you won’t be able to maintain a strong enough presence on every single social network your consumers might roam.
When it comes to customer support, good-old-fashioned phones are still a great option with Live Chat coming in a close second and email third. If you do maintain a social media presence, make sure your audience is aware that you’re willing to address their issues right there but don’t carbon copy your profile on every single social network known to man just in case a potential buyer might lurk in an insignificant corner.
Floor your marketing budgets
Probably one of the biggest misconceptions around online marketing is that it’s cheap and, even better, free. Not even close. Brands shovel hundreds of thousands of dollars every year into Promoted profiles, Google AdWords ads, Boosted Posts and whatnot. You are competing with all of them for advertising space. Let’s just let that sink in for a second.
The greatest benefit of online marketing is that it’s immediately measurable, allowing for a higher degree of adaptability and, in time and with lots of work, it allows you to do more with less money. If you start with a barely-there budget, the optimization process will take longer, your ROI will be insignificant, if any, and you’ll quickly become very disillusioned with the entire process, thinking it’s just not right for your business. In fact, the issue is more likely caused by the fact that you tried to do too much with insufficient resources.
The Bottom Line
Personally, I don’t see online marketing as a tool, but as the hilt of a tool. In the hands of a good marketer, with an effective tool attached to said hilt and given the time and space to practice and perfect it, online marketing can be a formidable asset for your business. On the other hand, if you’ve got a rusty saw on the end, a scared intern trying desperately not to drop it as he’s rushed through the training process and barely allowed to understand what he’s doing, you can’t truly expect the results to be exceptional.