Internet Marketing Mistakes To Avoid
Mistake #1: Excessive Humility
Being humble is fine if you are a monk or teacher but it is a definite no-no if
you are in sales. At the end of the day Internet Marketing is all about sales,
and great sales people are not humble. Perhaps you are one of those
people who don’t really like to announce to the world that you are the best
or that your product is number one and think that the product will sell on its
own merits. Well, you need to find someone to be your cheerleader.
As someone who owns their own company they need to live and breathe
their product. They need to be their own best advocates or their product
apostles. Marketing is all about self-promotion and promoting yourself is
the heart of internet marketing.
Now that we have the right attitude we can look at different ways of self
promotion later in this article. The average customer might not even know
about your product so aggressive marketing is all about telling everyone
Mistake #2: Having no vision and mission
Most big companies have a mission and vision statement. It clearly states
the goal of the company, for example this one from Apple Computers
“Apple is committed to bringing the best personal computing experience to
students, educators, creative professionals and consumers around the
world through its innovative hardware, software and Internet offerings.”
Apple’s innovations such as the IPhone and IPAD make use of this
particular statement as the driving force behind their success.
No you probably think your small company isn’t nearly the size of Apple.
You have to remember that even Apple was just an operation in Steve
Job’s garage at some point in time. So best to start things right by making a
strong mission and vision statement.. You need to have a strong foundation
in order to grow.
You probably asking how this helps with your online strategy and
marketing, well if you got the right vision than it sets the right foundation
that you can build around, if you don’t have this you will have a very hard
time fixing the next 18 mistakes.
Mistake #3: The Pay Wall
What is a pay wall? Well it is when you can’t access content unless you
pay. An example of this is the Financial Times, they give you a short
preview of the article and if you want to continue reading it you will have to
pay an amount for access to the website. Now, a company like the financial
times can get away with that kind of marketing can but an average internet
start-up can’t. This kind of strategy will really slow down the adoption of
your product and technology and only really works with already established
and powerful brands.
A better strategy would be to allow limited access. Some companies like
Google’s Gmail and Facebook use add revenue and sell targeted
advertising. The gist of the message is that people are used to everything
on the internet being free or at least partly free and doing the whole pay
before you try will not work unless your brand is already established.
So take a look at your customer acquisition strategy, and how you are
currently positioned in the market. Take a look at your revenue streams
and see if you really do make a lot of money from subscriptions or what
not. The Pay Wall might be preventing you from getting more people to
adopt your product and because of this you are not able to take off and
attain the critical mass needed to succeed.
Mistake #4: Not understanding SEO
What is SEO? SEO is search engine optimization a crazy arms race
between the website owner and the search engine algorithms. The SEO’s
goal is to ensure that you come out on top in the search field of your
particular key word. Problem is that the algorithm is also adapting to make
sure you cannot take advantage of any loop-holes. So should you just
ignore the whole problem? Not care about SEO at all?
That would be a disaster! SEO is all about optimizing your website. So how
will the SEO benefit you? The SEO will optimize your website so that when
the search engine web crawlers come along and search your website they
will do so on a perfectly optimized site. Gone are the days that you could
use a 250 page article and the magic of SEO to bump up your website to
the number one hit on a particular keyword. These days it all about content,
so you could actually say content is king!
You also need to understand and utilize keywords. This touches back on
mistake number 1. If you don’t tell people about them won’t know about
your product. However it’s important on how you tell people about it and
that is where the SEO is able to help you.
So consider this, how much more traffic can you generate if you are the
number one hit on your chosen key word. Googling something is almost
second nature and the average person will only take a look at the first
couple of links. So not investing in a SEO person is a mistake, if you can’t
afford one consider becoming one yourself.
Mistake #5: Not blogging about your business
“Well I already have a website so why do I need to blog about my product?”
Blogs are an extension of someone’s influence on-line. Some blogs can
make and break products because of their reviews. Some blogs like Perez
Hilton and Huffington Post have made internet celebrities out of their
creators. So do not discount the power of the blog.
When someone is looking for what’s in and what’s not in fashion they read
the fashion blog. When people want to know where the new hot destination
is they read a travel blog. If they want to see what the hottest new mobile
phone is they read a tech blog. In fact, they probably look at your website
first than when they see a product they like they look at the blogs to see the
So you need to get your voice heard, you need to be the advocate and
push the message you want out to everyone. My product is here and one of
the best platforms to do that is through your blog. In the blog you can
become one of the influencers out there.
However make sure you do a few things first, make sure that your blog is
hosted on the same site as your domain. That way they know it is an official
blog. If you are blogging about a certain niche like technology you cannot
sound like one big advertisement what you need to do is really spend time
writing about things that people want to hear about. You also need to
interact with your bloggers so when they comment make sure that you
respond to them. That means that you need to respond to both negative
and positive comments. Often you will get internet trolls who do nothing but
bash your product on your comments but what you need to realize that it
will be even more damaging than engaging and responding maturely.
Mistake #6: Lacking the personal touch
What is the personal touch? Well have you noticed that Google and
Facebook are now able to target people by very specific criteria? That
means that they can target you by your sex, age, location and even by your
likes and dislikes. This may seem quite creepy but you can use this to your
advantage by targeting your audience at the local level. This is one of the
reasons that spam doesn’t really work, if you try a scatter shot strategy you
might end up damaging the reputation of your website and then the
reputation of your product.
Don’t forget to make sure that you focus on a local search. Which means
that if you have a restaurant in Coral Gables make sure when people
search for restaurants in Coral Gables that your name shows up in the
results? This is especially appropriate if you business is located in the mall.
This means that if you are in the mall that you will benefit from the traffic
and search of the location that you are located in. So what does this mean?
It means that local business can leverage the internet to get their products
act there with a personal touch, so that the locals can find their way there.
Sending out personalized emails or even actually corresponding to
customers can help you build loyalty. Some of the biggest complaints out
there is that in some companies it’s impossible to talk to a real person. So
be that real person and add the personal touch to the company.
Mistake #7: Not being social enough
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and Google + are all social
networks which are great places to do your marketing. Some people feel
that Social Networks are a waste of company time when they think of social
media they are thinking of ways to block it and increase worker productivity.
What you can do is tap social media to rapidly expand your internet
footprint without spending too much money.
It’s important to invest in good social marketing as they can be a big driver
of traffic to your site. Some of the more savvy companies have started to
even address their customer service concerns on social media sites.
Creating an online community where people who enjoy your product can
come together is also a big win. Creating fan pages, linked in accounts or
even tweeting on a regular basis shows that you are connected to your
clientele and that you are hip and modern company.
The best part about this is it is mostly free, none of the major social media
sites will charge you to create a site even if it is commercial in nature. You
can also build your profile quickly with a minimum of investment and even
use graphics that you have already created for you website. What you
would have to budget is having the social media sites drive traffic to your
fan page or company profile. This is a relatively new development and
something that companies should definitely incorporate into their marketing
One of the downsides is that you need to invest on staff to monitor your
social media as you cannot really just leave it alone like a static website.
On top of that you also need to ensure that your staff is up to date with the
new developments in the company as this where people will often go
looking for news. Consider creating a corporate communications function
and depending on the size of your company make it a department or a
Often you have to address concerns on the social media sites and it is also
a good place to check on feedback for your company. So learn to use
social media to gauge where you are in the market and what do people
really think about your company.
Social media is one of the hot new trends of 2014 along with mobile
computing so this is not something that you can afford to ignore. So if you
don’t already have a person doing it at least make sure that you read up on
Mistake #8: Not cross promoting with other sites
Once you have built up a reputation for yourself or one of your staff has
done it for you than you should really take a look at into cross posting or
guest authoring with another blog with a similar related product. Remember
that your reputation is a resource and that cross pollinating ideas is a good
way to grow your network.
Sites that may not be your direct competitor but is in the same industry
would be a good target. Also review sites or blogs that might be on your
area of expertise might also be a good option. But whatever the case it’s
important that you utilize this opportunity.
One thing that this helps develop is name recognition not only of your
product but also of yourself. So you should always consider your
knowledge as a resource and make sure that you share it with as many
people as possible.
Another benefit is that you can link back to your site which also increases
the relevance and reputation of your site especially if the site that linked to
you is older or more established than your website.
The downside to this is that you actually have to be a pretty good writer
and write about relevant things. So you can’t just pump out a 250 word
article that just summarizes other articles. Most reputable site wouldn’t take
them and those that do will give very little benefit to your marketing
strategy. It might even have a negative effect and should be avoided.
Mistake #9: Not creating customer advocates
There are happy customers and there are customer advocates. Can you
make a customer so happy that they will be an advocate? What is an
advocate? It’s a customer who generates excitement and sales for your
company. This is probably one of the most single important transformations
you can have in a customer, instead of having him just happy you actually
have him out there doing your job for you and pushing your product.
The best way to do this is a testimonial page on your blog or website. It’s a
perfect opportunity for the company to leverage on the good will of the
customers by having them post their good experience on your website.
Even better is that they submit positive reviews on your business on third
party sites. For example, someone is so happy with your product that they
put a 5 star rating on Amazon. What this means is that whoever sees that
becomes curious and might even try your product.
These customer advocates might even create blogs about your products
and create a loyal following. Customers who love your product are the best
ambassadors as they will refer their friends and family to your product. The
most important thing about this is that they are doing this because they are
truly happy about their product and they are doing it for free.
So make sure that you create more customer advocates, as they are free
and there word will really help convince people to visit your site and try your
product. But the question is where all these customer advocates come
from. That means that at one point in time they were all “Newbies”.
Mistake #10: Not paying enough attention to the
Some companies try to cultivate an elitist mentality. Perhaps your company
is selling software and your blog and website are overly technical and can
only be understood by engineers. Elitism is often used as a marketing
strategy because they feel that the masses will follow the elite. Of course
this can work in certain situations especially with the designer fashion
What we need to take a look at is the grass roots growth of your customer
base. Your website should have articles or blogs about introduction to your
product or industry. It’s important that you cultivate and grow your customer
base as that is the only way to really drive traffic and people to your site.
Consider creating “How to” articles so that people interested in things like
programming will end up at your site. After explaining the basics you can
then sell them related products.
Making your site more beginner friendly would be a great help. Even
building a welcoming online community through a message board or forum
would be great. These small steps would help people that might be
intimidated into joining your product community.
It is also important to remember that a lot of these newbies might become
your customer advocates. Developing and maintaining your customers is
important in creating a strong marketing strategy.
Mistake #11: Ignoring the real world
Sometimes you think that you can do everything from behind the computer
screen. I mean it is online marketing right? Well, you cannot ignore the real
world, meaning that you need to also drive traffic to your site using off-line
One of the easiest ways to generate traffic is joining a conference; you can
either be a speaker or even just a participant. However, if you get your
business card in circulation with your web address on it than you have just
generated traffic with people who are specifically interested in your kind of
product. I mean they did attend the same conference as you didn’t they?
Networking and meeting the right people in the industry also help you with
other things like guest blogging that we discussed earlier and forming
strategic partnerships between different people in the same industry. Real
world connections translate into strong connections on-line too.
You can also become a guest writer on print media like a magazine or
newspaper. Just getting your information and links out there will generate
huge traffic especially if you are trying to target a specific market or
geographic location. For example, someone into fitness writes a guest
article on Men’s Health and on this article he can plug his blog. If the article
is well thought out people will look for more.
Even simple flier with your website can generate traffic. As long as you can
get the customer interested in your product leaving the link will lure them
into coming to your site where you can than close the deal.
Mistake #12: Not creating an affiliate network
How does affiliate marketing work? It is an alternative to the regular supply
chain. So the way it works is that for a small business that doesn’t have
access to the bigger markets sacrifice their profit margins and have another
third party sell their products. In other ways think of it as performance
One of the most famous companies able to pull this off is Groupon, they
had one of the best affiliate marketing strategies on the net and contribute
to their explosive growth from 2008 – 2010. So you can totally build your
own affiliate network either through your own website or using a third party
This is an opportunity that you do not miss. This is one of the best ways to
expand if you are cash poor company or newly started.
Another kind of affiliate network you can join is an advertising one. You can
pay commission on any traffic sent to you site that results in sales. The key
thing about affiliate marketing is the low set up cost, since the affiliate is
shouldering most of the marketing cost you are really in a low risk venture.
Mistake #13: Not making the right friends in the
Sometimes people say it is not what you know but who you know. Many
events give you the opportunity to meet the right people in your industry
and build on relationships that might have been started online.
Meeting the right people is especially true in start-up industries. The person
that you had lunch with today could become the next Mark Zuckerberg and
when he does you can tap him as someone you know. Business is a lot
more relationship driven than people realize, a lot deals come from
referrals of people that you worked with or former bosses or clients.
That’s why it is important never to burn bridges, you never know where and
who you will be with in the future. Keeping the right friends and
acquaintances is a huge plus for future business, especially with social
media platforms like Linked in and Facebook allowing you to keep in touch
with these people a lot easier than it would have been in the past.
Knowing the right people might give you the impression that you know the
right people and improve your reputation in the industry. If you are
considered an industry expert than that in itself will increase the traffic of
You can also end up meeting new employees who can help your company
grow. Networking can help you create a team of great marketing
executives. So consider that not only do you need to know the right people
above you who can pull you up, you also need to know the right people
below you who can push you up.
Mistake #14: Not spreading your opinion enough
People often think that your opinion isn’t worth much but commenting on
blogs can drive traffic on your site. Of course when you comment it needs
to be well thought out, structured, and needs to contribute something to the
discussion. That means you should not say something like wow this is
great take a look at my site. What you need to do is make detailed and
insightful comments that will draw people to read more of your writing. So
when people read the comment they will follow the link and go to your blog
and poof you have a new visitor to your sight.
Also writing opinion pieces in blog or forums would bring attention to you
and your website. Writing well thought out and informed opinion can spark
a debate on a topic where you can weigh in on your opinion. There are
several ways to leverage this into better traffic to your site, one is to pitch a
product that you believe in and also happen to sell. The other is to sell
yourself, as you show your expertise people might hire as one of their
So spend as little as 10 minutes a day making these comments to help
build a reputation and drive more traffic to your site. Even if they don’t
result in sales you will be able to build experience on the subject and
become a subject matter expert.
Once you are a subject matter expert this ties into the next subject which is
Mistake #15: Not hanging out in the message
Many people think that people don’t really use message boards anymore
but they can be surprisingly robust and large communities. The first
reaction to a question is to Google the answer. Yes you probably will find a
result but did you know that most of the time the result is the answer to a
question asked in a forum or message board. This is especially important
when the forum is on specific subject that your business is particularly
An example of this is someone who loves to play World of War craft a
MMORPG, and often asks questions about how to do this and that on the
game. If you are able to answer his questions he will probably click on the
link to your website or blog where he can than become a potential
customer of our product. The other thing that could happen is that once you
become a recognized subject matter expert than you will be hired to do
Start by identifying the forums and message boards where your potential
clients and customers would frequent. You can start by posting interesting
topics or answering some of the questions that get asked on the forum. So
set goals on the amount that you want to post and make sure that you do it
as a consistent strategy to generate leads.
Hanging out in forums is about building your online persona, its not
something that happens overnight. So expect to invest a few weeks to a
months in becoming someone. A few hours a week could produce results
that are disproportionate to the effort so get on that keyboard and start
Mistake #16: Having no referral program
When you have a customer who is happy the first thing you have to think
about who does he know that will also enjoy your product. Sometimes the
customer offers to introduce you to his friends and family and boom you
have a customer advocate. Sometimes you need to ask the customer if he
When a customer either receives the product or service he should be give
a questionnaire to fill out and ask is there anyone that they can introduce
you to. This can be sent by email, web form or done through social media.
In most cases if the customer was happy with the service or product he
would be happy to introduce it to his circle of friends and family.
Do you sell a product you feel wouldn’t work with a referral program?
Something like food? Well, the thing is everything works with a referral
program. For example on the restaurant you can say that for every new
customer you bring in you can eat for free. Creativity is the key.
So make sure that happy customers have a system where they can easily
refer new clients to the company. You can even reward them with
incentives but either way referrals are a great way to improve lead flow.
Mistake #17: Not using YouTube
In Hollywood it becomes really popular to create viral campaigns before the
release of a big movie or a in corporate America to launch a new product
through guerilla marketing. One of the key ingredients is using the video
sharing site you-tube. Surprisingly few people realize the potential that you
tube has. You have to remember that Justin Bieber was discovered on
YouTube and many of its videos can reach up to 3 million hits. So why
don’t people use YouTube more often? Most likely because the people
equate video with traditional advertising and well they are on the internet.
Creating a awesome video with something interesting than it could
probably go viral. One of the most famous examples of that is the iPhone,
when videos of the iPhone were leaked onto YouTube the world went
insane and people kept taking a look at it. The video went viral and iPhone
had one of the most successful product launches ever.
Mistake #18: Not going on sale
Notice how people look forward to sales like Black Friday? Or how that
store goes on sale when they open to attract customers. You cannot ignore
that strategy just because you are online. What you need to do is slashing
prices to bring in new customers. Once they like your product than they are
more likely to come back and become customer advocates.
One way to do this is through the group discount site Groupon, where you
can attract new customers who are looking for savings. Now, if for example
you are a restaurant and people try it because the food was discounted but
love the food than they will come back and eat there at regular price. The
discount is just about attracting the initial customer.
Going on-sale also creates a buzz on the online community. When your
product is highly anticipated you slash the price on the first 100 units to
ensure that they fly off the shelves. Remember that sales are not just for
the end of shopping seasons, you can use them to push your products and
help with the exposure of your new products.
It is also important to realize that sites like Living Social and GroupOn can
generate a lot of exposure since a lot people regularly search the site for
best deals. The growth of these websites are good for local business as
now the can get exposure especially if they are new.
Sales are a great way to bring in customers. All you need to do is make
sure you time them right and that you don’t break the bank.
Mistake #19: Having bad customer service
A lot of companies spend all their money on developing the right product.
Yes, having an awesome product and marketing will sell but having terrible
service will almost guarantee that you won’t get repeat customers. Not only
that but each unhappy customer will tell three other potential customers
about their bad experience and make it even harder to expand your market.
Great customer service might even cover up for an average product. You
need to have multi-channel customer service and a thriving online
community with people willing to help. For example, you would need
someone to answer calls, answer emails, answer chats and answer
questions posted on the forum. Covering all these channels is only the
beginning. You now need to ensure that the service is excellent.
If your company cannot afford to have its own in house customer service
center they have several options. Some companies create user driven
forums where the customers help each other, this is great at building a
community but eventually you would need to add more channels to handle
high volume questions. The other is outsourcing, you can do it onshore or
off shore with a myriad of different option available at relatively cheap
As a company your customer service is a reflection of who the company is.
Just by adjusting the company to be more customers centric you should be
able to improve the customer experience and make sure that people come
back for more. Don’t forget one of the biggest costs is acquiring customers.
So once you have customers why lose them?
Customer service is integral to your business. Your sales team can keep
making sales but your customer churn will be really high and they might not
even be unhappy with the product, it is probably your service. That’s why
such a high premium is put on service, and if the customer demands great
service you should step up to the plate and provide it for them.
Mistake #20: Not getting enough publicity
Why is it that people often equate fame to money? It is because they
usually come hand and hand, publicity is easily monetized and as business
owner you should definitely take advantage of this. You can do this using
traditional media, that is TV, Magazines and newspapers or the internet
blogs, websites, and you tube. So what you want is publicity for your
So if you have an awesome product does the press come knocking on the
door? No, that rarely happens you need to work to get publicity on your
products. There was a restaurant with good food, problem was no one was
really familiar with it, it had a bad location and was really new. So they had
a party where they invited all the food bloggers in the area. It was a huge
hit, the bloggers loved it so they posted it on the blog and next came all the
foodies who raved about it some more. Eventually the local press caught
wind and sales sky rocketed. Publicity can help you overcome things like
poor location and it doesn’t always mean you have to spend a load of cash
to get it.
It is much easier to get the attention of local new and press than national
ones so that where you need to focus. Try having an event or sponsoring a
charity that will bring the people out to your place. This also works if you
company is online. Having big shot names pointing links to your site will not
only increase your Google ranking it will also bring in loads of customers.
Don’t forget that you can also get interviewed in the local press or even the
national press. It’s a matter of being in the right place at the right time. Try
being proactive about it, remember don’t be afraid of rejection nobody ever
became rich without a little rejection.