It’s pretty safe to say that no company or web presence is ever perfect, it’s a fluid and changing entity. There are however some simple things that you should be on the lookout for to insure you’re not shooting your efforts in the foot, these are 5 common mistakes that can derail any positive marketing effort online.
Not Thinking of your Website Like a Store Front
First things first, it’s all too common for companies to neglect or not put enough effort toward their website. There are endless statistics that I could throw at you to cement the importance of the web, let’s just all agree that a website is crucial and in many cases it’s the first experience a customer has with your business. Even though these things are true, it’s still far too common for sites to have a generally poor experience for a visiting user; slow page load times, hard to find the most basic of information and not using proper call to actions are a few examples. If you agree a website is important and a first impression for many of your customers, insure the site is perfect, not just good enough to move on to the next thing.
Using Brand Terms Rather Than Plain English in the Navigation
This is a pretty common practice, a company has a unique product or service and they theme sections of their site around this line of messaging. Let’s use a generic example of a coffee house, they could have navigational elements like “Grounds", "The Bean” or “Hot Stuff”. The issue lies with a simple user expectation of being able to effortlessly track down and navigate to the section they’re looking for, if your navigational labels don’t clearly explain what that sections holds, it makes a user have to think or even wonder which is a less than ideal scenario. Take the effort out of navigating your site starting with simple and helpful navigational offerings.
Diluting the Messaging
Many businesses have unique, innovative or sometimes an entirely new offering in a market. They obviously want to explain and show how great this new offering is but many times they end up diluting the overall message, making it hard to understand what it is they do. If a visitor has to think or doesn’t understand the message, chances are they’re going to leave. Another example of this is when a business serves multiple audiences or has many offerings. It’s great for a business to diversify and earn additional revenues from available resources, just don’t let it drag down your core offering in the process.
Blank or Auto-Generated Page Titles and Descriptions
Page titles and descriptions, also referred to as meta titles & meta descriptions are often overlooked and left blank or allowed to be auto-populated by the website when a page is created. The issue with this is the importance of gaining valuable search engine traffic and it’s actually a double dinger. Search engines use these pieces of information to give relevance to a page, if they’re blank, it’s one less piece the search engine has to determine what the content is all about. The second part of the issue is that these titles and descriptions are what end up being displayed in search results. This space should always be viewed as an advertising message, what do you want to tell a potential visitor about this page that makes them want to click the link? There are many ways to enhance the ad listings in search results but this should be a bare minimum when creating a new page or for updating existing pages on a site. Even if you don’t focus on bringing in new traffic from search engines, your customers will often times go to a search engine and type in your business name to find you, these are results they'll see as well.
Not Properly Tracking Website and Marketing Performance
So your website is up, the messaging is clear, you’re not using plain english references to content sections in the navigation, you’ve made sure to treat your website with extra attention and care and have populated each page with unique meta titles and meta descriptions. The biggest mistake I see daily is companies not tracking the metrics that really matter. Regardless of what your business does, not-for-profit, for-profit, whatever the business, you gauge your success upon certain metrics. Contact form leads, sales, donations, volunteers or phone calls are a few common examples. Too many times a business doesn’t have a clear picture about what’s actually moving the needle. Using things like time spent on your website, bounce rates, pages visited or even contact forms completed are all too vague to give real insight needed for making informed business decisions. Connect the dots, integrate your systems, tie your CRM to analytics, integrate phone tracking with analytics and leverage this data. Being able to look at all of this data will allow you to see how a visitor progressed to becoming a customer, all the marketing touch points that attributed to the sale and where you could improve. Decisions shouldn’t be made based on anything less than complete purchase and sale data.
Many of these elements are often overlooked by small or new businesses because it’s hard to justify the time and expense, my advice is to utilize the services of an expert to help consult on how to get these elements addressed on your site. Small and new businesses need to insure each dollar invested is maximized, the best way to maximize your investment is by enhancing the customer process and tracking all data points to improve and refine as you grow. Without this approach you’re less likely to capitalize on every opportunity that comes knocking.
Written by Anthony Miller,
owner of Fire Mountain Marketing LLC
Posted By Adam Fridman