Online marketing has immense potential for small and medium businesses (SMB), but it’s getting more and more competitive. It’s no longer enough to have a site, to join social media, to use ads, or to blog. You need to excel at all of these. Below are 13 mistakes businesses make when it comes to marketing.

The Details:

  1. Not having an online marketing strategy in place with reasonable targets and achievable long-term goals. With the emergence of social engines and social media sites, online marketing is no longer an option for SMBs, but a priority. Without it, some SMBs might not survive.

  2. Using Facebook, Twitter, and other social sites for direct promotion. Social media marketing is all about connecting with existing customers and building trust with prospects; it’s not a platform for making direct sales. If you use it for this purpose, you will fail.

  3. Not maintaining an SEO-friendly blog. For most small- and medium-sized businesses, a blog is one of the most effective ways to build authority, establish connections with other local business owners, and promote your business culture.

  4. Not investing in Google AdWords and Facebook ads. Online ads are big sources of traffic for SMB websites, especially for eCommerce sites, and when they are made well they will boost your sales.

  5. Failing to provide up-to-date contact information and a current address. The location and phone number are the two most important pieces of information that customers seek when visiting your site, and if they are not readily available, or if they are outdated, they will send people away from your site.

  6. Sticking to an outdated Web design. The emergence of content management systems such as WordPress and Joomla has improved the quality of design on the Web dramatically, because these use high-quality, ready-made themes that can be easily customized.

  7. Thinking that email marketing is dead. Twitter has not yet supplanted email marketing and probably will not do it anytime soon. Blame it on the character limit, and also on the fact that users log in to Twitter to connect with friends and family, not to discover deals or offers.

  8. Not trying to understand what your visitors do once they reach your site, and what they like and dislike about it. A sophisticated yet easy-to-use analytics tool like Mouseflow records users’ sessions and generates graphs that help you improve your design or rearrange your layout to make your site more inviting.

  9. Focusing on quantity rather than quality. This applies to every aspect of your marketing strategy, and includes on-site content and blog posts, social media fans and followers, and inbound links. Quality and relevancy are key.

  10. Neglecting local listings. Being listed on Google/Facebook Places, Yelp, and other similar listings, whether big or small, places you on the map of local businesses and makes it easier for customers to discover you.

  11. Not requesting feedback/reviews/testimonials. On the Web, positive comments from users improve your image and attract more customers than advertisements or direct marketing strategies do. Negative feedback doesn’t harm you if you use it to identify your faults and correct them.

  12. Investing more money in ads than in content creation, social media promotion, and Web design. Customers who use the Web must trust a company before buying its products and services, and they tend to form a negative impression of those businesses that don’t provide quality content/design and a strong message.

  13. Failing to make long-term, on-site content improvement a priority. It’s easier to convince customers of your worth through content that gives them tips and advice and solves some of their problems than it is to persuade them with ads.

The Bottom Line:

Despite the immediacy and speed of the Web, online marketing is no different from offline marketing in that it takes time—months, at least. Make it a long-term priority and you will succeed.