5 Mistakes Small Businesses Make When Getting Started with Digital Marketing

Totally overwhelmed by the amount of digital marketing advice out there for getting your business off the ground?

Hey, we totally hear you.

Not only is the space constantly changing, but there’s a lot of noise out there regarding what works and what doesn’t these days.

And that’s exactly we suggest the newbies to digital marketing focus on the latter.

That is, when you know what common pitfalls to avoid in the marketing space, it becomes so much easier to put together a strategy that makes sense for you.

Consider the following five problems that many small businesses face when it comes to digital marketing and how you can avoid them yourself. Although every business’ situation might be different, these slip-ups are more or less universal.

Too Much Emphasis on Inbound Marketing

Inbound marketing is undoubtedly an important aspect of your online presence, but it shouldn’t be the be-all, end-all of your marketing strategy.

For starters, inbound marketing takes time. Whether it’s ranking for keywords or collecting email addresses, content marketing is definitely a long-game versus a quick fix. These tactics are worth your attention, but aren’t an excuse to avoid outbound marketing.

In fact, mixing your outbound and inbound marketing can give you the best of both worlds. Rather than playing “wait and see,” tactics such as cold-emailing prospects can help you score links, important press mentions and attention that you’d otherwise never see.

“Outreach is critical,” notes Ajay Goel of GMass. “Instead of sitting idly by waiting for your moment of glory, you need to make it.”

The takeaway here is that businesses need to take an active role in marketing themselves. Passive leads are the end-goal, but they don’t happen until you put yourself out there via outbound marketing.

Falling Prey to Marketing Snake Oil

If you can’t tell already, there are tons of marketing “gurus” out there trying to make a quick buck.

There are many folks out there that are simply pushing marketing snake oil, selling systems and courses that promise quick results but aren’t exactly proven. Just look at the phenomenon of fake Instagram influencers as a prime example of how easy it is for unsuspecting marketers to be duped.

Anything that claims to transform your business overnight is a huge red flag. When seeking marketing advice, make sure to only give your attention to those with a proven track record and data to back up their claims.

Failing to Test Free Tools and Resources

Reality check: you don’t have to pay top dollar for marketing tools and resources.

For example, Hubspot’s free CRM is available for brands who need a starter relationship management system but simply don’t have a budget for something more robust. Meanwhile, Buffer’s free plan is a good starting point for social media automation.

The same logic rings true when it comes to education. There are many free courses and resources such as Moz’s free guide to content marketing which can give you a baseline level of knowledge that won’t cost you a dime.

Before splashing any cash, see what freebies are out there. This is especially important when dealing with software and tools which almost always include a free trial period where you can test the waters.

Sinking Too Much into Social Media

Social media is often labeled as the holy grail of modern marketing.

While your business should have a social presence, don’t expect the likes of Instagram or Facebook to magically make you rich.

The ROI of social media is tough to pin down as many of its benefits related to influence and researching prospects or competitors. Again, don’t sink a bunch of money into social media or social ads until you understand the ins and outs of each platform yourself.

Trying to Wear Too Many Hats

Another common slip-up in digital marketing is the mere act of trying to do way too much.

If you’re responsible for SEO, social media and content creation, you’re inevitably going to burnout. There’s simply not enough time in the day for a single person to effectively take care of these tasks effectively.

As such, it’s important to have priorities and be able to allocate your resources effectively. Whether through outsourcing or assigning internal roles, make sure that nobody is saddled with more responsibilities than they can realistically handle.

Coming up with a digital marketing strategy is an obvious must-do for any business, but that doesn’t mean the process is simple. With so many tools, tactics and tips out there, sometimes it’s important to understand what not to do. Avoiding these pitfalls will help ensure that you set yourself up for success and likewise keep your budget in check.