Top 5 Mistakes Small Businesses Make about Digital

Top 5 Mistakes Small Businesses Make about Digital

Nine years ago, I accepted my first full-time digital position at KRIS-TV in Corpus Christi, Texas.  In 2004, many companies were just starting to embrace creating a website.  Even back then there were small businesses who “got it” and those who “don’t get it.”

Fast forward to 2013 and there’s still many who “don’t get it.” As a new small business myself, I completely understand. You’re busy supporting your customers and running your business. Taking even 10 minutes out of your day to devote to a blog post or social media updates is a challenge.  I’ll be the first to admit I’m guilty of this, but I’m working hard at setting the habit to share more of my expertise with my potential clients.

#1 – Do Nothing

I’ll give credit to Ron Sukenick for this one.  Most of the people I work with have a least a webpage, but there are still thousands of business who don’t even have a basic website.

The Excuse: My customers come through my front door. I don’t need a website to showcase my business.

The Reality: There is overwhelming research that consumers use the Internet to research companies, products and services.  According to a survey by Cisco in January 2013, 78% of all shoppers use the Internet to research and purchase products and services.

If you don’t have an up-to-date website or any on online presence, potential customers don’t even know you exist.  For the record, I haven’t had a phone book in my home for at least three years.

#2 – Understanding Metrics

This is a challenge for many businesses owners to grasp.  Online metrics can get pretty complex, but there are some key basic metrics every small business owner should understand.  If you current website is not getting Google Analytics, you’re missing out.  Google Analytics is free.  Yes, you share some data with Google, but the benefits outweigh the negatives.

The Excuse: My current site admin provides me server stats.  I know how many hits my site gets every month.

The Reality: If your current website administrator ever uses the word “hits” – you really should hit them.  Hits are an outdated and inflated metric of how many times a file was access on a server.  If you have 30 different images on a page – one visit to that page would generate 31 hits for your website.

These are the basic three metrics that every business owner should be able to know off the top of your head: Page views, visits and unique visitors.  Because they’re so important, the definitions:

Unique Users:  The number of individual users who visited your website during a reporting period.

Visits:  The number of times a user visited the site during a reporting period.  (Generally a new visit will start after 30 minutes of inactivity.)

Page Views:  An instance of an Internet user visiting a particular page on a website.

So in many cases, a unique user can visit your site twice and generate 4 page views per visit.

Understanding your base metrics will go a long way to determine if your website is doing want you need it to do – and if you need it to improve.

#3 – Use of Social Media

Social media is a must for any business looking to grow their customer base.  Why?  It’s a great place interact with your current clients and gain potential new customers. When used properly, social media platforms to promote your products or services for free or pay for promotion for very little investment.

Each platform has its advantages and depending on your business you can focus on only one or two social networks.  You don’t have to be on every network to be successful.

Facebook – A great platform for most businesses.  If your business targets women – this is a great place to attract that audience.

Twitter – Good for restaurants and businesses that want to draw in users with continuous interaction.

Pinterest – Great for businesses with a visual presentation – use high quality photos to share your products. Also very key site for targeting women.

Foursquare – A must for every physical business.  Reward first-time and repeat business with specials and discounts.

LinkedIn – Good for B2B organizations to promote products and services to other businesses.

Google+ – Improve your overall search engine optimization by setting up your business on Google+.

These are the major players that most business should have a presence on at least one of these platforms.  In some cases it doesn’t always make sense to have a Twitter account and I feel does more harm to have an account and not update it.

#4 – Stagnation

Have you ever been to a store or business that looks like they haven’t updated their look since 1970?  Did it affect your decision to purchase from that business or find another business for that product or service in the future?

Before I make any major purchase, I research the business online.  If you have a website that looks like it was produced in 2007, and doesn’t work on my smartphone, I move on.  You don’t even have the potential to earn my business, because I wasn’t impressed with your virtual storefront.

Make the investment to keep your website up-to-date with relevant information.  You’re in business because you believe that you’re good at what you do.  That makes you an expert.  Share that expertise with your audience.

#5 – Not hiring a professional

You wouldn’t hire me to fix your water heater.  Yes, I understand the concept of what it takes to replace a water heater: A few wrenches, probably some flux and blow torch.  I could get the job done, but it probably won’t be done 100% correct.

One of the most common reasons I hear about not wanting to hire my company is they have a brother, cousin, sister, son, niece who knows how to build a website.  There are also many free to low-cost services that will help you build or establish your business online.

Take the time to research a web design company and hire a professional.  We’re like financial planners, one on every corner with different specialties.  Take the time to review the company portfolio and ask questions.

Making an investment in a quality website is an investment in your business.  The ROI isn’t always immediate, but just like a new coat of paint your customer will take notice.

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Jason Crundwell is the principal of Crundwell Digital Marketing.  Crundwell Digital Marketing focuses on small business website development, eCommerce site development, search engine optimization and search engine marketing.Crundwell started Crundwell Digital after spending eight years managing websites for WISH-TV in Indianapolis and KRIS-TV in Corpus Christi, Texas.  He’s won two regional Edward R. Murrow awards and numerous awards from the Associated Press for Best Website.

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