The 10 Most Common Online Marketing Mistakes10:18 AM
Online marketing practices are still relatively new, and although they adhere to the same basic pri...
Online marketing practices are still relatively new, and although
they adhere to the same basic principles as real-world marketing
strategies, the new medium has dramatically increased both outreach and
tracking potential for businesses - assuming that platforms are used
Also read: 6 Common Money Management Mistake
But you're not a marketing expert. You're a business owner, and you probably don't have a lot of extra time to devote to learning the ins and outs of online marketing.
Luckily, you can hire professionals to help you, if you do though, there is something you should know ahead of time. But you do need to know at least a little bit about the possible avenues of online marketing to go down. Hopefully, this will lead you toward intelligent decisions about how to direct your campaigns.
And you certainly want to avoid common marketing mistakes. If you fail to see where you're falling short, you could end up wasting both time and money that you really can't afford.
Also Read: 5 Myths About Starting an Online Business
If your dental practice could use the boost that online marketing is ideally suited to provide, there's no reason not to jump in feet-first. Just make sure you avoid the costly mistakes that other dental practices are making, mistakes like those listed below.
1. Ignoring free marketing optionsYou might think that the only way to reach potential customers is through a paid strategy like SEO or online advertising. But there are dozens of ways to spread your name and market your dental practice online without spending a dime.
For example, you could start by simply listing with directories. Directories like Yelp, Angie's List, Yellow Pages, and Google My Business are often used in lieu of search engines by consumers seeking area services.
Also Read: 7 Reasons Why Most Entrepreneurs Fail in Business
At the very least, you need to claim any listings that already exist in order to make sure that the name, location, and contact information for your business are correct. But you can do a lot more. You can start by adding links to your homepage, a map and/or directions, and in some cases, buttons for liking, sharing, or ranking. This way, satisfied customers can easily endorse you.
And of course, many directories also have an option for users to post reviews so that you can see what customers are saying, gain a means of connecting with them (through responses), and address any concerns that they may have.
Plus, directories are just one of several free options when it comes to online marketing. Maintaining a stable of social media profiles is also free, and don’t forget about blogging and guest posting on related industry blogs either.
Online marketing will take time or money.
But if your online marketing budget is pretty tight, free options can be a major boon.
Also read: Top 15 Reasons Your Business Should Use Google Adverting
2. Ignoring paid marketing optionsJust as there are those who scoff at the potential effectiveness of free online marketing, others will assume that they can get by without spending any money at all.
Unless you happen to be an SEO specialist or an advertising genius, this is hardly the case. For starters, you cannot afford to have a website without the benefit of SEO if you want to be found by prospective customers.
Optimization gives your dental website the opportunity to be found and indexed by web crawlers, thereby increasing your page rank with Google, Bing, and any other search engines you submit to. And a solid and ongoing SEO strategy will keep you at or near the top of the list for specified search terms.
As for online advertising, it is completely different from real-world options, and in most cases, you'll need the services of an agency that has the knowledge, skill, and experience to drive your online advertising strategy.
There's a lot you can do on your own when it comes to online marketing, but thinking that you can run your business, learn SEO, and become a marketing whiz is pure fantasy. At some point, you're going to need professional help to move forward.
Also read: 3 Secrets to Creating a Better Marketing Plan
3. Failing to include appropriate contact informationNo matter what form of online marketing you use, it is important that you include contact information so that interested parties can find and reach you.
This starts simply enough with a phone number and address on your website, as well as the header of your blog, your social media accounts, and any directories you list with. You also need to include a valid URL link so at the very least, users can click through to your homepage.
Of course, you don't always want the landing page (the page people land on when they click on a link) to be your homepage. Suppose you're using email marketing or an online ad to offer a special deal on cleanings or teeth whitening services. Wouldn't you rather include a link that takes readers right to the page with the offer, or alternately, to a page where they can book an appointment?
How and where you use contact information is crucial to ensuring that customers can find you, reach you, and enjoy ease of use.
Also Read: 20 Internet Marketing Strategies for Small Business
4. Ignoring the competitionNo man is an island, and this principle applies to your dental practice. If you want any hope of trumping the competition, you need to pay attention to their online marketing practices.
The reasoning behind this has to do with content, originality, and gaining the competitive edge. When you keep your enemies close - i.e. pay attention to what they're doing - you have the opportunity to meet and exceed their efforts.
Is your main competitor offering discounts on teeth whitening? Consider offering a bigger discount. Is he bidding for Google AdWords keywords that are at the top of your list? You may need to outbid him. Maybe he's started an infographic campaign. Take it to the next level with a viral video campaign.
Knowing what your competitors are up to when it comes to online marketing can definitely inform your choices concerning your own marketing strategies. So don't turn a blind eye.
5. Misleading marketing practicesYou might think that this is a problem because of laws related to false advertising. But truth be told, fraud charges could be the least of your worries if you lie to the consumer public.
Even if you don't lie outright, misleading consumers can damage your reputation, both online and in the real world. And you'll certainly lose prospective patients when they realize they've been duped - nobody likes to feel as though they've been taken for a ride.
Is it really worth all that just to improve click-thru or sharing? Instead of using headlines, claims, or promotions that stretch the truth or are downright fabrications, it's imperative that you follow truth-in-advertising guidelines to the letter.
You might not see the same traffic, but the targeted customers who do come your way will be pleased to find exactly what was offered.
6. Incorrect use of advertisingThere are all kinds of ways to go wrong with online advertising. For example, you could get into trouble with search engines by promoting your content with trending keywords, tags, or titles that don't match the full copy. Keyword stuffing will get you in trouble (well it could). You can build an amazing website, then not optimize it and have it basically be like a billboard on a desert highway.
Or you might think the way to get attention is through titles all in caps with tons of unnecessary punctuation. You may believe that sensational videos will create an uptick in traffic, even though they don't accurately represent your business or your brand.
And of course, a major mistake that many dental practices make is failing to engage in ultra specific geo-targeting, which is marketing that focuses on a specific geographic region such as a neighborhood. After all, you don't want to waste money targeting distant locales where consumers are very unlikely to use your services or worse yet don't have the money for them.
A good online SEO, marketing, or advertising agency should be able to help you make wise decisions when it comes to selecting the right components for your online marketing efforts.
7. Failure to monitor and respondIt's not enough to push content and let people find it. If you want to make the most of your online marketing strategies, you need to include follow-up, especially when it comes to interactions with consumers.
Allowing for options like commentary is a great way to see how people respond to your marketing efforts. Then again, opening the lines of communication and then failing to monitor them and respond to questions, comments, and concerns is like playing virtual “ding dong ditch” (ringing a doorbell and running away).
In other words, it's rude. And the last thing you want to do is come across as uncaring when a clearly interested party takes the time to reach out.
For this reason, it's important to pay attention to your blog, your social media accounts, your directory listings, and any other online marketing efforts that allow for interaction. And make sure to collect contact information and reply whenever possible.
8. Failure to track and analyze
Regardless of the methods you use for online marketing, it is imperative that you track the results of your efforts.
In the past, tracking the results of marketing campaigns like print, radio, and television was largely dependent on public feedback, a methodology that is spotty at best.
But the internet offers almost unlimited options for tracking. These options include tools that can follow digital trails and deliver information about click-thru, sharing, and the amount of time visitors spend on certain pages. So why wouldn't you take advantage of these options?
You can start simply enough by using Google Analytics, a program that makes tracking your SEO efforts a cinch. You can even use funnels to follow your efforts from the point of inception straight through to specified conversions.
And you'll find that there are also targeted tools designed for use with your social media accounts and other online marketing platforms.
Of course, analyzing these metrics takes some amount of skill, and your online marketing specialist may be willing to do the heavy lifting and provide you with reports that are tailored to the layman. But over time, you could certainly learn to track or analyze the results of your online marketing efforts on your own.
9. Failing to manage your online reputation
Part of your online marketing strategy should include increasing positive mentions and decreasing or nullifying negative commentary. When prospective consumers search and find you online, you want to make sure the information they receive casts you in a positive light.
There are a couple of ways to go about achieving this goal. First of all, you should see every negative review as an opportunity to improve. Customer service is an important part of any business operation, especially a service industry like dentistry.
So when you come across negative commentary or reviews, start by reaching out to the unsatisfied party to see if you can rectify the situation, turn a negative experience into a positive one, and convert a naysayer into a loyal patron.
However, you also need to understand that not every negative experience can be remedied. And further, you might face issues with disgruntled ex-employees spouting off online or competitors posting fraudulent reviews in an effort to defame you.
This is an instance in which hiring a professional reputation management service could help. Such vendors have the knowledge, experience, and resources available to track down negative press, petition to have fraudulent commentary removed, and replace negative listings with positive ones. This will allow you to make a good first impression on search traffic.
10. Sticking to one strategy
Things move pretty quickly in the online arena, and rapid advances in technologies and practices make it difficult to keep up. But you have to stay on top of your game if you want to make the most of online marketing opportunities. One way to do this is to connect with your patients.
On the SEO front, this means staying abreast of changing algorithms, policies, and standards and practices. And your other marketing and advertising efforts should change frequently so that you can hone your strategy for the best results.
But you also need to keep up with new social media outlets, changing trends, and tools designed to help you meet your online marketing goals more effectively.
As a dental practitioner, you're probably not an expert in anything related to online marketing. But that doesn't mean you have to throw in the towel and accept defeat.
When you are aware of the many mistakes that other dental practices have made when marketing online, you can avoid common pitfalls and ensure effective campaigns and long-term successes. With a little common sense, attention to detail, and marketing experts on your side, your online marketing efforts can pay off in a big way.
So what do you think? Has any of this info given you something to think about? If so, and you want others to benefit from the information provided, click the "thumbs up" icon and like it! Better yet, comment and let us know what you are doing to avoid making these mistakes! Consider to read why advertising is important for your small business.