online marketing

By Rieva Lesonsky

Just how skilled, knowledgeable and experienced are you at online marketing? Yodle recently asked small business owners about their digital marketing challenges, successes and concerns. Here’s some of what they uncovered:

Most small business owners feel they are familiar with the basics of social media, content marketing, and email marketing. In fact, nearly one-fourth say they are either advanced or “an expert” when it comes to email marketing and social media.

As for social media, 80 percent of small business owners are using it for marketing purposes, with varying degrees of effectiveness. More than half (51 percent) have seen either some or “a lot of” new clients as a result; however, nearly three in 10 say they aren’t getting any new clients as a result of their social media outreach.

There’s bad news about websites, an essential part of online marketing. Only 40 percent of small business owners say they are satisfied with their current business website. Nearly half (48 percent) don’t have a mobile-optimized website yet, 14 percent don’t send mobile-optimized emails, and 40 percent admit they don’t know much about pay-per-click ad campaigns.

Entrepreneurs in the survey say the hardest parts of acquiring new customers are “Finding and targeting new leads” (38 percent), “Getting noticed over our competition” (30 percent) and “Costly ad campaigns” (28 percent). Online marketing can help with all of these challenges–and getting savvier about digital marketing can help you get better results.

How does your online marketing knowledge compared to that of the entrepreneurs in the survey — and how can you improve your results? Here are some tips.

  1. Keep your website up-to-date. A mobile-friendly website is a must these days, so if your website still isn’t using responsive design (which responds to the device a person is using to deliver an optimal viewing experience), it’s time to make some changes. But updating your site doesn’t just mean technology updates: The information on the site is just as important as how it looks. Regularly review your website for broken links, outdated information or other errors that could be keeping potential clients and customers from contacting you. A monthly review doesn’t take long, and could pay off big.
  1. Make your email marketing work. Having a mobile-optimized website is wonderful, but if your emails aren’t mobile-optimized too, prospective customers may never make it to your website. Your email marketing messages should be fast loading, readable at a glance, and designed so users can easily click on buttons or links no matter what type of smartphone they’re using. (Once they click on that link, be sure they go to a mobile-friendly landing page, too.)
  1. Put in the time. Online marketing doesn’t cost much in financial terms, but it does require an investment of time. While time is always in short supply for entrepreneurs, there are ways to get around this. For example, you can use social media management tools such as Buffer, Hootsuite or SocialOomph to automate things like monitoring and scheduling posts. While you shouldn’t expect instant results, if you continuously monitor the results you do get, you should see additional leads, customers and sales as a result of your online marketing efforts.
  1. Tie it all together. The cool thing about digital marketing is how easily it can all work together to get exponentially better results. For example, you can use your business blog for content marketing, link to your blog content in your email newsletters, share that content on social media, encourage social media followers to sign up for the email newsletter, and so on. Every piece of online marketing links to every other piece, all of it ultimately driving prospective customers to your business website where they can take action.
  1. Keep learning. Digital marketing changes faster than you can refresh a webpage, and if you want your business to stay competitive, you need to keep pace. Devote time — say, an hour a week — to reading and learning about new developments in the world of online marketing that affect small business.

Where do you fall on the online marketing spectrum—digital novice, or digital ninja?