By Ceri Jones

There’s nothing magical about a properly executed digital marketing strategy – I promise. And you don’t need to be overly technical or experienced to succeed at it.

I see a lot of small and start-up businesses spending hundreds on Facebook or Google Ads and being left to scratch their heads when the customers don’t immediately start rolling in.

What gives?

The online marketing world moves at the speed of a Ferrari, there’s no doubt about that. One week, a tool or application is the hot thing to use. The next week, that same tactic is declared ancient history.

I know it probably seems impossible to keep up. But the reality is too many small businesses worry too much about the digital and not enough about the marketing.

If you’re missing the fundamentals of a successful marketing campaign, it doesn’t matter what tool, application, or tactic you’re employing. As any competent business owner will tell you – mistakes made with your marketing can cost you dearly.

There’s a lot of information available on how to do things right, but what about a rundown of potential pitfalls and how to avoid them?

If you feel you’ve been doing everything right but still aren’t seeing the ROI you wanted, take a look at these 5 deadly digital marketing mistakes and how to solve them.

1. You Haven’t Set Clear Marketing Goals

If you don’t identify exactly what you want to accomplish with your marketing campaign, how are you going to measure its effectiveness? How are you going to be able to pinpoint specific elements that are responsible for your success or failure?

Spoiler alert – you can’t.

It’s impossible to produce a fully successful digital marketing strategy if you don’t know what your goals or milestones are. How can you measure your success? A single channel may be bringing you leads, but is it the most effective way of doing so?

Make sure your digital marketing strategy includes clear goals and performance thresholds, so you can measure the effectiveness properly. Know exactly what you want to achieve, so you can go out there and get it.

2. You Don’t Know Your Audience

If you don’t know who is buying your product or service, how are you going to make sure your marketing campaigns are addressing them directly?

Way too often I hear start-ups claim that their product is for everyone, and that’s very rarely the case. Successful businesses understand that you can’t design products or services for everyone – you should aim to fulfill the needs of a very specific customer.

Identify who your target customer is, and market directly to them. The more niche your target audience is, the better. This way you can address their goals, needs, and pain points effectively.

If you speak to everyone, you’re speaking to no one, and this is a sure-fire way of making sure your marketing attempts fail to deliver.

3. You’re Not Prepared to Spend Money

I get it. You’re a small business and you don’t have a lot of money to spend on marketing campaigns.

But if you have a zero-dollar marketing budget, you’ll get zero-dollar results.

A lot of small businesses think they can shoestring their marketing attempts by using social media, free email platform, free websites, and SEO.

In reality, you won’t get any growth with these free ways of marketing. To get the ROI you want you need to spend, whether that be a budget for paid advertising or for paying people to create your website, content or email services.

Make your marketing budget a crucial outlay for your business and you’re much more likely to get the results you want.

4. Your Content Doesn’t Provide Value

Say it with me…

Content is king.

Now say it louder for the people in the back.

To acquire new leads and customers, you need to build trust with your target audience. You need to lead with value before you ever ask them to make a purchase.

A lot of small businesses fail to do this. They either provide no content whatsoever, or they provide slap-dash content that has no real value for the customer.

If you’ve identified your target customer, you know exactly what he wants. You know his goals and his fears. You know what he’s struggling with, and how you can help him.

So, do it.

Provide valuable content that is free and has no strings attached. This not only builds trust but shows that you’re knowledgeable about your industry, which in will give people more confidence in your brand.

5. You’re Not Focusing on Returning Customers

First time customers aren’t the ones making big purchases. Not only do returning customers convert at a higher rate, but they also make higher average purchases.

This is so often overlooked by small businesses, who instead focus all their time on bringing in new leads.

Instead, consider how you can get customers to come back to your business and buy from you again.

There is a range of ways you can do this, the main one being email marketing. Once you have a customer’s email address you can provide them with more high-quality content that includes a perk or incentive to come back.

New customers are great, of course! You should still focus a lot of your marketing efforts on bringing in new leads and prospects. But don’t forget about your existing customers – they need love, too!

Marketing First, Digital Second

If you’re a small business trying to grow your brand and customer base, these 5 mistakes are deadly for you to make. From missed opportunities to big financial losses, the costs to your business span a lot of different levels.

Luckily, they’re all easy to fix.

Take the time to really understand your brand and the customers you are trying to appeal to. Set goals, be prepared to spend some money, and don’t forget about your existing customer base.

These fundamentals of marketing are often overlooked, so make sure you focus on these first as a solid foundation for your marketing strategy, and then add the digital aspects later.