With Amazon taking $1 Billion dollars in the first year of it's new Amazon Business service and growing at 20 percent per month, it's shows that those companies with the right tools and right strategies can very strike it rich, and very quickly.
As the digital marketplace continues to grow there will be many more opportunities for entrepreneurs to create an impact and stake a claim for the available riches. But to do so they will need to avoid these seven common mistakes which could limit their success.
1. No website
Hard to believe, but yes, there are still many small businesses that have no website presence offering even basic contact details. (figure for the UK is 26% and Australia it's 49%). Without a digital presence it's going to be very hard for your business to be found.
Even if you are listed on sites such as yelp, trip advisor, or white pages, most people want to go to a company's website, see what the business looks like, and browse before they buy. Without a website, potential customers will move straight on to the competition.
2. Doing Your Own Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
So now that you have a website for your business, you want to make sure that it's going to be found. This is where Search Engine Optimization comes in.
In theory, SEO is very simple. Find and use the right keywords and Google will rank it near the top of any searches--thus making your business easily found by potential customers.
But like many things, while the theory is simple and straightforward, the practical implementation of it is anything but. The rules for SEO are constantly changing and the internal workings can often be complex enough to give even Einstein a headache trying to figure it out. And once you have figured it out, you need to get the balance right between not enough SEO and too much SEO.
Unless your business is SEO, then you're not going to have the skills to keep up, nor the time to divert from your core business to deal with it.
A bit like plumbing, it seems easy, but it's much easier to get an expert in than it is to clear up the potentially costly mess getting it wrong.
If you want to get your website found, then you need to make sure that you have the right keywords. These are the words or phrases that people are searching for on Google. The better your SEO keywords, the higher your business will rank.
3. Don't Use a Website Designer
Building a website can be an expensive business investment and one way of reducing the cost is to build it yourself using website templates rather than a costly website designer.
It's true that it is potentially a cheaper option, but the challenge here is that these standard templates are going to be used by tens, if not hundreds of business. Which means that your business is not going to stand out from the crowd.
It might look clean and simple, but it probably won't be a great reflection of your company's brand. Yes, you can learn to build a website yourself if you have the time and will power, but as soon as you can afford it, get a website designer to create an easy to use site which is an excellent reflection of your brand.
For many people, your website will be there first contact with your company. And online, where your competition is only a click away, first impressions definitely count.
4. Run Your Website Out Of Your Bedroom.
I will never forget my friend Steve, who ran a replica sports jersey business, being unable to achieve any sales after his 3 year old had accidently tripped over the server and crashed the system, irreparably.
With the myriad of low cost hosting options available, the days of running your IT out of your bedroom should be long gone.
Using hosting is more reliable and probably much faster too.
We need to make sure that our websites are robust, secure and have the latest antivirus software protecting them.
5. Select the Wrong Web Hosting
When it comes to hosting your website, there are many different options available:
- Shared Hosting
- Virtual Private Servers
- Dedicated Hosting
- Scalable Cloud Hosting
And the prices can vary considerably.
Which type of hosting is best for you is going to depend on a number of factors--such as download speeds, reliability, resource utilization, current volume of business, and estimated business growth.
This is not as complex as SEO, but the best approach would be to have the help of an expert. If you're hiring a web designer, ask him for advice. If you're doing it yourself, then be sure to do your research for reputable hosting providers. You want to ensure that you select the optimal solution and don't overspend. You also don't want to leave yourself facing a costly upgrade as your business starts to grow and potentially outgrow your IT.
6. No Social Media Presence
I am continually amazed at companies that are not on social media. Or if they are, their presence is nothing more than a weak Facebook page or Twitter account with a few posts and a handful of followers.
Which is basically the same as not having a Social Media Presence.
In today's digital world, businesses need to be on social media. They need to be actively building a following, posting great content, and serving their customers.
If not, then they are missing out on great opportunities because:
93% of Americans believe a company should have a presence on social media.
- 85% believe a company should not only be present, but also interact with its consumers via social media.
- 56% of American consumers feel both a stronger connection with and better served by companies when they can interact with them on a social media environment.
- People are 72% more likely to make a future purchase from an SMB after they follow or interact with them on Twitter.
- People are 30% more likely to recommend a company if they follow them on Social Media.
With the right strategy, companies can target their ideal clients, convert them into followers, and generate more leads, sales, and satisfied customers.
7. Not Mobile Friendly
60% of people access websites via a mobile device. If your website is not mobile friendly, then this is another missed opportunity, for which your competitors will be thankful.
In order to be successful in the digital market place, not only does your website need to be mobile friendly, but it needs to be easy to navigate an easy to purchase your products from a smart phone.
Not only is the digital world here to stay, it's going to get much bigger.
It's currently increasing at a rate of around 15% per year with 2015 sales revenues totaling over $340Billion.
If companies want to survive, they are going to have to become successful at going digit