Assumptions help us make quick decisions, but sometimes we get things wrong.
The Internet has been part of the mainstream for only 10-15 years. During that time the things that’s been most constant is that things change quickly online.
Actually, what changes quickly in terms of business is that short-term tactics and tricks don’t last long and traditional sales and marketing principles become more true as time passes.
In spite of this there are some common beliefs about online marketing and sales that can present problems to you and your business if you let these beliefs carry through into your business efforts.
Here are these common beliefs and what you can do to stop them from taking over.
1. SEO Is About Link Building
I don’t think there has been a more damaging belief in online marketing and sales than this one. It’s not that links aren’t important. Search engines use links as one of the gauges for determining if a web page should rank high or low.
The problem is that focusing on links causes people to look for quick ways to build links. Buying links, exchanging links and a bunch of other methods aimed at link building (even guest posting) aren’t seen as natural ways to build links to your website and search engines have worked hard to make it so these methods don’t work.
But people keep chasing links. Tactics work in the short-term. Businesses make investments based on short-term success. Then the engines make a change and the businesses are stuck with big investments and no sales.
SEO is about doing what’s best for your target customer. Provide them with good content that they want to read and share. Build your brand reputation. It’s not easy, but it’s always been the best focus for SEO success.
2. My Website Is Done
Your website is never done. It’s never done with content and it’s never done with design.
Websites are living, breathing things. You have to take care of them and keep them updated in order to attract new customers.
One of the things people like to see from a website is something that looks like it’s been cared for recently. If a person has an option between two businesses – one with a website that has content from five years ago and one that has updated content every week – they’re going to go with the one that’s up-to-date.
Blogging is one way to keep your site fresh, but you also have to keep the design updated even if it’s just a tweak here and there.
3. Everybody Uses Social Media
This is a tricky one because you have people on both sides of the argument.
Some believe that everybody uses social media. These people are usually tuned into the online world for their job and for their personal lives. Those in marketing – myself included – tend to get incubated in the online world of SEO and social media. We get the feeling that because our colleagues and everyone we know is on social media that the entire world must be on social media.
That’s obviously not the case, though.
But don’t get trapped on the other side thinking your customer is not using social media. Some business owners feel their business is too boring or bland for the people using social media to care.
There is opportunity in social media, but the demographics of your customer matter greatly. Older customers tend to shy away from social media while younger customers care greatly about social media.
Start with your target customer. Figure out what they want. Then find the channels they prefer. If it’s social then you have an opportunity and if it’s not you’re best off investing in other channels.
4. Engagement Is A Key Performance Indicator
Social media brings about a lot of talk of engagement. It can mean different things for different businesses and I think it’s a dangerous thing to track.
For example, I’ve found that a lot of people want comments on their blog. They take it as an indication that the blog is doing well.
I’ve actually seen little correlation between comments and sales when it comes to blogging and social media. In fact, some of the best blogs out there that actually generate revenue for businesses don’t even allow comments.
Engagement can mean something as you track your efforts in social media, but be careful with using it as the ultimate determination of success. Always find a way to lead the indicator back to sales and profit.
5. Conversion Is All That Matters
Website conversion is another hot topic in the online marketing world. There are entire software platforms aimed at making your site all about the one-time conversion. But that’s where the big issue is for businesses. If you’re focused on short-term conversions, which many services are, you lose sight of the long-term, which salespeople know is the true measure of success.
You don’t want to confuse customers into making purchases. You want them to purchase and be happy with the service. This leads to long-term success.
Some conversion experts talk about this specifically so focus on those sources when it comes to conversion.
Bonus. The Internet Is A Desktop Computer
This one is changing faster than I’ve ever seen. The Internet is a desktop computer for many people still, but each day it becomes more about mobile devices like smartphones and personal computing devices like tablets.
I’ve met young people – under age 20 – that don’t even use a computer. They only access the Internet on their phone.
It’s crazy, but it’s a huge change that matters when it comes to online selling.
These are only five of the common beliefs people have about online marketing and sales. These beliefs will sink your efforts before you even get started. They are old ways of thinking and they really never had a place in the online sales world.
Your best bet is to forget them right away and practice the methods that will get you results.
Image: Dell Inc.