When you are starting up a business you should definitely make sure you invest money into digital marketing. However because, more often than not, money is very tight when companies are first starting up, some will hold back on how much they invest in their digital marketing, whilst others will prefer to invest a great deal.
Whichever route you choose to take regarding your digital marketing spend, the key thing to keep in mind is not to waste your budget. So many startups fall foul of wasted digital marketing spend, whether through ineffective tactics or by using ineffective digital marketing tools.
As a small business, you simply don’t have the money to waste so here’s a list of 8 of the most common ways startups tend to waste their marketing spend to ensure you don’t make the same mistakes as many other small businesses have.
1. Focusing on gaining followers on social media
One of the worst things you can do when starting up your business is to just enter into the realms of social media without having a strategy. So many businesses just set up numerous social profiles before they have a real plan, or rhyme and reason as to why they are on that particular network or what their content strategy is.
Keep in mind gaining followers is not everything, especially if they don’t convert into real paying customers. Keep in mind, also, that social platforms are ever changing, especially their algorithms which, more often than not, mean you end up having to pay to ensure your content is even seen. This is yet another cost which you have to consider so you have to make sure the return you get is worth the cost.
Social media ad prices aren’t too bad at the moment but you should expect to, more and more have to pay in order to ensure your adverts are seen by the largest possible audience that you want to target. You need to think about how you can make this work for you. Think about whether you really need to be on multiple networks, or whether focusing on just one or two would be better.
2. Unrealistic expectations
Studies by the Small Business Administration have shown that 30% of all startups end up failing in only 2 years; this number increases to 50% within a 5 year period. There’s no need to be overly negative about these statistics but it is worth keeping them in mind because often the problem is that expectations have been set too high. The expected results then don’t occur, so the goal is given up on.
To avoid failing, set yourself some realistic expectations. Give yourself a 2 year time period to ramp up the business via your digital marketing efforts, and set yourself tight budgets and short terms goals to meet throughout those 2 years.
3. Failing to properly understand your audience base
If you don’t understand your customers, you might as well be throwing your money away. You must invest time and research into getting to know your audience, i.e. what they want, what they desire, what they like, what they don’t like, when they like to shop, and how they like to find out about new products etc. Once you have this understanding, then you are more likely to be able to create an effective strategy.
4. Failing to understand how you secured your biggest customers
You might be lucky and pull in the odd mega-customer but if you don’t know how you did it, then it’s worthless to you because you won’t be able to do it again. Which marketing tactics helped you secure that customer and how can you implement it to ensure you keep attracting more?
5. Putting all your eggs in one ad campaign basket
The digital marketing world is swamped with hundreds and thousands of tactics and tools to try out. Take your time when choosing which tools and tactics you use; some will work, some will not. This is even more important to consider when you don’t have a lot of money to put into a campaign.
Do not be lured into investing in an expensive marketing campaign if you can only afford to do it once. Campaigns don’t always work the first time and can require a lot of tweaking so don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Plan to test the campaign with a set budget, which will allow you to reinvest if it goes well and bail out if it goes wrong.
6. Failing to measure properly
Ensuring you have a proper schedule set up to measure your digital marketing efforts is vital. You probably already have an analytics package set up, be it Google Analytics or some other tool, but are you using it properly and are you learning from it?
Take the time to learn how to use your analytics package properly – there will no doubt be various online training platforms to help you discover how to get the most out of the analytics, so make sure you use them. This will be especially valuable when you’re trying to understand the success of your ad campaigns. Understanding your analytics will ensure you don’t throw away money.
7. Taking on too much
You, more than anyone will be aware of your limited resources. You must therefore keep this in mind when you’re allocating work and budget! Most small businesses don’t have more than 5 people on their marketing team; but you cannot do it all with only 5 people (or less!) You need to focus on doing what you can at an extremely high standard, rather than trying to do everything and it being only substandard.
8. Being too scared to change it up
It can be very easy to slip into a sense of security, especially if you have had some success with your digital marketing. However, the marketing world moves very fast and what worked well 2 months ago might not work so well in the coming months. Don’t be scared to try new ways of working and evolve to suit the way marketing is evolving. If you don’t evolve, you’ll find your business is left behind your competitors and everything you spend on digital marketing will most certainly be a waste.