Ever wonder why your lead generation isn’t working as well as you think it should? To find out, I talked to Web.com’s Director of Marketing, Nikki Jackson, who's an expert in inbound marketing. (Check out her take on the top lead generation trends for 2018.) Jackson has some great insights into common mistakes that small business owners make when marketing their businesses online.
One of the challenges small businesses face is not targeting the right audiences. “Have a strong understanding of who is interested in your product or service and customize your targeting accordingly,” advises Jackson. “It’s very easy to spend money online for audiences that aren’t relevant. If you’re not fine-tuning your targeting enough, you won’t see success.”
Jackson is a huge advocate of social media marketing—as long as it’s done right. “If all you’re doing is pushing direct response messages to your audience, they’re going to experience ad fatigue,” she explains. “You want a nice balance between natural, organic content and paid [advertising].” Post information that’s fun, useful and lighthearted, and engage your audience in a variety of ways: “It gives your business a well-rounded presence.”
Even if you’ve got a huge presence on social media, you still need a website for lead generation. Why? “A website can rank on search engines,” says Jackson. People are also more likely to look up businesses on Google than Facebook, “and if they don’t see you on Google, you’re missing out on a whole group of potential customers.” Ideally, Jackson recommends having both a website and a social media presence: “That increases your online ‘real estate’ and makes it more likely people will find you.”
“A lot of small business owners think online advertising won’t work for them, or say they tried it in the past and it didn’t work,” says Jackson. “But were you targeting the right people? Know who and where you want to target. In a very populated city, for example, you may not want to target the entire city. You can advertise to a particular zip code or smaller [part of a] city.” This saves money and generates leads that better fit your customer profile.
“People often run advertising with no measurement in place, so they don’t know what they’re getting from their advertising,” Jackson says. “If you are investing in advertising, make sure there’s measurement set up so you can monitor and track performance.” After all, unlike print or TV advertising where tracking is much harder to execute, “anything you do online is trackable.”
In order to succeed, Jackson says, a lead generation program must have three elements in place: your website, your creative (that is, your advertising), and your staff. “Ads entice leads,” she explains, “but you have to have a working website for them to go to, and a staff ready to close those deals.”
“Advertising changes so rapidly that something you were doing 3 months ago might be outdated,” Jackson notes. “Always continue to evolve your marketing strategy, update your messaging, and update your offers. Staying fresh will help you stand out from your competitors.”
Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship.