“Live and learn” is a tried and true approach to getting what you want – in business and in life. But some lessons seem to go unlearned – no matter what. On the business side, the lesson that stubbornly refuses to be learned by many is the notion that if someone builds a site they can build traffic “for nothing”. I can’t tell you how many friends talk to me about sites they have built but they are puzzled about why they have very little traffic. I always ask what they have done to promote the site. They often cite lots of activity that, in the end, have relatively little traffic building value.
Then I ask, OK – what else are you doing? Do you spend money on SEO or Google Adwords or other promotions? They often say no giving reasons such as fear of click fraud in Google Adwords. Or on the case of SEO, they don’t know how to be sure they are getting what they pay for.
But these reasons also conceal a deep myth people have about eCommerce. They believe that since much of the Internet is free – they can promote their site for free too.
That myth deserves to be skewered once and for all. The truth is that the web works like any other business venture. Investment is required is make it grow. The difference is where and how to make those investments.
So here is my top list of digital marketing myths that deserve to be slayed and the best ways to focus your marketing investments.
Myth #1 – Your time is FREE.
This is one I hear most often from new web business owners. The time they invest they feel is free because there is no out of pocket costs. I suggest this is one the biggest mistakes small web owners make.
Repeat after me – YOUR TIME IS MONEY!!!! Think about this way. Any time you spend on your business means you are NOT doing something else that can earn income. Instead, work under the premise of “Pay yourself first”. Assign yourself an hourly rate and you will quickly see how much money you really are spending on these activities.
Since you are spending your time and your money – spend it well with marketing activities that deliver a healthy return on your time investment. Here are my top suggestions for money (a.k.a. time) well spent.
1) Consistently scope out the competition and be sure you know how you are better/ different or offer more value. Make sure your web content reflects that competitive advantage.
2) Create some buzz about your company with free PR activities. Write the releases yourself and you can distribute it via free PR networks like TheOpenPress, PRlog, 1888pressrelease and myfreePR.
3) Participate in the social networking scenes with presences on the social networks sites. Again some of the top one are 360.yahoo.com, spaces.live.com, http://www.myspace.com, http://www.facebook.com, http://www.hi5.com, www.friendster.com.
4) Create good fresh content and put it on your site. You can also submit it to article directories. Be sure you include keywords that are relevant to your category. If you want to know which keywords have relevance, the Google search now includes a relative figure that tells you how many pages have the keywords you think are important. Use this tool to guide your keyword efforts.
Myth #2 – There is too much digital fraud to justify the cost of online marketing programs.
Beyond affordability, the number one reason why people don’t invest in marketing programs is fear of digital fraud whether it be fraud click or copyright fraud if they sell online content.
It is unfortunate that these fears prevent many business owners from marketing their business online because the reality is that marketing in the digital world works just like the real world in one sense – there is going to be waste. John Wanamaker once said (he was a famous retailer and entrepreneur), “I know half of my advertising budget is wasted – I just don’t know which half”. And this applies to digital marketing too. It’s useful to remember that even though there is waste you are still going to make more money than if you do nothing.
So get over the fear and get on with investing in your business.
Myth #3 – Search Engine Optimization is too expensive or does not work.
SEO can be expensive and technically challenging. But train yourself to understand the basic dynamics and then you can purchase these services wisely.
And the basics are not that complicated.
1) Know which keywords drive your category and make sure your site has lots of them
2) Be sure your site has the proper tags so search engines can find, read and catalog your site
3) Refresh your site with good content that includes those precious keywords
4) Aggressively pursue a linking strategy (this is where other sites/ blogs link back to you)
With these core principles you can find services that reasonably deliver a competent SEO program for you.
Myth #4 – Building trust on my site is hard to do.
This is one of the easiest things to deal with because there are many ways a site can convey trust – most notably with credible site seals like BBB or a site seal from a reputable Certification Authorities like Comodo (www.comodo.com). One of my favorites is a free site seal that eMerchants can use from UserTrust (www.usertrust.com) . This seal is part of a program that delivers a free customer feedback platform where users can leave feedback about your site to increase trust. And best yet – it’s totally free.
So build your sites dear friends – but don’t make the mistake of thinking the traffic will come for free. It doesn’t. Getting people to buy from you requires an investment – just like the real world.
Invest and they will come. Really truly.