So you got a business going, maybe it’s new or maybe not, you want to explore new opportunities, channels and strategies. Good for you!
However, in my 11 years experience, I have seen quite a few mistakes along that path, that companies of all sizes have made in the process.
Some of these mistakes may be harmless, others however could prove significantly damaging to businesses, impacting sales, reputation and credibility.
So if you think you can plan and execute yourself a winning digital strategy (however I strongly recommend hiring a professional), be careful and don’t make these common mistakes!
1. Setup a social media account for every known platform
Social media platforms are a powerful and direct mean of communication, but if they can surely boost a business into stardom, they can also destroy it, with the same ease.
Opening a social media account on every known site, without first assessing your objectives, target and demographics, as well as what is that you need to communicate and how, will prove useless at best, damaging at worst (remember social media users are not virtual robots and numbers, they are real people that know what to look for in brands, the good AND the bad, and some of them may have way more power than your brand).
Understand first what each social media platform does, for who and how, what is that you want to accomplish at both a global level and also at a product/service level.
If the platform doesn’t match these requirements, there is absolutely no need (for now at least) to engage users on it.
You may still register an account of course, but keep it private or low profile until you are ready for it.
An empty or mismanaged social account, projects a negative image on the company, giving the impression that it lacks the knowledge and resources to understand how to deal with consumers.
2. Social media profile updates
Just like keeping it empty or not understanding the communication medium or target, of a particular platform, not keeping an account fresh with new content that engages the right users, at the right time with the right message, will prove just as useless or damaging.
While generic communication and messages may work, make sure that you allocate the right resources for more in-depth / technical content too. No one wants to keep seeing the same promo message over and over again.
3. Website Updates
You understand how vital it is for any business in the world, today, to have a website! Great but you don’t get a medal for this anymore, it’s basic business.
A common mistake I have been seeing, in all these years, is thinking that once you get a website, you’re done, finished, you’ve accomplished your digital mission forever. Wrong.
Just because you got a website in 1998, or even 2015, it doesn’t mean you should never go back to it, periodically, and freshen things up and/or add some features because you have been analyzing your users’ behaviour and understood they might be needing something more from your site (which could also lead to more sales).
As per point 2, leaving a website to its own destiny and presenting your business to returning or new potential clients, like you haven’t changed your outfit in a billion years, is not good.
Would you welcome clients in an office that looks like something out of the 40s? Well maybe, if it has a modern retro touch, but let’s be honest, no one wants to buy from a company that looks like more of a museum.
4. E-Commerce Updates
As per previous mistake, while there’s few businesses that will have the same exact products or services, during their whole history, freshening things up, improving the User Experience (UX) and Interface (UI) once in a while (eg. every year or so), is the best way to go.
A better / easier purchase journey, will almost always lead to more sales.
I don’t need to tell you to also keep that inventory up to date, right?
5. SEO… or lack thereof
So you have a website or ecommerce, you have been on point with its design and content updates. Yay!
Have you made sure the SEO is also up to par?
Search Engine Optimization isn’t just a foreign concept that you can leave aside, it’s a vital part of any web content, including your site.
If a website cannot be found on search engines or shared properly on social media, then what’s the point? It’s like having a great store in the middle of the desert.
You don’t want all the hard work and resources you have invested in your website or online store, to go to waste, do you?
6. Users & Usage Analysis
You may be happy with the results that your social media activity and website/ecommerce are yielding, but I can guarantee you that if you are not monitoring properly and analyzing what’s happening on your social media handles, websites and apps, you are missing out on more profitable opportunities.
It doesn’t take a crystal ball to see them either, the great thing about data collection (even when GDPR compliant obviously) is that it actually tells YOU, what users want (if you know how to read it).
A correct use of data allows you to allocate the right resources on exactly the new projects your business needs to expand organically, without running blindly while throwing money around in the hope it will make any difference.
7. Design & Development by yourself
Some may think that cutting corners, by making a website themselves and saving on professional website design and development, is a smart idea. It’s most likely not, since users will notice that the site is not done professionally and will not trust buying from it.
In the best scenario, users will browse and get a bad impression about the brand.
There are many services out there that will promise you that anyone can make a website in a few clicks, but I’m afraid that’s only a marketing trick, because just like you may be an expert in your particular business, thanks to practice and years of experience, others have spent those years learning programming, best design practices and how to attract customers to an online business.
To each their own!
A poorly made ecommerce or website will alienate your potential clients and scare away your existing ones, so be careful!
If you can’t invest in a designer and developer, then your business is not quite ready to take off yet.
8. Underestimate technical requirements
When it’s time to put that website or ecommerce up, you may be tempted to save money on the hosting provider, because… well, a hosting is a hosting right? Wrong.
There’s a reason why prices may differ, sometimes greatly, between one another.
If your developer hasn’t advised the best infrastructure (which they should), then either ask them or talk to a couple hosting providers, before you pay for one: explain what you need to run on it (simple informative website, blog, site + ecommerce, app, etc.) and let them guide you through the options.
Sure, you might get upsold, but spending a little more will be better than your site loading pages at a glacial pace (losing customers in the process) or having to upgrade or move to a new hosting after just a couple months.
Each online project needs a web space that fits its needs! Would you get a scooter to cross a continent? If you’re mentally sane (jokes, that would be definitely an adventure!) you wouldn’t, it’s the same reasoning with a website: it needs power, speed and the right engine!
If you don’t know how to move forward, here’s a good starting point:
- Get your domains on NameCheap or GoDaddy. Easy to buy, easy to manage.
- If you are just getting started with your website and it’s not an ecommerce, get your hosting / web space & emails on Dreamhost. Choose the Ulimited plan and you’ll get emails too. Easy panel and setup.
- If you need better performance or need to launch an ecommerce and they’re built with WordPress, get your hosting at WP Engine. They got fantastic support and it’s already fully optimized for WordPress (including free SSL and CDN!).
They don’t provide emails though, so if you need that too, I strongly advise GSuite. I really haven’t found a better solution yet, in all these years (pssssst! drop me a line real quick or leave a comment below, if you need a discount code, I always have available ones!)
- If your website or ecommerce are not built with WordPress but you still need a better performing server, without things getting too complicated, then MediaTemple is the right choice. They provide emails too.
9. Rushing or botching the project scope
There are hundreds of possible ways to create a website, ecommerce or app.
However, if the project scoping has been done properly and professionally, only a handful solutions, or less, will be the most suitable for your project.
Scoping is possibly the most important part of any enterprise, not just online ones.
If you start with the wrong foot, you will end up losing a lot more than just money or time.
When considering the best solutions for your project, make sure you take into account literally every variable of your business: what you are doing, for who, how you plan to do it, how you intend to sell (or whatever makes your business profitable and sustainable), what are the resources available (in terms of money, time and human) and how you want all these parts to run together.
You will find that while some solutions may sound really affordable or easy, they will have limits that will require you to change approach, sometimes even dramatically, a few months in. Plan ahead!
While you shouldn’t overkill it with features (or overengineer), you shoulnd’t set your business up for failure either.
Don’t take shortcuts unless you understand what they imply, saving money for the sake of it, without carefully analyzing the pitfalls always translates in issues down the road.
A CMS or CRM isn’t the same as any other. A React front-end is not the same as a Vue frontend. A headless content management system may or may not be the right solution for you, regardless the performance gains on paper or the pluggability.
Each platform and programming language one specific features and limitations. Make sure you understand them very well, because your choices will have consequences on your every day business life.
Unless you have technical knowledge or a sound digital marketing background, you really should hire a professional to perform the best possible project scoping, to lay the foundation of everything you need, the possible solutions and have them identify right away possible bottlenecks, limitations and best practices. You may end up spending a little more than you initially had in mind, but I can assure you that you will not regret it.