Forrester Research analysts speculate that U.S. online retail sales will grow 57% by 2018 and that the web will account for 11% of all retail sales. Even more impressive is the predicted $1.13 trillion online B2B eCommerce forecasted for 2020. In fact, it’s believed that the percentage of people making more than half their business purchases online will grow from a third to more than 50%.
Much of this online business growth will be facilitated by optimizing for mobile and tablet traffic, improving last-minute shipping capabilities, and pricing goods and services competitively. It’s an exciting time to manage a company’s online presence! However, fast growth isn’t always a good thing if you’re unprepared. Having a fast, optimized website is crucial to your success. That’s the easy part of growing a business online, though.
The number of online business growth tactics is vast. As RJ Metrics explains, there are TONS of steps you can take to grow your business in the coming year — “You can write more content, better content, improve SEO, hire more employees, start an Instagram promotion, boost social sharing, do a publicity stunt, use PPC advertising, guest blogging, or get better at email marketing” — but determining what you should do to most dramatically improve your bottom line is a trickier matter. Janessa Lantz advises beginning your efforts on the areas where you’re weakest. Check out her article to determine what that might be.
In this article, we’ll also cover 8 commonly-overlooked impediments to business growth that our consultants encounter working with dozens of small and big business clients each year.
8 Reasons Your Business Is Not Growing
1. Your strategies need updating.
There are some online business growth strategies that have remained tested, tried and true throughout the years — such as email marketing, PPC advertising, SEO and blogging. Of course, there are subtle nuances within each of these broader categories that are continually changing with the times — sometimes as often as every few months. Also, for some businesses, the strategies that have yielded the fastest growth have come hot off the presses with the launch of sites like Facebook and Pinterest, or the widespread adoption of marketing automation and analytics software.
iMediaConnection says some of the most outdated digital marketing strategies include:
- – Managing emarketing campaigns by impressions, clicks, and budget forecasts, rather than conversion rates, cost-per-action and cost-per-customer.
- – Black Hat SEO that attempts to game the system, rather than following Google’s recommendations
- – Renting email lists, rather than building them in-house
- – Sending non-targeted, unsegmented and impersonal emails
- – Focusing content on keywords, without regard for context
- – Setting your sights on producing quantity of content, rather than quality
- – Failing to adopt ad retargeting strategies
- – Avoiding landing page A/B testing
- – Failing to target prospects based on recent behaviors using marketing automation
- – Underestimating the power of podcasts and online video
- – Buying fake online reviews, social media followers or video views
Image Source: Dendrite Park
2. You’re too focused on one-upping the competition.
While we conduct a fair amount of industry and competitive research for our clients, we carefully emphasize that business success is not as simple as copying an industry leader’s strategies, tactics and brand image.
There is a smart way to “copy” competitors — and a dumb way — as Social Triggers points out. Knowing what other industry thought leaders are up to is smart business, but you don’t want to make any copycat moves that you really can’t afford, that will spread you too thin, that will grow your offerings faster than your service department, or that will make you unhappy with the increased burdens.
We create unique custom plans for our clients that serve the goals and needs of the organization, rather than simply dishing out a cookie cutter plan to replicate. In our experience, when given the choice, most people want to do business with a companies that are original, trend-setting and authentic.
3. You let SEO and traffic building agendas fall by the wayside.
With so many overly dramatic articles on “the death of SEO,” it’s no surprise that many marketers turned their backs on the old-school objective of building traffic in favor of pursuing social media engagement or web design strategies. Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water just yet. Traffic-building content strategies like seeking podcast interviews and writing guest posts are still worthwhile ventures. Good old keyword research, technical on-page SEO tweaks, SEO content strategizing and site traffic monitoring are all still practices you need for robust business growth. Failing to optimize for search engines and solicit high-quality links allows thousands of potential customers to breeze by your website.
4. You got too caught up in social media hype.
It happens to the best of us — not just in business, but in our personal lives as well: we waste altogether too much time on social media. As this infographic demonstrates, there are many reasons to add social media marketing to your digital marketing strategy to grow your business:
However, the fact that you have to “pay to play” nowadays is a game-changer, particularly for companies with limited budgets, and it’s all too easy for companies to get lost on the platform with willy-nilly updates that lack a coherent strategy. Every post and minute spent on social media sites should be strategic and based on sound data.
You Might Also Like: 8 Steps To A Solid Social Media Strategy
5. You’re more worried about thought leadership than engagement.
There is one school of thought that says “True leaders are not always available and cost a premium if you want to access their time.” Sadly, this is also a great way to alienate buyers and scare off good business. Remaining accessible and engaging customers in a friendly, direct manner is quickly becoming the standards for customer service and client interaction in the digital age.
Did you know it costs almost 7 times as much to solicit a new customer as it does to sell to an existing customer? That’s a pretty substantial reason to focus on relationship building through email marketing, social media, video marketing, soliciting customer feedback, and ad retargeting — rather than simply putting all your eggs in the press release, guest posting, LinkedIn forum, “thought leadership” basket.
6. You’re not tracking the numbers that matter.
Data can be oppressive. We get it. Not everyone enjoys digging into the nitty-gritty details of marketing like we do. Yet, companies who want to experience growth understand that metrics are a necessary evil. You don’t want to get so caught up in the finer points of marketing that you miss the big picture and end up micromanaging your team with a whirlwind of constant changes, of course, so it’s important that you’re tracking the right numbers and updating your strategy at scheduled intervals that is acceptable to all parties seated at the table.
We’re happy to discuss the world of metrics with you, but generally, some things you should be tracking include:
- – Cost per lead
- – Registration rate
- – Conversion rate
- – Number of leads needed per customer acquisition
- – Customer acquisition cost
- – Lifetime value to customer acquisition ratio
Vanity metrics like like page views, number of followers, or free report downloads should be thrown by the wayside.
7. You’ve invested in more technology than you need.
The average business owner receives many pitches from B2B software firms. There are countless articles on the “latest and greatest” technology that will simplify life for today’s entrepreneur. Unfortunately, many companies fail to grow because their bottom lines are sucked up by so much technology — much of it all for naught. We fully understand the need to be competitive using all the latest digital marketing tools and the enormous expense that comes along with it. We provide our clients with access to more than $40,000 worth of marketing tools, such as Raven Tools, Sprout Social, Release Wire, aWeber, HootSuite, Manage Flitter and more. Another strategy aside from hiring us to handle certain aspects of your marketing campaigns is to do as Entrepreneur recommends and look for “free or lower-cost alternatives” that may deliver only the features you need, with options to scale up later, as your business grows.
8. You’re afraid that asking for help will cost you too much money.
“Reluctance to outsource tasks or partner with complementary businesses” is a major reason for stagnation, says Entrepreneur Magazine. Check out our infographic on the benefits of outsourcing:
“Outsourcing marketing tasks is a trend that’s here to stay,” says Business2Community’s Sabrina Ferraioli. Onboarding new hires internally can skyrocket your overhead costs too quickly, she warns. On top of that, modern digital marketing requires in-depth knowledge of industry best practices, a vast skill set and the ability to keep an eye on the big picture that many firms lose when they try to do everything in-house.
As entrepreneur and author David Walsh put it; “Progressive entrepreneurs realize the unstoppable power of outsourcing to handle aspects of their business that are essential but simply don’t make sense for them to deal with personally. Small business, augmented by a global pool of human capital, can compete directly with the biggest players in their space, and win.”
Tonya Thomas, president of The Small Office Assistant recalled the decision to outsource as a difficult one. “At first I felt like I was the only person who could do the work efficiently; I wanted control over everything,” she said. “But I wanted my business to grow and in order to do that I had to let go and start delegating.” The first year she hired outside contractors, she doubled her company’s revenue, reports Entrepreneur Magazine.
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