Excuse: /ik’ skyooz/ – verb
If the title of this post caught your eye, perhaps you’ve made Internet Marketing excuses, or you’ve heard excuses from your colleagues in business, about why you or they aren’t taking full advantage of the Internet as a primary Marketing medium.
In the 15 years that we have been serving small businesses, we’ve seen many things change with respect to the economy, the Internet, politics, and Internet Marketing, in particular. But, one thing hasn’t seemed to change that much. We still hear some of the same-old excuses from small business owners and managers about why they aren’t taking ‘full’ advantage of the Internet.
With that in mind, I thought I would share 4 of the most common Internet Marketing excuses that I’ve heard from small business owners and managers, and what you can do to stop making these excuses and take the necessary action to succeed online.
I’ll also share a few comments from some of our customers after they experienced success on the Internet with their small business. These people took action and changed their businesses and their lives, by thinking differently about their small businesses and embracing the Web to promote their businesses.
Excuse #1 – “We really don’t get a lot of business from our website.”
This is probably the most common excuse that we still hear from small business owners and managers about why they aren’t doing more to promote their business on the Web. What’s really at the core of this excuse is the disbelief that the Web can actually provide any real monetary value to their business. I’m never surprised, albeit disappointed, when I hear an excuse like this.
Generally, this excuse comes from a person whose website has little or no hope of generating any business, because it’s has been neglected for years. They had a website developed, once-upon-a-time, then they adopted a “Set-It-And-Forget-It” attitude. This never works, because the only constant online is change, and it happens 7 times faster than it does in the “real” world.
One of the basic misconceptions about marketing on the Web is that it requires less work than more traditional forms of marketing and advertising. Not in the least. The truth is, it takes just as much effort, if not more.
The Good News!
The good news is, as with everything else in your life, you will get out of it exactly what you put into it. It’s actually quite a bit better than that. Done correctly, you will receive a better response rate and a better return on investment (ROI) from your Internet Marketing efforts, than you will from any traditional forms of promotion that you have used for your business.
One of the true benefits of Internet Marketing for small businesses is that everything that you do online can be tracked and analyzed, to the nth degree. Every action that you take online, be it Content Development, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Search Engine Marketing (SEM), Email Marketing, Social Media, Video Marketing, Ecommerce, etc., or better still, all of the above, can be thoroughly evaluated.
All of these elements can work together as component parts of your marketing plan. They can also be measured to determine how effectively you are reaching your target audience in real-time, like right now!
Better still, the results of your Internet Marketing efforts can be measured to determine if you are converting Suspects into Prospects into Leads into Qualified Leads into Proposals into Sales!
All Together Now
Taken together, these steps are known as the Sales Cycle. One of your objectives online is (or should be) to reduce the cycles in your sales process. i.e., to get you more revenue faster!
Fortunately, when you make the trip from disbelief to a clearer understanding of the benefits of Internet Marketing for your small business, we often hear comments like the following:
“The Internet sales have been tremendous…much better than I had hoped for! During our first busy season, it was the max that I could possibly handle.”
“We are also seeing an increase in our order size of about 40% over our walk-in trade. Our return on investment has been better than we ever anticipated.”
Excuse # 2 – “Our Website is really just an electronic brochure.”
When this excuse is given it’s typically an indication that the small business owner or manager hasn’t done much to promote their business and they have relied heavily on referrals and word of mouth. But what about word of mouse?
This excuse is also rooted in the belief that your website is a piece of digital collateral that you can refer existing or prospective customers to, so they can see what you do. It totally discounts one of the principal benefits of having a website in the first place; giving your prospects and customers the ability to find you through the use of a search engine.
The vast majority of all activity on the Internet begins with someone searching for something on a search engine. Estimates range from a low of 70% all of the way up to a whopping 93% of online experiences beginning with a search (Forrester Research). When done correctly, your website will contain the kind of content that your customers want to know about.
The Go To Guys
Creating content that will demonstrate that you are the experts in your industry that you claim to be is imperative. Showing prospects that you are the “Go-To-Guys” on your website is one of the best ways to start establishing trust. This is the first step in developing a relationship with them that hopefully will result in them becoming a customer.
Fortunately, once you step over this excuse, this is what we hear:
“Before Cazbah we had a basic website that did nothing for us. Now, we are fully active online and increasing our sales every month. Our phone calls have increased 30% due to our new website and I get emails all the time.
“We get 5 to 10 new customer phone calls per day and 50 per day on some occasions. We have continued to grow at a steady pace. 30% of our new business now comes from the Web.”
Excuse #3 – “My customers aren’t on the Internet.”
Believe it or not, I still hear this excuse from time to time. When I encounter this excuse, I have to fight the urge to ask, “what rock have you been living under?” Generally, I hear this excuse from small business owners and managers who have been doing business a certain way for a very long time. In most cases, these folks are restricted to a particular local territory or region and haven’t considered how the Web could change their business.
This change is brought about by giving potential customers in their local territory the ability to find them. As mentioned earlier, the vast majority of all activity on the Web begins with someone searching for something. It is also a well documented fact that a large percentage of local searches result in offline purchases.
96% of PC Owners Conduct Local Searches
Here’s an excerpt from a comScore, Neustar…research study on local search. The survey of nearly 5,000 US adults was conducted in December 2013 so, it’s even more significant as of this writing.
“Nearly all (96 percent) of PC owners conduct local searches. By comparison, 79 percent of mobile phone owners and 81 percent of tablet owners used those devices for local searches. Satisfaction with the overall experience… was highest for the PC, followed by tablet and mobile. Other than for “on the go” information, PCs were preferred devices for local search because of greater usability and access to information.
The top reason for local search was to find a specific business. However the second most common reason was to find a business with the product or service desired (category search). So while many local searchers are looking for “name in mind” information, a substantial number don’t have a specific business in mind…”
The statistics above also point to another important fact regarding the increasing percentage of mobile device (phone and tablet) users who search and research products and companies; nearly 80 percent of local searches on mobile devices turned into purchases! If that’s not enough to get you to think a little harder about using the Web to promote your small business, I don’t know what is!
Once we show our customers how much more efficient and effective (i.e., profitable) it is to do business on the web we hear:
“Our sales have grown every year and we can attribute a good portion of that to our Cazbah website. We’ve grown 10% to 15% annually just based on our Internet sales.”
“We actually see growth every week. We get 25 sales leads from our website per week. We bring about 10 of those to a proposal and we close about 50% of them.”
Excuse #4 – “We don’t sell our products online”
This excuse comes from people who don’t yet understand the power of the Internet to reach new customers, regardless of the type of products or services they are selling. It is also based on the misconception that commerce on the Internet has only to do with selling products on your website.
There is no doubt that there are Billions of dollars that flow through eCommerce websites every year. If you have products you could be selling on your website, and you aren’t doing so, you should be!
There are still some people that I encounter who have the incorrect assumption that the Web is only good for consumer products that will easily fit into a shipping box.
Only 1/2 Of The Answer
But eCommerce is only half of the answer here. As mentioned, the other part of the online commerce equation is reducing the cycles in your sales process (Suspect > Prospect > Lead > Qualified Lead > Proposal > Close). The goal here is to generate more qualified leads that your salespeople can follow up on.
Speaking from a career in sales, I can tell you that there is nothing better than a qualified website lead! In most cases when I encounter this excuse, the person giving it doesn’t believe that anyone would spend the kind of money that it takes to buy their products or services on the Internet. Or, they don’t yet understand the benefits of reducing the cycles in the sales process.
Fortunately, we know otherwise and so do all of our customers:
“Our situation on the Web before Cazbah was virtually non-existent. It was a hope and a dream but, never a reality. The situation has changed since we joined Cazbah and our Internet sales now represent about 30% of our total business. All of our business growth now comes from the Web.”
“Our sales leads are far more qualified now…The repeat business that we get from customers who find us on the Internet is one of the most gratifying things about our new website.” Roland Volman, Owner – Automation Aides
What excuses are you making that are preventing you from growing your business online?