The success of any marketing and advertising depends on how well you understand your customers. Small businesses can often get caught up in the day-to-day running of the business, focusing purely on sales and forgetting about the most important part of the equation: the customer and what they need.
Behind the Facebook likes and website traffic statistics, there are real people with interests, concerns and dislikes who want very specific things from your business. By thinking carefully about their experience, you’ll be able to create marketing and an online presence that gives them what they need and helps you achieve your business objectives.
Here are some of the most common mistakes small businesses make when it comes to the customer experience, along with easy ways to prevent them happening.
Mistake 1: Not having a clear call to action
One common mistake from small businesses is not making it obvious what you want your visitors to do. In marketing, this is the ‘call to action’ – the action you want a customer to take. Without a clear call to action, marketing can end up being a waste of time as your customer doesn’t know what to do next.
Although as a business owner you might want your customer to do lots of things (like call you, then book their car in, then buy an upgrade…), when creating your marketing material it’s important to focus on the one thing you want them to do next.
For example, if you send out print marketing, your call to action might be for customers to “Call us today”. On social media, you might have a call to action to “Share our update for 10% off”. After buying from you, you might send a customer an email where the call to action is “Review us on TripAdvisor”. This stops your customer feeling overwhelmed and gives them a simple action to take to help them move onto the next stage of their journey with you.
Mistake 2: Neglecting mobile visitors
In 2015, mobile internet use overtook desktop internet use for the first time (Comscore, 2015), meaning more people than ever are searching and browsing the internet on their mobile. If your website isn’t mobile-friendly, your mobile customer’s experience is likely to be unpleasant and you could lose a sale.
Making your website mobile-friendly means thinking about how different it is to browse the internet on a small screen, and building your site around that. This could include fewer images, larger text size and much bigger buttons to help people navigate easily without using a mouse.
Mistake 3: Underestimating the importance of good design
Marketing that works well on mobile with clear calls to action is a good start, but good design is very important to the customer experience. If your marketing (like your website or printed materials) isn’t well-designed and easy to understand, customers won’t know what to do and will be put off from buying from you.
Take a critical look at your marketing material. Is the text easy to read? Are the images high quality? Are the colours bold without being overpowering? If the piece of marketing you’re examining is difficult to read, poorly printed or unclear, your customers won’t bother looking at it. The care you demonstrate in showing off your products or services through your marketing lets the customer know the level of care you’re willing to invest in their experience with your company, so it’s worth doing well.
Mistake 4: Making it hard to get in touch
If your customer needs to ask you something, it should be easy for them to do so; if they want to ask a question it can mean they’re considering buying from you, so the easier it is to get an answer the more likely they are to stay interested.
Some of the mistakes small businesses make in this area include:
Lengthy forms (online or otherwise) which ask for lots of unnecessary information
No clear phone number or contact email on your marketing
No social media channels or other way to ask a quick question
You can solve this by making sure your contact details are clearly displayed on any marketing material you create, whether that’s a flyer or a web page. You should also consider investing time in one or two social media channels to ensure your customer has a way to get in touch with you easily.
Mistake 5: Directing people to the wrong web page
Another mistake small businesses make with online marketing is sending all of their customers to the same part of their website: the home page. But if you’re talking to a customer about a new product, or they see an advert for a specific service, they want to be shown that information straight away – they don’t want to have to find it for themselves.
To prevent this, make sure to always send your customers to the right page for what they need. You can use landing pages to help you. These are specific pages (which are either existing web pages or new ones you build) which have the details your customer needs
Mistake 6: Neglecting review sites and social media
Review sites and social media are important parts of the customer experience. Nearly 70% of customers say online reviews affect what they buy (Deloitte, 2014), so it’s essential that you make the experiences they have on sites like Yelp or TripAdvisor as positive as possible.
Always address negative comments quickly and politely, and share positive ones wherever you can. Offline, make sure you keep a good record of any customer feedback, and show excellent customer service at all times. Positive experiences in real life will translate to positive reviews online, which will improve the overall customer experience.