9 Small Business Marketing Mistakes That Hurt Your ROI

hurt your roi

Part of having a successful small business marketing campaign is knowing the key elements that make up a marketing strategy. Often, some crucial factors are missed by small businesses. This can have a detrimental effect on the success of a campaign.

But, don’t worry. By being aware of these important elements, you can stay ahead of the game.  This ensures that you have the best strategy possible for your small business marketing plan.

With that in mind, here are nine vital pieces to a high performing marketing campaign.

Calculate Your Cost Per Acquisition Rate

Your cost per acquisition (CPA) rate is how much your business will spend to acquire one paying customer. Historically, knowing your CPA rate has been integral to knowing how lucrative a marketing channel is.

If your small business is still in the early stages of its life, you may not know what marketing channels will yield the best CPA rate. In this case, spread your budget out to try a few things. To get started choosing which channels are best for your market. You can try smaller “test” channels until you find the right ones for you.

Be careful, however, CPA creates a ‘race to the bottom’ mentality.  Generally, CPAs are intended to be as low as possible. It doesn’t take into account that not all customers are of equal value to your small business. This means that in certain circumstances a higher CPA might deliver more to your business.  This is because not all customers are of equal lifetime value.

Calculate Your Conversion Rate

Knowing your conversion rate is one of the best ways for you to measure how well your marketing tactics are working. An easy to understand example of conversion rates is the question: “how many site visits are turning into paying customers?”

If your conversion rate is low, you will need to pinpoint exactly why that is so that you can work on increasing it. A conversion rate can be low due to one of the following:

  • Web Design: your website may be too difficult to navigate or not catchy enough.
  • Your Audience: you may not be reaching the right target audience with your marketing campaign and therefore aren’t driving any traffic to your site.
  • Traffic Quality/Messaging: similar to the aforementioned point, there’s always the possibility that you’re not pulling in the right traffic for your product or service.

Luckily, these are things you can fix, as long as you’re keeping yourself aware of any changes. The best way to get a sense of how to increase traffic quality is by analyzing your conversion rates per advertisement or website. Compare and contrast your different advertisements.  Look to see which ones have a better conversion rate.  For example, is influencer marketing having a greater impact than your Facebook ads?

Once you know which methods have higher conversion rates, you can focus your attention on those methods and gain higher quality traffic. Remember, however, that market interests can change. Always ensure you’re monitoring your conversion rates and making adjustments when necessary.

Choose Your Sales Funnel Approach

There are two main sales funnel approaches to consider when drafting your small business marketing plan: the bottom-funnel approach and the top-funnel approach.

A bottom-funnel approach is where you invest in trying to develop your renewal rate and increase the likelihood of repeat customers. You focus on the bottom of the funnel and get people buying your product or service first. Once you’ve optimized the bottom of the funnel, you can move on to the next stage— the top-funnel approach.

For a top-funnel approach, the focus is to send new people to your website. Top-funnel marketing approaches include influencer marketing and public relations (PR) and you’ll invest in these approaches once you know what your conversion rate is and how well your product sells. In summary, a top-funnel approach is ideal if you have already successfully gained customers and users (the bottom of the funnel).

The two approaches have different tactics, so ensure that you can address your specific needs accordingly before you start investing.

Accurately Price the Value of Long-Term Advertisements

Whereas short-term advertisements are easier to price, long-term advertisements, such as PR, blogging, and influencer marketing, aren’t as simple. However, while more difficult to price, long-term advertisements have the benefit of having more value than short-term advertisements.

To give you an example, here are a few ways in which long-term advertisements have additional value:

  • Social Media Shares: long-term advertisements have a better chance of being shared on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.
  • Create Discussion: by having a longer “shelf-life,” long-term advertisements last long enough to generate discussion.
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO): this is useful for your blog or website.
    Accessible: unlike short-term advertisements, long-term advertisements are always accessible to the public.
  • Elevated Brand Recognition: similar to the other points, the longer an advertisement is made available to the public, the more people will learn about your brand.

To determine whether or not a long-term advertisement is valuable to you, you don’t want to look at impressions alone. Instead, you will want to calculate the total media value. To calculate total media value, put a price on each engagement with an advertisement or with your website. For example, you might put a $2 value on an Instagram or Facebook share and a $5 value on a website visit that originates from SEO content.

Perform A/B Testing

A/B testing is fairly straightforward and important to a successful marketing campaign.

If you decide to invest in a top-funnel approach, such as influencer marketing, A/B testing the web page that visitors are being directed to will optimize the layout for subsequent initiatives. For example, you may want to make changes to the website to review which changes produce the highest conversion rate. These changes can be something simple like the background colour and/or pictures, or it can be something like changing the website’s language.

A/B testing is the best way to review and implement important data that will ultimately help your business flourish.


The best way to optimize the bottom and middle of the funnel (those already familiar with your product/brand) is to retarget website visitors and email readers.

You can insert a snippet of code, known as retargeting pixels, in the back end of your website or in an image within an email. Retargeting is a great way to draw people into your product or business. When successful, it’s a great way to know whether or not your product is garnering interest. Depending on your business, you can also start to run abandoned shopping cart campaigns as well.

With effective retargeting, data shows that you can double your clickthrough rate (CTR) which just goes to show how powerful the method is.

Create a Blog

Blogging is essential, especially if you are a  small business or if you’re launching a new product as they help establish trust with your visitors and boost your visibility on search engines.

Your blog doesn’t need to be large, but, before you invest in small business marketing, ensure that you first have a few blog posts on your site for visitors to engage with. However, if you don’t plan to post often or regularly, remember to remove the timestamps from the posts so that they don’t appear outdated.

Have Clear Goals For Your Small Business Marketing Campaigns

Before working with any vendor (eg. an agency), it’s vital that you clearly and concisely communicate your goals. This will ensure you find a vendor that fits your needs and budget.

A few goals that you might want to communicate with any vendors are a number of site visitors, social media followers, shares, email addresses, downloads, event attendees, or a particular conversion rate.

You may have a secondary goals as well. You should ensure that your primary goal is communicated effectively. That way your vendor has the proper guidance to make the appropriate choices for your brand.

Pay Attention To Your Marketing Campaigns

While running a social media marketing campaign, don’t forget to observe and engage in that campaign. For example, don’t forget to answer questions that may come up on social media! You should always have someone to answer questions. If you don’t want to answer questions publicly, you should still engage with the individual and ask them to message or email you privately.

Additionally, be active wherever your social media advertisements are running, such as commenting if someone shares or engages with the advertisement in some way. If you’re not engaging in social media, you’re losing the opportunity to enhance your conversion rate.

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