Are you disappointed with the number of signups for your online coaching, training, or consultancy service? Well, you're not alone. Many entrepreneurs struggle to reach their potential because they're stuck making these ten big mistakes when marketing their online services.
This article will highlight ten big marketing mistakes and show you how you can solve them.
#1. Not understanding your target audience
Failure to understand your target audience is one of the biggest and most common mistakes people make when selling an online service.
People buy online services because they have a problem or pain point they need to solve. They might want to get in better shape, do their accounts, want to learn a new skill, or need coaching to become better at their job. The list is endless.
However, too many entrepreneurs don't do the research to define their audience. They optimistically lump all of the people that could be interested in their service into one basket. However, this overly general approach means that they don't stand out or truly speak to their prospects.
Understanding your target audience helps drive a lot of things about your service. It should inform your messaging, the subjects that you cover, and even how you price your service. Additionally, it should influence the places where you do your marketing.
You need to understand your audience if you are driving website traffic through search ads or organic search. You should know the subjects and topics they care about and even how they talk about their problems.
The only way to get around this problem is by putting in the work. Really study your niche and collect as much information as you can. If your business is already up and running, use current customer data to figure out who your audience is. Additionally, you can run surveys to go even deeper.
When you have all this information, you can build an ideal buyer. Armed with this information, you can adjust your messaging to speak to this segment.
#2. Not establishing a niche
This mistake is slightly related to the first one, but it deserves its own point. The market for online services is very competitive. Offering a generic, catch-all service means that you need to compete against various people. While some marketing teams think this is the best strategy, it's tough to make it work in a crowded field.
Look at your industry and identify an area of specialty. While you may believe that you are limiting your potential customer base, what you are really doing is finding an audience who needs your service and will respond to your marketing.
#3. Giveaways that provide zero value
Giveaways and competitions are a great way to drive awareness and generate leads. However, if you want this strategy to work, you need to offer prizes or content that is truly valuable.
For example, let's say you're a fitness coach. You can create a lead magnet, like an eBook or PDF for a high-protein breakfast meal plan.
However, the content needs to be valuable if you're putting it behind a wall. Users understand that their personal information has value to you. They'll only be prepared to exchange their data if you provide them with something worthwhile in return.
A good piece of content can do wonders for building trust and authority. A poorly cobbled-together lead magnet might help you populate your email list, but your prospects might feel they've been tricked or have a negative opinion of your service. Converting these users will be an uphill challenge.
#4. Poorly designed ads
Again, this issue stems from not understanding your target audience. If you haven't put in the research, you won't know how to press your prospects' buttons.
Additionally, too many business owners don't put enough thought into their ads. The market is competitive, and prospects see thousands of ads each day. Cutting through the noise is very difficult.
Clear, concise, and consistent messaging is the only way to make an impact. A good ad makes it clear:
- why your service is valuable
- what problems your service can solve
- highlights your expertise
Anything less than that, and your prospects won't be engaged and will likely go somewhere else to find solutions to their problems or pain points.
#5. A badly-constructed sales funnel
A sales funnel is a marketing concept that maps the customer journey from knowing nothing about your service to becoming a paying customer.
The customer journey has become more complex in recent years. Some estimates suggest it takes around eight touchpoints to make a sale. A touchpoint can be anything from digital ads, blog content, lead magnets, landing pages, etc.
So, you need a plan that starts with making your customers aware of your service and nurturing them with information about how your service can make their lives easier or help them achieve things they want.
Here is an example of a simple sales funnel:
Let's examine each stage and think about what type of content you can produce to push people to the next step.
Awareness: The awareness stage is where people start learning that your service exists. There are many ways to get your solution in front of your prospects. You can use digital ads, your social media presence, blogs, word of mouth, etc.
You need to grab people's attention. So brief, punchy content that speaks to their problem and positions your service as a solution works best here.
Interest: The interest stage deals with prospects with a clear problem they need to solve. They know about your service, but they probably know about your competitors too.
Here, the aim is to provide valuable content and insights that help you stand out as a trustworthy authority in your space. eBooks, webinars, or even great blog content can all help move your prospects along.
Additionally, you should be aware of your competitors too. Get to know their offerings, pricing, and other details. You can use this knowledge to help your service stand out by offering more value via lower pricing, a more comprehensive service, a better user experience, etc.
Desire: The desire stage is where your potential customers are very interested in what you have to offer and have shortlisted you as one of the solutions to their problems.
They should be going to your landing page or filling out lead forms at this stage. Deeper content, like webinars, can work wonders at this stage.
Action: This is when your prospects either commit or don't. They know your company, they've done their research, and you've sent them your offer. It's down to them to take the plunge.
Of course, all is not lost even if they don't buy now. You can still send them sales nurturing or marketing emails that promote your service.
#6. A landing page that doesn't convert
If you have an online service, a landing page is one of your most important tools. However, it's surprising how many people get this crucial stage wrong.
A poor landing page can undo even the best sales and marketing campaign. If you are paying for pay-per-click (PPC) ads and you are just mashing users into a landing page, your customer acquisition costs will be too high.
Your landing page needs to be designed to convert. Here are a few of the most common landing page mistakes.
Misleading ads: Your conversion rates will be lower if your ads don't accurately reflect your service. Don't mislead your audience; they won't magically become interested in your service just because they click on an ad.
Poor copy: Poorly written copy on your landing page will make your service look amateurish. Again, audience research is key here. Really take the time to understand how your prospects think and talk about their pain points, and produce simple, crisp copy that addresses their points.
The best copy is brief, precise, and speaks to your prospects on an emotional level.
Multiple calls to action: Too many calls to action — i.e., too many choices — can confuse your audience. Make sure your landing page offers your users one choice. Don't offer them the option to request a meeting or buy now. Just pick one, and craft your copy around guiding them to that message.
Bad visuals: The images, layout, and typography for a landing page all need careful consideration. A cheap, trashy-looking page won't fill your prospects with confidence.
Disorganized structure: Keep it simple and use a proven format like:
- Impactful headline
- Subheader with rich details to encourage readers further
- Good copy and images that work to communicate the value of your service
#7. No content marketing
We live in an age where people want quick wins and immediate results. However, a good content marketing strategy can take time to bear fruit. For example, if you rely on organic search, it can take up to six months to be indexed on Google's search engine results page (SERP).
However, content marketing has many upsides, including:
- it can be very cost-effective compared to digital ads
- a good piece of content can deliver traffic for years
- helpful content helps establish trust and authority
By ignoring this kind of digital marketing, your service could struggle.
However, it's not enough to just mindlessly produce content hoping that some of it will connect with your audience. A good content strategy needs to understand your prospects, their concerns, and what they want to read.
All content should have a goal. You should understand:
- who the content is for
- what stage of the sales funnel is it aimed at
- how you plan to get your content in front of your users
- what type of content do you want to create
Of course, for many service providers, creating marketing content is a delicate balance. For example, if you sell a course on financial investment, you don't want to tip your hat and give away all the good stuff up front.
To stand out from your competitors and prove your value, you need to share some insights. Finding that balance is vital. Offer too much, and you render your course obsolete. But offer too little, and your prospects won't understand why or how your course could be valuable to them.
#9. A lack of automation
Running a successful service takes time. However, there aren't enough hours in the day to do all your marketing manually, especially at scale. This situation is where automation comes in.
Automation is a great way to schedule your social media posts, articles, and email marketing. You can allocate a few hours to get everything done, thanks to all the great automation tools on the market.
#10. Selling too early
When you are selling a service, you mustn't lose sight of what you are trying to do. Blog posts and social media interactions are great ways to raise awareness, but they need to be connected to a purpose: converting your prospects.
With this in mind, it's no surprise that many people go a bit overboard with sales. However, being too pushy and selling too early can drive some prospects away.
As we covered in the sales funnel section, different types of content work best for specific parts of the customer journey. So keep in mind the various steps that your customers need to take during the sales process and match your messaging.
Nurture your prospects and leads with the right information at the right time. Just because someone has expressed an interest in your service doesn't automatically mean they are ready to buy. You need to win their trust.
Don't force your prospects to make a decision too early. Instead, feed them a steady diet of helpful content that moves them along. When they've reached the bottom of the funnel, it's time to start selling your service.
Marketing an online service has become more challenging in recent years. Increased competition has made acquiring customers expensive, and it's not always easy to stand out from the crowd.
The best thing you can do is target a niche and really dig in. Get to know your customers and what problems keep them up at night. Identify exactly how your services can help them solve their issues and communicate value throughout your marketing materials.
If you're making any of these ten mistakes, don't worry. They're all easy to fix or address with a little hard work. Eliminate these errors, and you'll be able to boost your traffic, conversions, and sales in no time at all.