Debunking 3 Popular Internet Marketing Myths

“A lie can run round the world before the truth has got its boots on.” –Terry Pratchett, Author

The web is filled with conflicting opinions about effective methods of internet marketing. While most are the result of the rumor mill, many are spread from self-interested marketers of their own digital wares.

When interpreted incorrectly, small business owners risk wasting valuable time and resources on poor ROI pursuits. Even worse, the business owner can feel burnt by digital marketing overall and retreat back to proven low-value offline marketing efforts.

Here are 3 popular myths I hear from small business owners:

1. I need a mobile app for my business

For the majority of small businesses, this is a trap. It may seem intuitive that a native mobile app can make it easier to showcase your products and services, resulting in reaching new customers and getting existing customer to spend more. One even more misleading data point is that 85% of time spent by consumers on smartphones is on apps ( ).

The missing item here is that 84% of that overall time spent in apps is concentrated in only five apps. This makes it incredibly difficult to make it onto one of your target customers’ phones and expect any decent level of usage.

If you believe that your mobile app can make it to the top 5 in usage for your customer base, then it may be a worth investment. Otherwise, quickly strike this idea and move towards a great mobile-optimized website to deliver the proper information and contact information on mobile devices.

2. I must have the right keywords in my domain name

I’ve spoken to several small business owners who put a hold on all of their digital marketing efforts due to domain name paralysis. They look for the perfect name that has the right exact keywords; as a result, they make zero progress. Pick one and move on!

While domain name keywords do impact SEO (search engine optimization), it is only one of about 200 ranking factors in its algorithm. It’s nice to have — unlike popular belief though, it’s not a huge driver of showing up on the first page on Google keyword search results.

For effective SEO, you can achieve significantly better results from having fresh, high quality relevant content on your website or blog. Don’t worry too much about stuffing your keywords all over the site; Google can figure out if you’re trying to game the system. While Google algorithms are constantly being tweaked, you can take a cue from Moz’s expert survey of SEO ranking factors of 2015 to optimize your site.

3. Forget Email, focus on Social

While social media has quickly become a dominant platform for online marketing, email still remains one the primary areas to spend the bulk of your time.

According to a 2015 Redshift survey, 45% of small business owners still communicate with their customers over email, while only 13% do so over social media. This difference shines through when you think of the relative typical conversion (% of your customers who see a marketing message and take action) rates:

  • For emails you send directly to your email list, email open rates are typically about 15–20%. Of those, 10–20% will click on the action requested. This gives you a 1.5% to 4% chance of converting per customer on an offer
  • For a post on your Facebook Page, Facebook limits the reach of your post to only about 5% to 10% of your Facebook followers due to their exposure algorithms. Even in a best case scenario of your followers seeing your post and 10–20% taking action, this only results in an overall 0.5% to 2% chance of converting the customer

Beyond this, you can control the email list and personalize your offers and promotions. You can safely send weekly email offers and promotions to your customer base without having it feel like spam.

The best way to understand what works for your specific industry, location, and intent is to test into different areas to understand the best use of your time and resources. Of course, trying something is better than staying paralyzed out of self-doubt.