When you’re in the early stages of growing your Virtual Assistant business you want to make sure you cover every aspect of marketing in order to grow your online presence and attract clients. However sometimes doing so much can mean that you either spread yourself too thin and not do it particularly well, or feel so over-whelmed that you don’t end up getting anything off the ground.
Having started my own VA business just 18 months ago, I’m still on a bit of a learning curve in terms of leaving the ‘employee’ mind-set behind and recognising myself as a ‘business owner’. It’s easy to get information overload. But what I will say is that what works for you and your business initially will totally depend on your skill set, expertise and niche.
Having said that, there are certain pitfalls to avoid.
1. Not carrying out any SEO on your website.
The number one thing to do as soon as you decide to start your VA business is to get yourself online. This will generally be in the form of a website. So you spend hours creating the perfect website that represents your business exactly as you want, only for no-one to find it online.
This is where a little SEO comes in. You can hire someone to undertake keyword analysis for you, or you can do it yourself using Google’s Keyword Tool. Basically you want to think of your skills, experience, niche, the work you want to offer and the audience you want to target to find out the best words you should use to populate your website – but make sure you use them in a natural fluid way throughout your text, otherwise you could get penalised by search engines.
2. Not setting up your Google Places page.
Not creating your own Google Place Page is a rookie mistake. It will dramatically increase your presence on Google for businesses searching for support in their local area. And it’s free!
Once you’ve got your website up and running and you’re ‘open for business’ get yourself a free Google Place Page and optimise it with as much detail as you can to maximise your local marketing opportunity.
3. Not targeting clients locally.
Whilst it’s easy to jump online and start networking via small business and VA forums, it’s a lot harder to gain new clients that way. Trust plays a major part in a small business owner choosing to work with a VA, and many struggle on for months if not years before taking the plunge.
Targeting locally means you can attend networking events specifically for small businesses and introduce your services to the right people at the right time. You can also follow up any leads much more easily which helps to build the trust element.
And finally, targeting clients locally is much more cost effective. If you do decide to pay for advertising and don’t target your local area, it’s likely to cost you. Targeting nationally or internationally will mean you’ll pay a lot more to compete on search terms that everyone else is using, whereas using localised keywords will improve your targeted reach.
4. Not tracking your online marketing streams.
What’s the point in spending money and / or time with online marketing if you don’t find out where your enquiries are coming from? If you’re not getting any enquiries through, don’t you want to know why? Perhaps business owners are clicking on an advert and getting to your website, but then leaving straight away. Or perhaps they are moving around your site but leaving once they get to a certain page.
If you don’t track your online marketing channels and your website, how do you know if any of your efforts are actually working?
There are many online tracking tools available, so there’s no excuse not to learn how effective (or ineffective) your marketing is in order to adapt if necessary.
5. Not optimising your website to convert visitors.
This last point leads on from the one above, in that if you are managing to get visitors to your website but not receiving any enquiries, why not? Are you telling people what to do when they get to your landing page? What’s your call to action?
As a VA you ultimately want people to get in touch to discuss their specific support needs. So where are your contact details? Do people have to scroll down your site, or navigate through pages and pages before finding them? Is your website unclear?
Think about what you want your website visitors to do as soon as they land on your website – complete a mailing form, find out more information, make an enquiry – then ensure your page pushes them down that route. Make your call to action strong and you should see results.