Let’s face it, in today’s economy here in America, most companies have a web site and/or some sort of social media presence that they use to promote their business. We have all been told that we need to have these “pages” and that we need to post “things” to them in order to stay competitive. For the most part, that is true.

All of the online areas in which a company seeks to promote themselves or communicate with customers and clients constitute their Digital, Online or Internet Marketing program. This may include things like building a website, writing blog posts, sending out email newsletters, posting photos to Instagram, running a contest on their Facebook page, using pay-per-click campaigns or pinning ideas to your Pinterest boards. But… exactly how does a company create an effective online presence?

Here are five areas in which many if not most businesses fail in their online marketing efforts.

 Failing to Know Your Audience

Whenever I meet with a new client for the first time, I ask them a series of questions about their business. These questions are designed to give me an idea of where we need to start with their Internet marketing program. Each company is different, so each program will need to be customized to fit their goals and needs. One of the very first questions I ask is “Who is your target audience, client or customer”?

This is one of the most crucial pieces of information in any marketing plan. If you don’t know the average age, income, neighborhood, and habits of your potential customers, you will have a hard time targeting them with your marketing efforts. In effect you will be using your marketing dollars as a shotgun.

We do this by creating a “profile” of the target customer.  We form a sort of mental picture of this customer. Are they male or female? How old are they? What is their average income range? What is their level of education?  Where do they work? Where do they live? Where do they vacation? What do they do with their free time? What foods do they eat? What kind of car do they drive? Where do they shop? Designer clothes or off the rack? What books or magazines do they read? What television shows do they watch?

Some other things you would want to know are details about their buying and social habits. What does your product or service have to offer them? What problem does it solve? How much are they willing to spend? Where do they look for information? What might turn them off about your business? How long do they typically research a product or service before they buy?

The more accurate you can be with this description, the better your marketing efforts will work for your business.

Not every customer will fall into this “profile”, but it helps the client know where to target their marketing dollars. Knowing your audience will help you target your customers more accurately and at a greater return on investment.

Failing to Create a Plan

The next step in creating a good Internet Marketing Plan is to, in fact, have a plan. Once you have decided who your customer is and know their online habits, you can set up a plan that will reach them by the best possible means. Different age groups, income groups and genders will tend to use different social media platforms for different reasons. This is an ever-changing trend.

Using your customer profile and knowing where they spend their time online, will drastically improve your ability to target the proper customer. Creating a marketing plan around your customer’s online habits and sticking to that plan will reap the highest rewards for your company and your bottom line.

Lack of Proper SEO

Many companies do not emphasize SEO or Search Engine Optimization in their marketing programs. SEO is a specialty in and of itself. The goal of SEO is to bring visitors to your website by creating an environment that causes search engines, such as Google, to rank your site higher than the sites of your competitors.

Proper SEO is ever changing and requires lots of research, constant learning and continual changes to work in an optimal manner. It is well worth the time and effort to properly utilize SEO in your campaigns. There is too much for me to go into in this article, but are lots of techniques that companies can use to improve their rankings in the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). You can read some of our articles on SEO on our blog.

My point here, however, is that your marketing campaign should always include information or links that drive potential customers to your website. Social media pages and posts should also reflect this same attitude and direction. In most cases, your company’s website is the best source for initial contact and information about your business.

If your site is not ready for prime time or you are utilizing another platform as your primary point of contact, you should re-evaluate this situation to see if it is the best option for your overall marketing strategy and plan.

Lack of Consistency

Consistency in your marketing plan is probably one of the most overlooked areas in most company’s marketing strategies. Keeping your name in front of potential customers is important and helps with brand recognition. You should set up a schedule in your marketing plan that includes what social media platforms you plan on using and how often you plan on posting to them.

Your plan should also include how often you will send out email newsletters, write new blog posts, and any other programs that are a part of your marketing plan.

Many companies fall into the lie that you have to post something to your Facebook page at least three times a day or write a new blog post three times a week. It simply is not true. In fact, that may be too much sharing for many of your potential customers. If we are honest, I am sure there have been companies or people on social media that you have unfollowed or hidden, simply because they were “junking up” your feed. I know I have.

While posting to your Twitter page several times a day may be appropriate for certain companies, it is up to each business and marketing planner to decide what is the best fit for your individual needs.

If your budget or the amount of time you have dedicated to marketing only allows you to post once in a while, that is fine. The key is to be consistent. Set a schedule and stick to it. You will be surprised how much content you have created in a year.

Final Thoughts

Your marketing plan for your company is just that. It is “yours”. You need to develop a marketing plan that will work for your company, your budget and your goals. With a little bit of effort and by following the tips in this article, you should be well on your way to achieving a successful online marketing program for your business.

As always, we are here to help with any needs you may have in setting up and running your marketing campaigns. Contact us to find out more.