4 Big Online Marketing Challenges (and How to Overcome Them)

by Rachel Hartman on June 24, 2013
iStock_000014904230XSmall1-300x283.jpg

Wondering why your company’s online marketing efforts aren’t producing the sales results you expected?

“As small-business owners, we tend to associate ourselves with other business owners, and [we] hear a lot of stories about the latest and greatest advertising or social media platform,” notes Ben Seidel, president of Igniting Business, a consulting firm that specializes in marketing and technology services.

Although it can be frustrating when your marketing efforts fizzle, you can often identify — and fix — the problems with a little bit of time and effort. Here are four common online marketing challenges and some advice for working through them.

1. Spreading yourself too thin — “Just because Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest are popular doesn’t mean a company should be on each and every platform,” Seidel says.

Consider where your target audience is and what you’re selling. For example: If your company specializes in visually appealing products, such as art, ornate furniture, or food, you might be able to flaunt your wares best on Facebook and Pinterest. If you sell goods or services to other businesses, LinkedIn and Google+ may help you connect with customers.

2.  Blasting out too many ads — “Social networks like Facebook and Twitter are not merely for plastering advertising and marketing messages across followers’ news feeds,” says Hannah Marr, content director at BizBrag, an online marketing platform for businesses.

To avoid overwhelming customers with promotions, set aside some time to consider the content you’re providing. If you sell backpacks, offer tips on the best backpack models for different needs or include information on activities related to backpacks, such as travel.

If you’re catering to a particular city or region, weave local flavor into the content. “This could be anything from talking about a local sports team [or] the weather to sponsoring a Little League team or charity event,” Marr notes. These efforts may lead to a group of followers who are open to the occasional promotion.

3. Struggling with stale content. If you’ve worked to create (or paid for) a beautiful website or blog design but don’t post new information on a regular basis, potential customers may click elsewhere.

If you don’t have time to keep content fresh, consider having an employee take over duties or outsourcing them. If that’s not possible, set aside a small amount of time each day, or several times a week, to focus on your online efforts.

Another way to keep content fresh is to include readers. “Try posting open-ended questions or comments and asking the audience to share their opinions or thoughts,” Marr suggests. By getting to know your followers, you’ll be able to tailor your next sales offer to their interests and needs.

4. Generating high traffic but low sales. If you have a large online following, but few customers who make purchases, you may need to fine-tune your efforts. Start by evaluating your goals. For instance, if you want blog readers to sign up for your email newsletter, make it easy to do so. Mention the newsletter in your posts, and keep the sign-up box displayed in a visible area.

If you want visitors to your website to call your company, list the phone number in an easy-to-spot place. To get followers to come to your store, consider offering online contests or sales for social media followers. “This can help grow the audience and bring customers to the bricks-and-mortar location,” Marr says.

Rachel Hartman is a writer who frequently covers topics related to small businesses. Her work has appeared in The Costco Connection, Wells Fargo Conversations, Pizza Today, Bankrate.com, InsuranceQuotes.com, CreditCardGuide.com, and many other outlets.

Advertisement