Are you investing a lot of effort in online marketing, but not seeing results? With new features launching every day and ever-changing updates to best practice, its hard work keeping ahead of what you should be doing. And what you shouldn’t.

Luckily, a lot of the fundamentals of offline marketing still hold online. But there are some important differences.

Here, I’ll overview the 15 most common problems faced by those starting out in online marketing. And how to overcome them.

After reading this article you will be well-armed to tackle all those difficult dilemmas that continue to confound those involved in online marketing.

Problem 1: Difficulties in finding your niche

Solution: In the ideas generation stage, focus on future trends, aim to be ahead of the times and outthink the competition. Find a clear gap in the market that builds upon your skills and experience. Don’t take on more than you can handle; you can expand later when you have more resources.

Problem 2: Lack of clear direction

Solution: Think in both the long-term (i.e. what do you ultimately want to achieve?) and short-term (i.e. what do you want to achieve this year?). Set both long-term and short-term goals, and consider how your short-term objectives feed into your long-term goals. Ensure your short-term objectives are clear, specific and attainable; achieving them will keep you motivated to stay on track to reach your long-term goals. Then, set out a clear strategy and plan of action for achieving them. Regularly review your objectives and your progress towards meeting them.

Problem 3: Lack of consistency

Solution: You can’t do everything and be everywhere. And deliver it all with impeccable execution. At least not all at once. Developing greater focus will help you deliver greater consistency.

So, start by focusing your efforts on one business model, one topic area, one website, and one social network. You can expand your scope later.

Problem 4: Difficulties driving traffic to your site

Solution: Never rely on only one source of traffic to your site. Maximize your chances of success by having a variety of traffic generation strategies.

How can you generate traffic? First, create high-quality content on your own site. Always prioritize quality over quantity of the content you publish. Then maximize exposure for your content by following SEO best practices and promotion via social media. Guest blogging and commenting on other blogs are also great ways to drive traffic to your website.

Be patient and don’t expect immediate results; it can take time to see your traffic-driving efforts bear fruit.

Problem 5: Failure to target the best keywords

Solution: Do keyword research before creating content for your website. The Google Keyword tool is a great starting point for checking keywords. And it’s completely free. Check the volume of searches that your selected keywords generate to ensure people are interested in the topic you are planning to write about. Also, aim to target long-tail keywords as you will struggle to compete for one-word keywords.

Problem 6: Lack of marketing tools

Solution: Marketing tools help you manage your marketing tasks more efficiently and can save you a lot of time. Luckily, many useful tools are free or reasonably priced. Try Hootsuite for scheduling your social media content. IFTTT is useful for automating everyday marketing tasks. And there are many more besides.

Problem 7: Resource constraints

Solution: Many people undermine the amount of (financial and time) resources necessary to succeed online. The fact is there are no quick-fix solutions, shortcuts or freebies. Ultimately, producing results requires an investment in both time and money, as well as a lot of patience and perseverance. To succeed, you need to plan your time (i.e. with a personal organizer) and budget effectively. Don’t get distracted from your plan.

Problem 8: Cash flow problems

Solution: Growing your business requires financial resources, which is commonly constrained by cash flow problems. Carefully review your budget. Don’t spend what you don’t have and avoid spending money on unnecessary luxuries. Before spending, ask yourself: how will this help me to achieve my objectives? In the initial stages, you need to prioritize where you will allocate your spending. You could consider diversifying your income stream if this is feasible for you, but be careful not to take on more than you can handle.

Problem 9: Not having an effective email autoresponder

Solution: Once set up, an autoresponder enables you to automatically deliver a series of emails to subscribers without you having to do anything. It’s a great way to stay in contact with your subscribers and can save you a lot of time. Take care to research different email providers so that you select a reliable tool that best meets your needs.

Problem 10: Creating effective content

Solution: The web is swarmed with too much me-too content. It isn’t useful or interesting, and people don’t want to read it. So, don’t waste your energy creating it. Instead, create your own original content written by you or your team. You can use other sites for inspiration, but always add your own unique angle.

If you don’t have the resources in-house, consider outsourcing content creation to a professional content strategist who is well-trained in the core components of effective content.

Problem 11: An ineffective team and/or ineffective leadership

Solution: Consider the following questions: Does your team have the knowledge and skills required? Are they adding value to your business? If not, a reassessment is in order, which might include recruiting new people, reallocation of roles, and skills training.

You also need to consider your key strengths and ensure you are putting them to maximum use. For instance, do you have the necessary leadership skills to inspire, motivate and direct your team?

Problem 12: Lack of leads

Leads feed your business. So, no leads=no business.

Solution: Focus on building both your professional network and customer network through establishing direct, personal connections with relevant people. Work on building up your reputation from the ground up. Provide more value to your customers than they expect by under-promising and over-delivering. This will lead to positive word-of-mouth and testimonials, providing concrete evidence of your competencies and a key driver for further business.

Problem 13: Taking the wrong advice

Many people think they know more than they actually do. These same people are also prone to handing out bad advice.

Solution: Be careful from who you take advice. Check out their credentials to verify they know what they are talking about: do they have the relevant qualifications and experience? Most importantly, trust your instinct. Even experts can provide bad advice when taken out of context, as they will not understand the unique intricacies of your business.

Problem 14: Being scared of making mistakes

Solution: Change your perspective. Treat each mistake as an opportunity to learn how to do things better and to improve your forward strategy.

So, constantly experiment. Learn through trial and error to find out what works for you. You can also gain a lot by learning from other peoples’ mistakes.

Problem 15: Demotivation

This is the biggest problem.

Solution: The most important determiner of success is your attitude and your determination. So, persevere, keep positive and keep learning. With experience and time, you’ll make better decisions and fewer mistakes.

Committing mistakes can be frustrating, draining your time, money and energy. But you gain a lot in return through the experiences and the learning that only mistakes can teach.

The key is to treat each mistake as a learning experience and not let it put you off track. Stay focused on your goals and you will succeed.

What are the biggest challenges that you have encountered in your online marketing? Share your experiences in the comments.

If you want to learn other tips and tricks that your competitors don’t know, follow me on Twitter @laucocos for latest updates on marketing and business.

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