Search, search and more search. Everybody’s life is increasingly dominated by online activities. Planning a holiday, looking for a trailer to rent, pricing a new computer – it all starts with a Google search.

In the space of one year we have seen rapid changes in the highly competitive online marketing space. We have seen some businesses streak ahead and others become irrelevant as success online becomes not only strategic but increasingly technical.

Following are my top three reasons businesses fail online.

1.  Failure to invest time and money in your website

When I find a site on Google, look at it, but don’t see the information I’m after within seconds, I instantly navigate to the next site that attracts my attention. Are you the same?

Probably the most misunderstood area of online marketing is the importance of your website. I can’t understand business owners who don’t have an issue with spending $5,000 or $10,000 per month on advertising but hesitate when it comes to spending the same amount as a one-off investment in their website design.

Many businesses underestimate just how much a great website contributes to the success in today’s marketplace. It might sound obvious, but don’t just turn your existing sales brochure into some form of online content, publish it, and then wonder why you’re not attracting customers to your site.

  1. Use a professional – website design & development is becoming a fine art so don’t underestimate the value of professional advice.
  2. Use a copywriter – short and to the point – visitors won’t hang around.
  3. Pay attention to navigation – no level of information should be more than three clicks away!
  4. Use quality graphics – that have been professionally designed, and avoid cliche stock photos.
  5. Introduce interactivity – varying degrees of interactivity will keep users engaged.
  6. Call to action – use it on every every page!
  7. Mobile friendly – essential if you are targeting a younger or more affluent audience.

2.  Not investing in a comprehensive strategy

Plan and invest in your search engine optimization strategy, pick up seasonal slumps with a dedicated Pay Per Click (PPC) campaign and continue the conversation with your current followers by implementing a well-positioned email marketing campaign. Drive traffic through social media, incentivise on Facebook and demonstrate leadership thought through blogs… these are just a few interconnected initiatives.

3.  Not understanding the urgency

Thanks to consumers’ growing use of search engines and social media the Internet’s importance as a business development tool is increasing daily. Consumers can access the Internet from home, work, the car, their pocket and soon on an international flight. Sitting on decisions to invest in online marketing can really make a difference in the level of success you achieve.

Being one of the first to move into your respective space online gives you many advantages especially when it comes to Google ranking and being able to ‘own’ a niche space. And every time one of your competitors comes online (and they are coming online every single day) your ability to succeed becomes harder and the cost of succeeding online becomes greater. The holy grail of first page ranking is becoming more competitive and therefore more expensive.

The rate of change in the online marketing arena is moving at such a rapid pace that you need to ask yourself not if you can afford to increase your online presence, but can you afford not to?