With all the various online marketing platforms and tools available to businesses, choosing the right ones for your particular business can be a daunting task. Even more harrowing, can be the task of devising and executing an effective online marketing strategy.

With search engines, email and the ever evolving world of social media including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and the blogosphere, online marketing can seem like a confusing maze.  The following five tips are designed to help you avoid the most common pitfalls facing online marketers today.

Be Analytical

One of the greatest advantages to marketing your business online is that virtually every mouse-click, page-load and phone call can be tracked. There are a great number of free and paid analytics programs available for search engine and social media marketers. Choosing the right one for your particular business depends on your budget and specific needs.

The important thing is that you use one or more of these tools and learn how to analyze the data they provide. Simply knowing that something isn’t working in your online marketing strategy won’t help you fix the problem. Analyzing things like bounce rates, page views, abandon rates and conversions will.

Be Consistent

Consistency is a key factor in successful online marketing. Many business owners and marketers make the mistake of thinking their Web site, blog or Facebook fan page is like the baseball field in the classic movie Field of Dreams. Somehow they’ve bought into the idea that “if you build it, they will come.” Nothing could be farther from the truth.

Online marketing is a marathon, not a sprint.  Be prepared to give your online marketing campaigns regular attention and effort whether you’re doing Pay Per Click, SEO, Social Media, email marketing or, ideally, a combination of a few.

Consider the Human Element

Even though online marketing involves computers, servers, networks and the World-Wide Web, it’s still about connecting with and influencing human beings, and they don’t always behave the way your data suggests that they should.

Always consider how your online marketing materials are being presented to your specific target market.  Are you focusing your efforts on the online platforms where your customers and prospects tend to gather?  Are you speaking their language, and most importantly, are you providing them with real value?

Be Flexible

If a particular online marketing campaign isn’t working, find out why it’s not working and make any and all necessary adjustments to ensure that it does. That can mean changing your targeted keywords, rewriting copy, redesigning the navigation of your Web site or any number of other things.

The key is to remain flexible and look for new opportunities and new ways to constantly improve your online presence.

Engage Your Audience

When most business owners hear the word “engage”, they tend to think of social media. Social media has dramatically changed the landscape of online marketing in recent years. However, updating your Facebook status and “tweeting” about what you had for lunch isn’t actually “engaging”, and social media aren’t the only opportunities available to connect and build relationships with customers and prospects.

“Engagement” means truly getting involved and providing valuable, useful information to your community. That can come through in the form of an email, tweet, blog post or YouTube video. It can also come in the form of newsletters, customer satisfaction surveys and good old-fashioned customer service.