Online marketing is an essential element for every Internet retailer. Unfortunately, advertising campaigns don’t always have the desired outcome. For those whose recent marketing results were less than optimal, here are five points to help identify what went wrong:

1. You just copied the competition
Imitation may be the best form of flattery, but it’s also a sign of a lack of creativity in the world of online marketing. As Business2Community wrote, copying your competitors means you’ll always be in second place. Doing so also has the negative effect of dulling the unique aspect of your business. What’s more, your audience will notice the similarities and won’t be pleased.

Instead, Internet retailers should strive to be one step ahead of the competition. It’s certainly fine for businesses to look to others in their industry for inspiration, but copying directly is bad practice. Rather, businesses should use this inspiration to create their own engaging content and campaigns. This concept extends beyond marketing into every aspect of the business, including payment processing, branding and more.

2. You worked for page views, not conversions
Traffic is great for establishing an online presence, but sales are what sustains a business. There are several elements more important than page views or unique visitors, including the amount of time spent on your site. According to Time magazine, the average reader spends about 15 seconds on a website. This means that even if your campaign is successful at getting a large number of visitors, those people aren’t staying on your site very long.

Web campaigns should bring people to your online store and inspire them to complete an action, not just have a quick look and then leave. Instead of focusing on hits, marketers should direct their attention toward increasing mailing list subscriptions, raising average order values or improving another measurable metric more directly tied to sales.

3. You expected too much too soon
The Internet is full of success stories where small businesses strike it big in a matter of months. Websites like Entrepreneur and Forbes are filled with articles detailing Web-based startups that receive millions in funding shortly after launch. This sort of culture inspires people to view online stores as a way to get rich quickly with little effort involved.

As true Internet retailers know, this just isn’t true. Selling a product or service online takes a lot of work and a lot of time. It’s important, Practical Ecommerce wrote, for marketers to set realistic expectations that drive a business toward achievable goals. This doesn’t mean you can’t reach for great heights, but don’t set yourself up for failure.

4. Your strategy didn’t support your goals
Once you’ve established an appropriate target, your marketing campaign must work explicitly toward that outcome. As Practical Ecommerce mentioned, a call-to-action to subscribe to a mailing list doesn’t directly result in higher sales. If the goal is to receive 40 percent more online payments, a better marketing tactic would be to show users how much of a particular product is left in stock. This creates a sense of urgency and makes consumers more likely to buy.

5. You didn’t take mobile into account
According to Smart Insights, in 2015 Internet users spent 2.8 hours per day browsing on mobile screens versus 2.4 hours on desktop or laptops in 2015. Compare that statistic to data from just five years ago, when individuals spent the same amount of time on desktop computers but used mobile devices less than half an hour each day. The jump in usage stems from the fact that mobile devices are faster and more portable than ever, allowing people to read email and surf the Internet on the go.

This information means it is absolutely necessary for online retailers to focus on mobile advertising. Their email campaigns should read well on horizontal and vertical screens, and images should be optimized to load quickly on smartphones and tablets.

Creating an online advertising campaign takes a tremendous amount of work, but doing so correctly has amazing benefits. Marketers should avoid these mistakes to make sure their future efforts are successful.

Brought to you by PacNet Services, your one-stop global payment processing solution.