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Written by Caroline Cox on Feb 18 , 2020

Even the most seasoned marketing pros can fall victim to these common digital marketing fails

Here, you’ll find:

  • Ways to avoid website missteps
  • Best practices for approaching your marketing programs
  • How to set your efforts up for maximum success
  • Digital marketing tips for working smarter vs. harder

Those who have been online for a few decades now will remember the puzzle game Minesweeper. The goal of the game was to click as many squares as possible without detonating any of the “mine” squares with bombs underneath them. (Sure, it wasn’t the most sophisticated game, but it was the ‘90s and we worked with what we had.)

If you were good at this computer game, you’ll understand where this analogy is going: digital marketing is like Minesweeper in some ways: if you start clicking around with wild abandon and no strategy, you’re bound to land on a mine. 

Below, we’ve highlighted a handful of common digital marketing fails that can derail your efforts. And because we don’t like to focus too much on the negative, we’ve also got ways to avoid them. Consider us your cheat code.

HawkSEM: 7 Digital Marketing Fails — And How to Avoid Them

Accurate tracking helps you better report on your performance and offers visibility to your team as well. (Image via Unsplash)

1. Setting up tracking improperly

Tracking is, of course, a crucial element of any successful digital marketing program. When you don’t monitor and analyze what’s working and what’s not when it comes to your efforts, you’re basically flying blind. 

We’ve mentioned before that more than 70% of the PPC accounts we audit show incorrect or improper tracking. (This could mean anything from double-counting conversions to not testing tracking pixels.) And not tracking your PPC performance in particular is one of those digital marketing fails that can result in a serious waste of ad spend. Accurate tracking helps you better report on your performance and offers visibility to your team as well.

Accurate tracking means:

  • Your site has tracking pixels in place that are working properly
  • You’re not double-counting conversions
  • Your analytics tags are properly configured
  • You’re tracking goals in Google Analytics
  • You’ve implemented lead scoring
  • You’re measuring conversions as hard or soft (“hard” which would carry more weight, such as a bottom-of-the-funnel conversion) 

As G2 explains, “as long as customers and companies are online, digital marketing analytics will be crucial for businesses and marketing.”

2. Not using the right tone for your audience

Whether you’re writing ad copy or gauging if a joke is too edgy to tell in front of execs at the company happy hour, the rule is the same: know your audience. From blogs to social posts to ads, speaking to your audience in a voice and tone that mirrors their own will make your copy more authentic — and it’s likely to resonate better. 

Once you’ve fleshed out your personas, it’s a good idea to take the time to define your brand’s voice and tone. After all, these elements will be used throughout the copy on your website as well as what you publish. Because of this, the voice and tone should not only be consistent, but make your audience feel like you’re speaking directly to them.

A financial services brand will have a much different voice and tone than a clothing brand aimed at teens. No matter your audience, you want to connect with them in their language, while staying true to and consistent with your brand.

Quick fix: Interested in trying out remarketing? Make sure you have Remarketing and Advertising Reporting Features enabled in Google Analytics! As Google explains, e-commerce businesses can create remarketing audiences, such as “an audience of users who left items in their shopping carts but didn’t complete their purchases, and then share that audience with Google Ads so you can reengage those users with follow-up ads.”

3. Not having a mobile-friendly site

It should come as no surprise that, these days, mobile is where the majority of searching happens. And now that Google prioritizes mobile indexing over desktop, it’s more important than ever to have a site that looks (and works) great on a smartphone.

Think your site will render well on mobile automatically? Not exactly. While a good developer will ensure your site operates and appears just as streamlined on mobile as it does on a desktop, you can make sure things like images and navigation are showing up properly by using Mobile-Friendly Test Tool, or even pulling up pages on your own phone.

And while we know it used to be common to have a mobile state separate from your regular site (perhaps with an “m.” before the URL), that’s no longer the case. Rather, your site should be responsive and properly rendered, no matter the device or screen size.

4. Strategizing in a silo

Seasoned digital marketers know that you don’t focus your efforts on just one avenue. Rather, they recognize that the best strategies are overarching and encompass multiple channels that can enhance one another. 

For example, if you’re relying on a single marketing channel to drive all of your leads, you’re missing out on serious opportunities — and potential customers. Instead of only leveraging one tactic, like PPC, you should also be publishing quality content, considering paid social, and regularly maintaining strong SEO practices, if you have the bandwidth.

Quick fix: Before you invest in digital marketing options like paid social or PPC, make sure your website is up to snuff. You can have strong campaigns and a sizable budget, but if the site people are landing on is slow, clunky, and outdated, you’re likely to have a tougher time turning leads into closed business.

HawkSEM: 7 Digital Marketing Fails — And How to Avoid Them

Digital marketing fails in the migration process can cause broken links, a poor mobile experience, and loss of significant SEO you’ve worked to build. (Image via Unsplash)

5. Redesigning your website too often

It’s good to give your website a refresh every now and then. But if you find your brand with a new redesigned homepage every month, it may be time to stop and reflect.

A website redesign is a big (and often costly) undertaking. It’s a project that requires significant time and resources. The good news? If you do it right, you shouldn’t need to redesign your site more than once every 2–3 years

When you do decide to redesign your site:

  • take the time to be thoughtful about the changes you make
  • make sure you redirect any pages with different URLs
  • try not to do a total 180 from your old site — or else you risk visitors thinking they’re in the wrong place

Quick fix: Whether you’re planning a redesign or a full site migration, one of the first things we suggest is consulting an SEO professional. As we’ve said before, digital marketing fails in the migration process can cause broken links, a poor mobile experience, and loss of significant SEO you’ve worked to build.

6. Not using email marketing

If you think email is dead, think again! In fact, email generates $38 for every $1 spent (that’s a whopping 3,800% ROI), according to HubSpot. That’s a massive return, and it’s proof that you should at least consider leveraging email. You can use this medium to nurture your leads, turn current customers into evangelists, and remain top of mind with your audience.

Yes, most of us are constantly dealing with a deluge of emails. But effective emails will cut through the clutter, attract the readers’ attention, and make the case for why it deserves a place in your recipients’ inboxes. Some elements of effective email marketing include:

  • An eye-catching (but non-spammy) subject line
  • A clean, easy-to-read design
  • A call-to-action (CTA)
  • Educational or valuable content that is actionable and helpful to the reader
  • Personalization where possible
  • Mobile optimization

7. Cutting corners when it comes to development

It’s natural to hear “customization” and think it’s a good thing for your business. But when it comes to your website, this isn’t necessarily the case. Building your site from scratch or going custom with your site’s theme or applications can bring you headaches down the road.

The phrase “you get what you pay for” comes to mind. If you don’t invest in your site, you may run into ongoing maintenance and performance issues as time goes on. Some custom websites can’t use plugins properly, and they can make bugs harder to find and fix quickly. It’ll also be that much more difficult to make updates if the person who built your site no longer works for your company or the third-party vendor you hired. 

The takeaway

With so many factors making up digital marketing programs — not to mention a landscape that’s constantly evolving — mistakes happen. But when you know more about the common traps marketers can fall into, you can better avoid them before they become big issues.

Let this breakdown make you feel more confident when it comes to what’s worth investing time and resources in, what’s worth exploring, and what you can leave by the wayside.

Ready to grow your digital marketing further? That’s what we’re here for.

Caroline Cox

Caroline Cox

Caroline is HawkSEM's content marketing manager. She uses her more than 10 years of professional writing and editing experience to create SEO-friendly articles, educational thought leadership pieces, and savvy social media content to help market leaders create successful digital marketing strategies. She's a fan of seltzer water, print magazines, and huskies.

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