“Everybody is our customer”
“Make more social posts”
“We need [x marketing technology]”
“Marketing is too unreliable”
If you’ve heard or said any of the above, then you’ve experienced the onset of digital marketing failure. Don’t worry, everybody’s done it. I’ve experienced a fair share of digital marketing flops. Here’s the most common digital marketing mistakes from twenty years of experience:
Not Knowing Your Audience
Everything about your marketing should stem from knowing the person you’re solving a problem for. When I first started my agency I spent too much time marketing myself to my marketing peers instead of specific businesses. I developed a name for myself in the marketing community, but struggled with awareness amongst business executives. I learned professional marketing circles are small when compared to the spheres of industries.
I was very targeted, but shooting at the wrong target. Do your research to understand who your best customers are and whether that market is big enough to be profitable. Most marketing mistakes are made from having too broad of an audience, but the same can be said of being too narrow.
Adding Noise Instead of Value
Nobody is eagerly awaiting another social media post from a brand. Avoid generic social media activity; what customers really want are discounts, entertainment, and/or help. Many organizations spend far too much time developing social content calendars that don’t deliver any real value to their audience. Don’t confuse activity with progress.
Most people follow brands on social for deals or customer service. In fact, most followers typically already have an affinity for the brand they’re following (e.g. existing customers). Customers don’t want to subscribe to a channel that only shows commercials. Avoid interrupting what people are interested in and be what people are interested in.
Absence of Success Metrics
Raise your hand if you’ve been here before – The research has been done, creative concepts developed, and campaign executed. The only things missing are agreement on success metrics and the tracking in place to measure them. Absence of metrics and tracking is one of the biggest digital marketing mistakes. You don’t need to measure everything, but you do need to know what determines success and focus on measuring those signals.
When it comes to selecting metrics, put emphasis on performance rather than vanity. For example, increased website visits (vanity) will result from any digital ad campaign, but the actions taken (performance) are true determinants of success. Similarly, increasing social media followers is for vanity, whereas increasing newsletter subscribers is performance.
Lacking Consistency of Effort
Most marketing initiatives are cut short due to impatience for results. If something doesn’t work right away there’s always the temptation to switch gears. Everyone is looking for a hack or quick fix, but the boring truth is that results come from consistently applied effort in the right direction. Successful marketing is repeating tasks over and over – the right message, to the right person, at the right time. The pictures and the platforms might change, but the principled efforts should be applied consistently.