digital marketing mistakes

As Digital Marketers, we hope that each of you takes your projects seriously and strives to produce the best final product for the good of the industry and its reputation. However, even when we are trying to do the right things, we are going about it in the wrong way or have the wrong goal. There are a million different reasons that a project can veer off track.

In this article, we’ll share some common digital marketing mistakes and how to avoid them from some of digital marketing’s best experts. Ensure that you don’t repeat history and make the same mistakes, or learn how to claw your way out of them if your are deep in one of these mistakes. It’s never too late and an expert’s advice is invaluable. Visit BrandMe if you’re looking for online branding. Presence, relevance and online reputation are the most valuable assets of the digital age.


1. Adriana Tica

Bio: Adriana Tica is a digital marketer, writer, and owner of @idunn_marketing. She has a big crush on tech startups and likes to tweet about marketing, copywriting and social media.

The number one costly mistake in online marketing is forgetting about your users and user intent. As online marketers, we tend to get so caught up in all the metrics and stats and tools that we now have access to that we forget that there are real humans behind those numbers.

We write for Google bots instead of trying to solve real problems for real people. And we count visitors, not potential customers whose problems we could solve.

While I strongly believe that using the right tools and analytics platforms is key in online marketing, I also recommend getting your insights from the “real” world.

Not sure what to write about? Ask your blog subscribers instead of looking at keyword search volume!

Don’t know if the new feature you’re developing is useful? Ask your users!
No idea where to invest your ad budget? Spend it all where your (potential) customers like to hang out, even if it’s not the trendiest platform at the moment.

Always go back and ask yourself if your client would love your idea/ad/blog/campaign. If not, it’s wasted money, no matter what vanity metrics say.


2. Ai Addyson Zhang

Bio: Ai Addyson Zhang is a college professor and teaches public relations and social media. She has been featured in various prestigious publications like Forbes and Inside Higher Ed. She likes to contribute to platforms like Entrepreneur and Thrive. She loves digital learning and storytelling.

The era of using online marketing to bombard your audiences with your promotional products, services, or content is over. Digital marketers should not simply rely on technology, chatbots, automated messages or other similar means of communication to do the marketing for them. Instead, they have to find a delicate balance between being human and being automated. People do business with people. Brands and organizations need to leverage digital tools to help them become more human and offer more value to their audiences. For example, stop sending new followers on Twitter automated Direct Messages because they do not work. Stop using the sales navigator feature on LinkedIn to spam your potential leads with your own promotional content. Even via messenger chatbots, you have to pace the frequency of your messages and give people the right to unsubscribe at any point they want.

Contemporary consumers are becoming increasingly annoyed by senseless promotional content. Mark Schaefer discussed in his latest book, Marketing Rebellion, that consumer loyalty is diminishing rapidly. For marketers to win the love and trust of their customers, they have to learn to leverage digital tools and social media platforms to cultivate deep and meaningful connections with the right people. Listen up, marketers! It is high time to make an effort to show empathy, get to know your audience, and recommend your products or services to the right audience. Seth Godin makes a salient point in his new book, This is Marketing, that marketers need to stop bombarding everyone with their messages. Instead, only market to those who are believers of their messages and let the believers go out and do marketing for them. Brands that truly understand this important message will save themselves from investing in marketing efforts that do not work.


3. Mike Allton

Bio: Mike Allton is a content marketing practitioner and a brand evangelist at Agorapulse. He is an award-winning social media blogger and loves Star Wars.

One of the most costly mistakes I see entrepreneurs make… and this one’s hard to put a finger on because the ramifications are subtle… is not being narrow enough in the topics being discussed and created in their content.

Let me explain.

If you’re going to create video, audio or written content for your business, the purpose of that content is to attract your target audience and help the to become educated, whether on your industry, your business, or your proposed solutions to what ails them.

Some content creators think that they need to broad in what they’re talking about to attract a larger audience. They believe that the more visitors you get, the more sales you’ll achieve. The truth is, that’s not always the case.

I would much rather sell to 15% of a targeted group of 100 readers, than just 1% of a broader audience of 1000.

So while it may seem counter-intuitive, businesses must be as focused as possible in their content. They must continually refine and narrow their niche so that they’re speaking directly to their target audience, and forget about everyone else.


4. Harris Schachter

Bio: Harris Schachter is a director of marketing at Home Care Delivered and digital marketing consultant. He has a Bachelor’s in Psychology and a Master’s degree in Internet Marketing. He enjoys growing the bottom line through search, social, conversion optimization, and analytics. He is a huge fan of run-on sentences and hard cider.

The biggest mistake I could say is over-reliance on paid channels. Business models are completely dependent on the costs of leads (aka cost of traffic). Some businesses either think SEO is too hard or too expensive so they do nothing with it, others hire and get burned by under-performing SEO agencies. For whatever reason, some marketers ignore SEO and go straight for the paid channels because of the ease of setup. Put in dollars in one side, get traffic out of the other. However, the long term play is to invest in SEO and paid equally, with the end goal of decreased reliance on paid channels over time. Paid channels are like dessert – you can’t just eat that and nothing else.


5. Nick Leroy

Bio: Nick Leroy works as an SEO manager at Ovative/group. Moreover, he loves to explore new traveling opportunities leveraging the ‘points game’ and other loyalty programs. He is a big-time fan of Minnesota Vikings.

One of the biggest mistakes website owners paid the price for was around the August 1st “medic update”. Sites that are not demonstrating their Expertise, Authority, and Trust saw significant decreases in their organic traffic around the site. Google is getting a lot better at understanding when a real Dr is writing about a medical topic vs a $5.00 article sourced from Fivver. Unfortunately (or is this fortunately?) many websites dedicated to creating content soley for the purpose of monetizing are now paying the ultimate price given the lack of E-A-T.


6. Zontee Hou

Bio: Zontee Hou is a consultant, brand strategist, and speaker with an experience of over a decade. She is one of the top 50 content marketing influencers. She is a proud founder and owner of Media Volery.

I’ve had a lot of clients over the years focus on the wrong advertising objectives, thereby wasting a lot of money. If your goal is to get people to purchase products, don’t focus on people who are likely to watch videos or make comments. Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest have gotten very sophisticated about understanding which customers are more likely to take actions.

Furthermore, businesses should make sure that they are cultivating their highest quality customers throughout their customer journey, not just at the top of the funnel. Be sure to encourage them to come back, discover new things, and to become brand loyal through enjoyable content or community engagement. The Pareto rule is true: you’ll get the most value out of only a small percentage of your customers. It’s not just about transactions, it’s about building relationships over the long haul.


7. Marko Saric

Bio: Marko Saric is a founder of HowToMakeMyBlog where he helps people start successful blogs. He is a digital marketer who elevates brand’s website traffic using content, search and social media marketing.

The biggest online marketing mistake I see is brands spending money on social media ads without any concern for an actual return on investment. They end up spending large parts of their budget chasing likes, impressions, reach and views without making much difference to their bottom line. All these are vanity metrics and not something to worry too much about. When spending money on your marketing you should really aim to at least focus on and track what that spend results in to your company in actual sales.


8. Keith Keller

Bio: Keith Keller is a global Twitter marketing specialist and has clients from around the world. He is famous for his 60 minutes coaching session called CRACK THE TWITTER CODE which focus on harnessing the possibilities of Twitter for marketing yourself or your brand. He also offers personalized coaching to his clients.

Marketing can really be divided into these two main cost centres now.


It’s important to realise that things may appear cost effective but can take up an enormous amount of your time.

Conversely, you may appear to be saving time but can waste loads of money in the process if you choose your providers poorly.

One thing is certain though!!

Trying to do EVERYTHING yourself really is really a catastrophic waste of your gifts and you can be much better served by outsourcing the non-essential tasks.

The key factor here is finding a trusted partner that can reliably deliver results in 3 major areas.

Can they do the job in the time you need it by?

Can they do the job at the standard you need it done?

Are they good value for money?

Not asking these basic questions can lead to loads of extra expenses, in both time and money as well as personal burn out, which in many ways is the worst type of expense of all.

I am sure this all sounds self-evident but believe me so many people ignore these fundamental ideas.


9. Danielle Miller

Bio: Danielle Miller is a seasoned personal brand specialist for women entrepreneurs and leaders. She is a coach, mentor, teacher, and author of the Amazon best-selling book: Smartypants Branding: The Ultimate Guide for Women Entrepreneurs to Getting Recognized, Being Remembered, and Making More Money in Business.

By far one of the costliest mistakes I see in online marketing is not knowing your audience. You must gather, analyze, and implement as much information as possible about who are the ‘right people’ for what you have to offer. Many companies (big or small) think that their product or service can help everyone and that’s where their marketing efforts are directed. All this does is dilute your brand message and ultimately serves no one, or worse yet, the wrong clients and customers. The most successful businesses have learned that there is a sweet spot between their brand voice and the language their customers use to describe their hopes, dreams, challenges, and what they see as the viable solution to the problem you solve. When you can do that, you’ll have all the business you can handle.


10. Ilise Benun

Bio: Ilise Benun is an author of 7 business books for the “creatively self-employed.” She is a national speaker and founder of and adjunct faculty at Maryland Institute College of Art.

Social media without strategy is an online marketing mistake that can prove expensive. It’s true that social media is free but it can be waste of time if you don’t use it strategically, That means positioning, connecting and sharing with intention.


11. Angela Sargeant

Bio: With an amazing corporate background in marketing, plus 10 years of coaching thousands of women, Angela Sargeant is helping brands by providing innovative strategies to differentiate her clients from the competition and turn social media followers into raving fans.

With the influx of video marketing, businesses keen to provide video content on social media have been jumping into it enthusiastically. Unfortunately, for many businesses this has been without a clear-cut strategy. We know each social platform is unique and should be treated differently, but this has been neglected by many when it comes to video.

Another thing to consider, is that audiences use each platform differently. The way your audience interacts with the social platform needs to be factored in, when planning video content. Creating one video to upload to YouTube and IGTV for example, is a monumental waste of time and money, because the video you create for YouTube, isn’t going to do as well on IGTV, and vice versa.

Spending time uploading, monitoring, and trying to push traffic to a video that’s just not going to perform, is exhausting on both resources and money.

A wiser plan is to have a social strategy for each platform. Then you want to make sure you create videos with that strategy in mind. This will ensure your content is more compelling for that specific audience and platform. While this sounds time consuming, it’s actually going to be faster, more effective, and profitable for your business in the long run.


12. Jo Hausman

Bio: Jo Hausman is an internationally syndicated radio show host where she interviews the entrepreneurs from around the globe. She is an avid writer and famous for her best selling book “Go For It! A Woman’s Guide to Perseverance.”

Online marketing mistakes that can be proven expensive is when you don’t know what you are doing. In regards to social media I used to hear Facebook ads were the way to go and every online marketer should be using it. But if you don’t know what you are doing with them Facebook will take your money and leave you wondering what happened. You must strategize your timing of the ads, who will you target, duration of the ad and how much money is to be spent. I used to get over zealous and spend hundred of dollars on a single ad with no response. Some people I know have spent thousands with no response. That is just money being thrown away on non education of marketing. Now I spend and have it targeted to my niche clientele.

Funnels have become the new hot marketing tool on social media. Does it work? I personally have not tried them. I know people who have and are having good success and others who are not having success. All comes down to the timing, figuring out your niche market and delving into how much money you need to spend to bring in your ideal client. It takes time and consistency for the marketing to work. We all want quick responses from our ideal clients and people to respond right away. As a business owner we need to remember it takes at least 5-7 touches with people before they even notice us. And more for them to buy from us.

Pay per click ended up being costly for my company years ago and I have not tried it since.

Figuring out what type of marketing works for your type of business takes time, energy and money. But it is all worth it once your ideal clients start showing up.


13. Adam Gray

Bio: Adam Gray is a passionate marketer who helps people and organizations to excel at their social media strategy, social media marketing, and social selling. He is a trained violinist and is a keen amateur guitarist.

The biggest mistake I’ve see in marketing in 2018 is a belief that because some things used to work well – advertising, events, PPC, Email – they will continue to work well in the future. This isn’t true…despite the fact that people wish that it were.

Marketing departments the world over need to look at what they are doing and re-invent themselves. The old ways are often not the good ways…but quite simply just “the old ways.” They need to recognise that things move on.

Changes in legislation such as GDPR affect changes to what is possible for sure but things like this are rarely the driver of change. The fact that everyone behaves in a different way now is the real driver of change. I don’t open unsolicited emails, I simply delete them. I don’t answer cold-calls, I block them. I don’t read/watch adverts. I am one of the vast majority that behaves in this way because I don’t have the time or the inclination to wade through the huge volume of content companies want me to read.

Marketing departments (and companies) still labour under the misapprehension that the consumer cares about their message (and their product) and they try to develop conversation on this basis, the basis that they are special and that they are doing the consumer a favour by allowing them to engage with their product. I see this everywhere. Events, adverts, direct mail…the message says “here’s our product isn’t it good” and the consumer is thinking “why do I care about this.”

Gary Vaynerchuck crystallised this argument when he described his experience when he went online to see about the New York Jets’ (he’s a big fan) forthcoming trade of a player. He kept going to ESPN between every meeting to see the news. Every time he went on a Samsung banner popped-up and in trying to close it he inadvertently clicked it multiple times. He pointed-out whilst the Samsung agency are saying “wow, look at these impressions…particularly this guy who clicked 8 times” Gary, who is really annoyed, is on the phone to his wife saying “this family, until I’m dead, will never buy a Samsung item again”! The disconnect between companies and their customers.

The point is that marketing agencies/departments the world over think that CTR is a measure of success, in the same with that SoV is a measure of success. They’re not. They may be signposts, but the only measure of success in the real world is $$$ and if you can’t see the money you’re in trouble.


14. Rebecca Lieb

Bio: Rebecca Lieb is a strategic advisor, research analyst, keynote speaker, author, and columnist as well as analyst and founding member at research advisory firm called Kaleido Insights. She loves digital marketing and media, with a concentration in content strategy, content marketing and converged media.

The answer to this is simple. It’s executing marketing tactics without an underlying framework of strategy.

Without a defined strategy, marketers don’t have goals or benchmarks. They can’t know what succeeds because they don’t know what success is. Without those crucial factors, they can never know if they’re spinning their wheels or not.


15. Joakim Ditlev

Bio: Joakim Ditlev is a content marketing expert and founder of Content Marketing DK. He is an international speaker known as one of the most experienced content marketers in Denmark.

Rushing to operations is a mistake I see quite often as a marketing consultant. Especially in marketing departments at small and mid-size businesses. Many marketers focus so much on executing and want to show their best. You can’t blaim them – their bosses expect immidiate output from Marketing and when marketers attend courses or conferences, the best rated speakers always provide tactical takeaways. 5 easy things you can do tomorrow.

The vast focus on operations is a hidden expense, because it leaves Marketing without a clear direction and impact on the business results. In such organizations Marketing is often regarded as an expense rather than an investment. That’s a shame but it can be avoided with a solid and measurable marketing strategy that is tied with the overall goals of the business. And don’t be mistaken: A team of marketers that knows how to execute is a good thing – but it’s even better if somebody asks: How does this marketing activity fit into the overall marketing plan and what is the expected benefit for the business?


16. Larry Kim

Bio: Larry Kim is the CEO at MobileMonkey, the world’s best Facebook Messenger marketing platform. His key areas of interests are AdWords, Facebook Ads, Entrepreneurship and Start-ups. He is also ranked the #8 most popular author on Medium.

I think one of the worst things marketers can do is use “content quality” as their target for optimizing campaigns.

The typical advice is not very actionable because there are all sorts of definitions of quality, like there’s a checklist of things that you have to check the box — 1500 words, 5 images, etc.

But in fact it has nothing to do with how much time or effort you put into content that defines quality or not quality. A lot of times, the best articles might be written in 30 minutes or less.

Quality is defined by the outcome. Did it generate 10 million views like a rare and remarkable unicorn or was it a donkey with 50 views?

The same is true of content engagement. A lot of time and resources could be wasted on channels where the engagement is low but there’s a content distribution checklist that marketers are “supposed” to follow.

Instead, focus on the channels that get the highest engagement. For instance, Facebook Messenger marketing is the highest engagement channel today and yet less than 1% of businesses are taking advantage of it.

That’s the key mistake I see. Marketers should be measuring the outcomes, not the inputs or the effort, and prioritizing activities based on highest engagement channels.



Each expert shared their experience with bad decisions which led to poor marketing investments. Knowing your audience and treating them as human beings, as well as implementing a comprehensive marketing strategy will help you avoid leveraging bad investments. Based on the experience of the experts, it is clear that a good campaign needs to be well thought out with a clear strategy and the ability to make money, but you also need to spend money to find your ideal client. As is always the case, the digital marketing world is changing and keeping up with trends and avoiding costly mistakes will keep your company and clients on the forefront of the industry. Happy marketing!