Digital marketing mistakes are a plague to both seasoned and amateur digital marketers. Marketing by itself is normally complicated and then you add the online element, mistakes are bound to happen. In addition, the digital marketing field changes every so often due to new technologies or newer laws being imposed.

For example, privacy rules have changed the way digital marketers approach clients’ data. New technology changes include how the iPhone will not allow advertisers to track their users. The strategies that were used last year are not applicable this year and will change in the years to come.

The biggest drawback of digital marketing mistakes is that they cost money and in some instances a lot of money. Other losses include time, resources, and manpower.

Sadly, the only way to become a great digital marketer is to make mistakes and to learn from them. As such the mistakes are part and parcel of digital marketing.

Having so many years of experience in this space, I can point out a few areas where I have made mistakes and see the ones other marketers are making.

Here are a couple of mistakes that digital marketers are making and how to avoid them.

1. Lack Of A Documented Strategy

digital marketing strategy

Less than third of websites have a clearly documented digital marketing strategy. This means just by having one you are better off than two thirds of business out there. A properly documented digital marketing strategy helps you plan all your online marketing activities like SEO, paid ads, email marketing and content marketing.

Before a single cent is spent on digital marketing activities a plan is needed. With the plan you would have your major goals, which will then be subdivided to smaller goals. With a way to track each goal. Through this you will be able to see what worked in the past and what did not.

2. Setting Unrealistic Goals

unrealistic goals

Whenever I meet a potential client the first question, I ask the person is what is your goal? This is when I realize that not much thought has been put into their digital marketing. For example, a person says they want to get 1000 paying clients to their website within a month.

In many instances this is extremely easy to achieve. Although before I would agree to this goal I would go ahead and ask on past performance. If the client has fewer than 10 clients each month then that means this goal is unrealistic.

Many businesses assume that once they start marketing online there will be having instant success. There has been this theory that being digital means instant sales. Also, there titles that give me pause for example “growth hackers”.

In my experience, goals should be set and broken down to bite size chunks. With the example above, 1000 paying clients in a month for a website that has 10 sales a month, I would break down the goal into long term, medium- and short-term goals.

From 1000 sales I would suggest let’s shoot for 5 more clients each month. This would be 15 sales in a month. I would find out where the sales are from, whether its organic or paid and what is the conversion rate. Secondly, I would see how to increase both the source traffic as well as the conversion rate.

Then after a period we work on getting 100 sales a month, moving to 200 sales and eventually in the end get the 1000 sales. Knowing full well this could take a few years to get there. The bite size goals are practical and achievable and in the long run lead to the main goal.

Another problem I hear is that a business would like to be on a certain social media channel. When I ask them why, they usually do not have a well thought of an answer. They simply say that is where everyone is. Well it is true you need to go where the market is, but you need to have a plan as to why that channel makes sense and will help achieve goals.

For example, TikTok is big right now with a billion users. Many businesses would want to be on there to market their products but the question that comes is what is the channel all about? Do the users of TikTok have money to buy the products or services?


SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and time sensitive. They are further defined as:

Specific: The goals must be set to achieve a certain activity, e.g. getting leads, more click, visibility etc.

Measurable: The main advantage of digital marketing is that almost everything can be tracked. Your goals must be tracked and the use of key performance indicators to evaluate performance.

Achievable: Goals must be set in a way that they can be accomplished. Unachievable goals would lead to frustration and quitting. If the goals are too large, then they can be broken down to milestones.

Realistic: the goals must be attained while at the same time they must be within budgets and resources. If goals would need too many resources, then they are not worth trying to hit.

Time-sensitive. All goals should have deadlines. Milestones should be reached within a certain time frame

3.      Wrong Target Audience


Many website owners look at their web traffic and are happy when they have a lot of it and its growing. This is a big digital marketing mistake. The problem comes in later when they realize the thousands of visitors who come to the site, very few are buying the product.

They have opted to market their product to as many people as possible and hoping to get as many customers. This strategy of throwing everything to the wall and hoping something sticks is not going to work.

Businesses should move from trying to market to everyone but to the focused few who would bring them profits. Using the Pareto principle (80/20) where most of the profits is going to come from 20 of the clients. The businesses should focus on the 20 and try to grow them.

The reason you could be having the wrong kind of audience or traffic to your website is maybe the ads that you are running aren’t properly targeting people, the ads are on the wrong platform and lastly there is miscommunication between product or service.


Digital marketing provides a slew of information about web visitors or advertising platforms. Using Google analytics, you can find out a lot of information about the people who are on your site from geographic location to interests.

Understanding your audience involves coming up with buyer or marketing personas to find out who needs your product or services helps to avoid digital marketing mistakes. Buyer personas include information like demographic, interest, hobbies and buying habits.

When buyer personas are created, they can be further segmented into smaller categories to make the marketing message more precises. An example of this would be selling certain kinds of shoes to different age sets.

There are some companies that go the extra mile by layering the same information with life events. For example, women who are around 25- 28 have or are having their first child. Better marketing would have a communication message that directly responds to this.

Proper audience targeting will determine the overall success of a marketing campaign.

4. Poor Web Design

Web Design

A famous quote is if you do not have an online presence then you are dead. Many people took this advice to heart and ran to make any website for their business. The result today is that we have 1.5 billion websites.

The digital marketing mistake here comes in when the website is poorly designed and is not user friendly. In some cases, the work was done a few years ago and there have not been any recent updates done on the website.


In 2020 as a rule a website should have the following properties

  • Easy to navigate: your web visitors should be 2 clicks away from what they are looking for.
  • Load quickly: Google recommends a site should have loaded in less than 2 seconds.
  • Mobile responsive: this comes from the fact that almost everyone has a mobile device and they are using it to view your website.

5. Relying Only On Paid Campaigns

PPC campaigns is one of the easiest and quickest ways to generate profits. There are also many reasons to use PPC campaigns on social media and Google but just relying on paid ads leads to problems. Here are some reasons why all the budgets should not be spent on PPC campaigns:

  • PPC is not a long-term strategy: all the gains that are gotten today are lost as soon as the ads are not paid for. This means that ads must be paid for over and over again to keep the momentum going.
  • PPC in some cases is awfully expensive: There are some are industries where the ppc of Google Ads goes as high as $100 a click, lawyers anyone. With such campaigns you would need a heavy investment to get the best results.


As an alternative to paid media, a digital marketer can choose to grow their clients organically to get sales. Although this may take a significantly longer time but the results are eventually worth it.

If your business already has a big organic following then its better to stick to finding clients from them rather than going for paid ads. Other strategies that involve inbound marketing should be considered. These are strategies like email marketing, social media marketing and search engine optimization (SEO).

6.      Poor SEO Strategy


Most web owners know the value of search engine optimization (SEO). They know it is very important to be on the first page of Google in order to get the most business. They understand the implication, but they are not patient to use SEO in order to improve search rankings.

SEO has a lot of benefits other than getting your website to page one. People who look for your business will see you as an authority because they will keep referring to the articles that you post. When you rank higher on the listings, media organizations reach out to you to get advice on the industry you are in.


SEO strategies are complicated but here are a few that will get you started to make the most for your website:

  • Target the right keywords: at first, many web owners make the digital marketing mistake of going for keywords that are extremely competitive that they possibly can’t rank on. The best way to go would be to choose keywords that are less competitive but are easier to rank on and then move on to the more competitive ones.
  • Backlinks: Its normally extremely hard to get good backlinks to your site. Although, you are to get a few, it would raise the profile of your website immensely. Link building starts off as well as slow and methodical and in a few months’ time you will start seeing results.
  • Quality content: Google is in the business of providing people with high quality and relevant content. If your website provides said content. Then Google will rank your site higher. The more people engage with your website is an added benefit to your ranking.

7. Expecting Overnight Success

Internet marketing has given out this illusion that things happen quickly. There are times that you may believe it is true because a lot changes in the digital world. What was relevant today will made irrelevant in a few weeks’ time to a few months.

With these expectations business owners expect to get online and start seeing immediate results. Although it is still much faster than using other traditional means of marketing. It still takes time to build a customer base and improve your bottom line.

There are two aspects that would require you to slow down your expectations. There are technologies that are chosen to be utilized require to understand what you want and provide you with adequate resources. For example, Facebook and Google Ads need at least a week to properly roll out the ads. There are many factors that they must weigh and then provide you with the possible results.

The other thing is that you are selling your products or services to human beings who still need to be convince about your value proposition. One of the biggest drawback to internet marketing is there is lack of trust. As a business owner you will have to work to build trust and it takes time.


Give your marketing strategy time to develop and readjust the timelines for the goals.

8.      Being Antisocial Media

anti social

As mentioned earlier, you are in business to sell to people. Whether you are in B2B or B2C at the end of the day you are selling to people. Also, since you are marketing to people you want to go where they are.

So far there are over 3 billion people who are using one form of social media or the other. Hence to get to these people you must get on social media.

To avoid this digital marketing mistake you are meant to go the social media where most of your clients are. For example, younger people can be found on TikTok and Snapchat. Business-oriented people are predominantly on LinkedIn.

There are several benefits to being on social media are

  • Increase in brand awareness
  • Build relationships
  • Increase leads and conversions
  • Improve customer experience
  • Improve public relations.


Social media is a tool in which businesses can have a dialogue and engage with their clients. For this you would need to post relevant messages that educate, entertain, and inspire people.

In that rare occasion, you go viral, it would be great traffic to your business.

9. Not Promoting Your Website

When it comes to new content and websites, there is a need to promote them. It is almost impossible for you to expect people to come to your site after you have posted new content. You are required to post the new content on social media and any other avenue to people who would find it useful and share it.

The promotion of websites and content increases visibility and helps grow the customer base by getting more traffic to the website.


Promoting content is not easy especially with a small audience. One of the ways to increase eyeballs on your content is to share your work to your biggest fan. This person who would be eager to share your content to other people.

There social media sites that benefit from your content. There are sites like Quora and Reddit are great sites to post content. Here you would answer questions and posts where you provide your content as solutions. If the community accepts your answers they might share them to their own fans. These sites are great resources as news media picks out content from them and publishes them

10.   Cheating The System


I have mentioned plenty of times the importance on being on the first page of Google for the right terms. Also, the difficulty involved in getting there. The digital marketing mistake here is relying on people who are out there who may try and trick the system to get ahead.

Sadly, some of these guys are successful and may lie to other web owners that they have prowess to make any website to appear on page one of Google. The truth of the matter is that this success is short lived and there are severe consequences.

Google, Yahoo and Bing spend millions of dollars to protect their search algorithms. They do not take it too kindly when someone takes advantage of the loopholes in their system. So, they end up punishing such sites by banning them of their search engine. Once you are banned from these search engines it’s almost impossible to be reinstated.

This also applies to people who try to trick their ads platform. When found out they will permanently ban the ads account plus website


You should use trusted ethical strategies to improve your website performance. It’s their playground and we have to play by their rules.

11.   Not Understanding Your Data

Digital marketing has one main advantage over all other forms of marketing. That is being able track everything through figures. Every digital platform provides web users with different sets of data. Google analytics for example gives you a ton of data of how the website is performing.

Another example is twitter analytics where it tells you the number of new followers, impressions, and the most popular tweet in a period of 30 days.

The digital marketing mistake that comes with all the data is the misinterpretation of the data. For example, using Google analytics very few people understand what “Active Users “ is and how to make it benefit the website. Another problem is, as a web marketer you find yourself with too much information and you do not know what to do with it.


To make sense of all the data, then you are first needed to come up with goals. From these goals you can look at the data that tracks these goals. For example, and ecommerce site needs to make sales. So, the most obvious data you would be looking at is conversions or sales.

Although going further you need to understand who bought and try to understand why the bought using the data. You can look at demographic data like, age, sex, and geography. With this information if you find your perfect audience then you will focus your marketing effort to bring in more of those people.

It is important to look at the right marketing data as this would help in coming up with digital marketing strategy. When looking at data, you should be looking at a good length of time, for example 2 weeks, a month and even seasonally. This gives you an over look at what direction the website and business is going. By looking at the data you can stop campaigns that are not working and focus on the ones that are.

 The Data you will be looking at has to encompass all forms of digital marketing. These include Google analytics, email marketing, social media data and paid campaigns

There are several tools out there to help you look at all this information. Personally, I heavily rely on Google analytics but there are other paid tools that could be better.

12. Lack Of Personalizing Communication

Your customers are people who have feelings and when it comes to buying its more an emotional reason as opposed to a logical one. This is mostly because there are very few differences between products and buyers go with the option, they like most.

Digital marketing gives you the opportunity to use the data you collect from clients to your advantage. Things as simple as sending a birthday message via text or handwritten note to your clients. This would make the customers feel special and when its time to buy they will think favorably for your product or service.

Chaos theory says that you cannot predict what a single individual can do but when they are bunched in a group together it is easier to understand their actions. With this, traffic from a website can be broken down to various tranches. And you can market different products to the various tranches.

For example, someone who is interested in shoes will benefit from seeing ads about shoes as opposed to anything else.

Through email marketing you can look at what the response rate is and craft your message accordingly to what people want. As you see people going through the buying funnel through email marketing you can see where you are losing clients.

The clients who are lost at a certain stage can be sent different kinds of emails to make them mover further down the buying cycle.

Social media is the best place to immediately gauge what people are interested in. the marketing messages that has little to no interaction should be avoided and move to the ones that has the highest responses.

Internet marketers like Gary V now focuses his messages on wellness which people respond well to as opposed to what he started talking about.

13. Wrong Measurement Of Returns

Return on Investments (ROI) is not properly tracked with most websites. The first thing I do whenever I get a new account to manage or website to update is to find out how measuring is done. At first, I used to be surprised but these days I am not, there is a big number of people who do not measure results.

They do not know how many conversions they are getting, where they are coming from and worst yet do not know how much they cost to get them. As long as many web owners see that their sites are getting traffic and some conversions that is all they care about.

Moreover, they don’t know what their actual returns are. For example, they are selling a product or service and they have not properly calculated how much money they are actually making from their output. For example, if they are selling shoes, they do not factor in the price of the shoe, advertising costs and then their profit. All they see is sales and assume they are ok.

Digital marketing should be about making money and not where it is lost. Through basic tracking and accounting you can find out how much is being made versus how much has been spent in total. It should also be known how much product must be sold for the business to be profitable. When it comes to selling services, then different calculations should be made. Either on an hourly basis or time period.

14.   Marketing Costs Miscalculations

It is known that you must spend money to make money. Many websites make this digital marketing mistake by not properly calculate how much it costs to make money for the business. There are direct expenses like paid marketing campaigns through Google Ads and paid Social. Although there are some that have indirect expenses like search engine optimization and growing social media organically.

All these direct and indirect costs add to the marketing cost that very few business budgets for. Proper planning is required to know how much money is needed for the business to be profitable. There are some businesses that budget the cost of marketing for a year and try to work this.

15.   Working With Outdated Skills

Like many fields digital marketing is evolving, but unlike the others it evolves to quickly. The landscape changes every 6 months or less due to new technologies or laws being introduced.

 For example, there is going to be an introduction of Digital Service Tax in most countries. This will not only increase the cost of advertising but at the same time will lead to many advertisers to look for alternative to fit the current budgets.

Technology changes involves examples like recently Google said that they will stop showing more than one listing for a website. Naturally companies like yelp which rely on plenty of listings on page one are directly affected. You can imagine they have to change their whole business plan.


As a web marketer you should be looking at blogs, forums, and conferences to learn any new developments that occur. Facebook and Google have posts every so often like once in two months and talk about new changes on their platforms. Subscribing to these blogs will help educate on what can be done moving forward.

16.   No Remarketing

Before a new user converts on a website, they need to visit it around 9 times. Hence there is a need to remarket your website to people who have visited your site before. Remarketing helps you to reengage with leads and keeping your business at the top of their minds.

It is awfully expensive to acquire a new customer as opposed to getting your previous customers to buy again.


To get over this mistake remarketing needs to be done. Remarketing comes in different kinds of forms. It can be done through email, google display ads and Facebook pixels. These products can remind users about products they were looking at and nudge them further down the buying cycle.

17.   Absence Of A/B Testing

Amazon and Google change their product pages every so often looking for ways for customers to engage with them. Testing is especially important as it can be used to improve the performance of a website. When a website is designed for the first time, its not easy to know how the users will use it.

After getting some feedback by how they navigate the website tweaks can be made to better improve how user interact with the site.


A/B testing involves tweaking different parts of a web page to boost conversion. Testing can be done on headlines, colour schemes, call to action and layout. A point to be noted is that testing should be done on one item alone then moving to the next.


There are plenty of digital marketing mistakes that occur in many campaigns. This morning I was shown a mistake I had made and luckily it didn’t cost me money. This goes to show we as digital marketers make mistakes.

Although this is not the end, constant monitoring of campaigns and sticking to basics helps to minimize mistakes.


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