15 Biggest Digital Marketing Mistakes And What To Do Instead

In today’s technology-driven society, where there were nearly 4.6 billion active internet users last month, businesses have to have a digital presence. Because of this, digital marketing is a necessity. But simply putting up a website isn’t enough. How much do you know about digital marketing? How successful is your digital marketing campaign? Often times businesses try to save money buy figuring it out on their own, but if you don’t know what to watch out for you could be throwing money away. These are the top 15 mistakes people make when it comes to digital marketing.

1. Forgetting About Mobile Users

There are 3.5 billion smartphone users in the world and 77% of Americans have smartphones. Your website needs to be mobile friendly, but it really ought to be mobile optimized. What do I mean by that? Well, in order to be mobile friendly your site needs to display accurately between your desktop and mobile device. It will look smaller and may not be as touch screen friendly, but the website is still functional. You don’t want to leave your mobile users with pictures taking too long to download, links that are hard to find and even harder to click on. You want a mobile optimized site. A mobile optimized site will reformat itself for common mobile devices, it will have larger navigation buttons and the content will be displayed differently to make the website better for the mobile viewer. This means that links will not be right on top of each other, they will show up as buttons to push, and the site will be reformatted to help mobile users avoid having to type.

This applies to more than just websites. We have talked before about what it means for your email marketing campaign (here and here). When you think about your marketing strategy and when you identify your customer base you really have to think about where you are meeting them, and that includes what devices they are using.

Forgetting About Mobile Users

2. Focusing Only On Customer Acquisition

New customers are important, and you need to grow your customer base if your business is going to survive, but people often forget about keeping the customers they already have. You want your customers to be return customers, so you also have to focus on retention. According to a study published in the Harvard Business Review, it costs 6-7 times more to acquire a new customer than it does to retain one. That same study found that if you boost your retention rates by 5% you can increase your profits anywhere from 25-95%.

So how do you retain customers? Some of your advertising budget should be spent on current customers, you should send customer satisfaction surveys and be responsive to their answers, and you should listen to what they are saying in their reviews and respond to those. Creating a customer loyalty program is a great way to reward customers and keep them with you instead of your competitors.

Focusing Only On Customer Acquisition

3. Subpar Customer Service

Most people do not think of customer service when they think about marketing, but your customers’ experience will directly affect if they stay loyal customers or provide positive recommendations to their friends. If your customers are unhappy they will take that negative review to public forums for your audience to see. Having quick responsive customer service will help. And if your team sees a negative review, having someone promptly respond to that will help improve your image.

customer service

If your customer service representatives provide positive customer experience that will aid in customer loyalty and retention. When your team understands the marketing goals they can help promote those goals. If your goal is to grow your Facebook followers and someone contacts your team for more information or to ask about potential future products, your team can encourage the customer to follow your business on Facebook to stay up-to-date on all the latest products and discounts. As another example, if your goal is get more email addresses for your newsletter and someone contacts them asking about possible discounts or specials, your team can inform them of the newsletter and ask for their email address to get them subscribed.

4. Never Offering Discounts Or Promotions

Discounts and promotions get people to your website and encourage people to make purchases. Promotions can usually help increase your sales. But what is better, studies have shown that coupons increase oxytocin levels and increase happiness and feelings of loyalty between customers and your business. Discounts lower abandoned carts and encourage people to try new products, and make your new customers feel more loyalty to you.


Discounts are also great for retention; they are a great way to create a customer loyalty program. Subscribers to your newsletter can have special access to discounts, helping you continue to market to your audience and your audience to be glad to hear from you. You can offer contingently free products. Scientists have found that people being offered something for free will evaluate the worth of the free thing at more than its face value. Customers feel they have gotten a better deal when they leave with something free rather than an overall purchase discount. In one example, scientists sold 73% more hand lotion when it was offered in a bonus pack than when it carried an equivalent discount. If you offer promotions and are willing to create a customer loyalty program that rewards your customers you will be bringing in new customers, retaining current customers, and boosting sales.

5. Not Setting Goals

It is easy to branch out into the digital world without really thinking about your goals. If you only have vague ideas of what you want you cannot determine the best way to achieve those goals and you can’t measure how well you are doing. You need to create SMART goals. They need to be specific. You can’t just say you want to increase business; what does that mean and what does that look like? Goals need to be measurable; what will you look at to figure out if you are reaching your goals? They also need to be achievable. You need to be realistic when setting your goals; you can’t expect to grow 10k followers overnight. They should also be relevant; are these goals actually related to digital marketing and improvements to your business? And they need to be time-bound. A goal without a timeline is a wish.

smart goals for digital marketing

When you set goals make sure you are not setting too many. If you overwhelm yourself you will be unable to achieve any of them. Write them down and review them regularly to watch for progress or stalling, and also to make sure they are still relevant to your business goals. Once you have goals you can make sure that your decisions are aligned to help you achieve your goals.

6. Not Having A Blog For Your Website

As I already said, having a website is not enough. You need to have a blog for your website- it increases traffic and helps you build a relationship with your audience. Allow your customers to comment on your blog and respond to their questions. It will increase your interaction and goodwill and give you a sense of what your audience is thinking and feeling.

You can position yourself as the helpful expert. Write blog topics on the questions your customers most commonly ask around your profession. A dentist could write about helpful tips to get children to brush, or surprising ways your overall health is linked to oral health.

blogs for digital marketing

A landscaper could write a post on how to keep pests out of your garden, or how to encourage healthy lawn growth. A real estate agent can explain which home improvements give you the most return on investment, or some of the lesser known tricks for selling your house quickly. If you are answering your audiences question and you are using appropriate SEO you will be a top search result and at the forefront of your potential customers’ minds. And when they read your blog answering your questions they are already on your site where your services are offered.

7. Not Having A Social Media Website or Not Using Social Media Correctly

Sometimes businesses still have the misimpression that social media is for only personal use. This is not only wrong, but damaging to your business. Your business needs a social media account. And it is not enough to create an account and let it sit, you need to interact through it. There are 1.47 billion daily active users on Facebook. Social media accounts are free to set up and are a great way to interact with your audience. You can keep your audience informed about changes quickly and easily, you can set up events and advertise products.

having a social media account helps your digital marketing

Social media allows you to personalize your business and give it a human factor. You can respond to audience questions and concerns quickly and publicly showing that you are a business who cares. As long as you keep it active, having a social media account improves your business reputation. If you are a small business it might not be realistic to post every day, but you can still post 1-2 times per week. You can share links to your blog and drive traffic that way, you can share helpful tips or tricks, maybe “behind the scenes” photos of you and your employees working.

8. Targeting Everyone

Digital marketing is less expensive than traditional marketing channels, and sometimes businesses see this and think they should just target everyone. This is not going to help your business and it is throwing money away.

You need to identify who your audience is so you can know where to find them and the most effective ways to market to them. Audience research will help you make your content and messaging relevant and make your digital marketing ROI improve. You need to look at age, location, time zone, language, spending power and patters, interests, challenges, stages of life, and who makes the buying decisions. If you sell toys or children’s clothes of course you want children to want your products, but ultimately most purchases will be made by adult caregivers. If the majority of your customers are in the Eastern time zone you don’t want to send your messages out during peak email or social media hours on the West Coast.

Targeting Everyone

Refining your target audience does not mean that you are excluding others, it simply means that you are ensuring that more people who are more likely to have an interest in your product see your message.

9. Not Using Email Marketing

Email marketing is relevant and inexpensive compared to traditional alternatives. It is also a great way to stay front-of-mind with your audience. If you are doing email marketing correctly you will have subscribers wanting to be on your list and looking forward to your emails. You want to make sure that you are making thoughtful emails and distributing them to the correct audience members. We have written before about tips to improve your email marketing open rates, and ways to make your email subject lines work for you.

Not Using Email Marketing

10. Spamming Your Audience

As important as email marketing is, it is equally important not to spam your audience. Most people can understand that spamming your audience is bad and will irritate your potential customers and can cause them to stop following you and unsubscribe to your newsletters. But how do you know if you are spamming your audience?

Different brands and different sectors will have different answers to what spam is, but in general no one should be sending out more than one email per week. It could be as little as one email per month, just to inform your audience of what is going on and help you stay in the forefront of their minds.

Spamming Your Audience

Where does your business fall? Look back at the emails you have sent your audience. Are the emails helpful, educational, and relevant? If not, you need to adjust your practices. Your emails should be beneficial to your audience and educating them on your product, business, sales, etc. And it should be relevant to the subscriber receiving it. If you are sending out information about a new product that is relevant to people who made a specific purchase from you in the past, do not send it out to everyone. Make sure to use segmented subscriber lists so you can send it only to those who will find the email relevant.

11. Not Using SEO

You need your website and blogs to be optimized for searches. If you don’t understand search engine optimization and decide to ignore it your digital presence and digital marketing will suffer. Customers won’t be able to find you if you do not pay attention to your website’s search engine optimization. According to Search Engine Journal 93% of online experiences start with a search engine. Research by Hubspot says that 75% of users never go beyond the first page of results. If you improve your SEO you will see improved rankings increased traffic, more exposure, better brand credibility, and more leads and sales.

Not Using SEO

12. Not Using A Call To Action

If you do not use a clear call to action in your digital marketing you cannot expect good results. You need to know what the goal of your marketing campaign is so that you can create a clear call to action. Digital ads should have links that direct your potential customers to landing pages where they can purchase or subscribe or set up a consultation, or whatever your goal is. Social media pages should have posts with clear calls to action. And your website should have a call to action button that is easily located.

Not Using A Call To Action

13. Being Product-Centric

A product-centric organization is one that focuses on the products it brings to market. Why is that a problem? Because businesses do better if they focus on the market that they serve. When you are focused on a product you can keep trying to perfect that product, but the product may not be the best solution for the customer and you could find yourself becoming irrelevant or failing to fill new needs. A great example of this is Kodak, the photograph developing giant. For a long time they were ubiquitous with pictures and they were the preferred film. They defined themselves as a photo processing business and ignored changes to digital photography, missing out on keeping their name-capital associated with photography and applying it to a new product or service that was becoming more relevant.

focus on the market

14. Having Tunnel Vision

There are so many components to running a business and that gets even more complicated when you delve into digital marketing. It is really easy, and tempting for the overworked business owner, to get tunnel vision and focus on just one or two aspects. If you put all of your digital marketing focus into email marketing at the cost of social media it will hurt your business. Conversely, if you only focus on social media at the peril of your website or customer retention plans, you will still be doing your business a disservice.

Having a Tunnel Vision

If you need multiple people make sure they are meeting. They need to talk about the common marketing goals and how they can help each other. If you are focused on paid search words and keywords but someone else deals with organic rankings you need to connect to make sure neither of you are missing something important. You want to be sure that your website and blog content is being shared on social media. And that your digital marketing initiatives align with your content marketing and website conversion optimization.

15. Trying to Do It Alone

If you are trying to run a business and handle all of the digital marketing you will not be able to invest fully in either. If you excel at the digital marketing, you might find it best to hire someone to handle day to day tasks. Or, if you have a good idea of how you want your digital marketing to run, but you do not have time for constant posting and customer response and outreach, it might be time to hire a social media manager. Access the tasks you need done and where your strengths are, and decide how best to delegate the tasks. If you aren’t sure where to start or you know you need help but don’t want to take one a new full-time employee then look at a virtual consulting firm. They can do an audit or help you set up a campaign or implement improvements then teach you how to maintain them.

Trying to Do It Alone


If you read this and find that you have been making these mistakes, do not feel bad. Mistakes are common. Until you know what to look for it can be easy to do these things and not see the problem. Do not get overwhelmed or try to address every issue you identified all at once. Remember the goal setting? Only take on a few changes at a time. Prioritize your goals and work on a few at a time. Make sure your goals are realistic. And remember that these things are all interconnected. As you make improvements in one area you will see gains and improvements in another.


  1. https://cm-commerce.com/academy/what-science-says-about-discounts-promotions-and-free-offers/
  2. http://illuminationconsulting.com/7-statistics-and-facts-that-show-the-significance-of-seo/
  3. https://assetdigitalcom.com/social-media-and-small-business-latest-statistics-2020/
  4. https://hbr.org/2014/10/the-value-of-keeping-the-right-customers

Share this Article

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Related Posts...

Let's Share some Insights and Our Best Strategies with you...

Start Your Journey To Increased Sales/Customers

Schedule Free Consultation