18 Common Digital Marketing Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

“Your future self will always see your present self as unwise and immature. That means you are currently a fool right now.”  Or so quipped one popular thought leader.  

What if it didn’t have to be that way?  Or, at least, not as much?  What if you could get in front of some of the mistakes you’re about to make today?  

How much would you give for someone to steer you away from investing in AOL and direct you toward Google instead? 

You have deadlines to meet and goals to achieve.  There’s a life out there that you ought to enjoy.  Don’t waste your limited resources in ways that won’t produce what you need.  

The Cost of Making Digital Marketing Mistakes 

How do you define success?  Is it a healthy bottom line?  Capturing a percentage of the market?  How about positive impact?  Quality of life?  

You have something to offer the world – and there are good things for you to enjoy.  As a business owner, you will make mistakes.  “To err is human.”  

But what if you could avoid the mistake that created a late-nighter responding to emails?  Or canceled that weekend trip to clean up the mess made during the work week?  Or wasted tens of thousands of dollars on a marketing strategy that didn’t deliver on its promises?  

Digital Marketing Aficionados Here to Help!

Your business can break through the digital noise, maximize your ROI, and enjoy the margin you’ve earned.  

Our Digital Marketing expertise has helped hundreds of clients avoid costly mistakes, save time, and even have some peace and joy infused into their day.  

We stay on top of trends online and updates in search engines, web design, and digital automation to ensure people receive current information in a constantly evolving field.  

Unfortunately, many are stuck in thought patterns or corporate systems that don’t allow them to see the digital potholes on the road to success.  

Perhaps you find yourself in the 71% majority of people who find their marketing is not meeting their customers’ expectations.  

We’ve found a better path.  And we want to help you along.    

18 Digital Marketing Mistakes and How to Avoid Them 

1. Not Clearly Defining Your Target Audience 

You may make the best steaks in the world.  And if you do, please let us know!  But you won’t sell many steaks at a vegan retreat center. 

If you’re going to “sell, sell, sell,” you need to know whom you are selling to, where they live and shop, and how your product or service will solve their problems.  

This process is developing a buyer persona or target audience.  Without this in place, you may waste valuable resources speaking a language your target audience can’t hear. 

Solution: Define your target audience and develop a buyer persona – and – a negative buyer persona.  

2. Not Researching and Understanding Your Market

Have you noticed the Christmas creep?  No, not someone who makes you uncomfortable.  But how Christmas decorations and sales seem to start earlier every year?  

halloween christmas early

KPCC 89.3

Why is that?  

It’s what the market demands.  If you sell Christmas decorations, you can’t afford to overlook this, regardless of your preference.  

Trends like this exist in every market.  If you’re not keeping abreast of the market and trends, you will miss opportunities to connect with customers.  

Solution: Research your market and create market segments. Implement a comprehensive SEO strategy and refresh it every 4-6 months 

3. Not Setting Realistic Digital Marketing Goals

You’re not going to compete with Amazon.  Or Walmart.  But that does not mean you cannot compete with some of the products those juggernauts sell. 

If you don’t know where vulnerabilities exist in your market, you won’t know where you can earn some wins.  

To be sure, with the proper focus in particular areas, you can achieve success from which you can build from.  But you will waste a lot of energy if you don’t know where you can win.  

Solution: Diversify your marketing strategy and look for opportunities where you can grow. One example, broad keyword terms may be hard to compete with when you’re up against giants like Amazon. However, by adopting a Longtail SEO strategy, you can put your business in the race. 

4. Investing Resources in the Wrong Places 

Have you ever heard of “the Facebook Mom Squad”?  If not, then you may not interact with many people from Gen Z or younger. 

While Facebook, or Meta, still has bazillions of users worldwide, only some people live there.  You may love Reddit.  Or Twitter.  Or Discord. 

But where does your target audience love to hang out?  That’s the question you must ask.  And once you’ve uncovered that answer, you must learn how to navigate that space like a native. 

If you don’t, you’ll find yourself trying to sell steaks to vegans – and you’ll miss the keto festival. 

Solution: Develop a buyer persona and a negative buyer persona

5. Adopting Too Many Digital Marketing Strategies Without Proper Resources

Far too many businesses have far too many cooks in the kitchen.  A similar experience is when a company hires a cook but then micro-manages them.  

There is wisdom in diversifying your digital marketing approach.  But each digital path requires a particular skill set and expertise.  

Amazon uses different algorithms than Google.  Both are different from what FaceBook/Meta uses.  To learn the intricacies of each requires constant investment.  To be competitive, even simply relevant, in each space requires committed attention.    

Suppose you don’t develop a digital marketing strategy that aligns with your target audience. In that case, you’ll not only waste time and energy – but you’ll set yourself and your employees up for frustration.  

Solution: Strategic Content Marketing strategy 

6. Set it and Forget it 

If you build it, they will come.

website myth


Having a great website is essential.  But on its own, with no maintenance, SEO work, or content strategy, it may not do your business much good.  

There are nearly 2 billion websites on the internet.  Do you have any idea how many websites are in your space?  Or compete for your keywords?  

“Setting and forgetting” a website won’t bring traffic to your site, clients to your portfolio, or sales to your digital cash register.  

Conversely, we’ve seen one strategic blog generate thousands of clicks in a matter of days.  

Solution: Content Marketing Strategy and SEO. 

7. No Content Strategy 

Content marketing is the only true marketing left.  People pay for ad blockers.  Social media produces an overwhelming avalanche of content.  

Further, 80% of internet searches are informational.  That means that if you sell nail polish and have nothing on your website about “how to polish your nails,” you are missing out on 80% of the search market!

A cohesive, comprehensive content market strategy builds trust with your audience, provides SEO benefits, and creates easy, actionable steps for the client. 

Without a content marketing strategy, you’re left to hope that people will choose your website from the nearly 2 billion out there. 

Solution: Develop and maintain a consistent content marketing strategy

8. No Video

There’s a reason the 1997 new wave band, The Buggles proclaimed that video killed the radio star.  It’s engaging.  Websites with videos achieve greater dwell time than pages without.  

People want a relational connection when choosing how to part ways with their hard-earned cash.  Don’t you want to know you can trust the company that you’re paying or financially investing in?

Plus, with 62% of internet traffic occurring on mobile devices, many people flip through their feeds while in line at the coffee shop.  Or on their commute.  

Videos grab people’s attention in ways other media simply don’t.  The video quality smartphones provide today allows you to create quality videos without a production studio.  

This does not mean every page, email, or post must have a video attached.  But if none do, you miss a golden opportunity to invite people to stick around at your digital store.  

Solution: Consider quality videos, FaceBook Live, or Linkedin Live in your digital marketing strategy. 

9. No Metrics 

You can’t market what you can’t measure.  At least not efficiently.  How can you know if your digital marketing efforts produce the ROI you need?

It can’t just be by sales.  That’s why if you hear an ad on the radio, the personality will say, “shop at Big Jim’s and tell ‘em Rockin’ Randy sent you!” 

It’s to measure the ad’s effectiveness.  If you don’t measure your marketing, you won’t know if it’s working.  You’ll risk wasting limited resources.  

Solution: Require regular reports from your digital marketing team or company.   

10. No Clear Messaging or Funnels

Stephen Covey said that effective people “seek first to understand, then be understood.”  

You probably know the purpose of each page you publish.  Your audience does not. 

They are living their own lives – of which your business is not the center.  However incredible it may be.  If your communication is unclear, people won’t guess what you offer, or where they need to go. 

They will leave to find someone who can clearly and quickly help them and direct them on their journey.  

Further, closing a sale is the final step in a business relationship.  A relationship that requires building trust.  People don’t like handing over their money for products they’re unsure of.  Which is as it should be.  

You will lose clients without clear messaging, action steps, and an investment that builds trust.

Solution: UX Design with great usability and clear, consistent messaging. 

11. Not Humanizing the Digital Experience

Everyone likes to buy, but no one wants to feel objectified or sold.  As your business scales, it’s essential to maintain a personal touch so that people don’t feel like they are just a number in your subscriber list.  

Solution: Personalize digital communication as much as possible.  Make the effort to address people by their names.  As much as possible, try to address and treat each person as the unique individual they are.  When writing emails, newsletters, etc., craft them as if talking to one person, not a mass list.  

12. Superficial SEO   

If you’re going to do the work – do the work.  Writing a blog is not the same as strategic SEO and content marketing.  

Effective communication necessitates clarity of purpose.  What user intent are you attempting to match?  What keywords are you targeting?  How does each tie into specific pages and previous articles on your website?  

Solution: Develop a content marketing strategy with intentional SEO purposes. 

13. Overestimating Your Skillset and/or Capacity 

It’s been said that the only fatal character flaws are the ones we won’t admit.  Too many companies try to take on the intricacies of digital marketing in-house.

This often creates more work for people outside their job description, skill set, and expertise.  Which in turn creates stress and diffusion of energy and effectiveness.  

Solution: Consider hiring an expert to create and implement a digital marketing plan.  This will be an investment up front, but it often saves money and augments ROI.  

14. Trying to Scale Too Fast 

There are ways digital marketing can artificially accelerate your business.  But little erode customer trust more than being unable to deliver on promises.  

One bad online review can become an avalanche if your digital marketing plan exposes your business like Toto exposed the Wizard of Oz.  

Solution: Lean on a digital marketing expert who knows what your business can handle – and how to help you grow. 

15. Not Researching the Competition 

You’ve got company. Like it or not.  Ignoring the competition puts you at a competitive disadvantage in multiple ways.  

Why reinvent the wheel?  You can see what’s working for your competitors and what’s not.  You can also discover ways to differentiate yourself further from the competition.  

You could find a way to build a better mousetrap. 

Solution: Research competition and stay on top of trends. 

16. Dismissing Proven Communication Methods for New

CS Lewis once lamented “chronological snobbery.”  He found that people assume that whatever is “new” is superior to whatever is “old.”  As if we stand on the shoulders of people who could never aspire to our levels of sophistication.  

Regarding your digital marketing strategy, what’s new isn’t always the best.  What’s best is almost always what serves YOUR audience best.  

For example, if you’re running the marketing department for an established non-profit, your supporters may prefer a printed newsletter over an email or an update on TikTok.  

Some people don’t even know how to find the link in the bio!  Don’t let your digital marketing plan alienate your target audience.     

One non-profit client we serve has maintained a consistent support base for over 35 years.  When they started, they had donors who were in their 30’s.  And older.  

Now, those same faithful donors are in their 60’s.  And older.  They prefer printed newsletters and mailing in a check.  Why discontinue what serves your target audience well?  

Solution: Develop a buyer persona and implement a communication strategy that serves your audience well. 

17. Not Prioritizing Your Website 

Your website is your best friend for digital marketing. Social media has some benefits, especially platforms like LinkedIn for those in the B2B market.  

Still, you’re missing a massive opportunity if your social media presence isn’t intentionally tied to your website.  

8.5 billion searches are conducted on Google – every day.   Only 22% of consumers prefer to discover new products on social media.  

Your website is just that – it’s yours.  You control the content, where attention is directed, and how an action is called for.  

With social media and other digital marketing platforms, you have little control and less ability to have the search algorithms work in your favor. 

Solution: Create a high-quality website that integrates with your digital marketing strategy 

18. Outsourcing What Needs to be Internal 

While there’s a great benefit to leaning on the expertise of others, you also need to own what you cannot outsource.  

Mainly: YOUR vision.  The heart of the business.  What do you most value in your business?  Why have you invested your blood, sweat, and tears into this?  

No outside agency can create that for you.  No one else can determine YOUR values.  

A creative expert may be able to assist in crafting a clever vision statement.  But the heart of the vision needs to come from the heart of the company. 

Strategic consultants may be able to help you see what values may be helpful to aspire toward.  But your core values need to be yours.  

Solution: Be you.  Do the hard work necessary to be fully confident in the HEART of your business.  Then, invite others to engage and support the dreams you can’t help but pursue.  

Ready to Run an Effective Digital Marketing Process?  

I understand that this is a lot.  Unfortunately, it only scratches the surface. 

If you’d like to discuss these highlights in greater detail,  I’d love to connect! We can help you avoid mistakes and achieve the success you deserve.  Reach out today and we can set up a free thirty-minute consultation.  


Justin Staples

For 15 years, Justin has guided businesses on a transformative journey through strategic marketing and design to craft their unique online identity.