Digital Marketing: 10 Signs You're Doing It Wrong


What is Digital Marketing?

Digital Marketing is a term that is used to describe the practice of marketing online in the digital age. It’s more of an umbrella term that encompasses a variety of techniques and practices, including SEO, content marketing, social media marketing and more.

It’s pretty self-explanatory really: marketing (read: promoting) your business/brand/product via digital (read: the internet) platforms.

Digital Marketing Analytics

As you’re reading this blog, I’m sure you appreciate that digital marketing is a pretty big deal. However, it’s not particularly easy. We all make mistakes, but we also learn from them. I just wish someone had told me about these ones before...

10 Signs You're Doing Digital Marketing Wrong

1. You're blinded by 'viral' content

One of the biggest trends in content marketing right now is viral content.

‘Going viral’ is the main aim of pretty much every content marketer in the business, and it’s easy to see why. Viral content can rake in huge amounts of social shares, backlinks and traffic – I mean, isn’t that the goldmine every website owner everywhere is looking to find?

However, those of us who have experienced ‘going viral’ know that it isn’t all that it is cracked up to be.


Because traffic and backlinks are only beneficial if they are relevant. Getting 100,000 visitors to your website means nothing if only 10 of them buy your product. In fact, a high number of irrelevant visitors can actually harm your website, by increasing your bounce rates.

High bounce rates are bad news, because they show that visitors to your website are leaving very quickly. This is not only bad for your SEO (Google ranks pages with high bounce rates lower in its search results), but bad for your business.

This is why it’s important to target relevant audiences with your digital marketing campaigns. Viral content does not do this, which is why you need to think carefully about why you’re considering creating a viral campaign.

2. You're spending too much time obsessing over shares and likes

Social shares such as Likes and Re-tweets might look impressive, but they don’t necessarily bring any benefits to the table.

Google has stated that social signals like these are not a part of their algorithm and do not affect rankings (This is actually being debated within the industry as small studies and experiments seem to have indicated a link between social signals and ranked positions). 

So your latest post got 1,000 likes on Facebook. So what? What does that actually mean? People like and share posts on social media for a number of reasons, primarily to make themselves look good.

However, as this experiment proved, a large number of people who like/engage with a post on social media don’t actually click-though or read the post.

“We've found effectively no correlation between social shares and people actually reading.”

Tony Hailie, The CEO of Chartbeat - a company that measures real-time traffic for websites – tweeted the above statement regarding Twitter in 2014.

The bottom line is, don’t obsess over social signals, and in the process ignore other success signals. Measure click-through-rates and conversions to get a better idea of how successful your social media marketing is. 

3. You overlook email marketing

Email marketing gets a bad time. It may not be as ‘sexy’ as social media or viral content, but it’s still a powerful digital marketing tool, and not one to be overlooked.

In fact, 61% of consumers say they like to receive promotional emails weekly, and 73% of marketers agree that email marketing is core to their business.

The increase of mobile devices has a part to play in this, as more and more people use their mobiles to check their emails (yes, you’re emails should be responsive too!).

Another reason for the success of email marketing is that it is a more personal and direct form of communication. Personalization increases response rates and boosts engagement; it’s pretty obvious psychology really.

An email addressed and written directly to you, will make you feel much more special than a generic social media post.

However, there is an issue here of finding the right balance of personalisation. I recently received an email thanking me for browsing there website, and asking why I’d left without buying something. This actually came across as really creepy – I was just browsing a website and didn't subscribe to any lists or ask to be emailed. I would always advise against emailing anyone who hasn't directly interacted with your business.

4. You can't remember the last time you looked at your website

Designing and building a website is hard work. There’s a lot to think about,  and you’re normally chasing a tight deadline too. After spending a lot of time and effort creating the perfect website, too many people then ‘forget about it’. The marketing and promotion begins, and it’s to fall into the trap of thinking your website won’t need changing for a while.

Sorry folk, but you need to check your website. Try and look at your website as a visitor would – and think about what they will see. Is there enough information about who you are? Is there a clear CTA (call-to-action) to guide them along the sales funnel? Where can they go to find out more information?

These are all questions that need to be addressed regularly. Businesses tend to naturally ‘evolve’ as time goes on, and your website needs to reflect this.

What’s more, as your brand becomes more well-known, and as you begin to understand your audience and your target market a bit more, you’ll recognise areas of your website that need tweaking – I guarantee it. 

5. You copy your competitors

There’s nothing wrong with taking some inspiration from ‘the big guys’ – we all do it. When we see something successful, we try and recreate that success for ourselves.

But as we all know, every business is different. You might have a different target audience or a difference in quality and/or price. No two businesses should be exactly the same (if you can’t identify a unique USP for your business, you’re doing it seriously wrong) – and it’s what makes you unique that is your key selling point.

This is why you need to take care when you copy what your competitors do. Instead of mindlessly copying their viral video (and failing, as I guess you will), analyse what made their campaign successful, and replicate aspects based on your own strengths.

Copying your competition is merely a way of hiding the true problem – lack of knowledge and/or inspiration. You either don’t know what you should be doing, or you’re behind the curve. Address these two problems before you start copying your competitors. 

6. You post the same updates on both Facebook and Twitter

If you’re sharing the same content on all of your social media profiles, you’re not doing it properly.

You need to give your audience a reason to follow you on multiple social media channels. Why would a Facebook fan bother to follow you on Twitter if you’re only going to show the same stuff?

In all honesty, it’s lazy marketing; there’s no strategy, and no thought for your different audiences.

Twitter, Facebook & Instagram all attract a different audience looking for slightly different things, and the different structures and layouts of these social media sites lend themselves to different types of content.

  • Twitter – Best for communicating with your influencers, audiences and competitors. Twitter works in ‘real-time’ and is the first place to hear breaking news stories and on-trend topics.
  • Facebook - Good for driving traffic back to your website. Competitions work well on this platform. Use images to attract attention.
  • Instagram – Use eye-catching imagery to attract attention and get your message across visually. Great for creative businesses and those with physical products. Often used for ‘behind-the-scenes’ brand insights.

Use this information to strategize your social media marketing, and use each platform accordingly. I always like to use different social media channels to express the different ‘personalities’ of the business. Take Aptitude for example, we use Twitter to predominantly share industry news and helpful blog posts. On Facebook we share ‘viral’ and cool content, and Google+ is reserved for especially ‘geeky’ stuff.

Of course, sometimes there will be something newsworthy enough to share across all your channels, and you’ll want to get as many eyes as you can on your latest blog post, but be strategic with it. Present your news/blog post in a way that best fits each social media platform and its audience. 

7. You forget about 'the bigger picture'

You don’t HAVE to have a documented digital strategy (although it certainly helps), but you do need to know what your overall aims are, and how digital marketing can help you fulfil them.

Everything you do; your paid advertising, SEO, content marketing and social media marketing should be working in tandem to push you closer towards your goals.

Without a digital marketing strategy, you’re direction-less, and you’re wasting a lot of time (and money!).

Every piece of content your produce should have a clear aim. Are you trying to generate more backlinks? Or more traffic? Are you looking to gain more email subscribers? Or increase conversions? Without a clear objective, it’s easy to fall into the trap of creating ‘content for content’s sake’. 

8. You fail to measure successes (and failures)

It’s essential to measure the effectiveness of each campaign you do to enable you to execute more successful campaigns in the future.

The online landscape is forever changing; trends come and go in the same day and keeping up can be hard.

It’s not always possible to understand why a particular campaign did or didn’t work, but by analysing your campaigns over time, you will start to understand what works and what doesn't.

It really is that simple. Replicate what works and ditch what doesn't. Repeat over and over until you begin to understand how to generate more successful campaigns.

However, don’t be too quick to dismiss failures. Sometimes, it might be down to bad timing rather than a bad idea. Perhaps you didn't promote your content well enough, or you failed to target the right audience. Tweak your content and continue to experiment before branding something a ‘failure’.

9. You don't outreach

Have you ever spent a couple of days writing the perfect blog post? Gone over it again and again, making sure it’s well-writing, optimised, with the proper grammar, etc.? Then have you published your blog post, shared it on Facebook and Twitter, and wondered a day later why it’s only got 1 like and a couple of page views?

Well, in all honesty there’s a number of reasons for this:

  • The headline isn't strong enough to ‘hook’ people
  • You failed to promote your blog post efficiently enough
  • It’s just not a very good blog post

These are all valid reasons, and there’s a number of other reasons why it might not be performing as well as you’d expected (posted at a poor time, etc.) – but the main reason is probably going to be one of the three points above.

Assuming that your headline is tight and you've written a beautiful piece of literacy, reason #2 is probably going to be the main reason for your failure.

Over 2 million blog posts are written every day. If you want to make people take notice of yours, you need to do more than just share it once on your social media profiles.

Seek out the people who you think would be interested in your blog post, and let them know about it. Outreach industry influencers and websites who cover your topic and ask them for feedback. Get as many eyes as you possibly can on your post.

This technique has the added benefit of building relationships with influencers and publishers in your industry. If they like what you’ve written they might ask you to write for them. 

10. You set unrealistic expectations

There’s no point in declaring “we’re going to rank #1 on Google for [generic search term] within the next 6 months”, because you’ll only be left feeling disappointed and frustrated (and not to mention embarrassed) when you fail to do it.

There’s nothing wrong with being ambitious and aiming high – but you need to be realistic. Digital marketing is a long-term process, not a ‘quick fix’. The days of dodgy black-hat practices is dead and gone. You can’t game the system anymore (well, you can try – but Google will catch up with you soon enough).

Be honest about the position you’re in now, and work out a realistic aim based on the time, money and resources you have to help you improve. If you’re honest with you boss/client/yourself from the start, you won’t have to play the blame-game later on  down the line.

Key Takeaways

We all make mistakes, it happens. But if you want to succeed you need to recognise them and learn from them:

  • Take the time to keep up to date on the latest digital marketing news and techniques, and experiment and measure with your own content marketing.
  • Focus on the metrics that matter the most (traffic, conversions, etc.).
  • Take inspiration from your competitors and influencers, but always have your own USPs and target audience in the forefront of your mind.
  • Set realistic goals and implement the right techniques to complete them.


Got something to add? Comment below to share your digital marketing mistakes and tips. To stay updated with the latest digital marketing news, follow us on Twitter.

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