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7 Major Digital Strategy Mistakes (And How to Fix Them)

Dustin Brackett
July 26, 2016

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Setting a digital strategy is not an easy task, but for some reason, many businesses take it much more lightly than they should. The businesses that are successful are the ones that put time, effort, and resources into creating the best digital strategy possible for their business.

Now, a digital strategy is much more than deciding which social networks to be on and the decision to make a mobile version of your website. Let's take a look at some of the major pitfalls that businesses in all different industries fall into and how you can fix them if you're making these same mistakes.

We're going to move beyond some of the most obvious mistakes - like not being mobile friendly, underestimating the value of social media, and not understanding that Google runs the world, but if you're making any of these mistakes or think you may be, please check out our previous blog posts - 5 Mistakes You're Making with your Social Media Marketing ServicesOnline Marketing Services: Why One Tactic Can't Stand AloneHow to Start Writing Blogs That Will Positively Impact Your SEO & Why It's Absolutely Crucial to Have a Mobile Optimized Website. Now let's dive in!

1. Thinking that it's a one man job

There are so many moving parts within a digital marketing strategy that, honestly, it's impossible for one person to handle. I'm sure I've got some marketers reading this post that just rolled their eyes, but it's true. If one person is able to handle your entire digital strategy, either that person is a freaking super hero and you're not paying them enough or your campaign isn't up to par. A digital strategy will likely include website content, blogging, search engine optimization, social media, and email marketing at the very least. Not to mention going the next steps with pay-per-click, CTAs, landing pages, thank you pages, and content offers like white papers and eBooks. It's just simply too much for one person to handle. Even at the agency level (in ANY agency), there is not one person that could handle this full campaign by them self. People that are great designers typically aren't great developers, great developers typically aren't great writers, great writers typically aren't well versed in SEO. It goes on and on.

THE FIX: Create a team around your digital marketing. If you're going to keep your marketing all in house, take the time to understand everyone's strengths and weaknesses. Clearly outline everyone's responsibilities and hold eachother accountable. Playing to each person's strengths will help to ensure a happy team and higher quality output. We also recommend having (at least) weekly meetings to keep everyone in the loop.

2. Not listening to your analytics

We hear all the time that "XYZ works great" or "ZYX doesn't work", but very few of those businesses have solid data to back up their claims. One of the biggest problems that businesses fall into is not listening to or understanding their analytics. Whether it's Google Analytics, analytics from each social network, your email open and click rates, blog subscriptions, CTA and landing page conversion rates, cost per click, or keyword rankings, it's important to understand where you're at and how you're trending. Analytics have to be your best friend when it comes to digital marketing - or really any marketing for that matter. 

THE FIX: Take the time to educate yourself and your team on the metrics of each marketing tactic. The more you understand about where you've come from and where you're going, the better position you'll be in. When you get to the point that you can spot the impact (in hard numbers) that a change you made has had is when you know you're on the right track. If you're just getting started, check out this Beginner's Guide to Google Analytics from Moz.

3. Not having defined goals

You gained 100 new followers on your Facebook page this week. You had 10,000 visitors to your website last month. Your average cost per click was $2.50 today. Your bounce rate is down 5% this quarter. Now, are you doing good or bad?

It's all a matter of perspective. For some those number are over the moon fantastic. For others those are 'put your marketing manager's head on a spike' numbers. The point is, without well defined goals you don't know how you're doing. Your goals should be the only thing that leads your decision making. Every single decision should be made with the end goals in mind. If they're not, you need to reevaluate.

THE FIX: Check out our past blog posts on goal setting - The Importance of Setting SMART Marketing Goals and How to Set SMART Marketing Goals. These will give you an idea of how you should go about setting your goals and why setting them is important. We recommend having a brainstorming session with people in all levels of your organization - marketing, sales, c-level, and customer service so that you can get the perspective from each department. This will also give you an understanding of what is truly important to each person in your organization. Now, set your goals, recite them often throughout your company, and stop at nothing to reach them. 

4. Not making it a priority

It happens all the time - companies get busy and decide that the thing that they can let slide is their marketing. "We don't need to worry about marketing, look how busy we are!" is the common thought process, but one of the biggest downfalls of many businesses is only marketing when they need the business. Think about it...if you're only marketing when you have no business, you've already missed the boat. How long is it going to take your marketing to take effect and start producing new customers or clients? Marketing is not a light switch that you can just turn on and off at will (or at least not one you should turn on and off at will). 

THE FIX: Marketing has to be a year round activity, no matter how busy you get. This is why it's important to have a dedicated team focused only on your marketing initiatives. We've all seen the ebbs and flows of business - one minute you're up to your ears in work, the next you'd sell your kidney for a new client. Avoid that dramatic swing by continuing to nurture your pipeline and replenish it with new leads through marketing, even in your busy season.

5. Not testing

There is no magic bullet. Wait...let me repeat that...


Everyone in today's world is looking for the quick fix. The answer to their problem. But to be frank, there just isn't one. This is why testing is so important. Marketing is all about making educated guesses, testing, and then reevaluating your hypothesis. If you're running your campaign and never testing new ways of doing it, testing new markets, or trying new things, you'll never know what works and what doesn't. One of the biggest mistakes that any company can make with their digital strategy is to start a campaign and end that campaign the exact same way. If you start and end a campaign without making any changes, what did you really learn?

THE FIX: Always question your results. Could they be better? How could they be better? Is something not resonating with your followers? Why is XYZ working so well? Why isn't ZYX? Testing may be the most important aspect to an effective marketing campaign. To test effectively, make your changes in small batches. Remember, the whole idea is to give you a better understanding of what works, what doesn't, and why. If you make a ton of changes at once it'll be impossible to understand which change made what impact. Make one change, test the effectiveness, then make another.

6. Not having patience

Typically the reason that we hear "XYZ doesn't work" from a business is because they didn't have patience. It's important to understand that digital marketing (for the most part) is not an overnight fix. It's all about providing great content, getting found, creating leads, and nurturing those leads. That doesn't happen overnight. The tactics that get dropped most frequently because they "don't work" are blogging, search engine optimization, and social media marketing. These tactics all take a tremendous amount of effort and are all longer play tactics. You've got to have patience to see the fruits of your labor.

THE FIX: Stay committed. Whatever the goals are that you set at the beginning of your campaign, stay true to them. It's important to test, understand your customers and your analytics, but the purpose of that is to adjust and continue to put out a better and better product. Completely dropping a tactic after a couple months is not a sound strategy. Wait it out, continue to optimize, and you'll see it pay off.

7. Spreading too thin

This kind of goes hand in hand with #1, but the point here is to understand the limitations of your team. None of us have unlimited resources. We've all got to budget time and resources. That's why it's important to take into account how much your marketing team can take on. There are only so many hours in the day and so many people on your marketing team. Continuing to jump on every trend or to utilize every tool you find will leave your team spread so thin that nothing gets done well.

THE FIX: Never make decisions on adding a new tactic or tool without involving everyone on your team in the decision. Adding tool after tool, tactic after tactic will just make it harder to be great at the tactics that you should be focusing on. Take into account where your ideal customers are and focus all of your attention there. It'll never fail you.

Creating, running, optimizing, and capitalizing on your digital strategy is not an easy feat. Always keep these tips in mind, but nothing substitutes for understanding your customers and putting out phenomenal content. Every business is different and what works for one may bomb for another. Like I said before - THERE IS NO MAGIC BULLET, but education, perseverance, and follow through can go a long way.

Ready to learn more about each digital marketing tactic to help decide which to pursue? Check out our FREE Inbound Marketing 101 eBook. It'll give you an idea of where each tactic fits in your sales funnel and how to best capitalize on it. Download your copy NOW!

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