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Summary: As businesses increase their investment in Digital Marketing, which are the most common pitfalls they should avoid, and how should they avoid them?

The latest forecast for Digital Marketing spend in 2023 is $146bn globally – businesses are investing because it helps them to get found online in an ever increasingly crowded digital world.

However, sometimes the investment a business makes doesn’t work – in this post, we take a look at the most common reasons and how to avoid them.


The 7 deadly sins of Digital Marketing


1. No strategy

 If you don’t lay out your Digital Marketing vision and goals, how will you ever know if you are on track? If you set yourself unrealistic targets, with no activity plan of KPIs to get there, you will very quickly end up dispirited and most likely having wasted money.

Digital marketing works best when the right number and combination of strategies are selected. Spreading resources across diverse unrelated activity results in campaigns that don’t get the best impact.

Build your Digital Strategy

If your business is complex, or you simply don’t know where to begin, you may want to invest in getting someone to help you build your strategy. This could be a Digital Marketing expert, or if you have an existing template in mind, a facilitator who can help you to build up your vision and plan.

If your company has many stakeholders, this could be a fairly meaty piece of work, but it needn’t be. Our view is that you should be able to distil your plan down to a strategy on a page as this is so much simpler to share with the team – here’s an example of a template that we use.

WSI Digital Advisors Strategy on a Page template


2. Being all things to all people

There is a WSI saying “if you’re not special to somebody, then you’re special to nobody” – this means that if you are trying to be all things to all people, you dilute your point of view.

Once you have identified your target audience, your website and communications will become more focused and resonate much more clearly.

Create Customer Personas

Start by dividing your customers into a small number of distinctive “types”. Define them demographically, identify their pain points, describe what they are looking for from you and where they might look for services like yours. Think about who is the decision maker, and who needs help to look good to their boss.

Wherever possible, base your results on customer research – this could be from speaking directly to customers, via polls or surveys or through facilitated market research sessions.

Don’t forget that customers change their perspective as products, services and marketing change around them – always make sure that you take into account how your competitors influence them.

There are many persona templates online to choose from – here’s one that we are using at the moment to get you started :

WSI Digital Advisors Persona template


3. Uninspiring website Design

People scan-read websites. If nothing catches the user eye, the user won’t stop and read your copy, however beautifully crafted it is. Navigation should be simple and your calls to action clear and well placed.

Similarly, if you confuse your customer with irrelevant or overly complicated copy or images, they will bounce away from your site.

Also worth noting, last Christmas Shopping season over 1/3 of online purchases were made on a smartphone, so mobile responsiveness is also a key component to consider in your design.

Great Website Design

 Using a Graphic Designer to help you set up your Branding and Website visual layout and content is time and money well spent. Your site will flow well and feel consistent.

Video helps to create “pause points” on your site, and when well crafted, is engaging and informative.

If you’re not sure where to start, most web platforms offer themes, template designs which you can use to build your content on.

Last, but certainly not least, always check your device responsiveness whenever you update your site – remember the number of people accessing websites via mobile is well over 80% in the UK now.


4. User experience that’s about you, not them

A website isn’t just about it’s visual impact, it also needs to support an engaging and efficient customer journey.

Your audience initially comes to your site interested in solving their problems and pain points, not in finding out about your products. Your products are the potential solutions to their problems.

So, if you are getting plenty of visitors to your site, but they are not converting in the way you want them to, it’s time to stand back and take a look at your user experience. As examples, you may need to consider a Home Page refresh, new Landing Pages, or an update to your payment options or check-out process.

Recent research from Bain says that companies that excel at Customer Experience grow revenues 4%-8% above their market.

Engaging User Experience

Firstly, your site should be quick to load – make sure your images are the right size for your web platform.

Next, check that you are addressing your customers’ problems, and then show how your products or services resolve those pain points.

Review your customer promises and touchpoints – Map your user journey, and identify where your navigation, calls to action and payment process could be clearer and more efficient for your target personas.

Here’s a lucidchart template that we use as an example :

Customer Journey template used by WSI Digital Advisors
Source : LucidChart


Of course, user experience doesn’t end when a customer leaves your site – don’t over-promise and under-deliver. Check regularly that you are meeting your customer promise and that your after sales service and communications keep your customers connected with your brand.


5. Setting and Forgetting

The internet is a dynamic space – the competitive environment changes by the second, so you can never consider your digital marketing activity “done”. It’s more like “done for now”.

Common problems are failure to :

  • Refresh your keyword research
  • Periodically check your metadata
  • Update and add metadata to your images
  • Add new, relevant content to your site through new products or blogs
  • Optimise your adverts
  • Earn backlinks
  • Build listings in local directories
  • Claim and maintain Google Business Profile

Get found online

With 87% of customers beginning their product searches online, being visible on Google is a critical success factor for your website.

The 3 major strategies to help you get found by people who don’t know you are SEO (search engine optimisation), Content Marketing (Blogs and Social Media) and PPC (paid search).

Google favours high quality, relevant and well researched content, so for all of these activities, don’t just bang new content out there – always consider how what you produce is relevant to your website and offer. Quality over Quantity.

Also, unmanaged Paid Search can be costly. Set up your target audience as specifically as you can, run A/B tests to see which copy or format works best and be strict about your budgets. We would always advise using an agency to get you started with PPC.

You may feel confident implementing these strategies yourself, or you may need support to get the best return on your activity – your local Digital Marketing Agency will be happy to chat with you about which options would work for the lifecycle stage your business is at.


6. Missing Social Signals

We find Social Media to be a Marmite subject – people love it or consider that it’s a necessary evil for their business. However you feel about it, Google does notice your Business Social Media activity, and takes it into account in your relevancy score, so Social matters.

Social Signals cover engagements with your posts, clicks to your site or social shop from social platforms, and reviews on platforms such as Google Business Profile, Feefo or Trustpilot.

We find many people use Social Media somewhat aimlessly – posting whatever comes into your head randomly will (unsurprisingly) not give you the best results. The Social Media platforms do provide reporting (insights) so you can see the types of post that perform well and the time of day that works best for your content on each platform.

Manage your Digital Reputation

Not all Social Media platforms are created equally – they attract different audiences, and tend to be top of mind for different types of content. Do your research and focus on the platforms where your customers hang out.

Decide what you want to achieve from your Social Media – for example, do you want to sell via Social Media? do you want to rapidly increase your audience? or are you using Social Media to send Google signals that your customers are engaging with your business and content to improve your rankings? The tactics you use will be different, depending on what you want to achieve.

Posts that educate, entertain and inspire your audience do the best, so plan your content and curate your audience by encouraging feedback and responding carefully to people’s comments.


7. Impatience

Digital Marketing targets people, and it takes time to reach people and get them to notice you. Even once they know who you are, it will take longer for them to decide whether they will engage with you.

So, Digital Marketing takes time.

Also, as the internet is a dynamic environment, even the best results will have some fluctuations along the way – knee jerking to short term fluctuations will negatively impact the long term result trends of your activity.

Think Digital, Stay Human

 Circling back to point 1 in this article, know what you want to achieve, check that your expectations are realistic, and set out which KPIs you are tracking to monitor how you are doing along the way.

  • Make sure you are set up correctly for Google Analytics and your Social Media insights and check your key data points consistently
  • A/B test at the beginning to ensure your campaigns get off to the best start
  • Implement your chosen Digital Marketing activities consistently
  • Monitor and adjust your campaigns based on what you observe, but stay within your strategy for longer term results



Our 7 deadly sins of digital marketing are

  1. No Strategy
  2. Being all things to all people
  3. Uninspiring website design
  4. User experience that’s about you, not them
  5. Setting and forgetting
  6. Missing social signals
  7. Impatience

There are few “quick fixes” in Digital Marketing, but with some careful planning, progress tracking and responding to what you observe, you can get your website traffic and sales going in the right direction.






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