Six Digital Marketing Mistakes and How to Fix Them

1. Having a Set-and-Forget Mentality

  • This goes to “wrong success metrics” — Hold your spend accountable for win-rate and/or conversions. This seems super obvious but time and again I’ve seen people measure success of paid campaigns in ways that incentivize wasteful spending rather than revenue.
  • Constantly iterate and optimize. Also obvious, but agencies in particular often have a reverse incentive here.
  • Don’t be afraid to cut non-converting spend even if, say in a freemium model, that cuts signups or acquisition of non-paying users. It’s not users you want, it’s conversions.

2. Using the Wrong Success Metrics

  • “Awareness” is not a measure of success… in fact you really can’t measure it at all. Don’t spend money on things you can’t do dollar attribution for.
  • Tie all success metrics to revenue. For example, CAC is relative to deal size and yet too often marketing success is viewed in terms of driving CAC down. Not that you shouldn’t, but there is almost certainly a sweet spot where lowering CAC may bring in lower overall Lifetime Value. In other words, costs are always relative to revenue and to growth rate.
  • In B2B, velocity, win-rate and deal size are measures of both marketing and sales success and efficiency. I’ve worked in worlds where marketing & sales are a single unit and I tend to view them as a cohesive whole. Yet too often we compartmentalize to the point where the functions are antagonistic. Measuring marketing success with sales-oriented metrics can help align teams and incentives — at the end of the day you have the same goals.

3. Having a Poorly-Defined Narrative

4. Not Creating Complete Journeys

  • Segment: Clearly define your personas and the segmentation within those personas. Really try to understand their mentality and the process they go through.
  • Find the promised land: What do they want? It’s not just about pain points and problem solving. Find the aspirations.
  • Map the Buyer’s Journey: Understand their journey and create user flows on your website to match the idealized conception of that nurturing journey. It may be relatively short or you may (B2B) have to expend effort nurturing over some period of time. Invest in the tooling, skills and data infrastructure to do this properly and it will act as force-multiplier for your entire marketing budget. Understand where each segment is slowing down or falling off in that journey: Ask them, analyze session data, whatever you have to do to understand the paths that are meaningful and successful for them.

5. Not Appropriately Investing in Keywords

  • High value keywords are sometime high value for a reason. Going back to metrics, it’s useful to measure keyword value not on CPC but some formulation of cost-per-converting lead. That doesn’t mean your SEM strategy shouldn’t spread your bets over lots of less competitive (and therefore cheaper) keywords, but, once again, it’s about what converts.
  • Conversely, many companies spend a lot on top of funnel keywords that don’t pay off. If you are not constructing complete journeys that nurture these early-stage prospects, you are likely throwing a lot of money away.
  • There is a limit to how wide the funnel can be. At a certain point you are going to burn through your addressable market and the ROI on your ad spend is going to tank. It’s a trade off and depends on where you are at in awareness, but almost always you are far better off optimizing conversion for the funnel you have before trying to widen the funnel.
  • Track the whole journey. If you don’t know how ad spend relates to net new revenue you can’t assess the ROI of keywords or ad channels. I’ve seen companies blow millions on ad spend without having invested in even the most basic attribution. Don’t do that. You don’t necessarily need a complicated solution like Salesforce Marketing Cloud here — it can be as simple as setting up Google Analytics or dumping session data into a database and running SQL queries.

6. Not Reducing Friction

  • Reduce bounce rates: There are only so many potential customers in B2B/D. A bounce — someone that gives up on trying to learn about or use your product — is often lost forever, unnecessarily diminishing the potential size of your customer base. Finding ways to reduce bounce rates gives you second and third chances at engagement and nurturing.
  • Don’t gate non-motivated prospects. Companies seem to think that asking for contact information (e.g. to download a white paper) is a universal answer to more leads, but 90% of the time you have not sufficiently segmented your audience or personalized the experience to effectively gate and if you look at the data you’ll find your bounce rate is terrible. If you cannot reliably segment your audience, you are probably better off not gating at all.
  • Invest in design and UX. I cut my teeth on usability issues so this one always stands out to me. This runs the gamut from page loading speed to basic usability like form interaction to how much a prospect has to scroll to find answers to is your site & page structure logical and easy to follow. It’s very worth using heat-mapping or similar tools to understand how well your website is working for people and where the problems are. A good interaction designer is usually a solid investment.
  • Invest in content: Don’t ever give your prospects cause to question your authority or integrity. Investing in content that has good style and aligns with your positioning and messaging. I’ve harped on this before because it’s true: a product marketing perspective to tie all the bits and pieces of your narrative together, will save you tons of money in the end.



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Aeri Shan

Aeri Shan

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Story-teller. Data-wrangler. Product visionary. Empath. Non-binary human.