Inbound Marketing & Sales Development Inspiration

3 Reasons Why Digital Marketing Doesn't Work - What???

Posted March 3, 2015
6 minute read

This is not what you’d expect from someone who leads a digital marketing firm but it’s true, and the “truth will set you free”. Digital marketing doesn’t work, unless of course you avoid making the three biggest mistakes.

My firm has managed hundreds of digital marketing plans over the last 11+ years and we’ve identified three things that are the main causes of less than optimal results. This article explains those three mistakes.

Digital marketing is the future – if you do it right

A recent study revealed that 77% of firms will increase their digital marketing budgets this year, and another 22% said they are keeping their digital marketing budgets the same.

Question – “What best describes your plans for your digital marketing budget for 2015?”


With investments shifting quickly to the digital side, it is imperative these investments generate a good return. By not making the following three mistakes, you’ll have the best chance of turning your digital marketing investments into more leads and sales.

Mistake #1 – You throw spaghetti against the wall

If you haven’t invested time and energy to understand your buyers’ personas and value drivers, and you don’t know what is and isn’t important to them, how on earth can you create promotions and messaging that connect emotionally to what they are seeking? If you don’t know how your buyers behave throughout their buying funnel process, how can you choose the right tactics to reach them? Executing marketing campaigns without this information is like throwing spaghetti at the wall and hoping some of the noodles stick. It’s just wrong.

Avoid this first mistake by investing some energy to understand your buyers. Here are some things to discover that will establish personas and value drivers for your buyers…

  • What are the main problems your product/service solves for your target market?
  • What are the main pain points your buyers experience relative to your product/service?
  • When buyers are researching products/services like yours, how do they behave?
  • What are the main criteria your buyers apply when evaluating your products/services?

Solid answers to these questions will enable you to choose the right marketing tactics and craft messaging that relates directly to your buyers’ personas and value drivers.

Mistake #2 – You took the wrong turn

How often do high net-worth individuals go to Google and do a random search for financial advisors? Not often because the risks are too high to select a financial advisor from a group of people you’ve never met. In most cases, high net-worth individuals explore their personal networks to get a referral.

Say your firm is in the industrial construction business and most of your projects come from general contractors. It is rare these general contractors are on Facebook for business reasons. So why should they invest in a Facebook social media campaign? It just doesn’t make sense – you’ve simply took the wrong turn.

If you’ve invested energy to understand your buyer personas and their value drivers, avoiding mistake #1 above, then you know what marketing channels they use to find products/services that you sell. Once you understand this, pursue a digital marketing campaign that utilizes the channels on which your buyers spend time.

There are many digital marketing firms in the marketplace that operate by the famous quote, “if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” They specialize in a specific element of digital marketing, and because they sell a narrow breadth of solutions, those same few solutions are applied to every situation – whether it makes sense or not. Avoid these situations.

Mistake #3 – You’ve got blinders on

We learned many years ago that you cannot manage and optimize what you cannot measure. That’s why we pursued the elite designation as a Google Analytics Certified Partner company and became one of only about 70 in all of North America.

With Google Analytics, and other web analytics platforms, you can create customized segmentation and metrics to measure very precisely how your marketing efforts are working. Creating custom funnels to track your buyers’ behaviors will enable you to understand how each phase of your marketing program is performing. Creating custom segments around your various marketing channels will help you understand attribution and how each marketing tactic is performing.

You’ve got blinders on if you think managing marketing campaigns without detailed measurements is going to generate a good return. Once again, it’s like “throwing spaghetti against the wall” – you hope not all the noodles fall to the floor. Last I checked, hope isn’t always a good strategy.

If you are not investing in digital marketing these days, you are making a mistake. If you are investing valuable time, energy and money in digital marketing, do it right by avoiding the three biggest mistakes; 1) you don’t understand your customer, 2) you choose to invest in the wrong channel and 3) you fail to properly measure what you are doing. Avoid these mistakes and you’ll get good results from your marketing activities.


Topics Internet Marketing, Inbound Marketing, Digital Marketing

Agree, disagree, or just have something to add?

Leave a comment below.