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9 reasons your digital marketing is failing

Digital Marketing + SEO + SEM + Social Media + Content and copywriting
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Digital marketing involves considerable investment in effort, money and time, so it can be quite disappointing when you are not seeing results from your activity.

It can be challenging to figure out what is going wrong, or to realise that your strategy is not working.

Having worked in marketing for over 25 years now, with 13 of those in the digital space, I have had my share of trial and error. With that, I have compiled what I see as the most common signs that flag your digital marketing strategy needs a change, or a complete overhaul, and what you can do to make it happen.

1. Return on investment and cost per acquisition are not great.

It is always exciting to get clicks to your website and likes on your Facebook page, but are your marketing efforts actually achieving the best possible ROI (return on investment)?

The objective of this metric is to understand how you can acquire new customers at minimal cost. The first thing you need to figure out is how much it costs to acquire this new customer (cost-per-acquisition).

If you are not certain that you are maximising your ROI, or the cost per acquisition is too extravagant, maybe it’s time to reexamine your marketing efforts.

Additionally, if you are not measuring ROI at all, then there needs to be serious consideration to the data you are collecting and setting checks up to make sure that you’re across this business critical number.

2. Traffic  

If you are seeing little to no traffic then your digital marketing strategy is just not working.

Although ultimately your digital marketing should result in quality traffic, when you are achieving no traffic (or very little traffic), it should be an immediate red flag that something needs to change.

3. Conversions

Ok, so you might be getting traffic, maybe even lots of traffic, but you are not getting any conversions. By that I mean phone calls, online leads or sales. This could indicate several things:

  • The traffic you are sourcing is not the right audience.

  • Your website is not engaging, difficult to use, or does not provide any insight to your expertise, authority and lacks strong trust factors.

  • You lack strong CTAs (call to actions), have them positioned incorrectly or users are finding the site too slow or difficult to get in contact with your business.

Conversion tracking might not even be set up. 

Here is a podcast that might help you understand more clearly the importance of conversion tracking and how to set it up.

4. You are throwing together campaigns at the last minute

If you are operating in an environment where marketing is a reactive activity and you are putting campaigns together with a last minute approach, you are probably not letting your marketing perform at its best.

The most effective campaigns and promotions I have been involved with over the years have all had time considerations put in place. Planning your approach to the creative, the marketing approach, the message and the content strategy is critical before the execution.

This is a process that involves analyzing existing data, segmenting the audience, keyword researching, setting targets and A/B testing.

With a clearly designed marketing plan for your campaign rollout you will have a far more effective result.

5. Social media not working

Social media isn't something you can do once and hope that it will yield the results you're after - to be successful on social media, it requires time and effort.

One of the most common mistakes I have seen is posting content for the sake of posting content and not planning or taking the time to understand the value your business can provide your audience.

With the variety of platforms available and different analytics tools you can start to paint a picture and honing in on what your audience likes to engage with will become clearer. If your engagement is low it’s time to change your social media strategy.

With people spending an average of 30% of their online time on social media, a social media strategy revamp is worth consideration if it is lagging.

6. You are not measuring the data, or are not sure what to measure.

In order to understand the success and challenges of your marketing campaigns you need to have the ability to analyse the data. Not only that, but understanding and using the correct data to measure up against your businesses marketing goals.

Choosing KPIs that help you understand the effectiveness of your marketing activity is key to your campaign’s growth and improvement. Also note that chasing one KPI is not ideal either. For example, if your chosen KPI is traffic growth, you might be patting yourself on the back for the increased month on month growth of your website traffic. However, if this does not transpire to an improvement in conversions, rate of conversions or cost per acquisition then I’d question that KPI. Knowing what truly makes a campaign successful is important when choosing your future metrics to follow.

The understanding of the secondary metric that affects your KPIs is also important. If conversion numbers are a measure, think about the numbers you need to review with the conversions to identify where improvements can be made. Is it bounce rate? Is it time on site? Take a look at these factors to better fuel your decision making process around your digital marketing strategy.

7. You are focused on one channel.

One of the constants of marketing that has not changed between the traditional world and the digital marketplace is that diversity of activity has more impact than choosing one single channel.

If you think about it, your audience is not operating solely on one channel and it is important to be creating presence and awareness across multiple platforms. A disjointed marketing strategy can also come across as an inconsistent brand image which also won't work in your favour.

If you want to maximise your chances of reaching as many potential customers as possible, diversifying your channel choices within your strategy is the most effective way to ensure you're doing this.

Additionally, if your service or product attracts a wider array of demographics, one channel simply won't reach them all.

8 . Your website is not in the rankings

Being present in search engines is vitally important for marketing your business online. Though only 7% of our online activity is spent on search engines, the main reason you need to be present is that when users are searching, they are searching with intent. Whether they are at a research phase or a consideration point, they are searching for information. 

The ability to be present when people are actively searching for your product or service far outweighs any other advertising activity. Statistically, 90% of the clients we manage reveal that organic traffic provides the highest conversions and the greatest engagement because people are actively searching for this information.

Organic rankings are not easy to achieve and they can take time as there are multiple factors involved with improving your search ranking position for keywords relevant to your business.

I usually advise a strong SEO plan as part of your overall digital marketing strategy as this is in effect free quality traffic that no other platform or channel can provide.

9. Paid advertising campaign not generating any leads.

If you have ever run or trialled a Google Ads campaign you can totally understand what I mean when I say that you can burn through your budget very quickly with little result.

There are several reasons you could see no results from your paid advertising:

  • Cost-per-click is too high

  • You aren't monitoring your account enough

  • Keywords aren't refined or targeted

  • Targeting for audiences, whether that be location, demographics etc., is misaligned

  • Searchers aren't converting (potentially tied in to off targeting or poor landing page/user experiences on the website)

  • Ad copy is not competitive enough

  • You aren't monitoring your account enough

  • Keywords aren't refined or targeted.

Successful paid advertising requires continual effort and monitoring to ensure you're not wasting your money. Here is another article on ways to manage your Google Ads to achieve better results for lower cost.

Overall, there are many signs that your digital marketing efforts are not operating to their full potential. Hopefully this guide will help you start your investigation and nut out your strategy to see where it is experiencing challenges and allow insight into how to overhaul of your campaign.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Seeing little-to-no traffic on your website is a red flag your marketing efforts are not working / non-effective in bringing traffic to your website or social channels.

  2. Leaving your campaigns to the last minute and not having a plan in place can leave them falling flat. In order to be competitive, organisation is key.

  3. Not putting time and effort into your social media strategy will let you down.

  4. Digital marketing takes time and effort to get results

  5. Your cost-per-acquisition (CPA) should be as low as possible. If it's a lot higher than what you're making from gaining this customer, your return on investment is not being maximised.

  6. Receiving only few conversions can indicate your website isn't optimised effectively for converting sales or you're attracting audiences who aren't your target market.

  7. Not having KPIs in place can leave you unsure how to measure your results

  8. Lacking a search engine presence can be detrimental to your digital marketing results.

Photo by Kind and Curious on Unsplash

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