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7 Reasons Why Digital Marketing Fails

Kim Brebach - Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Why digital marketing depends on marketing 101

It’s not enough to be there and wave your flag

Experts in digital marketing are growing on trees these days; they talk the talk and most sound plausible. They claim their techniques will produce results, so how come we see more failures than results? When you look at the reasons, you might be surprised that most of them come back to Marketing 101.

1. False expectations

Marketers who earned their stripes in the PUSH era may not yet grasp why spending more money on PULL marketing doesn’t instantly generate customers. The answer is: it takes time, hard work, fine-tuning and patience. Most of all, everyone on your team needs to understand that digital marketing is a key tool but it's not the whole marketing kit.

2. Identity fog

Any successful marketing pitch starts with who you are and why others should listen. You’d be surprised how many companies don’t have a concise elevator pitch that every employee knows by heart. Can you answer these 3 questions without hesitation:

  • What makes you special?
  • What’s your value proposition?
  • Why should people seek you out and not a competitor?

3. Audience fog

Working out your audience is easier once you know who you are. In other words: ‘if this is what we do and this is our sweet spot, our target markets are...’ Once you’re clear on your target market, then you need connect with it. The great thing about digital marketing is that, if your customers are fans, they can bring you more like them by saying how terrific you are, on social media.

4. False expectations 2

If you build it, will they come? No, not unless you get their attention and keep it. You need to find your prospects and give them reasons to keep coming back to your website and bringing their friends. You need an ongoing program to do that, and you should use your other online resources, and those of your partners and affiliates.

5. Same old, same old

Some companies, especially big ones, assume that it’s enough to put a stake in the ground and run their flag up. ‘So what?’ is the question to ask here. You have to offer something that is clearly more interesting and appealing than what's offered by the rest of the vendors in this street. That turns on your ability to articulate what makes you special.

6. Choosing the wrong people

In every organisation, there are people who simply don’t get digital marketing or social media. Your CEO may be one of those, so don’t ask her for guidance. Ask your younger staff members. They'll give you ideas and even show you how to make them work.

7. Lack of Agility

Digital marketing relies on fast responses to market opportunities. You can’t develop a successful blog, for instance, if your management and legal teams have to approve every word. This isn't  just a problem in large organisations. CEOs of small ones can be paranoid about sticking their heads out too far if the have big competitors; they can become roadblocks too.

The bottom line

Digital marketing must be understood for what it can and can’t do, and how to make it deliver. While digital marketing has some new rules, most of the reasons it fails are more to do with marketing 101.


Kim Brebach
Content Chief

I've always loved people and words. As long as I can remember, I've been a story-teller and the team here says I'm pretty good at it. That's probably why I head up the Content Team: I create the arc of the story and others add their magic. 

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