by Stan Smith

We’ve talked a great deal about the central role that a smart digital marketing strategy plays in building a successful marketing strategy. We’ve explored the roles digital marketing and social media participate in the sales process.

Now it’s time for a reality check.

Just 3 years ago, digital marketers just needed to create a strategy around email, pay-per-click, and SEO.  Today, the marketing options and tools available to you have expanded exponentially, and with them, the chances of making a misstep.

Here are 7 of the most critical mistakes that you should avoid in your digital marketing strategy:


(1) Ambiguous and/or Wrong Objectives

Clearly understanding where you’re going guarantees that you’ll get there.  Objectives serve as the compass for insuring that a strategy’s tactics are pointed in the right direction.

According to a recent study conducted by SiriusDecisions, 43% of C-Level decision-makers cite “Money Saved” as their key ROI calculation, with competitive impact and time saved acting as important secondary indicators. Digital marketing strategists can lower resistance and gain support for their plans by clearly aligning their digital strategy with these factors.

(2) Vague Performance Metrics

Managing a digital marketing strategy without agreed-upon performance metrics is like piloting a plane in the fog without instruments.  While numbers aren’t as sexy as flashy ad creative, they are still the foundation of smart digital strategy.

We encourage our clients to agree upon a core set of metrics that will be used to evaluate their digital marketing strategy.  These metrics can be quantitative or qualitative.  The important part is that they signal if the strategy is winning or failing.

(3) Failing to Get Broad Stakeholder Buy-In

Our client, Travel Michigan, has been recognized as having the leading social media and digital marketing program in the state tourism industry.  While their exceptional web and social media activities deserve credit, their real secret is the team’s ability to get buy-in from multiple stakeholders.  Once a month, every person with marketing responsibilities gathers to discuss and confirm their buy-in on the marketing and digital strategy.

Failure to achieve buy-in results in fragmented strategy that is boxed into silos.  Worse, instead of working together, stakeholders are incentivized to compete for resources and hoard important information.

While a small team can write the digital strategy, executive management should be ready to “walk it around” the organization to drive consensus and cooperation.

(4) Anemic Tactics

In many ways, creating a digital marketing strategy is the easy part.  Strategy lives at a high-level and doesn’t take into account the day-to-day details required for it’s execution.

The hard part starts when the strategy has to be translated into cost-effective tactics that deliver results.  Unfortunately, this is where most digital marketing strategies falter, or worse, the strategy is confused with tactics.

At Fluency, we focus on the transition between strategy and tactics and offer best practices for making sure that the “lieutenants” are crystal clear about the direction the “Generals” are heading.  We recommend that the strategy creator is accountable for the development of tactics to make sure that nothing gets lost in the transition.

(5) “Shiny” Tool Addiction

Nothing cripples a digital marketing strategy quicker than giving digital tools a central role in delivering leads, sales, or savings.  Just like a hammer isn’t responsible for the house, Facebook isn’t responsible for building a digital strategy.

The best digital strategies focus on tools at the tactical phase.  The tools conversation can safely start only after objectives, audience, competition, and value propositions have been scrutinized in detail.  We believe that tools are “force-multipliers,” meaning that they accelerate current results.  Facebook will not save a bad product, it will only spread negative sentiment faster.  Be careful and get the strategy right first.

(6) Testing Phobia

Usually testing is the last task baked into a digital marketing strategy and often it is optional.  Unfortunately, this is the quickest way to build a strategy guaranteed to deliver mediocre results.

Successful digital marketing strategies evolve.  However, they do not evolve erratically. Instead they pivot and transform themselves based on methodical testing.  Business model experts, incubators, and VCs are increasingly mandating that their startups experiment with every part of the model.  Nothing is considered optimized until it has been tested.

Winning digital marketing strategies embed testing in every tactical program.  Testing results are rolled-up into dashboards that are distributed to all stakeholders.  This process works because it is built on accountability and an objective review of results.

(7) Resource Starving

Talented people power business-building digital marketing strategies.  Your strategy will only be as successful as the dedicated team member who puts it into action.

This is where some smart companies make dumb mistakes.  One popular myth is that critical digital tactics such as social media can be executed by an (overworked) intern.

These interns are put on probation and promised a permanent position if they demonstrate their social media chops.  At best, the business gets mediocre results, at worst, the organization makes a critical misstep when their intern misrepresents the brand.

Although the cost-savings of using interns is seductive, you run the risk of starving your program of important expertise before you even start.

The old adage still rings true in digital marketing strategy – “you get what you pay for.”

Your Turn

Tell me, are you flirting with any of these seven deadly mistakes?  How have you avoided getting snared by them in your digital strategy?



Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Copyright © 2024 All rights reserved

Log in with your credentials

Forgot your details?