The 7 Deadly Sins Of Digital Marketing In 2014

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Have we solved the most basic of questions for our digital marketing efforts?

I would argue that the vast majority of brands engaged in digital marketing have left the fundamentals behind them. These brands and are, at mass scale, following/chasing the bright and shiny objects of the day. The problem is that if you don’t have the fundamentals down, there will be little chance of experiencing any form of success if all you’re pursuing is what’s popular now. You can pick a brand (any brand) and benchmark them against these 7 deadly sins of digital marketing in 2014, and you will see where the real gaps truly lie.

Here are the 7 deadly sins of digital marketing in 2014.

  1. Website is not responsive. If your website is not responsive to the myriad of screens and platforms that consumers are now commonly using, how can any brand be mad at marketing initiatives that don’t convert? If the consumer needs to pinch, move, expand, or rotate your website, you are ensuring that they will have an brand experience filled with friction. Brands don’t like to hear this, so they are ignoring the fact that the destination for all of their marketing and impressions is failing at the point of conversion, simply because the website experience is unusable for most consumers.
  2. A lack of mobile. The statistics don’t lie. We live in the one screen worlds. Screens are everywhere, they are connected and they are highly mobile. The consumer does not care that a mobile experience may be a costly investment. They also don’t care that you have an eighteen month IT roadmap that doesn’t allow you do to much. They’re simply having a bad experience. When brands talk about the true omni-channel, they fail to realize just how poorly they’re performing in a mobile world, where the vast majority of users are connecting through smartphones and tablets. A mobile site that simply is a lesser version of a website is not the right solution. We live in a world where consumers have a digital first posture, and it’s primarily taking place on mobile devices.
  3. Not being powerful in SEO and SEM. This isn’t the sexy stuff, but it is the fundamentals. Think about it this way: in one hour, how many people go to Google (or any other search engine) to look for you, your competitor or they’re searching for a brand to help them, and it’s your business that does provide this solution? These searches are leads. These are primed leads. These are people who are raising their hands and saying, "I’m either looking for you or for somebody who does what you do." So many brands are still focused on impressions and branding in the digital world, but they are not thinking enough about how their properties are optimized for both organic search and paid search.
  4. Not capturing emails. If you want to talk about regrets in digital marketing, this is – without a doubt – my biggest regret. For over a decade, I have blogged and created a weekly podcast. In all of those years (and even as I type this), I have never bothered to build a database, to collect emails and to better understand my community. So many companies collect email addresses and (basically) spam everyone the same way. If you’re not capturing emails, you really should be (do as I say, not as I do) and, if you’re not, start thinking about what it would take to make that happen. If you are emailing your customers, how personalized and customized is the experience?
  5. Display advertising leads to nothing. The advertising spend on display advertising is still a monster. Still many brands don’t drive the advertising to a specific landing page. Many brands don’t leverage the power of multivariate testing. Many brands don’t optimize, iterate and change course based on performance in real time. Ultimately, most brands see display advertising in the same construct as their TV advertising (plan it, set it, forget it… then hope it did something). Don’t be that brand.
  6. Not truly using and understanding analytics. There are people who are much smarter than me on the topic of web analytics (I’m looking at Avinash Kaushik right now). Most brands are not measuring or leveraging the right analytics. We look at vanity metrics like users, clicks and whatever else. We don’t use analytics to drive better insights and performance. This doesn’t mean that we should ditch our current metrics, but brands have a tremendous opportunity to think about a true digital sales funnel. The new opportunity is in understanding how to develop micro conversions, while using your analytics to better understand the landscape and conversion points. When you understand the true opportunity of analytics, the sun will start to shine on your brand.
  7. Thinking that social media is the same as direct response. It’s not. Social media is an amazing place to connect, inform, build community, deliver superior customer service, to speak to consumers in a human voice and much more. Sadly, the time I spend in most corporate boardrooms revolves around strategies to suddenly monetize the audience. There’s nothing wrong with thinking about how to get fans, followers and likes to convert into sales, but it’s should not be the primary/only directive. Social media is not about making something go viral (though, that’s an awesome outcome). Social media is an opportunity for every brand to connect, share and create in the curation and publishing of both original content and third-party relevant content to build consumers into a state of influencers. To create moments of engagement with a consumer. Social media should be about getting consumers to actually care about a brand. That should be job one.

There are others.

It’s true. There are many more "sins" that brands commit daily. The fact remains: if you don’t have the fundamentals down… if you’re chasing the latest shiny object, you may be doing more harm to the brand (and your own marketing department) than you realize. The fundamentals can easily be summed up as this: if someone thinks about your brand and connects to it, the brand is able to convert that impression into something more meaningful. Without nailing down these seven areas, a brand will always be left worrying about whether their advertising is effective, instead of knowing that they are doing everything they can to move that customer further along in a very strategic sales and marketing funnel.

Any other deadly sins of digital marketing that you can think of?