5 Digital Marketing Mistakes Businesses Make | Fora Financial Blog
The Biggest Mistakes Businesses Make When It Comes to Digital Marketing
November 08, 2018

The Biggest Mistakes Businesses Make When It Comes to Digital Marketing

Entrepreneurs know their business unlike anyone else. Most could talk your ear off about anything from their most audacious goal down to their favorite accounting software platform. They know what their customers want, and how to deliver it. But for some reason, the idea of marketing their company makes many small business owners seize in terror.

Why is it so challenging for most owners to get their small business marketing strategy right? A few reasons. Most say they don’t have enough time to devote to marketing, with seemingly more important work to do on a daily basis. Others may struggle to get the most out of their efforts due to poor financial planning, as they spend more than they have to and reach fewer people that they ought to.

Regardless of the reason, most small businesses can avoid making massive marketing mistakes with a bit of planning, forethought, and strategy. Here are some of the biggest marketing pitfalls for businesses, and how to avoid them happening to your company.

Not Using Analytics to Make Decisions

Every digital marketing campaign is an opportunity to better understand your audience, deliver more engaging advertisements, and serve up the best possible ads at the lowest possible price. If you dive into your analytics, that is. Still, the fact is that few entrepreneurs ever pay close attention to the data about their ads, even though it provides a wealth of information to make their marketing better and less expensive.

Analytics platforms may seem intimidating at first, especially if you’re not sure what to look for. Even the most cursory glance at your analytics can deliver a wealth of information, however. Familiarize yourself with the basics of analytics: look at impressions (the number of times someone saw your ad) and cost per action (how much money is spent to get someone to take the desired action behind your ad). These metrics will tell you how well your ads resonate with your audience, and how much your campaigns cost to run relative to the number of people who ultimately interacted with it. Use these tools to refine your targeting, advertising collateral, and budgeting.

Not Targeting Audiences Correctly

Poor audience selection is another common digital marketing mistake, even if it’s entirely avoidable in most cases. Your audience makes or breaks the success of your marketing campaign; you want to cast a wide enough net to capture an engaged audience that’s likely to engage with your advertising. Target too broad an audience, and you risk wasting money by serving ads to people who may not be interested in your brand. Target too small an audience, and you could end up paying more than you should to advertise to fewer people than you ought to.

Finding the right audience size is tricky, but practice makes perfect. The best place to start is with a hunch: If you had to describe your average customer in a sentence, what would you say? Think of your bread-and-butter client — their age, gender, location, interests, and behaviors. For example, if you ran a bike shop, you’d target athletic people within your neighborhood who have an affinity for exercise. You can choose these kinds of characteristics when building audiences, and branch out from there as applicable.

Not Spending Intelligently

Audience targeting and analytics can save entrepreneurs significant amounts of cash on their digital marketing efforts. Unfortunately, most small business owners end up throwing money at their advertising problems, rather than going under the hood to tinker with the mechanics of how their campaigns work. After all, the common conception behind any form of advertising is that it’s an expensive, tedious, and often underwhelming practice. Many small business owners relentingly throw good money after bad, assuming that doing so is their only viable option.

This couldn’t be further from the case, however. Great campaigns don’t require tons of cash, as long as they maximize the funding that they do have. Don’t fund campaigns that have a high CPA or low engagement rates — kill them. Replace these campaigns with other assets or tactics, or put your money toward a better performing platform altogether. For example, if you notice your Facebook ad has twice the number of CPAs than your Twitter campaign, don’t be afraid to pull out of Twitter entirely, and use your remaining budget to fund more successful efforts.

Not Diversifying Their Tactics

Businesses are often afraid to take risks with their digital marketing strategies. For some, that might mean not posting enough on social, or shying away from content marketing and blogging. Others might be afraid to branch out into new formats, such as video content or paid social media posts, since they don’t know whether they’d be successful.

Marketing is all about keeping things fresh. Even large brands can’t afford to hammer home the same message repeatedly. Don’t be afraid to try new ideas: the worst thing that could happen is you learn that a certain tactic or idea doesn’t work with your customers. That’s a small price to pay for every great new revenue-generating concept you’ll stumble upon along the way. Never be afraid to try out a new tactic — be it a foray into paid digital advertising or publishing your first blog post.

Not Leaving it to the Pros

One of the only things more frightening than building a marketing strategy is, perhaps, paying someone else to do it for you. Marketing and advertising agencies conjure up visions of Mad Men-style hucksters, impossibly slick talkers, and an army of junior client associates billing you for hours of PowerPoint deck creation. As an entrepreneur, this is probably the last place you’d want to see your money end up.

Small business owners can be forgiven for these assumptions. Too few people know that there’s an abundance of small marketing and ad agencies that specialize in small business and startups. They may not have an office on Madison Avenue, but they still know all the same tips and tricks as the bigger players. These firms are more flexible on pricing, offer more hands-on help, and take more time to understand exactly what your business needs.

If you think about the money wasted on underperforming campaigns, and the income you stand to gain by focusing on other efforts, you may find that a marketing shop offers you a worthy investment in return for their services.


There are plenty of other marketing pitfalls out there — some that affect individual brands, and others that impact a broader number of businesses. Regardless, avoiding these key mistakes will help you start your marketing efforts on solid ground. With the right mindset, you can avoid these errors, and even approach your marketing strategies with the right attitude before you find yourself in the weeds.

Fora Financial

Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Post by:
Meredith Wood is the Editor-in-Chief at Fundera, an online marketplace for small business loans that matches business owners with the best funding providers for their business. Specializing in financial advice for small business owners, Meredith is a current and past contributor to Yahoo!, Amex OPEN Forum, Fox Business, SCORE, AllBusiness and more.