The 6 Biggest Mistakes in Digital Marketing

September 23, 2021

Avoid them and save money

Companies could considerably push their sales if they avoided some typical mistakes in digital marketing, says marketing expert Siegfried Stepke. At the WU Executive Academy, he shares his in-depth knowledge of the world of digital marketing.

symbolic pic for digital social media marketing
In the world of digital marketing, there are many things that should be considered, and mistakes that should be avoided.

In today’s digitalized era, companies can no longer do without digital marketing. On top of that, the coronavirus pandemic has further accelerated the pace of digitization. And still, companies of all sizes err in their marketing decisions, wasting sizeable investments without achieving the desired results. Sometimes the target group is not addressed in an appropriate way. In other instances, social media and digital touchpoints are not effectively used.

“We aim to equip executives and marketing managers with state-of-the-art expertise in the field of marketing and sales so that they can advance their organizations’ business in a future-proof and target-group-oriented way. The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the digitization trend, and the demand for digital sales channels is constantly growing. It’s for this reason that sound and practice-oriented know-how in digital marketing constitutes a key supporting pillar in the curriculum of our Executive MBA Strategic Marketing & Sales,” says Barbara Stöttinger, Dean of the WU Executive Academy, who is also the Academic Director of the mentioned MBA program. Siegfried Stepke and his team give lectures in the framework of this program. Stepke is a seasoned marketing expert and the founder and managing director of e-dialog, a leading provider of digital analytics and programmatic marketing services. Numerous corporations and global players have relied on his support as they ushered in the digital age in their organizations.

He has shared with us the costly mistakes companies keep making in their online marketing campaigns:

1. Designing a Campaign Without the Target Group in Mind

It’s more common than you would think: companies kick off their marketing campaigns before they have tested it in their target group. “Slogans must cater to the tastes of your target group. Confirming in advance that they really do is essential if you don’t want an expensive campaign to go to waste,” Siegried Stepke says.

Portrait Siegfried Stepke

Siegfried Stepke

  • Marketing expert and lecturer at WU Executive Academy

For campaigns that are run for an extended period of time, you also have to build in some variety. Otherwise, effects can wear off after merely months or even weeks.

2. One Size Doesn’t Fit All: Applying a Generic Approach to Social Media

The potential of social media marketing is huge: it provides direct access to a specific target group, at very moderate costs to boot. An ineffective social media campaign, on the other hand, can come with a hefty price tag. Enterprises can employ social media targeting to more thoroughly categorize their target group and address the various subgroups in a tailor-made way. “Far too few companies are utilizing the enormous potential of automated target group segmentation,” Siegfried Stepke criticizes. He stresses that it is essential to have a sound grasp of your target group and consciously choose the right social media channels and marketing messages.

symbolic pic of marketing target group
You should know your target group and address them specifically.

“Many companies seem to believe in sprinkling a catchall campaign all over the place and simply publish the same content on various channels. But if your post is the same on Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook, you are only wasting your money as the three platforms’ target groups are nothing alike. A successful campaign has content for young women in the city and different content for older men at home in the countryside,” Stepke emphasizes. His advice is to adapt content at least for every social media channel used within a campaign. It’s also important to check in advance whether or not the chosen channel will actually reach your target group: “You can’t just go with Instagram because it’s cool right now – unless it’s where your target group is at the moment or your organization is looking to adopt a fresher image,” he explains, recommending: “If you have a limited budget, cut down your campaign to the most important social media channels and offer outstanding content there.”

3. Not Knowing the Status Quo

In his role as agency head, Siegrid Stepke has, time and again, come across marketing department staff who knew surprisingly little about their campaigns’ status quo and digital marketing and sales channels. “That’s not least due to the fact that the respective data is not collected and customer behavior is not tracked,” the marketing expert explains. “In marketing and also as a manager, you need to know the performance indicators that will tell you something about user awareness and engagement. And you must also be able to interpret the data you get,” Stepke says. If you know where you are in your marketing activities, you will have an easier time identifying improvement potential and targets. And if a campaign is realized with the support of a marketing agency, knowing the status quo will save the hiring company a lot of time.

pic of a marketing agency group
Agencies can help keep track of marketing activities. Photo © CC0 Licence

4. Being Afraid of Mixing Channels

Outstanding digital marketing requires a targeted blend of the most suitable channels for your target group. A sound grasp of key figures is also necessary for this purpose. “It’s only when you know how much a customer in channel X or Y costs and which performance targets you are going for in these fields that you can come up with the right mix of channels for your marketing campaign,” Stepke explains. Marketing mix modelling is the solution, and companies are well advised to engage in it: “Too many companies are still spending their marketing budgets on traditional media when, in reality, digital touchpoints can generate a much greater number of customer contacts. They are generally underestimating the potential of digital marketing.”

5. Ignoring Digital Touchpoints

Marketing departments must also put some efforts into designing the user journey in order to be able to efficiently implement marketing measures, Siegfried Stepke explains, specifying: “Companies must, for instance, know how their customers get to their online shops – through a Google search on their smartphones or via social media channels on their laptops. Depending on your customers’ habits, a landing page, addressing customers in a retail store, publishing a list of outlets on the website, or using a call center to contact them might be good ideas. A crucial step is to track the user journey at all existing digital touchpoints to be able to optimize it in a second step.”

pic of a smartphone with social media apps
It is important to know from where customers come to your website and to pick them up accordingly. Photo © CC0 Licence

6. Lacking Data Expertise

“Due to digitization, marketing managers must be capable of handling data. This is easier said than done. What they need is data expertise, but many are still struggling in this respect,” Siegfried Stepke says. His tip is to ponder the following questions: “Which data is stored where in my company, and how do I best interpret and use this data for my marketing campaigns? Is there a CRM or marketing automation system? Are these systems linked to my website or not?” These questions concern first-party data, but you should also know the state of affairs with regard to sensitive third-party data: “In marketing, I need to know: Which tracking tools can I (legally) activate on my website? Which types of data use, data storage, and data transfer are legal and do not constitute compliance violations; which ones aren’t? On which other systems or platforms can I use this data – or not? Companies with staff who is up to speed on these topics are well-positioned to leave behind their competitors,” Siegfried Stepke concludes.

Stay on top of digital marketing at your organization. Find out more about the Executive MBA Strategic Marketing & Sales, the Bachelor Marketing & Sales or the Certificate Program Marketing & Sales.

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