24 Harmful Digital Marketing Mistakes to Avoid in 2022
We collaborated directly with marketing experts to gather their insight on the most harmful digital marketing mistakes that businesses must avoid in 2022.
Searching for marketing tips and tricks will no doubt turn up hundreds—or even thousands—of pieces of advice that range from the obvious to the incredibly technical. Whether it’s pitching you a new piece of software to increase conversions or a framework for a complete digital marketing strategy, there is plenty of post-pandemic advice online. But what about the other side of the coin—the digital marketing mistakes that you want to avoid?
From common pitfalls to a “back to basics” approach to digital marketing, we gathered up advice from top experts in everything from social media to mobile development, CRM, digital design, content marketing, email marketing, search engine optimization, and many more areas. And what they had to share with us is an incredibly good starting point for avoiding some of the hazards, oversights, and common mistakes that apply not only to digital marketing but to traditional marketing, public relations, and beyond.
Six Tips to Keep the Focus on Your Target Audience
Many of our digital marketing pros mentioned some of the same mistakes, and several of those were in the category of focusing on process and not people. In other words, avoid creating your digital marketing strategy and campaigns with metrics in mind; the first and most important piece of any marketing puzzle is, of course, your target audience. And everything from case studies to anecdotal results reinforces how important it is to understand real-life audiences when preparing any and all marketing campaigns.
“The biggest mistake that some digital marketers make is to focus on (and optimize for) channels as opposed to users. By focusing too much on the channel or trying to optimize for those channels, it takes the attention away from the user and the value you are providing them … which will, in turn, become increasingly counterproductive.” —Michel Fortin, Director of Search at seoplus+
Another common refrain was the acknowledgment that all business owners and marketing professionals want to hurry and get our digital campaigns and social media marketing up and running as soon as possible because it feels like every minute that passes is a missed opportunity. But diving in headfirst before you have understood your audience means that your campaign is not only unlikely to succeed, but may be set up for failure right from the start.
“The number one mistake we often see is small businesses spending money on digital marketing initiatives before they have taken the time to understand and document their ideal client profile (ICP). If you invest in digital marketing initiatives without this kind of information, you will have lower conversion rates and higher advertising costs. But if you develop this understanding and inject it into your creative elements, you will have better conversion rates and lower advertising costs because you are targeting the right people with the right message.” —Clare Tries, CEO at Clash Copy Corp
When it comes to limited budgets and the broad reach of digital marketing, social media marketing, and more, maintaining that focus on your audience is the only way to maximize your potential and your campaign’s impact. Too often, even marketing agencies can lose focus and end up targeting too broad an audience. It’s a common mistake but also a big one to avoid.
“The marketing budget is a precious and valuable resource for any company. It’s not an efficient use of your money if you aren’t targeting the right people. And the best way to find the right people? Do research! Utilize this knowledge during planning stages so as not to make mistakes based on bad assumptions.” —Mathis Tate, Founder at Studio Green
This same advice—employing research and avoiding targeting the wrong audiences (or too big an audience)—is one of the big ways to keep your marketing budget from being wasted on the newest, shiniest options or irrelevant demographics.
“Small businesses should avoid the ‘peer pressure’ of shiny new platforms. Rather than following the crowd to every hip new platform that comes along, do some research and reflection about your target audience. You’ll likely find that your audience is still more reachable on mainstays like Facebook Groups or Nextdoor than on upstarts like Discord and Twitch.” —Cynthia Ord, Marketing Manager at YellowDog
The building of relationships extends beyond target audiences and prospective customers, and should also include doing a little research to learn about partners and supporters as well.
“Small business owners need to be more patient than ever in 2022. Avoid being distracted by going viral, and focus on building relationships not only with your audience but with your media and referral partners in the digital space as well.” —Xiao Faria daCunha, Founder of Westerlund Co
And as always, starting small is good, solid advice. Advice that’s easy to follow when you know about your audience and where you can reach them, regardless of whether you’re aiming for new customers or focused on repeat business and customer retention. While podcasts are hot everywhere right now, knowing whether creating one or sponsoring one could be beneficial boils down to whether or not that’s where your audience is engaged.
“Don’t try to do everything. Ensure you’re using the same social networks as your audience. You don’t want to spend thousands of dollars on TikTok if you are targeting a more mature audience.” —Michelle Guglielmo Gilliam, President at Point Taken Communications
Eight Common Content Mistakes in Digital Marketing
By now you already know that content is king, and nowhere is that more true than when it comes to digital marketing. What you say and how you say it are still the foundations of good marketing, but you also need to be open to exploring new ways of creating content, new outlets for it, and new strategies that will better engage your target audiences.
“Small businesses need to stay ahead of the curve in order to maintain a successful digital marketing campaign. With video content becoming more and more popular, it’s important for small businesses to start using this type of content in their campaigns. Videos are a great way to engage with customers and show them what your business is all about.” —Chris Lawrence, Co-founder of Iron Rhino
“Engaging content is essential for building a connection with your audience and video is the perfect way to get their attention.” —Jenna Dunn, Owner of Magenta Collective
The type of content is critical, and video is obviously a huge (and growing) key for small business marketing success. But producing videos that don’t resonate or don’t get watched is not only a waste of resources but a lost opportunity. The quality of the content is critical to maximizing your results and impact. And that extends to all areas of content that become a part of your digital marketing strategy.
“Creating a content strategy that includes quality content for your website is one of the best ways to ensure a steady flow of leads. Very few businesses pay attention to the content that they produce, which means that it is easy for the businesses that DO provide consistent quality content to dominate the market.” —Anastasiya Goers, Agency Owner at S&V Web Design and Marketing
Strategy and quality content go hand in hand, and once you know how to generate that quality content, then quantity becomes an important consideration. To keep your customers coming back, you need to continue developing quality content that informs, excites, and engages.
“Small businesses should avoid making the mistake of not creating enough quality content. By producing high-quality content, businesses can connect with their target audience on a deeper level and help to differentiate themselves from their competitors.” —Mark Voorhees, Project Manager at Fusion Marketing
“Avoid becoming inactive or not sticking to your schedule for posting new content. Staying active is the most essential part of having a successful digital marketing strategy.” —Nick Leffler Owner of Loclweb
And in order to support that content creation, you need not only a good process, but a way to maintain consistency while drawing on all of the areas of your business.
“Whether sales, marketing, customer service or operations creates the content-—it can be useful for another department to reuse and recycle, as well as keeping consistent messaging across the entire customer experience.” —Ashley Quintana, CEO of Bridges: Revenue Growth Agency
Creating great video content is not nearly as daunting a task as it used to be, and our experts caution against the pursuit of perfection. Nowadays, engaging videos come in all forms, and there are more outlets and tools than ever.
“With the rise of Tik Tok and Reels, making videos to promote your business has never been easier. While professional video production can be very expensive, not all videos need to be professionally done. The best way to avoid missing out is learning the basics of these platforms, and finding a way to get engaging video content in front of your audience.” —Charles Joseph Robinson, President of CRP Marketing
Content is a top priority because that is what’s important to your audience. And because of that direct connection, content is also what’s important to Google. This means there are big implications (and big potential impacts) that come with quality content.
“Content is one of Google’s most important ranking factors. By using a trusted team of digital marketing experts, you can produce quality content that impacts your target audience and delivers the results your business needs.” —Nicole Denson, Marketing Manager at Big Leap
Hear From Industry Experts
Read the latest tips, research, best practices, and insights from our community of expert B2B service providers.
10 Website Mistakes to Avoid in 2022
Great content isn’t just for social media platforms. Whether one of your goals is web traffic, or you are considering creating campaign-specific landing pages, your business website has to compete with some pretty big players like Amazon or Microsoft. And our experts agree —your home base website is a key place to adapt, adjust, and perfect your digital marketing approach.
“Your website serves as a 24/7 representative for your business. When a small business disregards the value of having a user-friendly, well-designed website, it risks alienating online consumers and falling behind the competition.” —Joe Fredrick, Owner of Fredrick Media LLC
The most important part of any business website? Making sure it works!
“As the web is more and more competitive, the bar for website performance and security keeps rising. Failure to address website console errors and performance problems will result in lost rankings and lost visibility.” —Jacqueline Sinex, Managing Director at WEBii
“In 2021, Google released a new set of UX metrics known as ‘Core Web Vitals,’ which look at loading speeds and ease of use. Too often small businesses flip the switch and start paying for SEO, PPC, and other digital marketing efforts without first addressing these challenges, and that can lead to poorly performing marketing campaigns.” —Robert Rand, Director of Partnerships & Alliances at JetRails
One common mistake to avoid is jumping into a full rebuild or redesign of your website without first looking at how your current site is performing.
“The reason so many website relaunches fail is that effective SEO elements are often removed, including top-performing content. Jumping into a website redesign without first performing an SEO audit to gain a clear understanding of what is working and isn’t working can lead to unnecessary changes that have major impacts to your SEO.” —Tarun Gehani, SEO Director at Pure Visibility
SEO is critically important, but quality content isn’t the only factor that comes into play.
“A lot of small businesses make the mistake of thinking that if they create great content, consumers will flock to their website. The truth is, this isn’t how search engine algorithms work … at least not anymore.” —Zara Raza, Head of Marketing at Sunvera Software
SEO is just one area of functionality and performance concerns, though. Another common mistake when it comes to websites and other marketing outlets is ignoring mobile performance.
“More and more people are using tablets and smartphones to access the web. If your website isn’t functional for them, you’ll miss out on those potential customers. Check your marketing emails and newsletters on mobile devices, too; if an email is missing photos or looks poorly formatted on mobile, you won’t have as much success with your email marketing strategy.” —Nim Joshi, CEO of DesignsTouch
The website isn’t the only place your business’ information lives, though, and may not be the first place people get to encounter your company or what you offer.
“Google is how small and mid-size businesses are found online these days. Neglecting your Google My Business profile, followed by your website, is equivalent to your business not having a phone number or being in the Yellow pages in the 1990s.” —Alex Melen, Co-Founder of SmartSites
Some businesses also make the mistake of not creating new landing pages or specialized pages for different campaigns. But directing all traffic to your front page or blog can’t get people to the content that they want, and it won’t allow you to measure effectiveness or ROI.
“All too often, we see small businesses run expensive paid ads to their homepage instead of an optimized landing page. But more often than not, homepages don’t have the necessary content to quickly sell the visitor on the product or service.” —David Wurst, Founder of WebCitz, LLC
And from your website to anywhere and everywhere your digital marketing efforts reach, you have to be able to measure.
“Never spend on marketing without being able to track results! Whether it’s creating custom Google Analytics campaign links, separating landing pages on your website for an in-person campaign, or even more powerful tracking tools with your CRM, you need to be able to measure your ROI somehow.” —Curtis Bickler, Director at Expert Media Design
Speaking of spending, our experts advise staying away from “do-follow” paid links on low-quality blogs, advising you to put those dollars to better use elsewhere.
“The reason that websites should avoid buying do-follow paid links from spammy blog sites is that it’s only a matter of time before Google sniffs out these websites or they get reported, and you’ll either get no credit or lose all of the link juice that you’ve obtained from them.” —David Juilfs, Managing Member at Gorilla Webtactics
Expert Advice to Avoid Getting Tripped Up Online
With the depth and breadth of experience that our digital marketing experts have to offer, we couldn’t cover all of it here. But these were some of the biggest and most common pitfalls that they wanted to make sure everyone avoids, as well as tips and advice that can really pay big dividends for any small business’ digital marketing efforts. To dive in deeper, be sure to check out our full list of recommended marketing and communications professionals who can help you not only dodge common pitfalls but set your campaign up for bigger and better success.
About the author
Jason is focused on the voice and strategy of UpCity’s written messaging. A former newspaper reporter and editor—and winner of an Illinois Press Association award for sports column writing—Jason has extensive communications experience in a wide variety of interests and industries. He has spearheaded content initiatives in the agency world as well as at major companies such as State Farm and DocuSign. Jason believes in the 3 Cs of written messaging: Be clear. Be concise. Be consistent.