Digital advertising remains very much a blend of art and science utilizing the flywheel effect of technology.

Within the art comes a lot of human decision-making fueled by data, intuition, or speculation.

Quality of data, degree of intuition and amount of speculation can determine a digital marketing campaign’s success.

But let’s face it, there are some bad habits that exist despite our best formulas for success.

This post will identify some of the most common bad habits and suggests methods to correct the behavior.

1) Advertising the product, not the solution

Perhaps the most common bad habit - particularly among campaigns designed to launch a new product – is for marketers to assume their audience knows what the product does.

Don’t assume consumers will all recognize your brand. Consider starting with a branding campaign to raise awareness.

Educate your audience on what the product does, how it helps solve a problem and why it’s relevant.

Only after this has been effectively communicated – in a digital campaign or otherwise – can we begin to address sales via digital marketing. People just won’t buy what they don’t understand.

2) Failing to scrub campaign data clean

The sheer amount of spam, bots, scams, and clicks from the Netherlands, China, and Russia may have you misled into thinking your campaigns have international success.

Before sharing this data with your client or brand manager, scrub your data clean and present a more accurate view of your campaign analytics.

While the numbers may fall to ego-deflating lows, trust that you are dealing with quality clicks and this is where you can do truly evaluate the relevance of your campaign.

3) Believing that conversion rates are universal

Digital marketers can make the bad habit of assuming that every campaign has a predictable and universal conversion rate.

The default answer that I often hear floated is 1% (not sure where this rumor got started or perhaps people are just tossing out the smallest reasonable number) but to be clear, there is no universally common conversion rate.

Conversion rate depends on many factors beyond the quality of your campaign, such as the viability of your product for ecommerce, product or brand reputation, consumer demand, pricing, competition, online reviews, brand awareness and trust.

4) Aggressive consumer data collection

Consumers are sensitive about their privacy more than ever. They are inundated with email and spam and there is a resistance to being added to another mailing list.

When utilizing a digital marketing campaign to seek mailing list signups, social media followers, or contest entry forms, be aware of how these frequent requests for private information may be hurting your brand or diminishing the trust you have with your customer.

5) Don’t allow your campaign goals to be a moving target

Running any digital campaign will require tremendous research, testing, and analysis before coming to a conclusion (and sometimes the conclusion is “more testing is needed”.)

It’s common to study your analytics report and search for the good news and grumble at the bad news. This is a bad habit and the wrong approach.

Data collection is an evolving process and the campaign is very fluid. Best practices are to identify a few key goals before the campaign launches and optimize the campaign toward those goals.

If a tactic doesn’t perform, this is a learning that helps shape the campaign. Simply shrugging your shoulders at the results is not acceptable. With proper goals, a well constructed digital campaign can and will meet your expectations.

Lori Goldberg

Published 10 September, 2015 by Lori Goldberg

Lori Goldberg is CEO at Silverlight Digital and a contributor to Econsultancy. 

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Comments (5)

Pete Austin

Pete Austin, Founder and Author at Fresh Relevance

Re: 1) Advertising the product, not the solution

We've been having a big internal debate on this issue, because of SEO. If you make a better mousetrap, surely you have to market it as a mousetrap, or else how will searchers find it?

If you market it as a pest control solution, won't you miss a good percentage of potential customers and also get irrelevant leads - reducing the efficiency of your marketing?

I remember back when I started an online forms company. When we advertized the main solution - that it allowed online voting in opinion polls - we got a large proportion of leads from people who wanted to vote online in political elections.

almost 3 years ago

George Cole

George Cole, Digital Marketing Manager at TN

I think point #1 is so easy to overlook that we all fall for that from time to time. I used to have a massive poster reminding us to write about "benefits not features" and to think about solving customers problems in our copy. A timely reminder - thanks!

almost 3 years ago


Sabih Ahmed, Digital Marketing Manager at Mobitrans

#1 is the most common problem with all the digital marketers around. I firmly believe that you should address the problem, and inline your product/service with a solution to it. A lot of agencies and marketers do it wrong. They tend to push their product on an aggressive not forgetting that this could go against them. So the ideal way is to understand the problem (its intensity) and then trigger the campaigns accordingly.


almost 3 years ago

Lori Goldberg

Lori Goldberg, CEO at Silverlight Digital

Thanks all for the great comments. In regards to #1 and promoting the solution not the product, I think of the famous quote attributed to Henry Ford (I don't think they ever proved he said this, but it's a favorite nonetheless). The quote goes, "If I had asked my customers what they wanted they would have said a faster horse." In my opinion, the customers here want to go faster (solution) but were unaware to ask for the product (Model T-Ford). Consumers today have a need and they articulate that need commonly into search engines. I find this especially true with pharmaceutical companies that we work with. Consumers search for a solution to an illness - not necessarily the pharma brand or product name. As Pete points out, there could certainly be exceptions here where the product type or product name should be equally supported.

almost 3 years ago


James Hipkin, COO, Managing Director at Red8 Interactive

Advertising does not equal SEO. Advertising is a tactic, a means to get qualified consumers to interact, ideally with a landing page on the website. Consumers who respond to advertising are likely to be deep in the purchase funnel, they are ready to buy, make it easy for them to do so. SEO is a different tactic. Your website SEO strategy needs to draw qualified consumers to your site to learn more about the offer. If your audience is searching for features, by all means write your web site copy to rank in these searches. These consumers are likely to be higher in the purchase funnel, they are more likely to want information. Once they are there, be sure to give it to them but emphasize benefits, show them that what you the offer will help them, and give them the opportunity to buy is they want.

And it's not just digital marketers who don't get this. The current business oriented ad campaign for AT&T is a good example. A shopping list of the features they offer businesses combined with a tag line about focus. Really? What's up with that? And it's not even clear who is suppose to focus. Is this what AT&T is doing, it's certainly not supported by the ad copy, Or is this what the consumer should be doing? Again this isn't supported by the ad copy. Stupid.

almost 3 years ago

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