4 Digital Marketing Traps to Avoid in the New Year

Stay ahead of these digital marketing pitfalls.

A digital marketing piece by Natalie Dell O'BrienGuest writer Natalie Dell O’Brien is a marketing strategist based in Silicon Valley. She blogs about digital marketing and career development at www.NatalieDellObrien.com. A former elite athlete, she is also an 2012 Olympic Bronze Medalist in rowing and corporate motivational speaker.

Take it away, Natalie!

Aside from remembering to write the new year on your checks (I’ve messed up two so far), chances are you’ve got a lot going on this time of year.

You’ve finally signed the new creative agency. Promoted your intern to a full time social media manager. Read Creativity Inc. Convinced leadership that yes, Chief Digital Officers are a real thing and your company should hire one. Solidified budgets. Wrapped up annual planning.

You, the digital marketing ninja, have thought of it all….right?

Maybe not. Don’t let all your foundational work go to waste by getting sucked into these common digital marketing traps.

Trap #1: Relying on vanity metrics.

Avoid these 4 digital marketing traps

Why it happens: Vanity metrics are easy to get excited over. They’re easily manipulated to reflect progress when in reality, they don’t always correlate to data that matters. Plus, tracking often falls to the end of project flows – leaving metrics as an afterthought. Vanity metrics like page views, impressions or social fan count are substituted for thoughtful reporting.

Solution: Measure real numbers from the onset. Give tracking and measurement as much time as your objectives and strategy. Metrics (which to report and how to define success) should be at the table during the set up of every campaign. Pick a team member to champion metrics as an equal player in strategic decisions.

Trap #2: Narrow content creation.

Why it happens: In the race to the top of SERPs and consumers’ minds, quantity can take precedence of quality. More back links! More social posts! More banners! It’s left consumers with a sea of digital sameness and a lot of noise online.

Solution: Challenge your team to be engaging storytellers. Consider a video series instead of the usual banner ad buy. Develop a strategy that devotes more time and thought into original content that adds value to your audience. Easier said than done – but there are plenty of brands who are nailing original content without Hollywood-level budgets. Just check out the Lowe’s Vine feed.

Trap #3: Relying solely on customer personas.

Why it happens: Customer personas are useful because they simply the complexities of understanding your target consumers. But when you’re not on the front lines interacting with customers every day, it’s easy rely on a 1-sheeter summary on your “average Joe” as the only window into your target audience.

Solution: To be truly authentic in your marketing efforts, you need to understand your target market past a customer persona. Spend one day every quarter in your call center, go out in the field with sales teams or sit with the product team as they conduct user tests. You’ll emerge with a stronger sense of purpose for your marketing in 2015.

Trap #4: Planning for planning’s sake.

Why it happens: The Internet is changing at a wild pace. Every aspect of marketing in the digital world will continue to evolve and change. One way to prepare for change is to plan. However in the wise words of Mike Tyson, “Everyone has a plan ’till they get punched in the mouth.”

Solution: Planning is one thing. Gaining the insights needed to act quickly and pivot is another. Form a brain trust (you did read Creativity Inc, right?) that meets on a monthly basis. Discuss how plans are tracking and whether marketing needs a strategic shift. Keeping your ear to the ground enables you to be scrappy and act quickly if needed.

Need help avoiding these traps?

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