7 Digital Marketing Mistakes to Avoid in 2020

The new year is fast approaching, and digital marketing keeps rapidly evolving. From influencer marketing and video marketing to marketing automation and responsive display ads, you’re trying out new channels, strategies, and tools.

But what are the tactics you need to deploy in 2020, and what common digital marketing mistakes do you definitely not want to have to tell the C suite about come Q2?

“We’ve onboarded clients from across a wide variety of industries this year — software, wine, John Deere equipment, senior living, real estate — and a lot of them are making the same digital marketing mistakes,” says Michelle Nessman, who combined her sales training and marketing backgrounds to open Elite in 2014.

Below, Nessman shares some of the common digital marketing mistakes her team encountered — and offers tips on how you can avoid them in your own digital marketing programs in 2020.

1. Website Isn’t Optimized for Search Engines

Some marketers are wary of search engine optimization (doesn’t paid advertising offer much quicker results?). Others don’t understand Google and other engines’ algorithms (wait, keyword stuffing doesn’t work anymore?). And a few think it’s simply not worth investing in (isn’t SEO dead?).

But optimizing your website for search engines is the best way to generate traffic, with about 20 times more traffic opportunity than pay-per-click on both mobile and desktop. When consumers want to learn more about a new business, product, or service, 62% of them turn to search engines first.

If you want your business to be part of a user’s online research process, it needs to show up in search results for keywords related to the products or services you offer.

“You’re missing entire swaths of your audience if you aren’t showing up properly in search results,” Nessman says.

Here are some search engine optimization tips you need to apply to your landing pages:

  • Pick a primary keyword for each landing page, and focus on optimizing that page for that word. “But don’t oversaturate a page with too many keywords,” Nessman says. “The page will lose its importance and authority because search engines won’t have a clear idea of what the page is about.”
  • Place your primary keywords in your headline and subhead. These areas of content have greater weight to search engines.
  • Include the keywords in the body content, but don’t use them out of context. Make sure they are relevant to the rest of your content. “No keyword stuffing!” Nessman says.
  • Include keywords in the file name of images (e.g., my-keyword.jpg) and use them, when appropriate, in the alt attribute.
  • Include the keywords in the page URL.

2. Website Isn’t Optimized for Humans

Maybe your website is optimized for search engines, but if it’s not optimized for humans, you’re driving potential customers from your website.

“Your website design needs to take into consideration the user experience,” Nessman says. “Lack of user-friendly navigation, font sizes and color combinations that are hard to read, videos that play automatically, and poor visual hierarchy and content structure can all easily confuse and frustrate visitors, driving potential customers from your website.

Some tips for improving your website’s user experience include:

  • Use white space.
  • Optimize your page speed.
  • Segment key information with bullet points.
  • Include well-designed and written headings.
  • Keep your website pages consistent.
  • Be responsive and mobile-friendly.

3. No Calls to Action

You’ve optimized your website for SEO and users, and your website is getting lots of traffic. So why aren’t any of them becoming active customers? You're making a common digital marketing mistake: You don’t have calls to action (CTAs).

A call to action is either text, an image, or a button that instructs the user on what to do next. Whether you want your user to visit your blog, give you their contact information, or download an offer, you must prompt this action with a well-placed CTA in the sales funnel.

“CTAs serve as transitions between the phases of the buyer’s journey, motivating your audience to take real steps toward becoming a customer or client,” Nessman says. “They tell your potential leads what to do next. And if you tell them, they’ll typically do it.”

4. Homepage Messaging Doesn’t Make Sense

Your website’s homepage is your first — and possibly your last — chance to attract your audience. It might be the most beautifully designed homepage, but if it doesn’t clearly communicate in one short glance where users are, what your company does, and what users can do at your site, then you’ll probably never see that potential customer again. 

5. Social Media Doesn’t Resonate

Social media is not just a platform for you to blast out messages about your company. It’s a place for you to connect with your audience. Facebook even changed its algorithm to encourage meaningful interactions between people and brands.

Instead of focusing on quantity, make sure the content you’re publishing connects with your audience on a deeper level.

“Think of social media as the place where you can interact with your audience and be helpful,” Nessman says.

6. Content Isn’t Generating Leads

Many marketers struggle with knowing how to present the content they’ve spent so much time creating: Do you give it away? Or do you request information in exchange for content?

Gated content — or content that can only be accessed if a prospect provides valuable information, such as their name, email address, industry, title, and other contact information — is a powerful tool for lead generation.

“But if you ask prospects for too much too soon, you might turn them away,” Nessman warns.

Some online users aren’t comfortable sharing their personal information in exchange for an offer, especially when the information you’re presenting is available ungated elsewhere.

Typically, content that’s in the awareness stage, such as blogs and infographics, should be ungated. eBooks, checklists, how-to guides, newsletters, case studies, fact sheets, and other content further down the funnel in the consideration and decision stages should be gated.

7. Big Blocks of Text

Searchers are impatient, and content overload is real. If your landing pages, blogs, and eBooks are full of big blocks of text, people probably aren’t reading them. 

Fortunately, this is one of the easiest marketing mistakes to avoid: Styling your text so it’s easy to read could be all you need to do to attract and hold attention. Here are some tips for making your content more scannable:

  • Write short sentences and short paragraphs (three to four lines, maximum).
  • Use descriptive subheads to help sort and organize copy.
  • Create bulleted lists to present multiple points and provide a visual break for your reader.

With so much on your plate, it’s easy to make at least one of these common digital marketing mistakes. Don’t sweat it too much. Making mistakes is how you learn.

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