10 of the most common digital marketing problems that businesses face

In helping companies with digital marketing and strategy over the years, I've noticed some recurring themes. And while every client's situation is unique, the vast majority of work that I've done can ultimately be grouped into a fairly finite list of topics.As consultants, we often create esoteric ways to describe the work that we do: "We use decision science innovations to generate demand through experiential web-based ecosystems." But while statements like that definitely earn an A+ for creativity and thesaurus usage, the majority of clients I've worked with don't come to me asking for a more experiential web-based ecosystem. Rather, they say things like "I need to sell more widgets, and have been thinking about PPC strategy -- can you help?" Or, "I can't track the metrics I want to track on my website -- can you help get my analytics into a state that provides more business value?"I'm not interested in inventing fancy euphemisms for my digital consulting work. I'm interested in working with clients who have problems that digital strategies and tactics can help with. The following obviously do not represent all digital problems, but if you're a business owner or marketing leader, I'm guessing that you can relate to one or more of them.

  1. Tying analytics to real business performance -- You've seen the pageview reports, and maybe even track ecommerce data in Google Analytics, but many businesses still find a gap in actively (and consistently) using analytics as a catalyst for business improvement.
  2. Understanding how Google truly works -- Google periodically makes changes to its search algorithm that throws the majority of the digital industry into a tizzy. But why? What is Google trying to accomplish, and how is it set up to do so? When you understand the root of what drives Google (and Bing and Yahoo), you can start to work with the system, rather than trying to fight against each change.
  3. Understanding the basics of search engine optimization -- The first step is to understand that SEO must be seen as an integrated component of the web experience, and not as an afterthought or magic elixir. And understanding the components of SEO that are most critical is a big part of that. 
  4. Picking the right digital tactics for the right goals -- Each marketing tactic has its own strengths and weaknesses, but too often I find that clients lump them all together as "digital." Understanding how and when to use Email marketing rather than PPC marketing can be the difference between high-ROI results and fruitless marketing efforts.
  5. Selecting and implementing the right tools -- The job is always easiest with the right tool. But with literally thousands of technology options for each marketing tactic (I dare you to try to list all of the Email management services targeted at small businesses), businesses often find that they are lacking an effective toolkit to accomplish their goals.
  6. Effectively stalking their competition's marketing strategy -- The internet has provided a never-before-seen opportunity to understand exactly how your competitors are allocating their marketing budgets. With the right tools and strategies, a business can stalk -- er, research -- their top competitors, and use that information to improve their own marketing strategy.
  7. Recognizing the key benefits of digital over traditional media -- Many businesses struggle to truly understand the differences between digital and traditional media. Sure, everyone gets the basics -- one is printed and the other is in the computer. But companies who simply try to extend their traditional marketing campaigns onto the web often meet with frustration and poor results. 
  8. Deciding which strategies deserve to be invested in, and which don't -- I've met many clients who continue to invest in certain tactics even without proof that they are having any real impact on the business. Digital marketing provides the ability to study in real-time which strategies and tactics are making a difference, and which ones aren't. 
  9. Recovering from underperforming agency relationships -- You can't throw a stone without hitting a digital marketing agency, UX consultant, or web development firm. But they are not all created equal. By throwing around buzzwords and making impressive promises, our industry has become saturated with individuals and businesses who know just what to say to win a client's business, but fall short when it comes to real results. If you've worked with a 'link building' SEO agency, you know what I'm talking about. 
  10. Creating a strategy for sustainable growth -- not quick wins -- Lastly, and possibly most importantly, clients often struggle with the idea of creating digital marketing strategies for the long term. The aforementioned consultants and agencies from item #9 have done the industry a disservice by selling digital strategies as quick ways to double or triple your profit (Have you seen those 'Billy Gene Is Marketing' ads? This is problem). At the end of the day, a digital strategy is no different than any other strategy -- sure you may see some results quicker than others, but the goal is to create long-term, sustainable growth for your business. 

Over the next few weeks (or months), I'll be diving deeper into each one of these issues -- hopefully helping to set you and your business on the right track in overcoming these all-too-present obstacles!

SEMrush

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About the Author
Justin is the owner/founder of Fox Consulting Group, and a lead consultant for strategy engagements.

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