9 Reasons why Digital Marketing Strategies Fail

Digital marketing is an umbrella term for all of the online marketing efforts. Businesses leverage digital channels such as search engines, social media, email, their websites, and online advertisements to carry out their marketing motives of brand/product awareness, user engagement and connect, etc. Digital marketing strategies are routes to fulfill digital marketing goals. Marketers usually confuse tactics with strategies and that is one of the main reasons why digital marketing strategies fail.

What constitutes a Digital Marketing strategy?

Digital Marketing Strategies are routes which business takes to achieve specific goals. Strategies can defined keeping in mind 6 layers –

  • Goals – Increased Traffic / More Reach / Increased Sales / Customer Retention etc. A goal should be measurable.
  • Device – Desktop, Mobile, Tablet, or any other digital gadget like Kindle, Apple Watch, etc.
  • Purpose – brand awareness / brand building or product awareness / increase in sales, etc.
  • Customer Profile – Demographics of the customers.
  • Location – City, country, countries, continent, or global.
  • Time frame for ROI – Sometimes the reason why digital marketing strategies fail is because marketers fail to predict and set the time-frame for ROI. They expect immediate returns from a strategy that would actually take an year to reap results.

Difference between Digital Marketing Strategies and Tactics.

Strategies are roads taken by the marketers to achieve their goals. Tactics are the steps they undertake to carry out the strategy. To make it simpler –

Strategy is the route business takes, whereas tactics are the shoes it wear.

For example, a digital strategy to increase user engagement on social media could be to post at least 8 times in a day. Whereas the tactics of digital marketing strategy could be to post on Facebook at around 3-5 pm and on twitter at around 6-7 pm.

Why Digital Marketing Strategies Fail?

Multiple Goals or No Goal

A digital marketing strategy must be formed keeping in mind a single goal which needs to be fulfilled. There can’t be a single digital marketing strategy to increase the reach and sales at the same time. Similarly a strategy which doesn’t have a set goal will reap varied and non measurable results and will be a waste of resources and time. Marketers should think about what each tactic should compel users to do and form user journey according to it.

The reason why digital marketing strategies fail is because marketers try to fulfill everything at once. They should realize that online marketing strategies, just like offline strategies, require a call to action, tactics, and results that can be measured.

Excessive Push Efforts (with no Pull Communication)

Some overly obsessed marketers forget the importance of pull effort in the communication. Push and Pull communication efforts can easily be distinguished. Pull communication is designed in such a way that the consumers willingly fulfill the marketing goals of the marketers whereas cases where the marketers insist customers to fulfill their goals, it is called push communication.

It’s not always bad to use a push communication and not always good to use pull efforts. But things have to be balanced keeping in mind the type of your product and your marketing needs.

push pull strategy
push & pull strategies simplified

An imbalance can be seen in this digital video advertisement of Windows 7 where Microsoft is seen trying so hard to sell its new product.

Strategies & Tactics Confusion

Tactics are part of a strategy. When Tactics are mistaken for strategies, it becomes hard for a digital marketing strategy to succeed and reap results.

No Synergy

All marketing efforts, offline – online & online – online must be in synergy and focus on a single goal. Contradicting efforts may result in varied brand image and brand positioning in the mind of the customers.

An example of synergy in marketing efforts can be seen in strategies developed by IKEA. IKEA is amazing when it comes to marketing. It launched the Catalogue app in 2013 which not only gave users access to the company’s inventory, but via augmented reality, actually allowed them to view how items would look in their home spaces. This was a great step to synergize the online and offline marketing efforts and tackle competitors (both online and offline) effectively.

Lack of Research

Every marketing strategy is focused on customers. The company should know about their audience, their wants, needs, and luxury.

Digital Marketing strategy should give the users what they want. Content marketing and search engine Marketing strategies should focus more on the keywords and content whereas social media marketing, and email marketing should focus more user trends and engagement.

This research, however, should be done carefully or it can have results like one of the Microsoft’s trolls where it sent Hey Bae  letter to millennials as an offer for interview.


Digital business environment is more dynamic than the usual business environment. Rigid strategies with fixed tactics don’t usually work in the digital environment. Once goals are set, strategies and tactics are needed to be modified from time to time based on the user trends, search engine trends, and other digital factors.

Unable to predict the Time-frame

Some marketers accept a premature defeat because of wrong predicted time-frame for results from a digital marketing efforts. Digital marketing efforts, just like other marketing efforts, take time to reap desired results.

Digital marketing goal setting and execution is a bit different from usual marketing goals. It needs actual analytics to be read and understood to proceed.

Less Focus on Customers

When you focus more on your product and less on consumers and consumer psyche, you may land up in a mess similar to MCD which launched a name your own burger digital marketing campaign to support its create your taste campaign and ended up getting very hilarious and offending names. The campaign was pulled soon after it went live.

mcd name your own burger
Mcd Digital marketing campaign

Not Following the Trend

Trend rules the digital world. If you know the art of using trend for your own benefit, you can be the king of digital world.

Many marketers fail to realize the importance of trend while implementing their efforts which is why many digital marketing strategies fail.

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