Digital marketing is all the talk right now and it should be. Increased internet penetration, the move to mobile and improved communication capacity brings more and more to the digital frontier. That said, there are a lot of opportunities to get things wrong with the digital world. Some of the 5 pitfalls I’m about to mention can be seen in a lot of approaches to digital marketing efforts in today’s world. So let’s look at them and tips to avoid them.

Digital is integrated not separate

Firstly the belief that digital marketing is something completely new and separate from what businesses have been doing all along is a misnomer. Digital marketing is the new frontier for marketing but relies on the same principles that have been used in traditional marketing. Digital marketing brings changes in customer acquisition cost, reach and data availability. Digital marketing needs to be applied to an existing marketing plan or complemented with one. You cannot be something on digital platforms and something else of like. So when you do pursue digital avenues bring your existing marketing and sales plans and make sure the digital efforts work with these plans.

Audience versus customers

This one is not unique to digital marketing, it is an omnipresent position in marketing. Your audience may not always be your customers, in fact, they rarely are. So you need to invest in breaking ground beyond your audience to up your sales. Organic posting and promotion are getting harder on digital platforms as the behemoths of social and digital are favouring paid ads and content over organic. When you make your digital marketing plan remember the audience, customer and consumer, these 3 groups may be represented by different people. A good example is someone who sells children’s toys. The parent may be the audience and customer but the child is ultimately the consumer. Understanding these distinctions can help as yesterday I saw a mum say she allows her son to play video games because Elon Musk said they are most tech developers gateway into programming.

The pipeline/funnel process

In traditional sales it’s more commonly known as the pipeline in digital marketing it’s referred to as the sales funnel. Whatever you call it that idea is the same, people move along (or down it) on their journey to becoming a paying and repeat customer where applicable. It may have different configurations but it likely has the following steps; Introduction, Attention, Presentation, Questions, Order, Payment, After-sales service. This is roughly your customer’s journey and it’s not always going to be linear. Customers can speed through some parts, some parts can happen concurrently or they can regress in the process. What’s important is to note and track. Over time you will develop a standard as to what percentage to reasonably expect to move along to the next stage and start working towards improving these conversion rates.

Data is accurate but not easy to interpret

As has always been the belief in traditional sales and marketing digital marketing still has problems with hearing what’s not being said. The digital era comes with a lot of data. There’s no such thing as too much data but you only need so much data to decide. You post an ad and you can see how many people saw it, clicked it and proceeded with it but it’s not always simple to infer why. As I highlighted earlier digital is integrated and people can start the buying process online but due cultural, social and economic factors complete the purchase offline. Also, there may be a significant time lag between the events. So it is important to not only read the data but to have someone who can analyze the data with your businesses idiosyncrasies in mind.


Finally, digital marketing is not as simple as they tell you it is. It is extremely taxing. The dream is great, you launch your brand or business page, people flock to like the page and talk to you praising your brand, your first post goes viral in a week and the customers start rolling in. The reality though is something else. You need to consistently create content that needs to both be fresh and encourage engagement. You need a mix of content. You need to use to paid ads in addition to your organic ones. The prospects stream in one by one with the most annoying questions you have ever heard. The uptake is slow. Your ad doesn’t go viral. And this is just after a week. Established brands have a bit of an easier time gaining the following but take the case of Econet who rarely experience positive communication on their platforms and you’ll see the minefield that digital and social media can be. Working with content creators or with digital marketers who provide content creation is important as you get to draw from a larger pool with greater experience.

There are many more pitfalls but these five are the foremost amongst the challenges that people have met with digital marketing. These are also things you should look out for when engaging a digital marketer whether you are looking to employ one or engaging an agency to handle this for you.